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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wells, holes and cleats

I keep all resonator related posts labelled but I use the same label, "resonator batch production". That was really fitting for the first six skeletons but it feels a bit old now. Especially when these three are coming on like a locomotive (be sure to look up the Motörhead track Locomotive, one of the four new ones included on the compilation No remörse). They could use their own label. 

But it's a simple diary blog of a simple man so most likely I'll trudge on as I have since 2008.

Last night I lined the wells with a thin strip of fir. I started doing this when the Delta resonator cones I ordered and paid dearly for never came - a curse on Colin of DRC! - and I had to buy others. The DRC ones were 6" and the replacements were 5 7/8" so I wanted to shrink the wells a wee bit. Then I liked it and kept it as a way of hiding the plywood edge. 

The fir veneer is ancient and comes from an old architect's model shop. 

I then cut the soundholes and experience says it's best to cut to the exact size, which for me is 150 mm diameter. I place the center on the center line at 91 or 92 mm from the edge of the skeleton's outline. I measured twice, if not more. 

And this morning I trimmed the well linings flush, clamped the tops in place and added small cleats to hold them in position. Tentalons from kerfed lining strips does the job, but easy on the superglue. The positioning is important since I need to trace the openings in the skeletons on the underside of the top before cutting the soundholes. 

I noticed that it would have been easier if I'd left a bit more overhang. I'll do that next time. How I will remember? Why, by reading this blog of course!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Breaking it down

I've been working with the three resos the last week and I've noticed that I tend to divide the work into bite sized steps. This is a must for an intermittent builder such as myself, and I've probably been doing it for a long time. The difference now is that I'm aware of it. 

So; sanding plates is one step (a very time consuming if you prepare material for several ukes). Rough sawing neck blanks is another. Planing and scribing necks; drawing and sawing out soundboard and back; bending sides; glueing sides to the skeleton; trimming down the sides to height; carving the neck; marking out and making the holes in the top; glueing ghe top tobthe skeleton - all of them are one step each. 

This is of course applicable to acoustic instruments as well. If I think of these steps and then try to make an entire step every time I get time in the workshop, then the chances of forgetting something or starting the next step or process before the preceding one is finished, are minimized. 

And this last week I've managed to make at least one thing every morning, and a couple of others almost every night. So here's where we stand, all three set of sides for the resos are bent and two of them are glued. I bent the third set tonight (it was very hard to bend that mystery wood), and clamped it to the skeleton to cool and hopefully set. 

And the other night when the iron was hot I bent the sides for a koa soprano, and tonight I made a bridge patch from wood from a 100 year old piano. I thought of making two koa sopranos but I think one is enough. 


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Bending sides

After a really nice weekend at the summer house I decided to bend the sides for the ash resonator. Li helped me to take pictures. 

The ash bends easily. I keep the wood moist but not soaked. I find the moisture helps me bend, but I'm not really sure if it's the better distribution of heat or if it is the moisture in itself. But who cares as long as it works, right?

I don't use a mold or form since the skeleton is enough for checking progress. A two piece rim is easier to fit than a one piece, but the joint at the lower end is a bit tricky. We'll get back to that. 

When both halves were done I clamped them to the skeleton with a rubber tube. I might use that for the glueing as well but I need to cut the sides down to height first otherwise the tube will crack the overhanging bits. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Planing the neck blanks

This'll be a short post but I only managed to steal a few short moments last night and this morning. I do it the same way every time. First I plane the mating surface for the fretboard so it was flat and true. Then I work the headstock so it only shifts in the one direction, a pair of winding sticks on the heel and headstock should still be parallel. 

Planes in this picture are numbers 6 and 4 1/2.

I then measure the top surface from the nut location to the heel. I need 185 millimetres for 13 frets, and if the top surface is overly long I take more off from the headstock. If it's too short I plane it down some more, focusing on the nut end. Of course the thickness of the headstock must be such as to allow this, but it usually is from sawing the blank with some margin. 

When I've got my 185 mm where I want them, checking so I have enough meat left in the heel for the barrel bolt, I scribe lines. Usually I make a centreline too but I don't need that with the skunk stripe. 

Planes in this picture are numbers 6, 4 1/2 and 3.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Three more resonators started

I picked out three sets of wood to go with three of the new skeletons. One alder, one ash, and one that I can't really remember what it is. Maybe something called olive ash? I think it came from America when I bought wood from a luthier who was relocating and emptied his shop. But maybe it was that other bloke. I've collected from many. 

In the first pic they're sanded to thickness. 

And here they're sawn out. I've decided to use the neck parts that are destined for lamination for these three so I made center strips of cherry for them. Laminating will make them strong enough so I can skip the carbon fibre rod, which I've come to dislike - it's hard to shape and I'm not fond of epoxy. 

These three resos will share some common features and I'll build them parallel. I might throw in a koa soprano or two at the same time so I don't get too narrow minded but this is what I'll focus on. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sawing neck blanks

I have had a large piece of alder lying around for a while, and since my stock of neck blanks is depleted I decided to turn it into usable chunks. 

First I sliced off a couple of thick strips on the table saw. The blade wasn't high enough so I finished the cuts with my Pax rip saw. 

The first couple of pics show the layout of neck profiles. 

The two pieces I cut off will be used differently from each other. I want the grain orientation close to vertical in each neck, so on the first piece I drew the profiles on the newly sawn face and on the other one I drew them on the mill sawn face. 

Here are the blocks. Eleven soprano necks and and a few piccolo necks. The blocks weren't square so I jointed two faces on the power jointer. Now my problem was the band saw - it being up shit creek since a long time. The drive belt snapped a year ago and I can't find a new one of the correct length. So I made one of thread and gaffer tape which worked for some time but it has stretched too much now and just slips. 

But what now? I made a new shorter belt, of only gaffer tape this time. And it worked beautifully, took me half an hour to get through most of the pile. I will make the rest of them tomorrow before the saw starts acting up again. I am so happy, and now I can build whatever I want (in the scale of gentlemen, natch) during the fall. 

Stay tüned!

Edited to add a couple of more pics. The first is an attempt to show the gaffer tape drive belt. It is behind the wheel. 

And the last shows you all the necks; 15 one piece soprano necks (of which three are Spanish cedar), 3 to be laminated of two halves and a pin stripe, and 3 piccolo necks.