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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Final steps on the resonator

A batch of pics from the last couple of days. I’m done with the finish, the result is a lustrous semi pore filled sheen. I like it and hope Daffyd will too. 

In the first pic you can see my jig for marking out holes for the coverplate screws. 

Then I put the saddle in the biscuit and the biscuit on the cone. It is held with a screw from beneath. 

Then the string holder. The holes in the coverplates are a bit shit so I fit a wooden string holder on my resos. The break angle over the saddle is reduced but that is balanced by the fact that the strings don’t snap. In the pic you can see the wooden rabbet plane I used to make the profile on the string holder. Massive planes are often useful for tiny parts, just keep them sharp. 

And here it is. Rosewood I believe. 

But what holds the holder? Screws do. I use the string holes for a couple of cut off screws. This is the most intricate part of the arrangement, I have to make sure the holes for the screws don’t go into the holes for the strings (which are angled in two directions).

This is what it looks like from beneath. The screws are at the edge of the holes to prevent any movement of the wooden block. With the screws in place I also put a drop of super glue into the holes in the plate. Don’t know if that will matter at all but it felt good. 

Ancient technology like resonator instruments deserve to be assembled with ancient technology tools. In Seeden we call this kind of screwdriver ”a Yankee screwdriver”. I suspect they’re called something else in Yankeeland. 

Only tuners, nut and strings left, eh? Sadly I’m off to make a new Swedish embassy in a far away country now, so I won’t get to that until the weekend. Stay tuned will you. 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

One and a half finished instrument

Here’s a few pics of the cavaquinho! 

Spruce soundboard, walnut back and (one piece) rim, alder neck, mahogany binding and rosette, mesquite fretboard and bridge. 

The hand on the headstock is a pre-hispanic Mexican stamp design that I found in a book. It is appropriate on this instrument for a number of reasons. But apparently  an Irish shamrock would’ve been good too, fanx ancestry.com. 

But I did say one and a half, didn’t I. Well the mahogany reso is in the finish stage. So far the base coats of shellac has been applied, these are the four or five first and they’re done with no oil on the muneca. I’ve found that after those I need oil, and with the oil the finish starts building nicely. But with too few base coats it’s a hassle to progress to the polishing phase. 

It does look quite sharp I think. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Stringing up the cavaquinho

After stressing out over the finish for a couple of weeks I decided to leave well alone and intall tuners and stuff. First up was dressing the fret ends. 

Then I made the nut, marking the rough height with the half pencil. It’s still one of my favourite tools, so stupid yet indispensable. 

Sometimes I’ll plane the nut and saddle to minimize dust, but it is tough on the plane irons. So I used a file instead. 

The bridge pins came with a small gemstone at the top, I removed those with a soldering iron and a needle. Since I have a piezo pickup I made a step in the bottom edge of the saddle, to get it to look better at the ends. I could have recessed the piezo element a bit, or made a slot that didn’t go across, but remember I made the slot with a saw and not the router. 

Full body shots coming soon! It sounds, as they say, amazeballs. 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Fretboard on

I promised Dafydd an ebony fretboard for his patience, and that means I have to ship it before that brain dead shit scenario of Brexit. I slotted the board and made marker dots of 1.6 mm styrene rod. Next pic will show the advantage of this. Frets went in with a bit of force, ebony is quite unforgiving. I made sure the profile was exactly how I wanted it before placing it on the neck, I prefer to whittle the neck down to match the fretboard than the other way around. 

Actually when I think back now I profiled and placed it before istalling the dots, I drilled into the neck through - wait, let’s go to the next pic shall we. 

Like I said, I placed the fretboard and clamped it. Then I drilled through two of the holes into the neck. Installing the dots I let two of them stick out as you can see, making for two anti-slip brads. It went nowhere during glue-up. 

And the glue-up can be seen here. The bead of squeeze out glue hides the very tiny ledge of the neck edge sticking out. I took that down with my sharp knife. 

The advantage of taking the neck down to fit the fretboard rather than the other way around is that the fretboard will have straight sides. If it’s wider than the neck you could trim it down but it’s tricky to do so at the overhanging end on the soundboard. That’ll result in a slight splay past the neck joint.