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

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Luthiery

Ebony chopping board: cutting the groove

Guitar Building By Hand - 9 hours 15 min ago

Before starting the groove I used a marking gauge to traced out the edge of the channel and marked the outside corners by tracing around a coin:

Marking out the channel on the board

The marked out the channel on the board

I used a carving gouge to cut out most of the channel:

Carving the channel

Carving the channel

Carving a long groove consistently along the grain is difficult. To solve this I made a scraper and attached it to a wooden block. By running the block against the edge of the board I was able to get a smooth consistent channel:

 

Using the scraper to smooth out the channel

Using the scraper to smooth out the channel

Next I rounded off the edges of the board slightly it was done!

 

The completed chopping board

The completed chopping board


Categories: Hand Tools, Luthiery

Assembling the ebony chopping board

Guitar Building By Hand - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 5:59am

I learned a lesson when I unpacked the ebony for the chopping board. It was rough sawn, straight off the bandsaw and dusty. Somehow I had imagined the ebony would be planed square and pretty much ready for glueing up. Since blanks for guitar fretboards are usually planed when you get them, I assumed this would be the case with these blanks as well. How wrong was I?

This meant I was in for a lot of work. I tried planing the wood with my hand plane. I managed to flatten the face of one of the pieces and was about to start on the second face when I noticed my plane was dull. Very dull. I sharpened up and planed the second side. Then, my plane was dull again, and I was way out of square. I tried a few more pieces but decided this was not going to work: I had to plane four sides of 28 pieces of ebony. At this rate I would have to sharpen my plane 112 times over weeks of planing.

I changed tactics and decided to use the machines in our shared workshop. I used a planer (on a very fine setting) and thicknesser to get the blanks flat and square. This went a lot quicker with better results. Since I hadn’t used the machines much until now, I also got to understand them a lot better.

Once all the pieces were planed I did a trial run and glued up the the board:

Test run before glue up

Test run before glue up

Glueing up the ebony

Glueing up the board

I did the final levelling and cleaning with my hand plane and cabinet scraper:

The glued up chopping board, cleaned up with a plane and cabinet scraper

The glued up chopping board, cleaned up with a plane and cabinet scraper

 

Up next, cutting the grooves…


Categories: Hand Tools, Luthiery

Santos Hernandez Style Classic Guitar - Late Night Work

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 7:53pm
The classic guitar is a difficult and demanding instrument. There are no short cuts.


Vladimir Bobri, The Segovia Technique, 1972



I got back to work on a close copy of a 1930 Santos Hernandez guitar yesterday by glueing on the so called "fan bracing", as you will notice, these braces are nearly parallel to each other, and the transverse braces to the top.

When I got up this morning I un-cinched the clamps and discovered that the top had a definite twist to it.

Hmm. Bad glue up technique on my part and the humidity had dropped from 39% to 29% overnight, not good for a guitar top or my nerves. That is the problem with working at lutherie this time of the year, especially during and right after a big snow storm, the relative humidity can really drop. The humidifier can't keep up.



I needed to run errands this morning, when I got back I split the transverse braces off the top and shaved the remnants down to the glue.

Then I made new braces.

I clamped the top down to the work board and glued on transverse brace number one, once the glue was set then I glued on the wide flat brace closest to the neck.

After that, time to walk the dogs and make dinner.




The brace below the sound hole has a 1/16th of an inch arch to it to help dome the top.

Doming the top gives the guitar a real voice, one that has volume and character. It's like a drum head, you want it tensioned to be loud.

When I glue this brace on I usually use two slats as backing cauls and a C clamp at each end. Then I push two shims in between the slats to force the top to the brace and the glue.

This action is what can cause twisting.

Tonight, I used the slats, but I started by clamping in the middle, the a C clamp on each side of the Quik Grip, and continued on down to the ends of the brace.

I couldn't see any twisting or winding to the top.




