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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Prögress on Dafydd’s reso

Believe it or not, there’s not much left on the mahogany reso I’m building. So much is set in the skeleton and the hardware so setting the wooden parts in between feels a bit like an assembly task. 

But it is a fun task. In the first pic I’m trimming the overhang with my widest chisel. Having the uke in the vise really helps the precision. 

The heel is trimmed flush, also with the chisel. You know by now I really dislike abrasive methods and much prefer edge tools. 

Glue is applied. Since it’s a one piece back I don’t have to fret too much about center lines and stuff, as long as it doesn’t slide around too much it’s an easy glue up. 

I ought to make a caul for reso backs. Usually I use another skeleton as one but as y’all know this is my last one. It worked though, I have enough clamps.*

Then I needed to plane an ebony fingerboard. Most planes sort of skidded right off but my toothed plane with the steep iron angle chewed away at the board as if it was paid to do so. The plane is a gift from my friend Chris who builds ukes in his shed in Suffolk. 

Getting rid of the tooth marks was easier than I thought. I first tried my scraper plane but this wee offering from Stewmac was actually better. 

Once I was pleased with the thickness and the consistency I gave the top side a coat of renaissance wax. It’ll be a very nice fretboard once it’s in place. 

* Famous last words...

Monday, October 22, 2018

Cavaquinho bridge

It was time to make the bridge for the cavaquinho. Among the fretboard blanks I made from my mesquite log was the scrap piece that is inevitably left over after flipping a quarter log left and right on the bandsaw. It wasn’t even or smooth in any way so it was in for some planing action. 

First I cut a bit off with an old backsaw. 

Then I established a reference surface. In the pic is my no.3 plane but the no.5 was also used. 

Because I was lazy I chose to cut the saddle slot by hand instead of on the mini table saw. I made the groove with different saws but started by scoring with a marking knife and then deepening the slot with chisels. 

The angle was a bit of a guesstimate and I hope it’ll work. Then I made the chamfers and brought it to final thickness / height. 

The transition to the wings were carved by hand with a chisel that was almost wide enough. 

The underside is arched to match the soundboard, made so by rubbing the bridge on a concave sanding block. (The chisel in the pic is really wide but wasn’t sharp enough for carving the wings.)

Laying out with tape, ruler and pencil. Just like always. 

And clamping it in place. What I failed to show you was inserting the piezo pickup strip in the saddle slot, and pulling the cable down through a hole in the soundboard. The jack is in the endpin. 

And here the jack goes in. A miniature tele plug connects it to the piezo. I put some shellac around the hole because it’ll be there when I finish the instrument. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Attaching neck, and a mesquite fretboard

I went hunting this weekend and when I got home I wanted to achieve something in the workshop. So I set out to attach the neck on the mahogany reso that is bound for Wales. I started out by scoring lines about 4 mm from the edges of the heel. 

Then I hollowed the heel out just a bit. It’s crucial for the next step that the middle is relieved so the neck doesn’t rock. 

I drag the neck on a sanding board of heavy metal. You can see from the trail of dust that the edges are affected more than the centre. 

And I check for alignment and squareness often. I want the centreline straight to the square, but I also take care to get the neck angle right. That’s not 90 degrees, more like 88.5. 

You may have seen my rather fancy jig for drilling the holes for the barrel nut and screw. Yesterday however I thought sod it and made the holes freehand with a cordless drill. And would you believe it, it was less nerve wracking and gave a better result. After checking the joint and alignment I didn’t have to do any tweaking. So I put some glue on the heel and screwed it on. 

But that’s not all. We are struggling a bit with a jumbled timeline. This mesquite fretboard I made some days ago, for the cavaquinho I cobble together for my mate. 

After pressing in the frets and glueing it on. Again, no adjustments or fret dressing needed. Might I be getting the hang of this..? No, begone foul hubris thought. Last time I thought I had things down it almost crushed me with a backlash from Hell and England.