Archive for May, 2010

Headblock inlay

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

The goal was to inlay two vertical strips of 1/16″-wide black-white-black banding to match the wider side stripes, and then to fill in the 1 1/2″ space between those with some sort of exotic veneer. It did not go as smoothly as expected.


3D view of two 1/16"-wide vertical grooves cut into the headblock

The grooves were made with four cuts of a hand miter saw. Cleaning out the remainder in the middle was a challenge. A small plane was used to recess the area between the two grooves, but I ended up with an uneven surface. I tried to level it with scraps of veneer. It was a mess.

It took me quite awhile to decide which veneer to use for the center. I think it is a redwood burl I ended up with, I’m not sure.  It is sort of orangish. I found a spot I liked, cut it out to fit snugly between the banding stripes, and then was ready to glue it in.


Burl veneer minus piece cut out for headblock decoration

To my chagrin, all four edges immediately curled up when the glue was applied. It was quite a crisis, trying to align it when the edges were curled. I clamped it in and hope it will look good when done. I had gone to so much trouble to make sure the piece fit exactly, and in the end, there was no way to be sure it was in right. We shall see whether a disaster was averted when the clamps are removed tomorrow. Thankfully, the metal ruler I used to hold the veneer flat perfectly fit its width.


Did the curled veneer get glued in the middle right? Stay tuned...

It doesn’t look so bad, but Im not happy with it. Because of it curling, it didn’t glue flat, so when smoothing, it is almost sanded through in 2-3 spots on the edges, and in places partly obscures the inner black stripe.


Okay at first glance, but not as good as I'd like

A French polka

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Here’s another of my favorite tunes I’ve run across on YouTube. Definitely on my “wish list” of ones I’d love to be able to play someday.

Mike Smith playing a Chris Eaton hurdy-gurdy that Mike decorated himself. What a work of art!

P.S.— Mike kindly sent me the music for this, so there’s a chance I will get to play it someday. The name of the tune is Le Paz d’Été.

Two stripes in 3D

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Here are two stereoviews of the body with the two stripes in.


Half the stripes shown in 3d from both ends

Actually, the fourth stripe was glued in on Friday, so that’s a  relief  having them all done.

You may notice some light vertical pencil lines on the head block. I am considering some thinner inlay stripes there, with perhaps another type of veneer filling the space between them. One of the strap buttons will go in the middle.

Back inlay

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Tonight I did the back seam inlay. I had a 1/4″-wide strip with a black and white pattern from the local Rockler, which I had bought earlier with one of their coupons prior to the hurdy-gurdy project. It will fit in well with other black and white trim: side stripes, keys, soundboard edge banding, etc.

My Dremel tool has a cone-shaped attachment used for cutting drywall, which made a perfect mini-router. I recently bought a little set of six router bits on eBay, which included an 1/8″ and 1/4″ straight bit.


Drywall attachment with 1/8" bit and the rest of the set of bits

I experimented some on the scrap area of the soundboard, and decided the 1/4″ bit was harder to trust than the 1/8″ bit. So, using my trusty metal rule as a fence, I made two passes with the 1/8″ bit to get the 1/4″-wide groove, and the strip fit in great!


The mini-router in action, both passes completed

I aligned the inlay pattern in the groove so the edges should be spaced the same when glued to the body and trimmed. The strip was then glued in with wood glue and weight was applied.


Completed inlay

 It was nice to work on a new part, for a change.


Inlay detail

Two side stripes done

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

I got two strips of the black-white-black inlay banding glued in on the player side of the body tonight.


It didn’t take as many popsicle sticks as I expected — only four


Two down, two to go

The engine

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

I couldn’t resist putting together the drive train for a brief test: bearings, shaft, wheel, crank, knob. Spins real smooth and quiet!


See, it’s not a guitar!

The nose bearing is adjusted now —screwed into the brace the proper amount— for the preliminary alignment of the wheel. This will be finalized once the soundboard is glued on and the hole is cut for the wheel.


3D view of the “motor”

Sanding cradle design

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

SandingCradle1I don’t know what to call this thing, so I came up with this name. It is the route I’m taking to round the top and bottom edges of the body to match the bowed braces, to give a curve to the soundboard and bottom. I expect it will give me a more uniform, smooth and symmetrical curve than sanding by hand.

I located some 3/4″ plywood in the garage, as well as a piece of 1/8″ masonite which was once the backing for a full-length mirror. The plywood will be the base and the masonite will form the curved cradle. The masonite unfortunately wasn’t the width of the instrument, so I had to cut it into 14″ lengths and put two pieces end-to-end. The two pieces of the cradle will be held in place by small wire brads.

