Archive for July, 2010

Outer diagonal inlay, setup

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

How do you cut 30-degree angles for the ebony/holly edge tiles with a 45-degree miter box? 45 - 15 = 30. I drew a template for a 15-degree groove in a piece of wood using Corel Draw, and cut it out using my Dremel Tool, with the sheetrock cutter attachment, which makes it similar to a router. I used a metal ruler for a fence. [Same procedure I used for cutting the inlay groove in the back.] This placed in the bottom of the miter box gave me a nice slot to hold against and to cut strips of edging at 30-degrees.


Grooved wooden insert for 30-degree cuts, before clamping to bench

I also made me a little wooden gadget to be able to draw 30-degree angles related to any point on the curve of the edge of the body. The pattern was also drawn in Corel Draw first, and cut out with the scroll saw.


Closeup of home-made angle guage for aligning to the curves



The center diagonal between dowels is the one used to mark the top

 Next, I made a paper strip in Corel Draw to mark the intervals between tiles.


The interval I used is 7/16"

Inner edge inlay

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

After cutting the rabbet and cleaning it out, making sure it was smooth, I went ahead and glued in the thin 1/8″ black-white-black inlay strip on the inner edge. I used a gel super glue that said it was good on porous things like wood. I started by doing the two short parallel strips on either side of the head block. I figured that their 45-degree angles would help hold in the first long curved piece that was being bent all the way to the other end. That worked great. I then cut a 45-angle on the tail end of the glued-in strip, which would anchor in the second long piece. I cut the other end with about 2 inches of unglued strip, so it would fit in nicely into the little straight piece’s angle already along the head block, and the circuit was completed.


Head inlay joints

This all went surprisingly well – nothing to it! The springy strips behaved and stayed in place around the curve, even in the waist, where you’d think they would be more likely to pop out.


Tail end showing inlay strip with centerline joint

Rabbet edge

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Having left off our saga with the patch for the gouge glued in, and considering how I was going to hand-smooth that off without messing up the good parts, Jerry let me come over to quickly zip it off with his flush trim bit. We made sure the bearing was up high enough to miss the shaft hole this time!


Patched gouge above shaft hole

He offered to let me come over and use his router to do the rabbet on the edge for the striped inlay, but I already had the 3/8″ bit and my own router, and decided to give it a try at home. I was able to clamp the body to my little portable work bench so I could have both my hands free for the router. It was a very stressful operation. I was afraid the bit would slpinter the wood along the cut when going against the grain, or something, but that fear did not materialize, and the inner cut edge came out quite nice.


Completed rabbet

I was worried about rocking the router on the curved soundboard and creating an uneven depth, or even worse – a slip. It didn’t come out perfectly even all the way around, but nothing I’m unhappy with. A little too deep on the head and tail, for some reason, but at least there are the blocks under those spots.

On the widest part of the body on one side, a toothpick-sized piece of the soundboard splintered out. Apparently there wasn’t enough glue holding it to the body there. I had to fabricate a piece to glue back in, and that turned out fine.


Repaired "toothpick" piece of soundboard hardly visible, lower left

The biggest ”Oh no!” of the whole operation was that something on the bottom of the router base was gouging a squiggly track in the middle of my soundboard! After routing a little and seeing the indented trail, I brushed of the bottom and continued further along. So did the  indenting of the top! I cleaned it off again. Thankfully, it did not do that on the last 2/3 of the way around. It seemed fairly serious to me, though, and I was thinking of all the extra sanding I was going to have to do to get rid of it, as it was something that could definitely be felt. Then I had the wild idea of wetting those areas with a clean, damp cloth. I did that two or three times and wood swelled up so that the indentations disappeared! Quite a miraculous and fortunate surprise, I thought.


A dinner plate made the perfect guide to complete the body curve

I had to cut in the corners by hand where the head block sticks out from the body, using an X-acto knife and chisel.

Builder’s label

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

I was working on a label design at lunch today. I thought a repetition of the Breton ermine symbol would make a good border. Some lines are included, because the flag of Brittany also has black and white stripes. I was going to print this on parchment-like paper, but decided it needed to be in black and white, like the ermine.


Shown larger than actual size

Instructional DVD by Ina Lemm

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

I  have had some nice email exchanges recently with Dr. Ina Lemm about her very impressive-looking “Learning to play the hurdy-gurdy” course on DVD. There is an English version in PAL format, but she tells me it will play fine on computers here. I saw a couple of her clips on YouTube, and have been interested in getting one ever since, but wanted to make sure it would work in the States first. Now that I know the procedure, I will order one closer to the time of completion of my hurdy-gurdy.

Soundboard flush trim

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Last week, my woodworking buddy, Jerry, let me come over to his shop to use his nice router table with the flush trim bit to smooth off the overlap on the soundboard. The curved soundboard was face down against the tabletop, so I put some Post-it tape on the center ridge to protect it from scratching and dirt, and two temporary 1/8″ “skids” on the widest spots of the body, so it wouldn’t rock back and forth so much while rotating it along the roller on the bit. One of these is seen in the following photo.

We were taking it nice and easy and doing fine until the pilot bearing ran across the hole for the crank, which caused the blade to gouge into the body as the bearing suddenly encountered thin air on its trip around the instrument. I saw it coming, but didn’t react in time. It could have been worse. We stopped before a really big divot was made.


