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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator
An aggregate of many different woodworking blog feeds from across the 'net all in one place! These are my favorite blogs that I read everyday...
Howard Bass, José Tomás: Memory and Legacy, 2012
Last year, I made a guitar for Julia, lead singer of Ode to the Marionette. It was a redwood/Indian rosewood guitar, small bodied with a short string length of 635mm. She loved it so much that she asked me to make her a seven string flamenco guitar.
I am excited to make her a new guitar, especially a seven string because it is surprising how much more music can be played on a guitar with an extra bass string. Check out the video at the end of this post.
Julia has small hands and to make it comfortable for her to play this guitar I am making it with a 635mm string length, a standard classical guitar has a string length of 650mm, so this requires making the entire guitar smaller so it doesn't look out of proportion to itself and the performer. A standard classical guitar has a box length of 480-490mm, this guitar has a box length of 470mm.
A concern of mine was to make sure that the head stock wasn't going to be way too big to fit this guitar, I also don't want this guitar to be neck heavy. I tapered the headstock in the opposite direction of the usual classical headstock, that is wider at the nut and smaller at the crest. I was going to make the crest be a copy of Santos Hernandez's crest, but it made the head stock look gargantuan compared to the rest of the guitar.
I spent most of the morning checking and re-checking the layout of the headstock to make sure everything was perfect for I cut anything. The noon time 2 mile run I took helped me get through the afternoon with the rest of the work.
Here's the heel block. I like to wedge the sides in, instead of having just a narrow slot.
Glueing the headstock to the neck shaft.
Julia chose a nice Sitka spruce top for her guitar, this photo shows my jointing jig. It was a sunny day when I jointed this top, I went outside to "candle" the joint using the sun.
Glueing the two top pieces together.
The top with layout for braces and harmonic bars.
Tomorrow will be spent finish carving the heel. Again, it is a balancing act, how to make everything look in proportion for a wider neck on a smaller bodied guitar.
Stayed tuned, more seven string guitar fun is on its way!
Here is a video of Doug DeVries playing on a seven string classical guitar. Enjoy!
Several years ago I spent weeks fiddling with the shape of my standard model dulcimer. After thinking I had finalized the shape I built several prototypes and again made some changes to the outline; some based on looks, some based on acoustics. I was very happy with the results. During the months I was unable […]
Part of a conversation that I overheard on a construction site.
I'm on a bit of a deadline.
I go back to my day job as a historic preservation carpenter in one month and I just got an order for a seven string flamenco guitar.
I've got 2 guitars in the works, I want to get them all done by the middle of this summer while working a full time job.
A long time ago, I used a pore filler on an early guitar thinking that it was "the way to go!" in finishing that guitar. All I remember is the endless sanding down to the wood only to find that I needed to fill the pores again.
This week I succumbed to what I thought might be quick, easy and high quality, I got some drywall compound and stained it black.
I filled the pores, wiped off as much of the compound as I could (I went through a lot of shop paper towels!), let the compound dry for a couple of hours and then sanded the back and sides. Hmm, sort of worked and decided to fill the whole thing again, I let it dry over night.
I started sanding this morning, using 320 grit paper, according to the instructions, and I ended up getting out a card scraper so I could see the wood. Again, hmph! I scraped and sanded and then blew off all the dust with my compressor and air nozzle. While I was blowing the wood I could actually see pieces of drywall compound being lifted out of the pores.
The last time I try using that technique of pore filling!
I got out some dark blonde shellac, EverClear, 4F pumice, olive oil and the French polish pads. I soaked the wood as much as I could with shellac and then I cheated - I began applying pumice with alcohol, shellac and olive oil. I wanted to fill the pores as quick as I could.
And it worked.
I will go back and level sand the finish, but first I want to seal the rosewood as best as I can. I am using ebony to bind this guitar and the binding laminate will be curly maple. The last thing I want is for the maple to become pink from the rosewood dust, I figure that sealing the rosewood before I cut the binding ledges and install the binding will save me some grief.
