Some recent wood working projects. (and other stuff)

Howdy, faithful (and deprived) readers!

It’s been quite a while since I posted (obviously) but I have been pretty busy. I’ve been working hard trying to nibble away at my knife backlog, looking forward to the day when I won’t have any waiting orders and will be able to devote more time to learning new techniques and skills. Making some progress, but it’s slow.

I’ve also (mostly) finished a new electric guitar. It needs a few more finishing touches before I post it, though.

I’ve made a couple Lazy Susans/turntables. I’ll have some pictures near the end of this post.

This week I made a 3 octave bowed psaltery, and took some photos with the idea of posting a tutorial here. It’s not real detailed, but if you have any woodworking skills, you should be able to figure out the missing stuff, or, ask. 🙂

So, here goes.

I used curly maple for the frame and pin block, and catalpa for the top and back. I’d never used catalpa for the plates of an instrument before (used it for a neck once) so I was curious as to how it would sound. I expected it to have the tap tone of wet cardboard, but it surprised me. It didn’t ring quite as well as spruce or mahogany, but it did ring.

So anyway, here’s the frame assembled sitting on top of one of the joined plates:

Here’s both plates joined, sanded to thickness, cut to thickness, and with the soundholes cut and the rosette installed on the top plate.

The frame has to be sanded straight and clean. Normally I’d run it through my planer, but I don’t have it right now, so I used the sanding board:

When that’s done, the first plate is glued on. Arbitrarily, I decided to glue the back on first.

The edges are trimmed flush with a chisel, then the top plate is glued on:

Now the edges are trimmed flush again, and the holes for the hitch pins are drilled, and pilot holes for the tuning pins. Abalone note markers are installed. C’s and F’s are marked.

A note on string spacing here. How well the stings vibrate when bowed is a function of the strings thickness and tautness. Which will also depend on the length of the string. Getting it to work can be a pain, especially for baritone psalteries. The way I layed it out for this one (and which seemed to work), is, the first pin is about 5.5″ from the bridge, then the next 5 pins are all 3/4″ from each other. After that, I added 3/64″ to each space.
The sharps and flats are of course, located in between the naturals, but on the other side of the instrument.

I also cut an angle across the lower corners.

Now the surfaces are all sanded smooth and clean, and the edges and corners are rounded off:

Now sanding sealer is applied:

Don’t worry, it dried clear. 😉

When dry, it’s sanded smooth again, since the sealer raised the grain, then several coats of lacquer is sprayed on:

After the finish is hard enough, the tuning pin holes are re-drilled with an appropriately sized drill, and the pins are hammered in:

The hitch pins are also hammered in, but deeper than the tuning pins:

Next, grooves are cut on the top of the hitch pins, to hold the strings. Sorry no pics. I used a flexible shaft grinder with a small cut-off wheel to make the grooves.

Then the strings are put on and the instrument is tuned repeatedly until it holds a tune.

I didn’t get any pics of making the bridge, but it’s real simple. It’s 7/16″ square, with a groove on top to hold a Delrin rod. The bridge should be wide enough to rest on the frame, so not all the string pressure is on the soundboard. The bridge is about 7/8″ from the front row of tuning pins.

Now, those lazy susans. The first one is mahogany, made out of scraps mostly. It was made by cutting 40 “pie” shaped pieces and gluing them together. Getting them all to fit was a nightmare, so I won’t dwell on it. But I think it turned out fairly well for a first attempt. It’s about 11 inches in diameter.

The second one is a bit bigger, and a bit fancier, though it was easier to make, since I used straight pieces instead of pie shaped ones… It’s made of curly maple and purpleheart. I also inlayed some purfling strips on the top. This one is 15″ in diameter.

This weekend, I also made a couple blade sanding jigs. These are a big improvement over my previous “jig”, which I didn’t get pictures of, which was basically a vise within a vise. It worked, but it was clumsy, didn’t have good clearance, and didn’t support the entire length of the blade. This type solves all those problems.

I made one for small blades:

and big ones:

Much thanks to knifemaker Nick Wheeler for the idea for these!

This post is getting awfully long, so I’ll have to do another soon of the knives I’ve finished recently.

Have a good week y’all, and, as always, questions and comments are welcome.


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