Then it was a little trim work on some laminated all walnut cam clamps, which I should work on tomorrow..




and then double check the neck. If all goes well I can bend the sides tomorrow and attach the top to the neck.




Now it's bed time.

It's not that late, maybe nine o'clock, but I never could work late into the night, even in college I couldn't work on term papers past 11pm. Back then I had an electric typewriter that could erase the last ten words that you typed, I thought I was lucky to have such a beast.

Still, I have a jar full of incense cedar bodied pencils that are more fun to use than any computer.

Categories: Luthiery

Ebony chopping board: cutting the groove

Guitar Building By Hand - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 6:37am

Before starting the groove I used a marking gauge to traced out the edge of the channel and marked the outside corners by tracing around a coin:

Marking out the channel on the board

The marked out the channel on the board

I used a carving gouge to cut out most of the channel:

Carving the channel

Carving the channel

Carving a long groove consistently along the grain is difficult. To solve this I made a scraper and attached it to a wooden block. By running the block against the edge of the board I was able to get a smooth consistent channel:

 

Using the scraper to smooth out the channel

Using the scraper to smooth out the channel

Next I rounded off the edges of the board slightly it was done!

 

The completed chopping board

The completed chopping board


Categories: Hand Tools, Luthiery

A solid ebony chopping board?

Guitar Building By Hand - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 3:46am

I know someone who loves the colour black. His kitchen has a black granite work surface and black floor tiles. To finish it off he really wanted a black chopping board but was having no luck finding one. It had to be jet black with no frills except for a groove to catch juices and crumbs. In terms of colour, I suggested Ebony would be a good choice but a very expensive one. Rightfully so, as it is becoming increasingly rare. Ebony is also very hard but brittle. It is also heavy, so perhaps not that practical for a chopping board.

I tried to find alternatives to ebony. I found out that a solution of steel wool soaked in vinegar was excellent at blackening oak (do a search on ‘ebonising wood’ and you’ll find all kinds of information). This created a deep black colour, but it didn’t penetrate deep enough for a chopping board. Even after soaking for a few days, the black only went down half a millimetre at most. A few chopped tomatoes and the unblackened oak would be exposed.

So I decided to take the plunge and go for ebony, but only if I could get it ethically. The most ethical source of ebony I found was a shop in Spain that is involved in a partnership with Taylor Guitars. Together, they’ve purchased a saw mill in Cameroon, through which they are promoting the ethical sourcing and use of ebony. Apparently most ebony isn’t black. Only after chopping down a tree does it become visible how much black wood there is. Since the non-black ebony had little value, only the black ebony logs were taken to the mill. The rest was left to rot. One benefit of this project is that they promise a good price for the non-black ebony and Taylor uses this in their guitars, thus reducing waste. As Taylor says “We need to use the ebony that the forest gives us”.

I agreed on using ebony on two conditions: the first was that I get the wood from the Cameroon project and the second was that I would make something else from the wood if the board was to fail for some reason.

The project got a “go” and I bought the ebony. The most suitably sized blanks were 30mm x 15mm. My plan was to glue these together to create a 30 mm thick board, about 500mm long and 300mm wide. I ordered the ebony and it arrived a week or so later:

The ebony has arrived

The ebony has arrived

The ebony blanks

The ebony blanks

 

It was a heavy pile of wood! Next: how I created the board.

 


Categories: Hand Tools, Luthiery

Music I’d Like To Hear #88

Doug Berch - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 10:40am

The post "Music I’d Like To Hear #88" appeared first on "Doug Berch."

Categories: Luthiery

Making an Antonio Torres Style Guitar: Carving the Neck and Heel

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Sun, 02/15/2015 - 12:12pm
As you can expect, the neck is the most complex part of the guitar. In the Spanish school, every part of the classical guitar is built in conjunction with the neck and in line with it.

Manuel Rodriguez, The Art and Craft of Making Classical Guitar, 2003




I am often asked what part of the guitar takes the longest to make, everyone assumes that the task of calibrating the top consumes the most time.

