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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Improved fretpress

Time to try the new brass caul I made! The lower jaw has its wobbly foot partially secured by a piece of leather jammed between it and the arm of the jaw, so the flat wooden caul won't play any tricks on me. Awkward sentence that. 

Anyway, after running the triangular needle file in each slot, I hold the whole piece of fretwire in the now widened slot and aim with the brass caul. 

And squish, in it goes. Much easier and with more control than with my old wooden caul. Getting rid of the wobbliness plays a big part here (see the awkward sentence in the first paragraph).

Seated perfectly in its entire length. 

This pic is an attempt to show how the light reflects evenly on all frets [of the next fretboard]. I don't expect I'll have to use the levelling edge of my new dual purpose fretfile on these. 

And this is to get rid of the backbow that we get after pressing in all the frets. 

Only three more boards to fret and we're getting closer to the last steps; levelling fret ends, glueing fretboard, final trimming the overhanging bits of tops and backs, sanding, sanding, sanding, drilling for tuners, finishing (a project in itself everytime), making the stringholder, secret Argapa setup step, fitting the hardware, making the nut, compensating the bridge, attaching the biscuit to the cone, final assembly, stringing up, lowering the action, stamping the Argapa logo and number. Times six. With Argapa 100 chucked in between. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Tool making

I promised myself I'd kit up before fretting the next time. Trouble is specialist tools are hard to buy. They're reasonably priced in the US but the postage, customs and VAT charges, and worst of all the postal service's own charge add up until you hate people you never met. 

So I thought I'd build my own tools for seating frets and filing them. 

First task was sawing some brass into a suitable lump. 

I made the cut face flat on the sanding plate. Nasty business this metal work, not at all like wood. 

Then more sawing. A few drops of oil helped the blade. 

Then cutting a slot (with a dull blade). 

And here it is, more or less done. I'll try it in a few days. 

Tool number two is a dual purpose fret file. The file was a Husqvarna for chain saws, made in Germany. 

I planed the block flat and square, and one edge to 30 degrees, and put magnets into the edges. 

Here it is, the edge for levelling frets...

... and the edge for bevelling the fret ends to 30 degrees. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Back at work, slotting fretboards

Got home from South America with a cold, and that is a drag. I've been well for over a year and forgotten what it feels like. Now I know; it feels like shit. 

But I won't let that stop me. I slotted all seven fretboards. 

First I made one of the edges perfectly straight with a Record no.5 plane. 

Look at the shaving. Then I put the slotting template on with double stick tape and ran the boards over the narrow blade in the crosscut jig. 

The jig has two rails registering on either side of the table of the, erm, table saw. 

And here we are. I'm very pleased with how the slots came out on Brian's heavily inlaid fretboard, it's easy to mess the letters up with the frets. 

I'll proceed with fretting next, but need to make a couple of tools first. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Inlay progress, at least some

I read, just the other day, a thread about inlays on a forum concerning ukulele building. One of the posters mentioned all pearl bits should be oriented in such a way they all flash at once when light hits the instrument. 


I'll find some comfort in the fact this fretboard will flash all the time since the pearl bits are oriented in one way each. And that's a good thing right, a flashy uke. 

(I did try to make the letters as one piece jobs but quickly gave up.)

Now I have gathered some speed and experience so here's how I do it. First a rough trace of the piece needed. In this case with two curves I'll make the inner one first. 

Starting with the saw, it doesn't show in the pic but it's a great saw from Knew Concepts. I need to find better blades for it though. 

When the piece is sort of finished some adjustments are made to the cavity. I use my smallest chisels and even one I made from a miniature screwdriver. 

When the piece goes into the cavity without too much force I add the glue. This glue is medium viscosity but it's still thin enough to wick its way around and under the pearl piece. 

And the wooden inlay for Kris, compared to working with pearl it's a piece of cake. 

Next week I'll be in South America so I'll make an effort to do more on this tomorrow. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The slowness of something very very slow

Sorry Mike, Andy, John and Mysterious client buying for the wife - I'm about to slit some fretboards but really need to finish inlaying two of them. Takes forever.