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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator
This is a collection of all the different blogs I (try to) read. A whole bunch! If you have any comments or suggestions feel free to use the CONTACT page to get a hold of me. Thanks!
Donald Culross Peattie, A Natural History of Western Trees, 1953
Just arrived, two sets of Engelmann Spruce guitar tops!
I purchased these tops from Simeon Chambers out of Highlands Ranch, Colorado. I have heard good things about the tonewood his sells, so I decided to see that for myself.
Click here for his website and better yet, click here for his eBay store.
The order arrived within three days of placing it. Mr. Chambers did include four pieces of brace wood, enough I think for the transverse bars and fan bracing!
As you can see the wood is gorgeous, Mr. Chambers states that this wood is comes from trees that were killed in a forest fire back in the 1940's.
I want to pair one of these tops with curly hard maple back and sides...oh, so much work to do!
Scott Landis, The Workbench Book, 1987
A deadline is fast approaching and I have at least one more French polish session to do on the bearclaw Sitka spruce/granadillo guitar for Kyle Throw, an up and coming young classical guitarist in Denver, Colorado.
The trickiest part about French polishing a guitar is where the sides join the heel, you have to really smash down your polishing pad to get the shellac in the corner of the junction. And you can't work the area too much at a time or you will soften the shellac you just put down.
A bench mounted vise holds the guitar by the head stock or neck when I French polish, one problem with this is I have a limited view of that junction. Really, I can't the bench light just right to reflect off the shellac so I can see how much I am putting down.
I decided to remedy that problem today, I decided to make a guitar body holding box that can be mounted to the bench apron.
I got this idea from Scott Landis's The Workshop Book. Turn to page 31 of his book and you will see a photo of the workshop of Jeffery Elliot and Cyndy Burton. In the photo you see Jeff working on a guitar that is being held in a box.
There was a handful of ponderosa/lodgepole pine boards in my other workshop, just right to make the box. No plans needed, I figured two inches wider and deeper than the guitar box. The rest I "eagle eyed".
A battery powered drill, some screws and the box quickly went together...
I marked the location for the holdfast holes and drilled them with my trust Stanley brace and Irwin drill bit...
and the hold fasts, well, um, hold the box tightly to the bench apron.
In this above photo, the redwood/Indian rosewood copy of a 1961 Hernandez y Aguado guitar sits well in the box ready for more alcohol/pumice pore filling.
The beauty of holding the guitar in such a box is the quick access to the sides on either side of the heel joint. It means a better job of French polishing!
Now, get out to your workshop and make something!
Miguel Rodriguez, Jr. (1921-1998), master luthier, Cordoba, Spain
Ten years ago, an older friend found out that I was making classical guitars.
He invited me over to his little handmade house of reclaimed wood, it sat beneath gigantic sugar pines and incense cedars, and Lassen Volcanic National Park was only 50 feet from his back door. He said he had some wood I might be interested in, an invitation I couldn't turn down.
Beneath those sugar pines and cedars were about 100 bundles of hand split western red cedar shingles, all leftover from when he roofed his house fifteen years earlier.
He said, "Go wild and pick out what you want".
I did and now when I look back at that day, I wish I had taken more.
We all know what wishing gets us.
The guitar in the above photo is the first guitar that I have made from a pair of those cedar shakes.
The three piece back is some "wild grown" Indian rosewood with a sapele insert.
The braces are Spanish cedar, so are the back joint reinforcement strips.
I use Lee Valley Fish Glue to glue on the back and as you can see I rope the back onto the sides with a two inch wide strip cut from a tire inner tube.
The guitar is ready for the bindings, which will be sapele to match the back insert.
The rosette is very similar to the rosettes created by Francisco Simplicio and Ignacio Fleta.
I will work on this guitar as I can over the summer and fall, there are three other guitars for me to finish this summer.
If anyone would like color photos of this guitar, please contact me and I will send them to you!
Here's a YouTube of Raphaella Smits playing one of my favorite J.S. Bach pieces!
After planing poplar for the current run of dulcimers I tracked some shavings throughout the house. As many who hand-plane know, wood shavings can be captivating. So here are a few poplar shavings, about 2 inches wide and 32 inches long, sitting by the window and getting some sun with their beauty inadequately captured by […]
Colin Cooper, The Classical Guitar Book, 2002
Back in January or February, I made the neck for this guitar. I jointed and glued the western red cedar top about the same time and installed the rosette.
Some where in this blog are postings of when I made the three piece back and when I split out the braces for the top.
I bent the sides last week.
All this was done so I can assemble this guitar by Saturday, the last guitar of the season. I go back to my day job as a historic preservation carpenter on April 28th, after that I will continue to work on this guitar and three other guitars as I can make time.
