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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator

This "aggregator" collects all of the woodworking blogs I read every day - or try to anyway!  Enjoy!

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Curchillo Knives

Doug Berch - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 12:34pm

I am continually drawn to older, simpler, lutherie technology . There are several reasons for this but mostly I am attracted to the older methods because they work well and I enjoy the experience of using them. With hand tools the craftsperson’s body and skill replace many jigs and machines. Working this way makes me […]

The post "Curchillo Knives" appeared first on "Doug Berch."

Categories: Luthiery

Stanley No. 271 Router

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Wed, 01/21/2015 - 3:12pm
Construction materials and proper tools are necessary for making guitars.

Gerald J. Bakus, A Comprehensive Reference to the Classical and Flamenco Guitar, 1977

This little tool has sat on the shelf for awhile, it wasn't forgotten, I don't have much use for it.

I purchased it from McGuckin's Hardware in Boulder, Colorado in 1994, I think Stanley stopped making No. 271 right after that. I once had the box that it came in, now lost in some move.

I've used it a few times, but never really did any kind of work where it was needed.

I did use it to finish the shelf on the neck on the latest Torres/Santos guitar...

...and today I retrieved it to start working down the heel for the heel cap.

I guess I will start using it more often!

I plan on changing the angle on the iron, it's a little too blunt, maybe something more along a 20 degree angle, anything to help it pare better.

I know that one can still find original Stanley No. 271 planes and are new ones are available from Lee Valley, Lie-Nielsen, et cetera.

You can definitely make your own, I seem to remember that Nick Engler published plans for one in some home woodworking book...

Categories: Luthiery

Making an Antonio Torres Style Guitar: Binding Ledges and Maple Binding

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Wed, 01/21/2015 - 2:45pm
Few realize the influence of the luthier on the life and career of an artist. Without the existence of an adequate instrument, the fantasy, the emotional richness, the technical precision and the essence of musical interpretation--all would remain latent.

Andres Segovia, 1954

Work on this guitar has consumed so much of my time these past two weeks I haven't been able to blog about the work, much to the chagrin of the young man who ordered this guitar.

The back is on, no hitches or other problems with that task, it rings like a bell when I tap it.

Out came the router, respirator, ear plugs, plus several prayers to Saint Joseph the Worker, for a series of test cuts and then the actual routing of the binding ledges. This step is not for the faint of heart, so many things can go wrong! I still recall when the router bit sent a big sliver of wood flying from the top of a guitar, fortunately I found the sliver and glued it back in place.

Even cutting these binding ledges by hand has its risks...

The back bindings glued in place. I use a stretchy binding tape, available from Lee Valley, to hold the bindings in place. As George Ellis wrote in his book, Modern Practical Joinery, when glueing make haste slowly!

A close up of the end graft and the bindings. Again, I'd like to point out that all the joinery in a classic guitar consists of butt joints, unless you use the famous "V" joint the attach the peg head to the neck...

Tomorrow, I tackle the bindings that go on the top!

Categories: Luthiery

Keepsake box: finished!

Guitar Building By Hand - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 9:06am

With the hinges installed, all there was left to do was apply the finish, right? Wrong! Now it was time to clean up the box. There were bits of glue and pencil marks that needed cleaning up. I especially hate getting rid of pencil marks. Even though I use a soft lead (2B) pencil, it still takes me ages to get rid of the marks. I find using a scraper or sandpaper are the best ways to get rid of pencil marks. Sometimes even an eraser works. What works best? I find it depends on the mark and the wood, but haven’t found any rules of thumb as yet. A necessary evil I guess.

Finally, the finish. I’m a big fan of Auro wax, which is a combination of boiled linseed oil (BLO) and wax. Its non-toxic and is easy to apply (with a brush or a rag). It can be buffed out after an hour or so, but needs about 24 hours to dry properly. I usually apply three coats. The end result is a finish that protects the wood and is not too glossy (which I like). And while it brings out the grain, it is almost transparent. I find that BLO (even the clear BLO) turns wood a slight yellow/orange colour. This Auro stuff doesn’t do that.

