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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy new year!

It's been a very good year, for me and for Argapa ukuleles. 

To send you off until we meet in January, here's a pic of some scraps going up in smoke tonight. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Resonator assembly

Well I do have a lot to show today. Now it's time for the backs to go onto the resos. 

I took a few minutes to superglue some tiny bits of kerfed lining around the perimeter of the bodies, to stop the backs from sliding around in the glue. I haven't done this in ages but it is very good practice to do it. 

Then spread the glue. I'm using my finger though sometimes I use a tiny rubber roller. 

After both have glue I sandwich them together with a thick piece of foam between. 

The foam will even out and distribute the pressure. The nice thing about resos is they're flat and so sturdy - they can handle some serious clamping. 

I even rememered to clean up some squeeze out from the insides. I'm not bothered by a little glue but I know others are. So I thought why not. 

Pore filling with chalk

I gave up looking for finely ground pumice and settled for chalk. I did some experiments recently on the walnut tenor (which sadly seems to be lost in transit near Ipswich) and now I'm turning my attention to the little koa soprano I'm making. 

It had two wash coats of amber shellac a few days back, enough for me to see the pores. I was a bit braver than last time, I simply used the muneca almost dry to smear the chalk out. 

As you can see the back turned dull and greyish. I kept rubbing for a while, using the chalk as an abrasive. Then when I had chalk powder in the pores I brushed off the edges (where a lot of powder had gathered) and loaded the muneca with shellac. 

And wiped down the back. Then I did the sides and the top. Much trickier, the sides are curved and the top has both the bridge and the fingerboard extension blocking the way. But here's a pic of the back. I might repeat the process but actually most of the pores seem to be filled already. 

Piccolos, bending sides

I've got a bit too much to post so I'd better get started. I have had two inquiries for piccolos and since it was a while since I made any of my stock model I accepted them as orders. 

I have loads of good cherry wood, some of which I resawed by hand this summer. Last week I sanded it all down to thickness in the drum sander, remember this is my stock model not zero sanding specials. 

And then I bent the sides. First I mark out the crucial points on the pieces, then soaked them quickly under the tap. 

And away I bent. This was the first one. On the second I bent both waist bends first, then the lower bout and the upper last. That was easier to get symmetrical. 

The sides relax in the mold for a couple of days. 

And this morning they got their neck blocks. I don't use end blocks on these. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Resonators for Phil and Phil

Yesterday I cut the holes using my fab cutter made by Micheal Connor. I tried to cut the large one to the exact size and to make the small soundports complete with the mesh before glueing the tops to the skeletons. It's pisible to cut the all afterwards but it is cumbersome. 

Here they are, after glueing the mesh. 

To prevent slipping after putting the glue on I taped the tops down, aiming to keep the large hole exactly over the soundwell. 

And here's the clamp burger, taking care of both bodies at once. My antique bookpress is a better choice, but it's at my summer house. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

More easily made inlays

Working with the resonator for my mate Philly-Phil, and he wanted an inlay on the fretboard. Luckily, I had the exact font to use. 

First pic is of the paper, stuck on the board with double stick tape. 

I cut the letters out and fired up the Proxxon router in my home made router base. 

With a 2 mm router bit I removed the bulk of the wood. Then I used tiny chisels to refine edges and corners. I had to grind an edge on one of those tiny tiny screwdrivers you use on spectacles to get all nooks. 

Then I peeled the paper and tape off...

... and here's what it looked like late in the evening. A chip out at the correct place would've made it Philty Phil, like Philty Animal Taylor. 

Out came the Milliput. Wonderful stuff. 

And this morning I could sand off the excess and it's done. It'll be a challenge to position the frets so they don't render it illegible, but it'll work. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Completed Argapas 76 and 77

Yesterday I strung the piccolo up so now I have two new ukes to show at the same time. 

I chose the quilt background to give an even more crafty impression. 

Bookmatched panels on the tenor, one piece top and back on the piccolo. 

Maple rosette, you can see the joint at four o'clock. 

The bridge on the tenor. 

The ebony bridge on the piccolo. 

But where will they end up? Ho ho ho.