I really want to say that using that drywall compound was a waste of my time, I can't because it taught me that the really old tried and true methods can be the best.
Stanley Doubtfire, Make Your Own Classical Guitar, 1981
I am in the process of pore filling this guitar today, so I thought that many of you would like to see how the sound box of a guitar is assembled. I have left out some steps, what follows are the basic steps...
Gluing on two upper harmonic bars, I add one more bar underneath the fret board. These are glued on with Lee Valley's fish glue.
The ledge for the sound board is cut into the heel block of the neck. I did this step with a router on several earlier guitars with almost disastrous results, I cut this by hand these days.
Aligning the center line of the top with the center line of the neck.
Gluing and nailing the top to the heel block. Antonio Torres did the same thing! I pre-drill the holes for these nails these days, less error in placement and the nails hammer in as slick as a willow whistle!
Clamping the top and heel block. In this photo you can see the third harmonic bar and the 1.5mm thick re-inforcment that is underneath the fret board. This reduces the chance of the top cracking with the movement of the ebony fret board.
Gluing the laminated sides to the top.
The sides are attached to the top with these little blocks, they are made from the same redwood as the top is, individually installed as I cut them from the kerfing stick. Yeah, I am a little bit of a geek.
A shop made miter box that I threw together from some scrap walnut.
The best glue on earth, fresh made hot hide glue! Each block was glued in place with this glue, it grabs quickly and is strong!
I use continuous kerfing for the back. I like to glue this on with fish glue.
Installing the pillarets for the harmonic bars.
Adding a wedge shape piece of wood to the heel of the the neck. The heel of the neck needs to contact the back for strength, the back is arched and this wedge is made so the heel is in the same arch as the back.
The back braces are shaped and the back is ready to be glued onto the guitar.
I use a rope cut from a tire inner tube to "clamp" the back to the sides. Again, I use fish glue, I really do like the stuff!
If you would like to know more about making a guitar, I highly recommend Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology: A Complete Reference for the Design & Construction of the Steel-String Folk Guitar & the Classical Guitar, by Cumpiano and Natelson; and Making Master Guitars by Roy Courtnall.
Enjoy this YouTube of Tatyana Ryzhkova!
Ida Virginia Turney, Paul Bunyan Comes West, 1928
This book, Legends of Paul Bunyan, collected by Harold Felton, showed up in the mail the other day, and I must say, if you have never read any books about Paul Bunyan then you should read this one! It's a wonderful collection of stories, poems and songs about Paul and his life, there is even a poem by Robert Frost in this collection. There are stories by the usual Paul Bunyan authors: W.B Laughead, James Stevens, Esther Shepard, Wallace Wadsworth, etc., and stories that were gathered from real loggers. Gorgeous illustrations and many hours of fun reading.
I mentioned in a previous posting that I was born and raised where the southern end Cascade Mountain Range collides with the northern end of the Sierra Nevada Range. It was magical to grow up in a land of old growth timber, there were ponderosa and sugar pines six feet through right out our back door. Then there were all the stories about the men and women who worked in the lumber camps and surrounding communities, I miss those who told those stories.
Many of the events in those family stories took place in the sawmill town of Lyonsville, California. There the Champion Mill produced lumber which was floated down to the kilns and yards via a flume to Red Bluff, California. The Sierra Lumber Company used 0-6-0T Porter locomotives to haul the trees in from the lumber camps and log chutes to the mill, and it ran on meter gauge tracks. When the line was first laid down, Tehama County couldn't tax Sierra Lumber Company, because meter gauge was not used anywhere else in the United States. That was quickly rectified.
This "Uncle Sam", locomotive #3 that operated from Lyonsville. According to John Barnhill at Foothill Rails, click here to see his website, "Uncle Sam" was made by H.K. Porter & Co. in 1896.
This is "Antelope", locomotive #2. I think it was named "Antelope" partly as a joke, these weren't fast engines and the Champion Mill sat right on the edge of the North Fork of Antelope Creek. It also ran on the Lyonsville line. Mr. Barnhill states that "Antelope" was by H.K. Porter & Co. in 1883.