Anyway, here are some pictures of the finished product:

IMG_8728 IMG_8733IMG_8735

Categories: Hand Tools, Luthiery

Keepsake box: the hinges

Guitar Building By Hand - Sun, 01/18/2015 - 9:05am

A whole blog post about hinges? Boring! Perhaps so, but I learned a lot about hinges making this box. I had never really given hinges much thought before. I knew they should be strong enough, do the right job and look decent, but didn’t think much beyond that. I did want to get the the correct hinges before starting the box. I didn’t want to realise too late into the project that I would need to change the design to accommodate whatever hinges I could get. Little did I know that the internet is flooded with hinges of all kinds and that it would take ages to choose the right ones.

After a long search, I settled for quadrant hinges with a ‘lid stay’. I thought these would be better able to support the lid than regular hinges. I chose the ‘lid stay’ variety since I didn’t want to use a chain to stop the lid from dropping back to far. One thing I discovered is how few websites provide all the dimensions of their hinges. The wood I was using was quite thin (around 12mm) so I had to be sure the hinge would fit. I needed to go the shop and see them for myself before buying. The shop I eventually got them from had a ‘cheap’ and ‘expensive’ variety. I settled for the more expensive ones. They were a lot better: they opened and closed much more smoothly and had a nicer finish.

I was nervous about getting this right. The hinges not only needed to fit perfectly, but I also needed to chop mortise holes in the sides and lid to give the lid stays somewhere to go when the box was closed. In the end it wasn’t much more complicated than installing regular hinges, just a bit more fiddly and time consuming.

Chiselling out the hinge recesses to an exact fit was painstaking work, not the least because of the thin wall between the hinge recess and the edge of the wood. The wood did break off once or twice, but that was easily fixed with some glue. After fitting the hinges into the recesses I chopped the mortise holes in the box and lid with a 2mm(!) chisel.

After a bit of fiddling I got the lid to fit (more or less) seamlessly onto the box. It was a lot of work, but I think it was well worth the extra effort.

Quadrant hinge recess Quadrant hinge recess One side of the quadrant hinge Quadrant hinges installed The finished box The finished box

Categories: Hand Tools, Luthiery

Music I’d Like To Hear #86

Doug Berch - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 10:44am

The post "Music I’d Like To Hear #86" appeared first on "Doug Berch."

Categories: Luthiery

What’s On The Bench – 1/10/2015

Doug Berch - Fri, 01/09/2015 - 10:26pm

Here is a still-life of what was in front of me earlier while fitting a peghead to the end of a dulcimer: I make most of the parts and do most of the assembly of my dulcimers on a solera. On the left of the solera is a dulcimer waiting for a peghead. On the […]

The post "What’s On The Bench – 1/10/2015" appeared first on "Doug Berch."

Categories: Luthiery

Making an Antonio Torres Style Guitar: Top Bracing, Attaching Top to Neck and Bending Sides by Hand

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Wed, 12/31/2014 - 1:00pm
A truly great guitar needs the human touch, intuition, and insight; therefore, I still primarily use hand tools so that I may feel the wood as I work with it.

Dake Traphagen, Master Luthier

Last posting of 2014!

Thanks to all of you who have visited my blog and those who have left comments!

Thank You to Paul and Joseph Sellers (I hope I got that right!) for keeping Unplugged Shop going and posting my blog posts on it.

Thank You to Luke Townsley for starting Unplugged Shop.

Thank You Leif at Norse Woodsmith for his aggregator.

Here's a photo essay with captions of my process of creating a copy of Antonio Torres' FE 19 1864 "La Suprema" guitar. This guitar is for a young, up and coming classic guitarist in the Denver, Colorado area.

