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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hand planed sides

The experiment continues! I planed the sides for the zero sanding ukes, and I was a bit impressed with myself - over 600 mm of length the thickness varied no more than 0.05 - 0.08 mm here and there. The surfaces were good with only miniscule areas of reversing grain causing some trouble. I went ahead to the bending iron. 

And bending them went alright! Two revelations; they actually seemed easier and more compliant than sides thicknessed in the drum sander. Could be the extra thickness I left them at, 1.85 rather than my usual 1.7, who knows. I'd rather let the planing take the credit of course. 

The other thing - remember those minor variations in thickness? Well they were much more noticeable on the iron than they were on the bench. But when bending by hand it's easy to adjust pressure and speed so it went well. 

Here they are, next to my original Slayer playlist from August 2013. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Hard core building

I was gonna run a few plates through the 10-20 drum sander, but they were very uneven and quite thick in places. I remember sawing these on my out of tune bandsaw, of which I am abysmally tired. 

Running the 10-20 and the dust collector in the apartment workshop is usually ok, I try to do it in bursts of maximum 45 minutes to save my relationship to the neighbours. But it smells odd! I don't know if there's some gunk from an exotic wood in the dust bin or if it is the cheap sandpaper I bought, but it smells (stinks).

So I started out planing the plates with a jack plane. I aimed for more even and around 3 mm, then the sander would be done with quickly. 

But the jack plane tore out some of the reversing grain so I reached for a number 4 1/2 smoothing plane. Then my number 3 smoothing plane. 

And there you have it - my new plan. I'll make two new piccolos that won't be touched by sandpaper at all during the build. I've thought about doing this before, but always gave up. But now my planes are sharper and better adjusted, I've made my own scrapers in shapes I missed, and every last edge is keen and shiny. 

Here's what it looked like after a while:

And here the first ones are done. In the pic you see the three planes, a cast iron cabinet scraper and a card scraper, my digital thickness caliper, and last the welding clamps I used to hold them to the bench. 

I will probably use an electric drill and maybe the mini table saw. I'm not amish, just tired of sanding. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

New fret slotting jig

I use my small Proxxon table saw for slotting fretboards. If you're looking for one and can't find it, the Microlux brand is very similar (exactly the same) and that's carried by for example Micromark in New Jersey. 

I use the saw for few things other than fret slots, for example slotting bridges. But really not much. 

I have a fretting mitre box from Stewmac and some longer scaled boards I've cut by hand because the old jig was a bit weak and wobbly. But doing it on the machine is quicker, more accurate and what's not to like about that. 

First pic shows the old jig, I've used this for all my sopranos up until now. 

But recently I was contacted by a fellow builder asking what blade to use and that reminded me that I'd promised to make a better sled jig. I made a sketch for him but when I made this I made it a bit simpler. The plywood is some old shelf I found in the trash, dead flat and lacquered. It has rails on the underside that go against the edge of the table. 

I pared and planed the rails from super tight to smooth and steady, then I raised a 1.5 mm blade through the plywood base. I put a shim in that slot and set a square against it so I would [theoretically] get the fence square to the blade. But the lacquer caused it to shift since not even superglue grabbed fast, so I had to fix it with a rabbet plane. 

That was easy though and the result dead on. 

But..! Then I changed to the 0.5 mm blade and that one is tiny. It's made for an even smaller saw but comes up 10-11 mm over the table on this one. And how thick was my plywood? I got a bit tired - had I been so dumb that I didn't think of that? Hell yeah, I was dumb. I turned the height screw frantically but it bottomed out before I saw the blade. Darn. But the locking nut on the screw wasn't completely out, I turned that as far as I could get it and again raised the blade. 

Success! It comes up around 1.6 mm, just enough for the fretwire I use. And it works brilliantly. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Demo of number 68

I haven't any new grainy pics from a cluttered workshop, I'm in Palestine on a work trip and far away from making any progress on the current builds.

Two bits of good news however; today we probably landed a great deal regarding new premises for the Swedish embassy, and this evening I saw this:


Monday, February 3, 2014

New jig

Every once in a while I see jigs that I want to build. Then I sort of rush through the next build solving any problems with force. But this weekend I finally got around to making a jig for the screw and barrel bolt holding the neck on all sizes but piccolos (they don't have a separate fretboard to hide the barrel nut).

I took the time to practice my dovetailing skills. 

The same jig is used both on the neck blank and the body, here it is held for drilling the neck. 

The body's not done yet but will be drilled like this. Not the top hole of course. The pointy end aligns with the centerline. 

And it works. There are no margins here, if the holes don't line up the screw won't fit. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Don Monteleone's piccolo done

I'll just leave the pics to say it I think. Mostly great, some dings and gouge marks but mostly great.