Sunday, October 5, 2014

New Shop

Hello Folks.  Well, we're getting settled into Fall here in Western Washington.  Temp's are dropping, rain is falling, and leaves are fluttering to the ground.  Time to brew some strong coffee and get to work!  Over the summer I moved myself and the shop from Bellingham to Seattle.  It's not too far as miles go (just over an hour drive), but it's definitely a different world here in the city.  Fortunately I ended up with a great little house with a great big shop attached to it.  It's taken a bit of work to get it all together, but it's up and running now and I've got the wood chips to prove it!  Let me show you the new space..


  It has a few big perks that I didn't have at my last space.  The most noticeable change to me is the windows.  After being in a basement shop for over two years, I vowed that my next space would absolutely need to have some natural light available (and an easy way to get fresh air once in awhile too).  Fortunately, I have free reign to remodel this space as I want, so first order was cutting in some windows.  I got some nice double panes from the ReStore in Bellingham.  I then spent a good deal of time insulating the walls and ceiling and hanging drywall.  A quick coat of paint to make it cozy, and I was ready to set it up.  Once I got all my tools and everything organized and the basic layout figured, I realized I still had a lot of space in here.  Well, I've been a skateboarder since grade school, so I wasted no time in building myself a little ramp.

  Yep.  Just big enough to goof around on and take a break from woodworking and guitars for a minute.  My fifteen year old self would be proud.

  Now that I've got all the basics dialed in I'm happy to be ankle deep in wood shavings once again.  Here's some photos of what I've been up to the past couple weeks..

   Laying out the pieces for a small body archtop guitar.  That's Western Maple sides bent up into my concert size mold, and 1 inch thick Maple and Cedar for the the back and top, joined up and ready to carve.

  For the Maple, I hog out the perimeter to a set depth with the drill press first.  It helps get rid of some of the waste very quickly.

   Then the rest of the carving is done by hand with planes and gouges.

  Cedar is so soft and easy to carve that I don't bother to drill it first.  That plane is just a small cheap block plane that I modified by reshaping the sole and blade with a slight curve.  It's very sharp and does the bulk of the rough carving.  I made the wood knob thing on the back of the blade.  It gives my palm a comfy place to rest while I carve away.

  My labels are all different and individually hand-drawn.  This guitar is going to a farmer/woodsman hence the carrot/hatchet.

  Joining some flat top plates using a low tech and very effective method I learned from Todd Cambio.

  Bending up some beautiful Oregon Myrtle.

  Ladder bracing getting glued in the old go-bar deck.  Thin White Oak strips under tension act as clamps.  It's another low tech, yet very effective method that lots of instrument builders use.  I've tried clamping braces a couple different ways, but have always come back to this.

  And here we have X-braces undergoing the go-bar treatment.

  Getting carved 'n ready...

  And the next small batch of guitars coming together.  All concert size, but each quite different from the next.  On the left is Myrtle back and sides, Cedar top, Yellow Cedar braces, and all the rest of the wood elements will continue with the Northwest theme.  It will have some unique appointments which I'll show in another post.  In the middle we have Mahogany back and sides, Spruce top and ladder bracing.  Tried and true, it is going to a country blues fingerpicker.  And on the right is the small body archtop, also utilizing mostly Northwest and salvaged woods.  The Cedar for the top came from Skagit Salvage in Mount Vernon.  If things went another way, that piece of wood could have been a shelf, or some trim around a window.  I'm glad I get to use this one.  Stay tuned to see the completed trio.

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