I find that carving and shaping the neck takes the longest, other than the French polishing. As a classical guitar player, I know the importance of a well shaped neck, the profile must not be too round or too thick, both will tire a player quickly and can lead to physical issues. I spend as much time needed to make the neck perfect!

Here is a short photo essay of carving the neck and heel on Kyle's guitar...



The heel...





Refining the heel to match the profile used by Santos Hernandez...




Almost there...





Refining the other profile...





Time for the draw knife...





The neck after using the draw knife, spokeshaves, knife and files...





I shape the neck to have a sort of flattened "D" profile. I find this to be a most comfortable shape and I have yet to have a client complain about it.





Almost done!

A little more finish work on the headstock and heel and the guitar will be ready for French polish!






Categories: Luthiery

Some Things I Learned About Working in a Small Workshop

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Tue, 02/10/2015 - 7:52am
The workshop at home is generally a spare room, maybe a surplus bedroom or a room in the basement...

Bernard E. Jones, The Practical Woodworker, 190?


I've always worked in small spaces.

When I was learning how to use hand tools, my grandfather's workbench was so crowded with stuff I had only five feet of surface to work on.

When my wife and I first were married, I had shop that was a spare room in the log cabin we rented, maybe it was 8'x10'.

Our next place had an old shed, 10'x11', that I fixed up into a nice unheated space.

When we moved to our place outside of Lassen Volcanic National Park I built a nice 12'x16' studio that I got to work in for only four months before we moved to work at Yosemite National Park. There our house had a 10'x 10' space that worked well...



...and now I use a room off of our bedroom for a studio. I think it measures 10'x11'.




In random order, here some things I have learned over the years...

1. Have a work bench that suits the space and the work that you do.

2. Have a work bench that has a tool cabinet underneath it.

3. Have only the tools that you need for your work.

4. Organize those tools well and have them readily available.

5. Tool boxes take up valuable floor space. Tool box lids become places to put things which you have to move some where else so you can open the lid. This drives me crazy, I really need to finish the new work bench and its drawers so I can get dispense with my tool chest!

6. Have a focus - know exactly what it is that you want to make. I know many people need to sample making a lot of different things before they know what it is that really makes their heart sing, but having a focus will reduce work shop clutter.

7. Have another storage area. There is another building on our property that serves as part-time work shop, storage shed and fire wood shed, it houses all my power tools, carpenter tools and lumber for projects around the house. I store all my tone wood in an upstairs closet.

8. Keep your work space clean.

9. Good lighting is a must.

10. Don't get uptight about working in a small space, a small space is better than no space!



My ideal work shop.

You can find this illustration on page 1 of The Practical Woodworker, edited by Bernard E. Jones.

Whenever I see this illustration I realize how it has influenced my work spaces over the last 20 years, it is simple and efficient and lacks power tools, which is a most alluring thing.

I find wood working very romantic and I always treat it as a way to enhance my life, even if I am trying to make money at it.

There are people who visit my studio and can't believe I actually make classic guitars in its small space. I tell them that Julian Gomez Ramirez, a Spanish guitar maker who immigrated to Paris in 1914, whose guitars today valued at over $20,000, worked in a shop that was 8'x 10' and had only one light bulb.



Categories: Luthiery

Drilling Small Holes With A Small Drill

Doug Berch - Sat, 02/07/2015 - 9:24pm

As I get closer to the end of building a dulcimer the tools I use get smaller. Work begins by resawing at the bandsaw, then comes handsaws and bench planes, then comes smaller planes, chisels, knives, and scrapers. The last parts to go on a dulcimer are the tuning machines. The screws that hold the […]

The post "Drilling Small Holes With A Small Drill" appeared first on "Doug Berch."

Categories: Luthiery

Music I’d Like To Hear #87

Doug Berch - Mon, 02/02/2015 - 2:09pm

The post "Music I’d Like To Hear #87" appeared first on "Doug Berch."

Categories: Luthiery

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
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