The body shape is a copy of FE 19 as drawn by Neil Ostberg, click here for his site, but the top bracing is based upon a guitar made by the great Santos Hernandez in the 1920's.

Braces are glued on with hot hide glue, the clamps are not clamping the braces, but holding the top to the shape of the scooped out work board. The hide glue dries in under four minutes, no need for clamps!

My glue pot. Available here.

Glueing on the transverse braces. Note the slanted, or angled, lower brace, this is some that Santos did on some of his guitars with the idea that this would tighten up the treble area of the top, to help the treble strings be as loud and even as the bass strings.

Glueing on the last transverse brace.

Granadillo sides, this wood is a bear to bend!

Electric bending iron and the sides in the background. I will touch up the sides before I attach them to the top.

My Stanley No. 271 router that I use to clean up the shelf on the heel where the top attaches...

Getting ready to apply the glue to the neck/heel union. The straight edge aligns the neck and top center line, I nail the top to the heel with three nails...

Waiting for the glue to harden...

In this photo I had just glued the end block on to the top. The next step is to attach the sides!

Happy New Year!

Categories: Luthiery

My Chair Maker's Bottoming Iron

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Wed, 12/24/2014 - 12:52pm
The term 'Bottoming Iron' was used for a curved Shave for taking out the Adze marks on Windsor seats.

R.A. Salaman, Dictionary of Woodworking Tools, 1989

I have an order to make a close copy of a 1930 Santos Hernandez guitar and since its plantilla, or outline, is a little different than the one used by Antonio Torres, another solera, or workboard, is needed to build this guitar. Once the top is glued to the neck, all the work done to assemble the guitar will be done on this work board.

The soleras that I use are scooped out to create a dish so that when the braces are glued onto the guitar's top the braces will hold that arch once the glue dries. A domed top gives a guitar a real voice, one that has volume and lyricism.

I usually use a curved bottom plane to hog out most of the material, but this time I pulled out a "travisher" that I made quite a few years ago, back when I thought I could make some extra money selling Welsh stick chairs.

I bought the blade from Country Workshops, and I followed the instructions for making a chair bottoming iron that is in Drew Langsner's great book, The Chairmaker's Workshop. The book is still available but Country Workshops no longer carries any kind of curved spokeshave blades.

The body was sawn from a chunk of maple that I purchased from Loren at the Wood Emporium in Loveland, Colorado...

The blade is held in place with just a few washers and screws.

I've never had the blade come lose or change position while working with it.

I re-shaped the area in front of the mouth and it works even better than it did when I first made it 17 years ago.

The dish on the work board is completed, I just need to give the pieces a bunch of coats of shellac, as much as the MDF will hold, to help stabilize the material. How I make a work board will be another posting.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Categories: Luthiery

How I Made an Eight Inch English Layout Square

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Mon, 12/22/2014 - 11:23am
The Joiners Square is a tool used in the production of right angles, either in the drawing of lines or in the planing up of stuff...

George Ellis, Modern Practical Joinery, 1902

I've been using a 4 inch drafting square that I bought in a hobby store 20 years ago to do the layout for transverse braces on guitar tops and backs. It's not the squarest square anymore and I use a 12 inch steel ruler to extend the line off the square when I use it and I've noticed that those lines often are truly square to the center line drawn on the top or back. I correct it by pulling a 3-4-5 measurement to check the squareness.

I rarely make tools for my luthier work anymore, making a tool takes away from spent at the bench creating a guitar, but I'm getting a little tired of fighting that little square.

So I made a layout square based upon the old English layout square that seems to be every where on the wood working internet these days.

I hope many of you have made this English layout square, it's awfully pretty and appealing.

The square I made doesn't have the fancy ogees that are on the Schwarz-ian square, just simple ogees and partial circles.

The wood that I used was some California laurel (umbellularia californica), click here to learn more about this gorgeous wood, that I have on hand.

