Had a few days to let the finish harden and now more applications are bringing us close to string up time.
the little Munica is filled time after time with 8 drops of dilute shellac and three drops of alcohol, then a drop of olive oil and another application begins.
This bear-claw Sitka Spruce is almost ready to have the bridge glued on. Maybe just a couple more days to string up time.
The bridges get the French Polish treatment too. they are lookin good.
Good to see the work table filling up again. The clamps are holding the pinecone plates onto the peg heads of the two concerts that will soon be getting their finish.
ALL OF A SUDDEN I HAVE FOUR MORE ORDERS FOR TENORS. One of my new customers asked about bear-claw Sitka Spruce. This is what I have left. Which do you like best. Bear-claw is not only pretty but it produces great sound. Some luthiers think the "claw" marks make for a stiffer soundboard, thus the better sound. ?????
I was able to get a couple of hours of uke work in today. After putting french polish on those two tenors I left the shop for the sun to carve and shape the necks on the two Concert Pinecones I am building. A beautiful summer day on the patio.
I am working with a scraper on the walnut neck with Bellingham Bay and the islands in the background.
The farthest island is Orcas, in the heart of the San Juans.
Here are some of my favorite neck shaping tools. On top, a Japanese rasp. rough on one side, smoother on the other. Below that my favorite chisel, an antique I bought many years ago in England. Sharp as a razor-wonderful sheffield steel.
Next is a trusty and well used rasp, flat on one side rounded on the other'
and finally one of the terrific scrapers that Stew-mac sells. Really a great scraper.
Then there is lots of scraper work to do to get the neck feeling just right, and finally some aggressive sanding with the bow sander. When all that is done and it feels right the whole instument will be ready for its final sanding.
I love to work in the bright sunlight. it is amazing how much better you can see your work. Also, the sawdust just blows into the flower beds.
Life is slowly heading toward normal. Yesterday I was able to get to the shop and install a MiSi pickup in a concert pinecone for a fellow and get a couple of French polish on the two tenors I have been building. They are getting pretty close to being finished. I expect to be able to work on them daily until done.
In the foreground is Alan's "Hog and Spruce", Behind it is Glenn's Maple/Spruce, both looking good. behind further are two concert pinecones. Neither of them is spoken for if anyone is interested in buying one of them. great little ukes.
Love the fiddleback maple.
Sorry for the pause in blogging. My wife has been ill. she is getting better now but I have not been able to be in the workshop for awhile. Hopefully I will be back at it soon so check it once in a while and keep on strumming.
I had a few pieces of Honduran Rosewood that were too small for backs or sides so I resawed, and sanded it into Concert sized fretboards. Beautiful stuff that has been acclimating in my shop for years now. Here is how it becomes fretboards
Each piece was cut to the proper length and width and sanded to the desired thickness on the big sander. Then the special slotting blade is put in the table saw and the jig and slotting sled are put in place.
The blank fretboard is attached to the acrylic slot jig with white double backed tape with the index pin on the sled set in the proper slot. The piece is held tight against the sled and passed through the saw blade. Then it is moved to the next slot and fit onto the index pin and another slot is cut. After doing this 14 times, the concert Pinecone fretboard is slotted.
When you get the slotting gear all put together you might as well slot them all. 'ready for the next build'
I have cut the little curve on the band saw. Put small mother of pearl marker dots at the appropriate places, Now I have it taped in the vise and am sanding in the 12 foot radius
Just couldn't resist laying the fretboards and pinecone peg head plates on them to envision the finished instruments. Alan's "Hog" and Bear claw Spruce tenor is in the background just having received yet another application of French Polish.
Here is a little closer look.
once you have shaped the back to a pleasant roundness it is time to turn it over and hollow it to a thin concave shell.
On the drill press Set the tip of this Forstner type drill bitt to stop at just the thickness that you want the back to be. Then hog out the entire back. the bitt will follow the curve you have rasped into the outside. Trim up the edges a bit with a round cutter in the drill press.
Now with a rough sanding disk in the electric drill sand down the surface until the moment the tip marks disappear. Now you know the back is thinned to the desired thickness. This is a dusty job, so set up your shop vac. to suck all that bad stuff away.
A good sharp scraper cleans up the rough spots and improves the edges
And after sanding the glue surface flat with a big piece of sand paper on a flat surface, these Pinecones are ready to box up.
These huge rubber bands are perfect for this clamping job. In the morning I will be fairing up the edges and making these look pretty. Then it is just a matter of carving the necks and making the fretboards.
My grandson Evan Christie, and I designed the first pinecone perhaps 10 years ago. It is a wonderful instrument in either soprano or concert model. I am currently building two concerts, After making the soundboard of Englemann Spruce it is time to bend the sides.
This is a pretty simple bend as none of the angles are extreme. I clamp it shut as it dries, cools and sets. the neck for these pinecones are shown in this picture. they are walnut from a limb that broke off of a huge walnut tree in the county, The limb was twelve inches thick, the tree, the largest walnut I have ever seen.
So far it has been quick and easy- now the work begins. The Pinecone backs are made from a highly figured 3/4 inch slab of Big Leaf Maple. The first step is carving a pleasant round back. This is done the old fashioned way with a very sharp set of rasps. Good upper body exercise, but a fun part of the build. Fairing it all in evenly and with a pleasant angle is the challenge.
Here is the final result. A rounded back with a concave inside that is only a little more than an 8th of an inch thick. It is strong, beautiful and I believe what makes these Pinecones sound so darned good. But how do I hollow them out???
It begins at the drill press where I am hogging out most of the wood with a Forstner bit and the drill press set to stop before penetrating the back, This is the first step. More tomorrow.
The blondes sit still as the French Polish hardens just waiting for the next application and beside them are the beginnings of a new build of Concert Pinecones. Only one of them is spoken for, so if you want the second, let me know. They are great ukuleles. My personal pinecone sits beside them for reference.
THIS IS THE UNIQUE KASHA DESIGN AND THIS IS IT'S STORY
A couple of years ago I had made my 99th ukulele and was considering what my next build would be. I had visited master luthier Eric Devine in his workshop on Maui, Hawaii several times and had been extremely impressed with his instruments made using the Kasha bracing system. They looked a bit radical with their off center sound hole and trumpet shaped bridge, but they were extremely beautiful and sounded wonderful. I decided to make my 100th ukulele using the Kasha system. I ordered the same plan that Devine used and got to work.
That 100th uke was terrific, made with East Indian Rosewood and NYC water tank Redwood, the sound was rich, warm and powerful. I have now made 39 Kasha tenors. I am ceonvinced that it is a superior bracing system resulting in better sounding instruments. Nationally known Stuart Fuchs played that 100th instrument and asked me to build one just like it for him. He has been touring and using it on his Patreon website now for almost two years. He apparently agrees, Kasha is a great design.
HERE IS HOW IT BEGAN;
Michael Kasha was a Physicist at a Florida university. He bought his son a guitar and became interested in the acoustics of stringed instruments. He determined that his son's guitar construction was inefficient and began a study to improve instrument design. He teamed up with a famous luthier, Schneider and the the result was the bracing system that I am now devoted to