Monday, January 31, 2011


Finally moved into my NEW SHOP! It's actually also my old shop, which I'm now here again. Everything [well, almost everything] is in it's place and I,m ready to work again. Which is not to say that moving isn't work. But, with a little help from my friends, we got it done, and got it organized as well. It's GREAT to be here again. There is also a MUSIC room in front of the guitar shop for trying out instruments, and the occasional jam session. More later, as now I'm excited to get to work. Edwin

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More about wonderful wood.
The library cases pictured here are made from Honduras mahogany. It is a fine wood, grows straight and tall and large. For the most part, it gets processed poorly. Getting the most stick from each log. Why is that bad? Wood, to be useful and stable and to present the best grain needs to be sawn in a manner which has the grain of the wood running perpendicular to the widest edge [quarter sawn], or with the grain running parallel to the wide edge [plain sawn]. It seems simple enough, but to get the most stick, a log can be just cut with no regard of grain orientation, which is the way most wood is sawn today. Greed is enemy again.
Many woodworkers just don't care, and will use whatever piece for whatever purpose, as lomg as it can sell, no more thought is given.
However, the best will always choose the wood wisely, and the result is a project which will be beautiful and stable, and will stand the truest test, of time.
More tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wood. It is still the preferred medium for building most stringed instruments.
One reason is the sound that different woods produce. Different species of wood vibrate differently, thus producing different sounds.
Another reason is wood is fun to work with. And it smells good [most wood anyway]. So, when one is planning, or yes sanding, it is akin to working in a potpourri.
Wood which is grown at high elevation has different properties than if it were grown at a lower elevation. The same species of wood can be remarkably different if grown where the winters are harsh as compared to warm climes.
One very cool thing about the internet, and thus global connections, is that wood is available to we that build instruments that would not be otherwise available. And that wood is properly harvested, properly dried, properly sawn, and properly cared for, and properly shipped. It is not necessarily cheap, of course, but we can get exactly what we pay for. So given enough time, we can experiment with an almost unlimited variety of sounds and textures and smells.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Well, this shows a couple of weirdnesses. Three mandolins, three colors, unusual for me to artificially color wood. And you only see the fronts, because the backs are not on yet.
Mandolin necks are elevated over the top, therefore one can not put the finish on that part of the top which is covered by the neck. Therefore the tops must be finished first.
One aspect of this approach which I did not realize until recently is that with the top finished I can better judge what finishing treatment the rest of the instrument will get. I never start with a complete plan of finishing details, such as color [material] of fretboard, or peghead or purfling, or binding or pickguard etc, as those details will becaome evident as I proceed with the building. One done part suggests [or sometimes demands]the next part to be done a certain way.
Remaining open to suggestions throughout the building process, as well as life itself, is a good way to experience that which is perhaps outside of the "box".

Friday, December 10, 2010

This unassuming little machine has been designed to cut the little ledges [picture on the right] for the bindings.
Binding does a couple of important things. the binding covers the end grain of the top wood. That is important because moisture wicks into that end grain very easily thus warping the top eventually.
Also the binding, which again is nothing more that a little stick, spans the gap between top and side making a very strong and secure connection.
Also, it can be made to look really cool as well. And, which will be the case here, the binding will make a visual transition between finishes, in this case the top and the sides will be different colors, and a clean break will be necessary.
This binding cut was the very first use for this new binding machine. And as is the case most of the time, simple works very well indeed.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


The ancient and practical material of concrete, that mixture of cement, stone and sand, is many things to many projects and many people.
Concrete holds up our built-up world. It can span great rivers, reach great heights. Concrete can provide for a smooth journey in your automobile, and a smooth landing from the air.
Concrete is cheap, relatively speaking, versitile and usually gray.
It can also be a much needed surface on which to work, to create, to have a shop upon. Which is what a friend has in mind for the small slab poured yesterday.
A good friend of mine has helped me many times in the past to "pour concrete". He has helped "get it out of the truck", which is the hardest part of the entire process. That was my intention yesterday when I volunteered to help with the small slab project of yesterday. However, on thing does lead to another and the day was spent floating, and troweling, and waiting, and weather protecting, and waiting more.
The end result is a slab worthy of a pottery studio. Also a couple of very sore backs. Concrete is much work no matter what the job, but a long lasting and smooth and an almost perfect surface to create the art of pottery. And I'm glad it was yesterdays project.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

After a bit of scraping, chiseling, and yes, sanding, we now have four really well done hole surrounds.
What do these time consuming, messy surrounds actually do? The holes could be left without any surrounds, they need no support. So much time could have been saved, not to mention frustration, black lung [from the blackwood dust], and raw, bleeding fingers [from the sandpaper].
The answer is the same for both the player and the builder.
As a builder, I need to build the best I can. What I build needs to be as visually cool as I can conceive. Time and effort have no meaning to art, and art is what I attempt.
The player needs to have inspiration as well. First, to be inspired enough just to pick it up in the first place. Then, if touch and sound also inspire, the player is inspired enough to purchase. And the most important thing of all, once owned, they player needs such inspiration to pick the instrument up and play.
All that from a few little hole surrounds? Every little bit helps.