Archive for August, 2010

French hurdy-gurdy stamp

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

FrenchStampHere is a pre-cancelled French stamp I recently found showing a “veille.” The colors are a little gaudy, but otherwise it is a nice image. I believe it was one of a series of stamps featuring musical instruments.

Outer diagonal inlay 2

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

I’m over halfway around the edge now! Glued the first six tiles of the other side on tonight, for a total of 68 so far. There were 60 pieces per side, not including what will be on the short neck. There is also a triangular “keystone” piece at the center of the crank end. I figure I have 60 pieces to go, including the neck. I’m putting one long piece along each side of the neck, because the head should cover up this area entirely. I’ll do 4-5 pieces on the neck top, though they probably won’t show either, except maybe their edges.


Sixty two custom fit tiles have been epoxied on in this view

Smoothing the edge and top is really going to be a job. The tiles are different thicknesses.

Pattern for my father’s portrait

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Master pattern on translucent vellum

I finished the pattern for my father’s marquetry portrait today. I first had to complete the outlining. Then I colored it so I could tell which areas were to be the same wood. The shading goes from dark to light: black, purple, dark blue, light blue, dark green, light green, orange. The same woods will be used as for my mother’s portrait.

To see the original photo, go here.

Outer diagonal inlay 1

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

I decided I could only herd so many cats at once, so I did the custom fit job on the first 14 pieces, and glued in the first 13, leaving the 14th unglued, because it hasn’t been customized to fit its future neighbor yet. With a whole string of loose tiles, it is hard to be sure you are fitting the new ones correctly, as the other ones keep shifting.

The inner edges have to be curved slightly to match the curve of the instrument, so that they fit nicely against the inner inlay banding. I don’t have a drum sander, so holding sandpaper against a peanut can while rubbing the tile piece up and down against it works for me on this. Also, the side edges have to beveled inward a little, as they can’t stay exactly parallel and fit. That’s done by hand against a flat piece of sandpaper on the tabletop. It is very tedious and time-consuming fitting these pieces. I’ve got over a hundred left to go! There are about 60 on each side, and some more around the short neck.


First herd of cats ready to be glued down

You’re supposed to dye the epoxy with ebony sawdust, so any gaps will not show when these tiles are all glued in. That’s a great idea. I’ve never done that before. I saved the sawdust when I used my router to split the long ebony strips the first time, and when I used my scroll saw to split them the second time. Especially with the router, the dust wasn’t all that fine. Some was more like shavings. I decided it needed sifting, and used one of those very worn “see-thru” washcloths we have around here for a strainer.


Sifting ebony sawdust through a worn-thin washcloth



The resulting fine dust that was sifted through the cloth

The only epoxy I could find was 5-minute. The manual recommends 30-minute. I mixed enough to do all 13 tiles, but only applied enough for the first 7 – good thing! That’s all I was able to do at once before it got too viscous.


Thirteen retired cats with the new lead cat awaiting another herd

It went pretty well. I think they are in there as good as I had hoped. The only goof was when one of the black tiles flipped out of place onto the soundboard top when trying to make sure it was tight against the one next to it. The glue smear should come off when I do the final sanding. On the first batch of seven, I didn’t scrape off the oozed-out glue. On the second six, I did. I definitely had to make sure the channel was totally cleaned out for future adjoining tiles on both ends.

The black diamonds are all cut, as you can see in one of the plastic bags, and the whites have to be cut with the miter box. Both will have to be individually custom-sanded to fit.

Many thanks to Jerry, who gave me the holly, and to Chuck, who gave me the ebony several years ago. The ebony was scrap strips cut off from some of his famous banjo necks at the Chuck Lee Banjo Company. The decorative edging made with these woods will greatly enhance the appearance of my hurdy-gurdy. Thanks guys!