Friday, June 29, 2012

Neckin' again, and on top o' the world (rosette, that is)

The first top inlaid with the "earth" rosette
I cut the channel by hand/no router

Ok, I finished scraping the rosette inlay on the first top that I inlaid the earth rosette.  Above is a shot of it:

More progress on carving the neck and spanish heel.  I like the heel design, it's easier to carve and attractive.  The head design won't be cut out until the overlay(s) are on. 

Work continued on the neck.  I like the
heel design.

It was bloody hot today until a line of thundershowers moved through.  Went to Carmel to take care of some business.  Not sure what's keeping me going...I got up at 0400.  Last eve, I ordered filler for cedar and rosewood and some abalam for inlay material.  I'm determined to learn how to make beautiful inlays.

Happy 4th of July everyone...

Add another 20 hours.


I'm back. Yay

For some reason, I was unable to add or edit my Blog for some time.  Finally figured out how to get back into it.   Soooo, what's up?  Well, progress is up.  I conducted tests on wood characteristics for two selected top wood pairs.  One is not very stiff and one is quite stiff.  These were selected as choices for C's guitar, but I won't decide which to use until I do more testing and sound analysis.  Meanwhile, I have several joined tops, which I won't be able to test, except to do the sound testing, because they're already joined.  I inlaid an earth rosette into one of these yesterday.  This is the first time I've cut the rosette cavity by hand.  Using my blade-through-a-stick cutter, I cut the inner and outer edges of the rosette cavity and then, using chisels, carved out the space for the rosette.  I've scraped the rosette nearly flush with the top, but have a bit more to do .  Along with the two new top pairs, I have several other joined, but not inlaid, tops that I will consider as candidates for this guitar.  I will inlay each with an earth rosette and then, testing the top as best I can and listening to the tap tones, I'll select THE top for C's guitar.

I've ordered filler and some abalam for inlay material.  I tried slabbing some abalone directly from some shells that I have, but this stuff is really nasty!  Using a very good OSHA dust and vapor mask, my dust collector and the new dust hood that I made, I still suffered some effects from the extremely fine dust that is produced when you cut abalone shell with a diamond saw.  The Abalam, which is a laminated material, can be cut using a coping saw and the amount of dust is minimal. Doing some networking with my Schmoll neighbors, I'll see if someone has the capacity to slab up some of the abalone shell I have.  It is very beautiful stuff and, if slabbed thin enough is not as bad to work with.

A young fellow named Paul, who works at Rockler, visited my shop and suggested that we might be able to use their CNC machine to do some inlay work.  I won't say more at this juncture, but there may be some surprises in store for certain guitar recipients.  But no promises. But this may delay delivery a bit. 

I also plan a couple of other things for these guitars.  When the fretwork is completed, I'm going to do two things:  First, I'm going to have the guitar played by one of the guys from the Classical Guitar group and make a recording of it.  Secondly, I'll have the guitar photographed professionally by a couple of guys who set up a studio at the framing shop next door.  They can put the images and the sound file together to make a CD with pictures of the features of each guitar AND the sound of it being played by a competent player.  Each owner will get a copy of this CD for their archive.  This, along with the archive derived from this BLOG site, will provide a nice history of each guitar.  I'll add some pictures later.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Out of my head

I guess that's not what you're supposed to say when you have a new idea for something, is it?  Well, a new idea for a head design for C's guitar did come out of my head.  She saw it and loved it and the Rosette gift I made her.  Progress was made on the neck and my neighbor, Clyde gave me a stainless steel base from a gas grill, which I reconfigured it to make a dust hood.  I can use it to sand at least small items without being "dusted" with wood dust.  Seems that I've developed some sensitivity to some of the woods that I use, so I need to improve my dust control measures and wear some protective garb and a respirator when necessary.  The head design will be my little secret for a while.

Here are a couple of shots of the neck and the hood:

The neck and spanish heel

How can the neck be connected to the heel?