Divot caused by router bit pilot bearing hitting the crankshaft hole

The next step was Damage Control — how to patch it? I got a scrap from the edge of the bottom and a scrap from the soundboard edge that both seemed to match the grain of where the divot is. I glued them together and rounded one side to try to match the curve from the blade. Tonight I glued it into the depression.


Patched divot showing attempt to match the grain

You can see it will take some careful sanding to make it flush on the outside without damaging the good parts. Plus, the threaded hole needs to be accurately restored.


Another view of the patch

The top seam will eventually not show, due to the 1/16″-thick striped ebony and holly inlay that will go around the edge. Once this patch is smoothed, I can cut the depression for that with a 3/8″ rabbet bit.

Back about ready

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Over the weekend I used a cabinet scraper and sanding block to level the decorative center inlay strip on the back. I had to do this before adding a bulge to the inside, which would make working on the outside more problematic, not being able to lie flat any longer.

The bulge is a center reinforcement strip that the manual refers to that goes over the back seam in the large gap between the braces. No part was included for this and so I suppose it is an outdated step. But I decided to make one anyway. I used a 1″ wide by 1/8″ thick piece of wood I had on hand. The distance between the braces is 8″. I made the strip 7 1/2″ long. After rounding the edges and doing some careful measuring to make sure it would be in the right spot in relation to the braces when it all was put together, I glued it down.

The other two things I did was trace the outline of the body on the back piece, and then trim it closer to this line on my scroll saw.


Center support strip will span the gap between braces inside the back

Now the back is ready to glue onto the body, except for the inside label. I haven’t made up my mind what I’m doing about that, if anything. One came with the kit, but I might do something else. I went to a label/sign shop today to see about an engraved name tag sort of thing. No rush deciding on that, since I have to first do all the decorative edging around the soundboard first.

Parlez-vous français ?

Friday, July 9th, 2010

InstImmFrenchI received a new copy of Instant Immersion French Levels 1, 2 & 3 software by Topics Entertainment yesterday. I got it from eBay for half the list price. It has nine discs, two for each of the three lessons, and then an audio CD, an interactive DVD, and a detective adventure game Who is Oscar Lake? which is in French.

French_Box“You won’t find repetitive drills or endless vocabulary lists here. Instead, Oscar Lake plunges you directly into a foreign city where you must solve a puzzling mystery in a new language. Experts agree that language immersion is the most effective way to learn a second language. With Oscar Lake you learn by hearing, seeing and doing. And because you interact directly with all the characters you meet, you control the pace of the story, the speed of the learning and even the outcome of the game. But be careful! With its multiple possible endings, Oscar Lake can make you the hero who recovers the stolen diamond or the goat who ends up taking the rap!”

Doesn’t that sound interesting? But not as interesting as actually visiting some real villages in France. Since I would like to go to Brittany some day, I decided I need to get busy and learn some of the lingo!

Lower soundholes cut

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

I cut the decorative cocobolo lower level soundhole pieces last night. Besides reducing the size of the main hole of the design, these will also protect delicate across-the-grain points of the top holes, as well as keeping the thin parts from someday splitting where the four holes of the ermine design merge. I wanted the ermine design to be this size [which covers the same area as the provided "C"-shaped design], but I didn’t think the actual hole should be so wide at that size. The dark wood makes the hole look bigger than it really is, plus adding some extra detail and nice graining.


1/16" cocobolo strip with patterns glued on, ready to cut

The gray-shaded areas represent the actual holes, while the adjacent white areas will be where the dark cocobolo will show inside the lighter soundboard.  


Top edges on both levels need rounding before gluing in underneath

Soundboard glued on

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Yesterday, our Monday holiday for the Fourth, I was able to also get the soundboard glued on. Many thanks go to Leonard for letting me borrow his clamps, and even delivering them to our door on the spur of the moment while he was trying to get ready to paint his newly sheet-rocked garage. [Leonard had earlier loaned me his plane, which I used to get the arching of the body started.]

I worked on this on the driveway in the shade, but the late afternoon July shade is still very hot in Texas. I started to panic seeing how fast the glue was drying while I was still smearing it on. Hopefully it is on there securely. There sure wasn’t much that oozed out, so at least that was a plus. No drips to wipe off, or anything. It seems to have curved to the edge well. Memo: If it is hot when I glue on the back, make sure to do it inside.

I found a sheet of 1/4″ birch plywood in the garage, which nicely covered the top and bottom when I cut it in half. I didn’t want the clamps directly against the instrument, so this was a fortunate discovery. Because of the plywood, there’s not much to see…


Clamp convention

No, that isn’t a new, space-aged hurdy-gurdy wheel on top. That is a turbine wheel from the turboprop engine of an OV-10 Bronco, what I used to fly in the Marines. It is much heavier than it looks and makes a good weight for my different projects. The whole arrangement is sitting on the living room carpet. I brought it in from the heat after getting the clamps set, so the glue didn’t dry so fast.

As far as the alignment, I think I hit the centerline dead-on. I did have to give the nose bearing a half turn inward from what I considered the ideal position that matched the plans.


Doesn't look like much of a big deal, but it was

Hindsight: I should have rounded the bottom edge of the wheel hole first. I should have cut the lower cocobolo soundhole pieces and marked their position on the bottom of the soundboard first. I should have marked the position of the braces on the bottom first, so I would know where the centerline reinforcement strip should go.