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Thursday, March 31, 2016

New skeletons, report

And an opportunity to show off the archipelago of Stockholm, without a doubt the most beautiful place on earth. 

All of them went together without any trouble or force, now I have eight perfect specimens. 

Look at them lining up!

And a couple of artistic pics. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

A great leap revealed!

I'm quite proud to announce that Argapa as a brand and phenomenon finally joined the last century. All of you who follow this blog know the stress and the perils I was subject to when I was making the plywood skeletons for my resonator ukes. (In case you've missed that just trawl through the posts labelled "resonator batch production", a label that will be retired soon.)

So I made a computer model of the skeletons in Rhinoceros and had a wonderful carpenter company, Lövsättra Snickerier, take a look at it. They managed to translate the file into the language their humungous cnc router speaks, so they can now make skeletons for me faster, safer and with a better and much more consistent result. Worth the money for sure. 

The top half is made from a single piece of thicker plywood. Remember, I had to route, laminate, route, laminate, route and cut the hole. In the pic above you see the dowels I need for assembly. 8 mm in diameter and exactly 50 mm long. Exactly 50 mm? How I did that? Funny you should ask, I did document the proceedings. 

A small cross cut sled for the miniature table saw where the dowel fit, and a small clamp as a length gauge. Then they needed a chamfer at each end and they won't fit an ordinary pencil sharpener...

Good thing I have a multi diameter sharpener that I bought in a gift shop at the museum. 

Now I'm at the cottage for easter, so in the big workshop I cut some plywood for neck blocks. 

And then it's time to assemble the first of the next generation Argapa reso skeletons! Let's whip out ye olde 20 kilo book press. In the background you can see the banjo uke I bought from Phil Doleman, a gentleman I'm proud to call my friend. Next to it is the cheap gas station set of tools I used to set it up. A labour of love, and violence. 

First I set all the dowels into the top half, making sure they were flush to the top. Then it's time to clamp!

And it's drying as I type this. First one of eight, that's as many as I have the metal parts for. All, or at least seven, are spoken for. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Soprano fretboarded and resos topped

Well verbs schmerbs - what I mean is the fretboard is slotted, tapered, marked, fretted and glued to the neck. This will be a very clean and lovely sounding soprano. Not ding free, the cedar stopped me from going there, but symmetrical and well proportioned. 

Here it is, with my Slayer set list in the background. 

But what is this? CBU:s? No, it's the cherry resos!

I remembered all the steps, and the order in which to make them. Turns out it makes for quite a list. 

- cut the big hole
- align the skeleton with the hole
- draw a line around the skeleton, and in the openings for the soundholes
- measure and find the centre of the openings
- drill pilot hole at that centre and cut the soundholes
- sand the edges of the soundholes with the abrasive funnel (impossible to do after the mesh goes in)
- cut the mesh, place it with magnets and glue it with epoxy (leave to dry)
- align the skeleton in the pencil line and check that the edge of the big hole is correctly aligned
- glue small cleats on with super glue, making sure no glue touches the sides on the skeleton
- put titebond glue on the face of the skeleton
- place inside the cleats and clamp it. 

I clamped the two of them together with a mouse mat between them. Here's a shot of the underside. 

I'll attempt to fret the piccolo this weekend, I should finish the acoustics before making the necks for the resos. But neck carving is so much fun. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Scattered mind, scattered progress

I'll come clean right away - I've been dabbling with electronics. I bought a kit for making a fuzz pedal but since I am such a foolish snob I bought a much smaller box than was recommended. The first one was way too small so a slightly larger is on the bench now. 

But sorry, you're here to see your ukes being built!

Using my trusty old perspex jig I made all the fret slots in the piccolo's neck. There's no separate fretboard and the jig is necessary for making the slots perpendicular to the centre line. 

The slot at the nut end makes the end of a shelf for the nut. Look at those measly shavings! I'm ashamed and vow that I will sharpen all my chisels before the next full moon. 

A few wash coats of shellac and the neck is ready for the frets. I won't do that tonight though, I need to be more alert and focused. 

But trimming off the excess material on the reso sides, anyone could do that anytime. Block plane and paring chisel and no dust at all. Sometimes I send the bodies through the thickness sander but that won't be necessary this time. Because unlike the chisel of shame above, the paring chisel is sharp. 

And tomorrow morning I'll slot a fretboard for the cedar / walnut soprano. I think I'll use this one if only I can remember what wood it is. This uke is going to the US so I should know and list all wood species to avoid any trouble at the border. Maybe I'll use a board of English laburnum, because I know where that's from. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Back braces, backs and reso sides

After a certain amount of fiddling, the neck went onto the walnut / cedar soprano. This might be the last softwood top I make in a while, they're so darn sensitive. After scraping and sanding most blemishes out it now has a marvellous tap tone, so I'll go out in style. 

In the pic the back braces are set into the piccolo as well. 

And then the back on the piccolo is glued on, on the workboard. 

I put in two back braces on the soprano before setting the neck, then the third yesterday. So now, after a quick spin in the radius dish, the back gets prepped. I remove the reinforcing cross grain strip (it's an off-cut from the top) at the spots where the braces are. 

And now it's clamped down. While I did this the hot pipe was warming up...

... and I bent sides for two resonator sopranos. The wood is cherry which is quite easy to bend, but today it went so much better than usual. The very simple reason: the hot pipe (or bending iron) was hotter. Often I start too early because I'm an impatient jerk. Never again!