Here is a shot of "Antelope" pushing a load into Lyonsville (I can tell it's #2 from the smokestack. This is a great shot, I rarely find old photos of carpenters building houses.
I believe this was the first locomotive purchased by the Sierra Flume and Lumber Company, the predecessor of the Sierra Lumber Co. Barnhill states that this 0-4-0 was made by the Marysville Foundry, Marysville, California in 1877 and that it was named "Yellow Hammer". I haven't found any information on the internet about the Marysville Foundry making locomotives, but I did find out that they made other rolling stock.
This a the Champion Mill at Lyonsville. The men are stacking lumber, which will later be put into the flume to be shipped down to the Red Bluff yard to be planed and dried before it will be shipped out on the main line railroad. Diamond Match Company had purchased the Sierra Lumber Company by the time this photo was taken.
"Uncle Sam" on a trestle somewhere near Lyonsville. I bet that that load is just one sugar pine tree!
My own "Uncle Sam", a Bachmann Spectrum Porter 0-4-0T pulling a load of Douglas fir.
You got to check out this YouTube! Enjoy!
R.A. Salaman, Dictionary of Woodworking Tools, 1989
As some of you know, my workbench is based upon the bench in Roy Underhill's book, The Woodwright's Apprentice. When I built it 20 years ago, I didn't want to use the bench stop that Roy used, I knew I would be planing fairly wide wood and at the time, such a small stop, or bench dog, didn't make much sense to me.
At the time, I owned an issue of a now defunct wood working magazine that had an article on bench accessories, and this wide stop was part of the article. I think I used a nice piece of ponderosa pine for the first one, then I replaced that with a chunk of red oak. When that broke I made a stop from a scrap of 10 ply plywood that was left at a new home construction site that I was working at.
Fifteen years or so later, I finally decided to replace that piece of plywood with another scrap piece.
May it last fifteen years.
I finished my workbench today. It’s made almost completely out of reclaimed wood (only the top layer of plywood is new). The previous tenant had filled a container full of stuff he didn’t want anymore and it seemed a waste not to use it. He even through away a box of screws and bolts which I used to put the whole thing together, even for attaching the vice.
It was a great experience making this bench as I’ve never made anything this large before and I challenged myself to work with what I had.
I moved all my tools and wood from my flat to the new workshop as well, so now I’m ready to begin!
A good of mine found a Les Paul Standard that has all the qualities he was looking for except for the finish. I stripped it down to bare wood, installed a bone nut, and refinished it with an amber top and cherry back.
Its official, I’m getting a new workshop! I’m renting space at a workshop nearby and will have shared access to the machines and facilities.
Since I don’t know how to use any of the machinery (besides the bandsaw and drill press) I’ll be given some training. This will help me expand the scope of my woodworking, using the machines to dimension and prepare wood myself. The joinery will be done at my new bench. The extra space will allow me to make bigger projects and get my hand tool skills to a higher level. I’ll also be in the company of other woodworkers (some very experienced woodturners and furniture makers), which will make for an excellent environment.
I’ll keep my workbench at home for my guitar building and woodcarving, especially for the more detailed and quiet work. All I really need for that is a table and some tools, but it does mean sorting out what goes to the new workshop and what stays at home.
This is my current workspace at home. It’s in the guest bedroom and our wardrobes are in this room as well. Yes, I have a very supportive wife who tolerates this, but she’s very happy that a lot of the wood and tools will be leaving the flat. Also, an apartment isn’t the best place for chopping mortises and hammering together joints.
And this is my new workshop! I salvaged some wood from the previous tenant and will use that to make a workbench as a first project. More on that to follow soon!
Christmas is long over so it’s time for an update on the guitar building.
After drilling the holes for the tuning machines, I created the slots for the strings. I did this by marking out the centre line of each slot and used a drill press to remove most of the waste. I then used a chisel to clean out the inside walls of the slots. It’s amazing how much lighter the headstock is after this step – that’s a lot of wood gone!