To create the curve, I glued two 24″-long, 1/8″-square basswood strips to the plywood base, their combined width being 12.5″, which is about the width of the hurdy-gurdy at its widest point. I hope this technique will give me a curve that fairly closely matches the bow of the top of the braces, which drops 1/8″ on the widest one.

Ami, mon bel ami

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

A pleasant, happy tune on YouTube, one of my favorites thus far:

Eric Raillard — musique traditionnelle du Morvan (région Bourgogne)

Side stripe solution

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Just trying to decide how to go about getting those shallow 3/16″-wide grooves around the sides of the curvy body for the inlay banding proved quite a challenge. Cutting the edges with an X-acto knife using a combination square was not turning out as ‘x-acto’ as I’d like, plus it was taking forever. And then there was the issue of cleaning out the center, which I hated to think about. I didn’t trust my Dremel tool to only color within the lines.

I decided I needed to check with Jerry, a woodworking buddy across town. We brainstormed over a bunch of different options in his shop on Saturday. The perfect solution ended up being some fancy inlaying tools he recently ordered from Lie-Neilsen, which he graciously let me borrow.


Lie-Neilsen Slicing Gauge, Small Router Plane, and Straight Line Cutter

The Slicing Gauge has a “v”-edged blade,  like an X-acto knife. It is designed for slicing thin veneer to a certain width, not for cutting a groove in a board. The Straight Line Cutter has more of a saw-like blade, with three teeth, and is for cutting a groove. But it has a long, straight, overhanging guide for cutting a parallel groove on a flat piece of wood. That wouldn’t work on the curved hurdy-gurdy. The Slicing Gauge only has a metal pin for a guide, close to the blade itself, which meant that tool would glide in and out of the hills and valleys nicely. So, it was only a matter of switching blades, and I was ready to ride the roller-coaster! [Photo above is shown with blades already switched.]


Slicing Gauge serving temporarily as a groove cutter

It took several hours to carefully cut the four grooves completely around the body. Cutting the two parallel grooves for each inlay band made it fairly easy to go in with the Small Router Plane and clean out the middle, as I didn’t have to worry about getting too close and ruining the straight edge of the groove.


Small Router Plane in action

Without the opportunity to use these wonderful tools, I believe I would have ended up with something I wouldn’t have been happy with, and taken days longer to accomplish. Thanks, Jerry!


Completed grooves ready for inserting the racing stripes

The next official step in the construction process is to sand down the sides of the body so that the soundboard and bottom will arch to the same curvature as the braces — another tricky challenge fit for Odysseus that I’m not quite sure how I’m going to accomplish yet. It was essential to do these side stripe grooves at this stage, since the original parallel top and bottom edges were needed as a guide for the tool making the grooves.

3D hurdy-gurdy

Monday, May 10th, 2010

With Hollywood doing 3D photography in their latest movies, I decided to get in on the act, including an occasional 3D hurdy-gurdy construction photo here. I have an old Pentax Optio 430RS digital camera. Absolutely nothing to brag about, but it does have an interesting 3D setting, something you don’t see every day on the latest fancy cameras.

 ”The new [in 2002] digital Optios record one picture on one half of the file and then you take a second picture by moving the camera slightly left or right to recreate the stereo lens effect. The camera displays the first on the left and the composition of the new one appears on the right. A grid is provided so that you can ensure perfect alignment.”


Optio viewfinder in 3D mode

I’ve always been interested in antique stereoviews and stereo photography, so when looking for a used camera several years ago, and seeing a 3D feature on this one, I had to go for it. If you look at the web page above, you will see that you don’t need a special camera to make your own stereoviews.

To view the images, you will either have to get a simple viewer, like the cheap one I got on ebay for $3-$4, or better yet — train yourself to cross your eyes until the two halves overlap and align. Focus on a spot in both views, and cross your eyes [like you are trying to look at your nose] keeping track of the two spots until they merge, which is when you should notice the 3D depth effect kick in. You will see three images, the middle one being in 3D.

I have to warn you that it is possible to cross your eyes two ways and get the pictures to overlap. If you do it the other way, the depth will not work and the picture have the appearance of being turned inside out. I have made mine in the traditional way old stereoviewers worked, with the right eye’s view on the right, and the left eye’s on the left.


Simple plastic 3D viewer that works well on computer images

Hurdy-gurdies being rather complicated gadgets, I thought they might look more realistic in 3D. When crossing your eyes, focus on a prominent detail such as the black dot of the bearing. Since these blog images are so small to begin with, it is fairly easy to do without a viewer.


Just when you thought you were done looking at clamped kerfing

You can see where I had been trying to cut the outer edges of the side stripe grooves with my X-acto knife in the photo.