I apologize if some of these photos are a little blurry, I used my iPhone to take several of the shots and didn't pay enough attention on the area where the camera was focusing.

I drew a simple ogee on the legs, roughed that out with a sloyd knife and then refined the shape on small sanding drum chucked into the drill press.

The half lap joints were sawn and then finished with a chisel, the blade on my Stanley No.271 router plane needed sharpening, again I didn't want to take the time, a sharp chisel and a safety edge file cleaned up the joints.

Laying out where the brace cross member goes...

All the pieces ready to be glued...

..and the glue up!

The finished square! I squared it off the edge of a piece of foam board.

Why an eight inch square? The classic guitar models I make are usually no wider than 15 inches.

The area inside the legs and brace reminds me of a gable on the Rouen Cathedral...

The square in use. It should make work a little easier!

Here's Isabelle Selder, enjoy!

Categories: Luthiery

Music I’d Like To Hear #85

Doug Berch - Sat, 12/20/2014 - 3:40pm

The post "Music I’d Like To Hear #85" appeared first on "Doug Berch."

Categories: Luthiery

The Joy Of Planing

Doug Berch - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 8:11pm

Those of you who follow my posts know that during the last few years I have dealt with some boring health issues. Slowly but surely I’m returning to being a dulcimer builder on a regular basis. As I am able to do more I have to remind my self not to do too much more; […]

The post "The Joy Of Planing" appeared first on "Doug Berch."

Categories: Luthiery

On Being Vise-less, Paring Chisels and Carving Guitar Necks

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:24am
Straight end chisels must be "squared up" on the grinder and shaped to the correct bevel.

Lester Griswold, Handicraft, 1951

I've noticed lately that there are several wood workers in the world of Internet wood work blogging that are bragging about being "vise-less".

Well, good for you!

I've used hold fasts almost exclusively on my bench for that last twenty years or so, hold fasts are cheap compared to a metal vise and I never got along well with leg vises. I don't make boxes or cut dovetails anymore, I make classical guitars which need much different clamping devices than say, oh, a Federal highboy.

Don't get me wrong, I do need to use a vise for some tasks.

One thing I enjoy about using holdfasts is how quickly you can hold a piece of wood and you don't have to use a pretty piece of wood as a clamping caul.

Hold fasts are efficient for most tasks, they are great for holding guitar necks!

Smoothing the slots in the head stock

I do own and use a Shop Fox brand vise that I bought from Grizzly some ten-eleven years because it was cheap and I needed a better way of holding certain objects. Personally, I think this vise is a piece of junk and isn't worthy of being a boat anchor-I have to use excess torque on the vise screw to hold the work piece and even after that the vise will turn on its tower, etc., etc. I am too cheap at the moment to replace it with something else.

Funny how deadlines can get in the way of doing things.

One inch wide chisel on the left with a 30 degree bevel, 7/8 inch chisel on right with 20 degree bevel

While carving the heel of a guitar neck the other day, I notice how the steep bevel of my one inch chisel kept bumping the chisel out of the cut. I was using the chisel with its belly down.


Most of my chisels are ground to a 30 degree bevel, this is left over from the days when I did chop dovetails and mortises, so I thought I would take one chisel and experiment with a 20 degree bevel.

I took my 7/8 inch Stanley No.720 chisel to the grinder and then locked it in my old Eclipse 36 Made in England honing guide.

A close copy of a Santos Hernandez guitar heel

The 20 degree bevel worked like a charm, now I want to experiment with a 15 degree bevel, but, again, the amount of time I have in the shop grows short.

I have two orders for custom classical guitars, a router table is waiting to be built so I can make muntin, rail and stile stock for eight sashes for the new porch enclosure which that also needs to be finish before winter really sets in.

Did I mention that our water heater developed a good leak the other day?

It's going to be a busy winter!

Another YouTube of Isabella Selder, enjoy!

Categories: Luthiery
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