I’m pleased with the result, although the drill did cause some tear-out on the back face of the headstock. I’ll clean that up later by planing it out with my block plane.
I wanted to do add some design features to the headstock, and decided on an olive wood binding/inlay. The first step involved chiseling out a groove along the headstock edge. I used a home-made marking tool (the edge of a screw set into a curved piece of wood) to score a line parallel to the edge of the headstock. I used a knife to cut into the line and chiseled away the waste.
Then began the time consuming process of cutting the olive wood inlay pieces. The piece that took the longest was the one for the curved crown of the headstock (top right in the picture below) since the curves had to match exactly:
I glued the inlay piece by piece, stretching masking tape over each piece as a clamp. After the glue dried I used a scraper to get the inlay flush with the headstock:
I used a proper clamp with a wooden caul for the curved piece though:
After I finished, I slid in the tuning machines to see what it would look like. Here’s the end result!
Wallace Wadsworth, Paul Bunyan and His Great Blue Ox, 1926
A couple of weeks I had a few bad days in the shop, mostly having fits over my French polish technique or maybe it was the shellac I was having problems with, I don't know. I walked away from the bench, sat down, glanced at a bookcase and my eyes fell on my collection of books about Paul Bunyan. Then I remembered what is important - family, stories and hobbies.
Paul Bunyan was a hero of mine since I was a little kid, when you grow up in a family of storytellers who simply told about the things that they did in everyday life - ranching, logging, mining - the exploits of Paul Bunyan aren't that far-fetched. The West is a big place and you compare everything else in the world to it, many places pale to the wonders that lay West of the 100th meridian.
About 20 years ago I started collecting all the books on Paul Bunyan that I could lay my hands on: W.B. Laughead's original stories; James Steven's colossal whopper of a tail; Ida Virginia Turney whacked out vignettes; Wallace Wadsworth's decent retelling; but my favorites are those by Dell Lomax, Glen Rounds and Louis Untermeyer. There are several other authors whose works I need to add to my collection, I don't know their stories are original or just rehashing of what W.B. Laughead wrote back in 1914, but that is why you collect, to learn.
This past Christmas, my wife got me a HO scale model train of the Durango & Silverton line. I never had a model railroad when I was a kid, my brother got a Marx G scale train one Christmas and he rarely let me play with it. It was a delight to have my own model train. This, of course, has started me down a slippery path - model railroading.
This is a photo of "Paul Dean", the first 0-4-0 locomotive purchased by the Sierra Flume and Lumber Company from the Union Iron Works in San Francisco, California, and was later converted into a 0-6-0 locomotive. This meter gauge locomotive operated only 9 miles from where I grew up in northeastern California. Now I want to make a logging railroad layout of the line from Yellow Jacket to Lyonsville.
This is "Uncle Sam", Engine No. 3 bring in a load of logs to Lyonsville. It was a 0-6-0 saddle tank locomotive also built by the Union Iron Works. There is a photo of this engine in the my grandparents' photo collection. If you go online to the CSU Chico Digital Collections and search for Sierra Lumber Company you can see more photos of the logging railroads from my neck of the woods.
The logging industry put food on our table and me through college, my dad was a mill wright. He worked for Diamond International (remember Diamond Matches?) in Red Bluff, California, then went to Kimberly-Clark and retired with Simpson Paper, both plants were in Anderson, California.
This is the Champion Mill at Lyonsville, California. My grandfather, along with several other relatives, worked at this mill. My great uncle Frank Black told us a story about when he was a kid, he and some friends loosen the brakes on the log cars and watched them crash into the mill. I don't remember if they got caught, but the mill foreman had an idea who did it.
This is a Spectrum On30 Scale Steam 0-4-0 Porter locomotive that I want to buy. It's a close match to the "Paul Dean". I'll get this, a couple of log cars and a Dolbeer "Donkey" log skidder to start my logging railroad layout. The Model Railroader's Guide to Logging Railroads is on its way to my mail box. It is either this or building muzzleloading rifles.
