CLASSICAL GUITARS FOR SALE

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Preservation Work on an 1860's Greek Revival House

The [Greek Revival] style disappeared in the East before the earliest attempts at mining in Colorado, but its influence was felt nevertheless as miners came west from other areas.

C. Eric Stoehr, Bonanza Victorian-Architecture and Society in Colorado Mining Towns, 1975




Those of you who follow my blog know that I work 7 months out of the year as a historic preservation carpenter for a government agency.

My latest project is working on a house that was built in the 1860's and it is need of some maintenance. I am replacing the worst pieces of siding, I've removed most of the sashes so that cracked lights can be replaced and re-glazed, and then I and another worker will scrape paint and prep the building so several volunteer groups can doing most of the painting.

This house is not stick built, it is really a log house! The timbers are hewed on 2 sides and joined at the corners with true dovetailed notches. The roof and attic are framed with full dimensioned lumber, the furring strips that hold the siding are also milled lumber. Whoever built this house was a highly skilled carpenter who knew how to use an axe. I haven't found out what the exact date of construction was, I was told 1860, I think it was a little later, because I don't think that there was a sawmill working in the vicinity that early. I'm guessing the construction date is closer to 1863-64.

To continue Mr. Stoehr's quote on the Greek Revival style:

Although no pure examples of the Greek Revival appear in these towns, a frontier adaptation of Greek detailing was present. The pedimental lintel used over the doorways and windows was a simple detail that could be added to the otherwise plain log and vernacular structures.

That statement fits this house to a "T"!

Just a little over a mile to the east of this house, there is a fancier Greek Revival house that has seven gables, it's a show piece of architecture for the little community it is part of.

I am grateful to be the lead carpenter on this sweet little house that others think is ugly, it is a wonderful part of our nation's heritage.



Friday, July 4, 2014

Grooving Planes - Some Tips on How to Make Them

An artist prepares for weeks, months, and years...but lives only for moments. Moments, then that have no sense of time.

Gustave Leonhardt, harpsichordist



This is not a "how-to" post.

I just want to pass on some things I learned about assembling them. I hope these tips help you.

I assume many of you are interested in making these neat little grooving planes, but haven't gotten around to making a pair yet.

Bob Easton was the first person to bring them to my attention, be sure to check out his blog.

I am grateful that Lie Nielsen has posted Matt Kenney's great article on how to make them. Click here for the article.

Accidental Wood Worker also has a great post on these little planes, click here for that posting.




I am making these planes so I can cut the saddle slot in a guitar's bridge without using a table saw. The skate depth is 4mm and the plane's fence is 5mm from the iron.

This morning, with Mr. Kenney's article on the work bench, I started glueing parts together.

When I started glueing the "bed" for the iron I had a devil of a time trying to keep it in it's proper position, it kept shifting under the clamps' pressure even after the glue got a little tacky.

Everything turned out fine, proper skate depth, etc., but I wanted to eliminate the risk of the next piece moving under clamp pressure.

Then it hit me...all I needed were some brass brads!




I didn't follow Mr. Kenny's instructions and made the plane about one half inch bigger than what his plans call for. I learned long ago to make tool parts larger so I can make them smaller, you know, "room for mistakes".

This extra wood gives me room to use "registering nails".

All I do for this is snip off the head of a brass brad and chuck it into a drill. This is my drill bit. Now with the wood clamped where I want it, I drill the number of holes needed and insert brass brads, that still have their heads, home into their respective holes.

Then I remove the brads, apply glue to the piece in question, re-insert the brads, position the piece, push the brads home and then apply clamps. Nothing should shift.

Pretty simple, huh?

I use this technique when I glue veneer onto the head stock of a guitar neck.




I did the same thing for the other blank to complete the plane.

I then ripped it to finished width on the table saw and trimmed it to length on my sliding compound miter saw.




Making the plane work.

I tried to keep the mouth opening to under 1/64th of an inch, it's a little wider than that, but the big problem that I ran into was the shavings constantly clogged the mouth.

I rounded over the very end of the iron wedge so the shavings would ride over it, but the size of the escapement became the next problem.

I had to chisel away some of the area in the escapement that is just above the mouth and just below the wedge, you'll see what I mean if you follow Mr. Kenney's instructions to a "T".

