The beautiful resting volcano in our backyard decided to vent a little steam in celebration of Christmas Day. Mt Baker frequency puffs a bit of steam from its vent but a perfect clear day is required to see it . This was the view from Whidbey Island yesterday afternoon.
And today it was fun to be back in the workshop putting finish on these ukuleles.
The "Bear Claw" is beginning to pop on Connie's Spruce soundboard.
And the gold leaf is being applied to the ball to top the kiosk at Fairhaven Village Green. This is fun stuff to use.
The French Polish process began today. Each uke got a different beginning because of differences in the wood of the bodies.
Tim's tenor has a body of East Indian Rosewood, a wood with lots of pores that must be filled. It hangs here as the Z-poxy, a very thin epoxy, hardens. The epoxy will fill the pores. I will then sand it down and apply the French Polish over its now perfectly smooth surface. A modern primer for an ancient finish method.
Connie's tenor has a body of Bubinga which does not have many pores. It has received two wash coats of dilute Shellac and The polish process will continue after Christmas.
The soundboards of both instruments are not porous woods, The Spruce and Redwood tops have both received wash coats of dilute shellac and need no further sanding. so the work will begin again after Christmas Day.
SO A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL, MAY YOUR HOLIDAY BE FILLED WITH JOY AND BEAUTIFUL MUSIC.
The peg head plate was fitted today and that finishes the construction of Tim's tenor. Now it is French polish time. This uke will be headed to Australia in a few weeks.
Some of you may recall the golden ball that topped the kiosk in Fairhaven Village Green. 16 years ago it was made of solid bronze and gilded with gold leaf.
Some low-life stole it years ago. Soon the ball will be replaced.
But this time it will be made of wood, gilded with gold leaf, and securely attached. This is how it began, with a solid block of maple on my wood lathe.
First you have to turn that chunk round. Here it is spinning slowly as the sharp corners are cut off.
Now it is cylindrical and the real turning can begin.m Thats the big gouge I used for the rough stuff.
Its kind of hard to turn a round ball on a lathe. I cut myself a pattern to guide myself.
Now the ball begins to form.
Now the stem begins to form.
Now we are looking closer,
Sanding is easy on a lathe. This is the final result, I will keep you posted as it moves along.
This is a crazy time year. Christmas parties, shopping, dark and gloomy weather, but life needs to be lived.
Chip and I decided to add a little Christmas Cheer to Fairhaven's epic retail store, Village Books. With the owners consent, we spent an hour the other day playing our ukuleles.
We had a very nice time, meeting some interesting people and enjoying our hour. We have decided we will like to do it again.
Back in the workshop, I had almost run out of the spalted Maple peg head plates that i like to use on my ukuleles.. I took twenty pieces to Bay Engraving in Bellingham to have Kurt lazer the g into them. Kurt got them done promptly for which i am most grateful. So here they are, ready to receive the wood inlay. After sanding, these will grace my ukuleles for 2020. See any favorites?
Here is an example that will be on Connies new uke. Not finished yet.
Most folks know George Thomas as a sober, meticulous and masterful luthier building beautiful guitars in the classic tradition but today I discovered another side of the man. The wild and crazy side.
He has been building Cigar Box guitars using tin cans, metal salad bowls, cookie tins and of course cigar boxes of all sizes for the bodies. Some of them are outfitted with electronic pickups with various control knobs, Sound hole covers are sink drains from the local hardware store. Fittings are all sorts of odd metal pieces. Truly a whimsical, amusing and creative endeavor.
So here is the master luthier standing beside his collection. Amazingly, some of them sound pretty darn good. George claims he ia learning things from each instrument. I only learned that wooden instruments sound better than tin can instruments and that George has a strong sense of whimsey.
Meanwhile, back in my ukulele workshop, the clamps came off of the fretboard of 130 and were switched over to 129. Always fun to get the fretboards glued on, then the neck can be finished and you can begin to see the finished product.
Now with rasp and scraper, sandpaper and elbow grease the necks are carefully shaped and smoothed to be sleek and playable.
And spalted maple peg head plates are chosen to fancy up the instrument. I hope to get these installed tomorrow.
This Honduran Rosewood fretboard has its fret slots, been sawn to the desired taper and shape, received its Paua Abalone dots and now it will receive its 12 foot radius. This is done with the sanding block with a concave 2 foot radius built into it.
It is held in place with a couple of strips of double backed tape. The sanding has begun and the edges of the fretboard are beginning the taper. The dots were standing a little proud and are being touched by the sanding block.
Now we are almost finished. The Yin/Yang is flush, the radius is visible across the width of the board.
Now all but two of the gold Evo frets have been installed. Those last two will be tapped in after the fretboard is glued to the neck. They are left out so a locating brad can be tapped into the tiny hole I have drilled into the empty slots. The ends will be trimmed after the glue sets up.
The next task is the toe plate. I have cut pieces of thin ebony and maple veneer to provide a "white/black" purfling line between the neck and the toe plate. The toe plate is made of the same wood as the fretboard. The pieces will be glued one on top of the other in the order shown.
Well today i did it. Busking for the Salvation Army.
Gary Goldfogel and I were scheduled for the 9;00 am to 11:00 bell ringing gig at our local grocery. An annual activity of our Rotary Club. I challenged him to bring his Griffin ukulele #9 to see if we could attract more than the usual donations.
Nope, It wasn't a Taylor Guitar.
I knew immediately, It was a big box of the wonderful gig bags I had ordered from Jesus Jurado in Tijuana.
Jesus works for Taylor Guitars, driving across the border daily to the Taylor factory. Jesus has his own workshop in Mexico where he makes his own guitars and these excellent padded gig bags.
Here they are, five concert size and five tenor size. Heavy canvas with thick padding, a pocket for music, a handle and a carrying strap, A strong big zipper. These are great bags that I have sold for years. If you need a great gig bag, they sell for only $50.00. The embroidered pinecone is perfect for my Pinecone ukuleles. Specifiy the color you want.
And then I found a small package in the mail box
It was from MiSi Electronics in Maine. I had ordered several of their volume and tone controls that can be attached to their great MiSi pickups that I use. Never seen these before.
Once soldered to the MiSi pickup and mounted either in the side sound port or the sound hole, you can change both volume and tone with the turn of a tiny wheel as you play. Ingenious. Can't wait to try one. Got to learn to solder now.
Here is what you need. The sticky tape ready to apply-the glue and glue brush, the binding pieces cut to proper length-And so lets put it on.
first we need to prepare the uke to accept the binding. This tail piece on the back needs to be cut down to accept not only the binding but a contrasting foot plate. Probably of the same wood as the fretboard.
Now the bindings are on. A couple of hours and I can begin sanding. The fun begins.