Archive for the ‘Shaping’ Category

Head – width narrowed

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

The outer edge of the girl’s headdress is an original edge of the block and was being preserved to narrow the width of the pegbox to match that of the keychest. I decided I couldn’t keep that intact any longer due to the shaping I needed to be doing. I was hoping to do this later, so none of the good edges would get dinged up while doing the carving.

I couldn’t run the pegbox side over the router bit and keep it level without leaving a second “foot” opposite the one created by the headdress edge.


Partway through the second of three passes, showing temporary foot

I made about three cuts of increasing depths to reach the right dimensions. I did both sides of the peghead while at each depth. Once the right depth was reached, I needed to remove the temporary foot before the bit was adjusted. This was done by using a “crutch” strip of balsa wood the same thickness as the foot being amputated, to hold the piece level.


My crutch spacer used to remove the temporary foot underneath

All of this was a very delicate operation. I was worried about chipping out a final edge. More of a possibility was gouging by the router bit, if I tried to do too much at one time, making it buck, or if the piece rocked slightly. Removing the temporary feet was also very risky, with the possiblity of the crutch moving or not being exactly the same width as what was being removed.


Results of narrowing after routing off the temporary feet

One side had to be routed a little deeper than the other. This was because the holes drilled for the chanter strings did not turn out exactly in the middle of the block. I shifted the centerline of the piece over to match these holes.

It turned out that one side of the pegbox is 1/32 thinner than the other because of how I hollowed out the inside. This is only slightly noticeable, and only visible from the bottom, anyway. I could probably do something about it, but don’t know if I will bother. The thinner side is about 5/16″ thick.

Overall, the operation was a huge success, and one I am glad to have behind me. I hope to eventually put marquetry inlay in the sides of the pegbox, which will match that in the lid of the keychest.

Figurehead – silhouetting the face

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Over the weekend I gave a very rough profile to the face: nose, lips, chin. I did this by drawing horizontal lines at the low spots, sawing along them, then chiseling into these slots from both directions.


Beginning stage of creating silhouette of the facial features

I drew in some lines for the neck and collar, to help solve the 3D collar problem. I also drew in the 1/4″ parallel lines where the peghead sides will be narrowed to match the width of the keychest. La femme’s cap will be wider than the business end of the peghead.


Besides rough profile of face, large areas of scrap removed from sides

After doing the notches across the face, before totally losing the rest of my reference photo of the face, I chiseled in diagonally on the sides towards the neck, according to the angles of the bottom lines of the cap in the front view, to get rid of a large amount of scrap. The cutting from here on will have to be more true carving and sculpting, and not just waste removal.

I sketched in the oval for the head, and added some very large ears and hair below those, since at this point I am not exactly sure of ear placement and don’t want to remove too much too soon. It will be a challenge from this point on, not having photos in place to serve as accurate cutting guides.


We've definitely arrived at the end of the straight-cutting phase

You will see there is a thin, flat, original block edge on either side of the head. I hope to keep that intact for as long as possible because it should come in handy when narrowing the sides of the peghead, which I expect to do mostly with the router.

Head – neck notches 2

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Now that the tuning peg holes are drilled, I can go back to getting the head to fit in the notches I made in the neck of the body. The bottom edge of the head needed its final curve to be able to fine tune the notches. Plus, the angle on the two little feet needed changing to make them perpendicular to the angle of the keychest-mounting edge, which is mainly why I wanted to drill first, since the piece would have to sit on those for that operation, and might have dented them.


Chiseling the curves to their rough outlines

[You can see in the above picture where the wood chipped out some on the right-most hole.] After chiseling came the sanding by hand. Leonard lent me a coarse-grained tube from an oscillating sander, and I used a wood dowel wrapped with fine sand paper to complete these curves.


Final smoothing of curves and flattening of feet

The head-shaping that relates to the neck  is completed, but I’m still adjusting the neck to get a good fit. It’s almost there, but the head’s ‘yoke’ still doesn’t quite fit flush against the soundboard. Part of the problem is that the soundboard isn’t completely flat on the neck, so I will work on that.


Upside down view of how the head fits into neck notches

Another thing I need to do before finalizing these head adjustments is sand the bottom of the keychest to match the curve of the soundboard. This will lower the keychest some in relation to the head, which will then require the head to sit lower, too.

I have been worrying throughout the design of this that the head won’t fit in the notches right so that it will not match the vertical end of  the keychest to make a good joint,  but this seems to be working out okay.


Test fit of the body, head and keychest for proper alignment

After this will probably come the final shaping of the top curve of the head where the peg holes are, and narrowing the sides to the width of the keychest.

Head – neck notches 1

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

I’ve really been dreading doing this…

The original wide peg head for the HGC Monarch kit flared out from the keychest, so it easily fit over the neck. But I wanted to carve my own head and for it retain the keychest width, which causes a problem. The keychest is only about 1/4″ wider than the neck, meaning the sides of the head would only be 1/8″ thick — no way! So, I didn’t have much choice but to carve notches into the sides of the neck for the head to fit down over it — a complicated operation.