On the next plane, I am going to use a 3/16" or so drill bit chucked into the drill press to remove this offending area. And don't forget to make the skate a little narrower than the iron, that part is in the instructions, it really helps make the plane work better.

I finally got decent shavings from a piece of California laurel after about a half hour of fiddling with the plane.

The plane works like a dream and is well worth the time and effort.

And remember - Hand tools rule the school!


If I have posted this video before, my apologies!

Scott Tennant is an incredible musician and I really like this piece by Couperin!

Enjoy!





Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Shopmade Cutter Gauges, Part 2

The most significant tools for the luthier guitar maker are the bramils.

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



This is day 2 of being sick with a head cold, it is really tough for me to sit and be quiet which means I am a little bored, so I thought I would give an update on the "bramils" that I made last week.

As you can see in the following photographs, the brass wear strips were inlaid into the arms and the cutters were shaped and sharpened.

I put a very light coat of linseed oil mixed with Naptha on the walnut to bring out the wood's color a little more.

These "gramils" work very well on a stock piece of wood, I look forward to using them on a guitar.

It's been awhile since I made a tool for the workshop, I may have to make some more.








Here's a YouTube of Scot Tennant playing a 1958 Miguel Rodriguez guitar.

I might just have to try my hand at making a guitar based upon a 1976 Miguel Rodriguez this winter...



Sunday, June 29, 2014

Shop Made Cutter Gauges

Everything popular is wrong.

Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895



I spent a couple of hours today and made a pair of gramils, or cutting gauges, for making the binding ledge on a classical guitar. I made these out of some black walnut that I had on hand and after completing them I realized I have some wonderful CSA rosewood in the attic that would make a great set of gauges.


A pair of walnut gramils with the metal gramils in the foreground

Those of you who follow my blog know that I dislike using power tools in making a guitar, I have nothing against power tools, I use them in my day job as a historic preservation carpenter.

I gave up trying to use a router to cut the binding ledges and went back to hand tools: two gramils, chisels and files.

I own two gramils that were purchased from Luthiers Mercantile, they are nice to use, but I have to be really careful with them because slot that for set screw that holds the blade in place can really mar the guitar's wood.

I am hoping that wooden gramils will not mar the wood, at least as badly has the metal gramils can.



Brass strips need to be inlaid into the gramils' arms and sharpen the cutter blades need to be shaped and sharpened. These I cut out of a old card scraper that I purchased from Frog Tool Company over 20 years ago. The scraper logo claims that it is Sheffield Silver Steel, all I know is that it holds a decent cutting edge.

The redwood/Indian rosewood copy of a 1968 Hernandez y Aguado guitar is hanging from a hook in my studio waiting for me to finish the binding ledges and to glue in place the ebony bindings with curly maple fillets. It is becoming impatient. That is another reason why I made these gramils.

Many people think that using hand tools for this operation, cutting binding ledges, by hand is a waste of time, I look at it as another skill to perfect. And the noise that a gramil makes as it slices into the wood is a far more romantic sound then the whine of a Bosch brand router, and is easier on my ears.



Friday, June 13, 2014

Shop Made Router/Scratch Gauge for Making Guitar Binding Ledges, Part 2

My early bridges...were made entirely by hand using the smoothing plane, the hand saw, chisels and a scratching gauge...

Jose Romanillos, Making a Spanish Guitar, 2013


Some one asked me if I could supply plans to make a scratching gauge, as much as I would like to, I don't have the time and I am trying to stay away from making this a "how-to" blog. There are many blogs/websites out there in the Internet hinterland that show you how to make a guitar, I don't want to compete them.

All I want to do is make guitars and sell them.

Here is a short photo essay of my scratch gauge, a person should be able to make a copy of one by looking at these photos.

And, you should look at Roy Underhill's books on how to make marking gauges, and click here to visit Adam Cherubini's marking gauge PDF.

And, and, you should read the books on guitar making that I have listed elsewhere in this blog, just go to the search book and enter in "the best books on guitar making".

To make my gauge you will also need a 1/4-20 tap to cut the threads for the brass screw which is available from Rockler.








By tapering the fence, starting a 3/32 of an inch from hole for the arm, you can compensate for the arching of the guitar back. See the last photo.




I made the shaft a "V" shape to compensate for the curves of the side.