The hood

I thought hoods looked like James Gandalfini.  Ha Ha

I must have about 40 hours invested in C's guitar so far.  Could be more  Haven't kept very good track, but will try harder to do so.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Multi-skill craft

I was thinking about how making guitars requires many different crafts, from carpenter, wood-carver, precision machinist, detailer, finisher, audio engineer (of sorts), guitarist, and some I can't think of.  Yesterday, after trimming an ebony fretboard and cutting a strip from each side to serve as invisible bindings on the fretboard, I spent a good portion of the day wood carving on the heel of the neck.  This detail is often problematic, because it must be symetrical, perfectly centered and attractive, as well as comfortable to the hand when you slide into the upper positions above the 12th fret.  Here are a couple of shots to illustrate:

Fretboard trim.  Strips will serve as bindings.

Half carved heel in the Burns style
Although binding the fretboard on a classical guitar is not traditional, I like it because it provides a cover for the ends of the frets and I find it much more attractive and comfortable to play as well as easier to dress the frets.  I have a nifty little gadget that trims the tang off each end of the fret to allow it to overlap the bindings.  You end up with nice rounded fret ends, no tang showing and a nice smooth feel to the freboard.  I like it.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

OK, Pobody's Nerfect

Well it's been a while.  Laura's guitar is finished and not finished..I'll explain:  Kevin diligently smoothed and filled all the pores in the wood and other little voids that show up when you're preparing a guitar for application of the finish.  The filler apparently either had something wrong with it or was the wrong filler to use.  Anyway, after a short time, the filler started to appear as a light colored, opaque blemish under the nitroclellulose finish.  If you look at the pictures in the previous blog, you's note a small white blemish on the top next to the bridge...this is the culprit.
I've done some investigation, including talking to the world's greatest guitar repair person, Frank Ford of Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto, CA.  His assessment is that the filler did not adhere properly to the lacquer and when the two separated (at the molecular level), the result appeared white and opaque....nasty, nasty.  OK, what to do?  First, I would welcome any comments from my members or anyone else, who might understand what to do.  But, according to Frank, I must soften and remove the lacquer, scrape and sand the wood back to its finish ready state and start over.  Frank suggests that we use the appropriate filler from Luthiers Mercantile, apply a seal coat(s) of shellac and re-coat the guitar with the lacquer.  I could also just French Polish the top and apply lacquer only to the neck.  The cyprus back and sides did not suffer from this filler needed.  Sooooooo, back to the drawing board.

Meanwhile, I took the guitar to my friend and mentor Dick Wisner, who gave me some suggestions to improve the action and remove some string buzzes.  Unfortunately, it involved removing the frets, flattening the ebony fretboard and re-fretting.  I've fretted about all of this fretting and un-fretting and other fretwork on the fretboard for sometime.  Anyway, I did it and I'm glad, because now it plays like a dream and no fretful buzzes.  OK, enough already.

Meanwhile, back at the shop, work on C's guitar proceeds apace.  Here's a shot of the spanish heel that I worked on today and a little something I made for Cheryl so she can appreciate what the rosette looks like under finish.  She can put pics of her grandkids in it or whatever.  Father's Day off and then back to it hot and heavy.

Here are a couple of pictures of what's going on.

Spanish heel after B. Burns Plan

Inlaid rosette in some spare spruce..makes a nice little picture frame
Don'tcha think?  The insert to fill the gap is a piece of Braz. Rosewood
  Sorry about the glare.  If you look closely, you'll see that each little globe changes ever so slightly as you go around the circle.  Made in Russia..amazing!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Laura's Guitar Revealed

Laura’s Guitar Revealed

Below, I’m posting all the info, pictures and specs on the guitar I made for my niece, Laura. I had this all written before, but somehow hit the wrong button on this stupid laptop with a touch pad and sent a whole page of information and pictures into la la land.
This is a flamenco guitar based on the plan for a 1951 Marcelo Barbero that was made for Carlos Montoya who gave it to Sabicas. It was measured and drawn by Richard Brune’.

The specs:
Back and sides: Monterrey Cyprus
Top: spruce, European
Neck: Spanish Cedar
Fretboard: Ebony
Tuners: Viola sized geared tuning pegs with planetary gears providing a 5:1 ratio
Bindings: rosewood with white lamination, purfling is black, white, black, white
Head piece, bridge, butt inlay and heel cap are all Brazilian rosewood
Finish: nitrocellulose lacquer applied by Kevin Kinder at IndyCraft
Nut and Saddle: bone
Strings: D’Adderio J-45 standard tension

Some additional technical details:

Scale length:  650 mm
Width at nut:  2 in +-