Enjoy this YouTube from the Greeley Freight Station Museum!
Aaron Green, luthier
It was -15 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday morning with snow. The temperature got up to 2 degrees by noon, but quickly dropped back down to
-3 degrees for the rest of the day. Needless to say, I went out only twice, I am so glad I don't have to work out in that kind of weather anymore, even the dogs realized that it was too cold to be outside.
I spent the day doing the final rub out on the guitar it the photo above, it is based on a Hernandez y Aguado guitar. It has the same plantilla, or shape, as a HyA guitar, but is built with a 640mm string length. It has a Douglas fir top with mahogany back and sides. I had to do some touch up on the finish, I figure 3 more quick sessions of the French polish touch up, let shellac harden and this guitar will be ready!
The new copy of a Hernandez y Aguado guitar is coming along fine, I got the braces glued on Tuesday afternoon. Once again, I will say that I love hot hide glue! I posted about its wonders while I was making Julia's guitar, click here to see that post.
Top, back, sides and neck for the Hernandez y Aguado copy. The top is redwood reclaimed from a barn outside of Yosemite National Park, the back is Indian rosewood, the sides are Indian rosewood laminated with Alaska yellow cedar and the neck is made out of a stick of Spanish cedar that is over 40 years old.
Now that the humidity is close to 36 percent I will glue the upper harmonic bars to the top and hopefully tomorrow I can start assembling the guitar!
Wood is full of surprises. I had just finished bringing a beautiful butternut dulcimer soundboard to final thickness when I noticed some odd-looking marks in the wood. Ends up there was a bit of deep checking inside that wasn’t revealed until I got it to final thickness. Wood often has flaws and flaws are part […]
Jose Ramirez III, Things About the Guitar, 1990
Last year I took the plunge and made several outsides molds to laminate guitar sides, one was for a smaller bodied Hernandez y Aguado guitar and the other for the famous FE 19 of Antonio Torres.
I bought Alaska yellow cedar veneer and thin strips of hard board from JS Bogdanovich Guitars, the cedar is to be laminated to the side and the hard board is for the glueing cauls. (You can read about laminating guitar sides in Mr. Bogdanovich's book, Classical Guitar Making).
The real world and a seasonal job called me away from the work shop last April so the cedar, molds and hard board sat quietly in a corner of the studio until just a few weeks ago.
I've been wanting to make another guitar based upon a Hernandez y Aguado guitar, one that will have a redwood top and Indian rosewood back and sides. Last year I posted about inlaying a rosette into the top and carving and stippling the head stock of the neck.
Last week I thinned the sides down to a 1/16th of an inch thick (that will be another posting!) and yesterday I bent the sides and the veneer.
Then I applied yellow glue to the different layers and put all of it in the mold and started clamping. I never thought that I would own 15 clamps that were exactly the same! As George Ellis says in his book, Modern Practical Joinery, I made haste slowly while doing this glue up. In this photo I've turned the mold over to clean up the squeeze out on the "bottom" of the mold.
This morning I took the side out of the mold. There is some spring back in the lower bout of this side, it's not too bad and I can deal with it when I assemble the guitar.
All and all, the process went well, though I plan on buying some hard board to make my own slats. The ones that you purchase from Bogdanovich are a little narrow for the depth of the sides that are used on a Hernandez y Aguado guitar.
My biggest criticism of "Bog's" book, and purchasing materials from his store, is that you can make only the guitar that he makes in the book and DVDs. You can't make a copy of a Torres, Bouchet, Ramirez, etc., by using his book.
If you want to make a guitar, I recommend that you use either the Cumpiano/Natelson book, or the Courtnall book. Or buy the Bogdanovich book and make his guitar. I've posted about these and other books elsewhere in this blog.
I will laminate the other side today.
Why laminate the sides?
I'm good at bending the sides on a bending iron, but I only get the chance to do it two or three times a year, I wish I could do it more often. I figure by laminating the sides the shapes of my guitars will be more consistent, which I worry about though I shouldn't.