This guitar is braced in the manner that was used by Miguel Rodriguez,Sr. and his sons, Rafael and Miguel. Those of you familiar with Rodriguez guitars will notice that I did not include the diagonal brace that was on many of the Rodriguez guitars after, say, about 1963.
Click here to see plans of a 1977 Rodriguez to see the diagonal brace I am talking about and click here to read an article by Ron Fernandez on Rodriguez flamenco guitars.
In that article, Mr. Fernandez mentions that when he was in the Rodriguez workshop in the early 1960's he noticed that none of the classical guitars had the Jose Ramirez III inspired diagonal brace.
The point I am trying to get at is I want to make guitar that will be close to that earthy Spanish sound from the 1960's, a sound I remember hearing on the recordings of Andres Segovia and Narciso Yepes when they both played Ramirez guitars, not to mention the sound of the Rodriguez guitar that Pepe Romero used on his recordings in the early 1970's.
I graduated the cedar top as close as I could to the specifications that are on the plans of the 1977 Rodriguez guitar drawn by Tom Blackshear - 2.6mm in the center of the top, then falling off to 2.5mm, 2.4mm and finally 2.3mm along the outside edge of the top.
The "fan" braces are close to the dimensions in the plan, however, I am leaving the transverse braces (the braces top and bottom of the sound hole) rather tall in the manner of Santos Hernandez. I am looking for a big bold sound from this guitar, a sound that will bounce off back wall of an auditorium and I want it to sing like the best coloratura mezzo soprano so your heart melt.
Right now I am waiting for the glue to harden on the end block, sometime after lunch I should be able to start fitting on of the sides. Once the sides are on then I can install the back, after that I will work on it as I can. If I don't get to it this summer or fall it will part of my winter's work.
Winter work that I am looking forward to doing.
Dorothy L. Pillsbury, Adobe Doorways, 1952
We got to enjoy a wonderful spring snow storm over the last several days, by early this morning we got close to a total of 36 inches of very wet snow at our little house.
One small community in Larimer County recorded five feet of snow from this past storm!
My wife and I dug out the Jeeps yesterday so we could drive to town to get groceries and dog food and this is my last week of freedom before I return to my day job as a historic preservation carpenter.
Here's where I heave a big sigh, I will miss my days in the studio making guitars.
I've been very busy on 3 guitars, 2 are custom orders and one is a "speculation" guitar that I assembled several years ago but couldn't complete because of orders, work and life.
I started French polishing 2 guitars last week. I work at a day job seven months out of the year so when I get back to French polish I have a short learning curve to work through. It is frustrating at first, then the shellac becomes glossy, the polish builds up and the wood underneath it is gorgeous.
One glory of French polishing is it makes me slow down so I can consider what is really important in life.
Many people dislike French polish because they say it takes too long to complete, just go to any forum on guitar making and you will see what I mean. You have to do from 4-12 sessions of French polish to cover the guitar, not to mention you need to let the shellac harden for 2 weeks before you can do the final rub out and there is that tedious task of pore filling open grain wood with pumice and shellac.
I did go to one guitar forum to see if anyone was using a certain brand of epoxy for pore filling, sure I was thinking about speeding up the pore filling time on next guitar in line, most thought the epoxy didn't work well or it took too many coats, hence too much time. Most of the older luthiers all said to give up the new stuff and just use pumice and alcohol for the pore filling. Not many liked those comments.
One guitar maker I know of states a person can French polish a guitar in one week, and there is an article on the Internet that says you can do it in three days!
Me, I'd rather take my time at it.
If you have read this much of my posting, you are probably wondering why I am not disclosing The Secret to Woodworking!
Maybe you have figured out what that secret is, turned off your computer and have walked to your shop to start making something new or continue work on a current project.
Perhaps you are thinking about "surfing" to look at another woodworking blog.
Just bear with me another moment.
There will be close to 150 hours of work on the guitar in the above photo and I will sell it for $3000. I know some people think that is not enough money for the time spent.
I am not in this game for the money, if I was I'd have a big factory of workers that would crank out 50,000 guitars a year and all I had to do is to sit and watch the money roll in.
No, I work with wood for the experience, the joy, the knowledge and all the other stuff that comes along with time spent in the shop.
What is The Secret to Woodworking?
It is patience and love.
Though I have done it countless times I am always amazed when a straight. flat, piece of wood turns into the curved shape of a dulcimer. Heat and moisture make wood pliable. It’s that simple. Today I bent bubinga binding for two dulcimers in the works. After sawing bubinga into appropriately dimensioned strips I clean […]
My first “shop” was my parent’s kitchen table in our apartment in Brooklyn, NY, probably around 1973 or 1974. I grew up with very little knowledge of tools and woodworking. I bought tools as needed and learned to accomplish the most work with the fewest tools. I also learned to improvise around anything I needed […]