Neck almost as wide as the keychest, leaving no space for head sides


Showing how far inward the neck has to be notched for the 'yoke' to fit


Reverse shape from the head pattern glued to the sides of the neck

Pencil lines were drawn on the top and front, and the pattern was glued to the sides. The first steps were cuts with the miter saw. The one on the right side didn’t remain parallel to the centerline and angled in a little, but that will be hidden by the head.


Top cuts with miter saw


Side cut with miter saw


Initial rough chiseling of the needed shape for 'yoke' of the head

Before the size and shape of these notches can be finalized, the head needs its bottom curve put in.

Head – tenon

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

The head piece needed a ‘tenon’ so it would fit inside the recess in the end of the keychest. This gives the joint between these two components extra strength.


Completed tenon from bottom

I did this on my router table using the 3/4″ straight bit. The piece was stood on its end when it went through the router. One side chipped out, as you can see below, due to the direction of rotation of the blade. Thankfully, the width of the head hasn’t been reduced yet, or this would have been disastrous.


Top view of completed tenon

The two sides were done first, then the top, which was needed to allow clearance for the lid. There was a lot clean up of the edges with sanding sticks to get a good fit.


Test fit showing the bottom of the joint


Test fit showing the top of the joint with nut parts added

I’m pleased with the alignment of the chanter string holes in relation to the other components: nut base, nut spacer, and lid.


Test fit of joint showing keychest lid in place

The head will eventually be the same width as the keychest.

Head – 90 degree angle

Monday, September 26th, 2011

The horizontal surface of the ‘yoke’ where the head will rest on the neck of the instrument’s body has to be made 90 degrees to the outer flat surface with the two string holes, where the head will join the keychest. This is about 12 degrees off from the square angles of the original block of wood. I routed this area up to the outside edge, but the inside edge needs to be angled by hand.


Pencil mark shows the needed slope to form the 90-degree angle

This is a critical step, as it determines how the head will align with both the keychest and the body of the instrument.


Rough chiseling of the angle down to near the pencil line

Another sanding stick was made, and a fine metal file put the finishing touches on it. A combination square was used to check the 90-degree angle.


Completed smoothing of the angle shown with the tools used

Some more fine sanding was done inside walls.


The new edge and the pattern used to guide the shaping of it

The original routed edge used to be parallel to the table top, but now slopes down towards the inside.

Head – router work started

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

I don’t know what real hurdy-gurdy makers call it. I’m calling it a ‘yoke’ — the bottom of the tallest part of the head extending down on either side of the ‘neck’ of the body, like a ‘yoke.’ I got a start on that tonight, using my router table and a 3/8″ straight bit to notch out the part that will straddle the neck. It is not yet the proper width. Same with the depth, of course, which needs to go down to the horizontal mark on the white paper — the level of the soundboard.


Removing this middle part will allow more drill bit clearance for further hollowing. I will probably go a little deeper on it with the router before going back to drilling. I ran out of daylight tonight. I was working out on the driveway.

Last night I hand-sanded off the circular marks from the disc sander.

Head – initial hollowing

Monday, September 12th, 2011

I went over to Leonard’s tonight and used his drill press to start hollowing out the bottom. I drilled three rows of holes at different depths, opening up an area 2  1/8″ x 1  1/8″. I used a rather small bit due to the steep angle of the interior curve. A bigger bit would have cut more area out, but would require more chiseling on the bottom because of bigger stair steps.


I also sanded flat the foot of the piece that will attach to the keychest on Leonard’s disc sander. It was only roughly cut initially on the bandsaw, until the string holes were cut.


It will take another session or two of drilling to get the area completely opened up.


Head – rough cut

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

I was able to make some “headway” on the 3.5 x 4.25 x 8″ block of mahogany that is to become the head of my hurdy-gurdy today, thanks to Eric, who has a great 1950s bandsaw. He was interested in my marquetry and inlay, as he would like to incorporate some of that into his handcrafted electric guitars. So I brought him some samples to explain the steps in the process.


I will miss my handy sanding block

I worked on the pattern some more in Corel DRAW last night, focusing on the inner and outer edges of the body, to get ready for the big day.


Patterns glued on both sides the night before

It was neat meeting Eric and seeing his shop and the beautiful woodwork he does on his electric guitars. If you want a finely-crafted custom guitar, check him out.


Action shot of Eric rough cutting the block on his bandsaw

I didn’t want it cut too precisely at this point, because it has a lot of rough handling ahead. Also, there are many steps to making this, and if you do too much all at once it could make some other step more difficult.


Things can hopefuly get rolling with this breakthrough, thanks to Eric

I needed to maintain the flat “feet” on the top, because I will be drilling into the bottom to begin hollowing it out, and standing it on the flat edges will keep the piece level and steady. That will be one of the earliest operations, as well as working on the edge that mounts to the keybox. The carving will come later.