Lamination makes the sides stiffer which will help the sound of the guitar, because really all I am doing is making a drum with strings. The stiffer the drum rim the louder the drum.
I know that Jose Ramirez III laminated the sides of his famous 1A guitars in the 1960' and 1970's and many of those guitars had an incredible sound. Michael Thames, a luthier in Santa Fe, New Mexico laminates the sides of his guitars and so do several other makers.
I also want to make the best guitar that I possible can, I need to step up to the plate and play hard ball.
Here is a video of Andrew York playing an Antonio Torres guitar made in 1888!
I’m currently working on two dulcimers I began this past Fall before the last back surgery. I am so happy to be working again! It will still be a while before I am back to working full-time in the shop, which for a self-employed person who loves his job usually means most-of-the-time, but I am […]
Alex Komodore, Coordinator of Guitar Studies, Associate Professor at Metropolitan State University, Denver, Colorado
This is the one time a guitar maker gets to do anything close to carving a piece of wood - the neck.
The profile of the heel is carved nearly to completion when I attach the guitar's top to it, now that the guitar is assembled I need to blend the curves of the heel to the rest of the neck. I also need to shape the profile of the neck to a flat "D" shape. I find this shape the most comfortable for playing, though some like a more rounded neck, I think this is the best shape for a classical guitar, even Alex Komodore thinks so!
Knives, spokeshaves, card scrapers, round and flat rasps and files are the tools used for shaping the neck.
I use this gauge to check the progress of the neck's shape.
The best judge for a neck's surface and shape is my thumb and hand. As a player I know the importance of a good neck and I spend as much time as needed making the neck perfect.
I read an interview with a very famous classical guitar maker and in the interview he bragged that he could shape a guitar's neck in 15 minutes using just a draw knife. Bravo for him.
I spent close to four hours shaping and sanding this neck. I want my guitars to be playable and comfortable.
French polishing with shellac is next phase for "Amparo"!
Alex W. Bealer, Old Ways of Working Wood, 1980
I haven't bought a brand spanking new chisel for proper wood working since, um, let me think here, 1993?
That was a set of Stanley, made in England, blue handle chisels that hold a scary sharp edge. The new Marples chisels have nothing on those chisels.
My other chisels are vintage James Swan, Keen Cutter, Stiletto, etc., that I found in flea markets or bought from tool dealers through the Internet.
I wanted a nice chisel to help clean out the binding rabbets on guitars, so I splurged and bought a 10mm chisel from Luthiers Mercantile International. Click here to see their chisels. I remember when LMI offered a 1mm wide chisel!
The handle that came with it is tintul and it's not as well shaped as the LMI handles were 20 years ago. The handle is clumsy in my hand, that long barrel where the chisel shank resides is just that, a barrel with no taper and not very comfortable.
I clamped the blade in a vise, heated up the handle with a hot air gun and knocked it off. I remember my dad telling me that all the old carpenters that he knew first thing would remove the factory handle on a new chisel and make their own.
That is exactly what I did. I took a pick handle, cut off a length, chucked in the mini lathe and went at it.
I do miss using a spring pole lathe, it's quieter, gives my leg a work out and allows me to flip the work piece end for end to finesse the turning. A power lathe doesn't give you all that.
I'm a little out of practice, and to use a worn out wood working pun, I need to "tame the skew". (How many of you have really seen Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew?)
The hickory turned well and I used my standard handle pattern.
After a little work with a chisel and round rasp the tang fit well in the new handle. I used cyanoacrylate glue to hold the handle to the chisel tang.
By the way, if anyone wants the tintul handle that came with this chisel, I will send it to you for the cost of shipping, which is $5.80. LMI offers that tool handle for $5.50 plus shipping.
If you are interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name, email address, mailing address stating that you really want this handle. That way I know that you are serious about sending the money for the shipping costs. Please don't leave a comment in the comment box, I check my email more often than I do this blog!