Use a piece from an old card scraper to make the router tooth.




Leave the arm long to register against the guitar sides.

Experiment and have fun!

Shop Made Veneer Scraper

Scraping was used more than sanding to give a finished surface to furniture in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries...

Alex W. Bealer, Old Ways of Working Wood, 1980



I spent about two hours today making a new veneer scraper.



The differences between this one and the one I made several years ago are that this one is made from black walnut, it was all that I had on hand, and the iron is positioned at a 20 degree angle to the anvil.

The first one I made the iron was at a right angle to the anvil.

I changed the angles in an experiment in hopes that this scraper won't tear out/blow out curly maple. I had almost disastrous results last time I scraped curly maple with the first scraper I made. Click here to see my first scraper.

If I had had some nice Douglas fir I would have used that, but this walnut sure looks nice.


I glued up purfling strips of curly maple to ebony binding yesterday, this is going on the redwood/Indian rosewood Hernandez y Aguado guitar. I want this guitar to turn out nice, it is going to be a wonderfully responsive guitar with a very loud, lyrical voice. It needs to look as beautiful as it sounds, therefore I need to step up to the plate and do even better than my best.

After testing this new scraper, I used the ebony/maple bindings, I really don't see a difference between the two scrapers other that this new one is a little smoother, perhaps the density of the walnut absorbs the vibrations better than Douglas fir.

In Eugene Clark's article on make a scraper that appeared in an issue of American Lutherie, stated that you don't need to angle the iron in order for the scraper to work properly. In nearly all the old photos that I have seen of the interiors of the great Madrid guitar makers' workshops, all the hand made scrapers have the iron at an 10 degree or greater angle to the anvil. You all see that in Diderot's tomes, also. And Moxon's.

They must have angled the iron for a reason.


Here is a YouTube of one of my favorite guitarists, Ottmar Liebert and Luna Negra. I discovered Mr. Liebert's music back in 1990 when I was living and working as a park ranger at Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, Ganado, Arizona. I often listen to his music when I am working in my studio!




Sunday, May 25, 2014

Grooving Planes, Saw Sharpening and Splitting Black Walnut

Torres invariably used rosewood for his bridges, even for those of his cheaper guitars...

Jose L. Romanillos, Antonio Torres, Guitar Maker- His LIfe and Work, 1987



I use a table saw to cut the saddle slot for the bridges I make for my guitars, I have a DeWalt construction table saw, it's accurate enough especially when I use blade stabilizers on the saw blade. However, even with a good sharp blade I don't like the quality of the kerf that it cuts.

I decided to make some grooving plans and have the 1/8 inch irons on order from Lie Nielsen. Click here for the irons and to see the plans for these planes. The more guitars I make the more I want to get away from using power tools, grooving plans seems like a better solution for cutting the bridge slot. I have cut it with a saw and a chisel but the results always left something to be desired.

Today, I dimensioned some black walnut and bubinga for the grooving planes. All work was done by hand using the following tools:
No. 3 smoothing plane
No. 5 jack plane
No. 192 rabbet plane
Back saw
Knife
Rulers
1/2 chisel

I'll post more about these little planes after I get the irons and get them made.



My Disston rip saw was a little dull for ripping so I decided to touch it up a little before ripping commenced.

All of my saw files are dull!

Well, guess I had better order some more.




I recently got to see what happens to a guitar bridge when the wood it is made from fails. I've had bridges on my own earlier guitars pop off completely right after I installed new strings, but this was complete wood failure! A few bits and pieces are left of this bridge, so the owner and I decided to make a new bridge out of black walnut. I know that the late John Gilbert used walnut for his guitar bridges, it is a strong wood and fairly light. At least, this gives me a quick side job with a little bit of money.

To make sure that I have a strong piece of wood, I split some 12/4 walnut I had on hand. I should've gone out to the workshop to grab my froe, but a big registered mortising chisel also does the trick.

Oh, how I miss processing lumber from a tree that I cut down myself. That way I knew exactly what I was getting.

I also realized today that it is time to let my Pentax K100 DSLR go to a better place, it is time to buy a new camera to take photos of my work.



Here is a video that the Granada guitar maker, John Ray, has posted on his website trying to drum up business for a book on the school of Granada guitar makers. I think I am going to ask Strings by Mail if they would order this book for me.