Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Day 95: Gluing Up the Bentside

Once I got the jointed bentside boards sanded and scraped down, I was ready to begin the process of laminating them to create the bentside - this is the curved part of the harpsichord case. Some builders bend using heat and a large pipe, some use a big steam box, and others laminate. In my case, I laminated using good, old-fashioned Titebond I Extended wood glue, which provided me some much-needed extra setup time. It will be interesting to see if cupping occurs - this is when the end result begins to curl. I'm hoping for the best.

This has been a long time coming; over a year-and-a-half, to be exact.

I covered the top of the form with waxed paper because glue will not stick to the paper and I didn't really want to glue the bentside permanently to the form. I also covered the top board with waxed paper in preparation for the glue-up. I have no idea why I did this, it just seemed like a good idea at the time.

What you can't see here are the two tarps on the floor at each end of the boards to capture run-off. I'm glad I put them there because a bit of glue did squeeze out onto them. What you can see is that I covered the assembly table with a plastic tarp, as well. Good decision.

My clamping system is composed of a simple block/bolt/wingnut setup that made it pretty easy to put the brace bars in place, even by my lonesome. The form is detailed in Mr. Miller's eBook Most Excellent (thank you, Ernie!). A word to the wise: Make dang skippy sure your boards are lined up dead center on the form or you will have trouble getting the last few bolts past the boards on the ends. I'm not saying this happened, I'm saying it definitely might have (probably) happened. Okay, I actually had to chip a little of one of the boards out with a chisel on the last couple of bolts, but this is okay because I'll be trimming them to width later.

Now, I take a hurry up and wait approach. I'm going to let the glue set for 48 hours. When I've rushed things on other projects, I've always been sorry. I want no regrets on this one, so I wait.

Until next time...

Monday, September 28, 2015

Day 94: Jointing the Bentside Boards

As you may recall, I had cut the poplar boards intended for the bentside lamination lengthwise given the fact that Big Bertha (the old 18" Foremost bandsaw) was a drifter and just wasn't set up for very effective resawing of 12" planks. I planed all down to 3/16" with the goal of reaching 1/2" thickness once everything was in place (2 x 3/16" boards + 2 x 1/16" red oak veneer = 1/2") and then promptly embarked on another lengthy shop reorganization project.

Well, as part of the reorg, Big Bertha has finally left the building, which is a good thing - I had no idea what an imposing presence she really was. Along with this, two of my dudes, Ian and Trey, helped me gut and then reorganize the shop a bit so I no longer feel claustrophic in my Sacred Space. The result is that I can now jump back onto the bentside lamination with abandon.

I jointed the 3/16" boards back together yesterday, allowing them sufficient time to dry throughout the day and am in the process of sanding and card scraping them smooth for the final lamination. It's about time, right?

Part of the deal I made with the cool Craigslist guy who purchased Big Bertha was that I acquired a large, 3" thick piece of live-edged walnut in exchange. This was my idea after listening to him brag about having 10 slabs. I suspect more will come to the shop in the future because my outlay via the sale was only $60 for the piece and he offered to sell me more at that amount. He was happy, I was happy, and, I believe, Big Bertha will be happy in her new home.

So, today I will actually glue the bentside lamination of the two jointed poplar boards. While this seems pretty mundane, it's a watershed moment for me. I just need to get on with things. I've learned so much over the past year and a half, I don't want to lose any of that knowledge by fiddling around too long with shop and tool reorganization. The time to get back to work is Now, and that is precisely what I intend to do.

Until next time...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Project Update: Getting the Shop in Shape

It became increasingly clear over the last few weeks I needed to clean and rearrange the shop if I wanted to keep thinking of it as my sacred space. While I recently brought in the new Laguna band saw, I also got rid of Big Bertha, the 18" Foremost. She's not yet out of the shop - the cool Craigslist dude who bought her will be picking her up this coming weekend. As part of the deal, he will also be bringing me a 3"x 10' live-edge black walnut slab. Not too shabby at all.

With a little help from my sons, Ian and Trey, this past weekend, I was able to get some of the crap/scrap wood out of the shop, as well as rearrange things a bit. They also helped me put the Laguna band saw together; it was mostly heavy lifting involving the table and motor, both two-man mounting jobs. I still don't have a 240v plug set up, but I went ahead and put the blade on, anyway.

Along with this, I've acquired a Grizzly 10" Wet Grinder. Over time, I will switch more and more to hand planes, chisels, card scrapers, etc. Given this shift, I recognized that I needed a good, reliable way to sharpen the tools. I got a rippin' deal from Grizzly on the little guy, I just need to figure out where he's going to live in the shop.

In keeping with the resaw theme at Tortuga Early Instruments Worldwide Headquarters, I'll be picking up another 12" x 6' poplar board that I will, once again, resaw down to 3/16" for the bentside lamination. I thought about setting up a bending tool, but I'm not going to do it at this time.  This means, I'll need to glue them together, so I went ahead and purchased some Titebond Original Extended, which will give me 10-15 minutes additional setup time when I work on the lamination.

Finally, the photo below is a shot of the shop as I continue to execute the makeover. It's about a quarter of the way there, yet I feel better about it already. At least I can now walk through my sacred space without feeling claustrophobic.

Until next time...

Monday, September 14, 2015

Project Update: The Resaw Saw Has Arrived

I took a contract as the quant geek on a study up in the Puget Sound area specifically so I could purchase a new tool or two for Tortuga Early Instruments Worldwide Headquarters. I was initially thinking long and hard about a larger, open-ended drum sander, but I've been converting more and more to hand tools such as planes, card scrapers, chisels, etc. lately. This, combined with several conversations with the Master Builders, convinced me my money was better spent on a good, solid band saw I could use to resaw wood.

Resawing wood is an important part of woodworking in general. In my case, I not only want to produce nice thin rips and veneers for myself, I'd like to offer the same to luthiers around the world. This necessarily required me to invest in a saw that was reliable, exhibited little to no drift (sorry, Big Bertha, but you were a drifter), and had a great reputation for doing just this sort of work. After consulting with a couple of resaw dudes who do it for a living, as well as a couple of the Masters, I settled on a smaller saw than I originally envisioned - a Laguna 14" SUV (yeah, I know).

Laguna has a pretty great reputation, though their lower-grade (i.e., cheaper) saws are generally considered to have the same quality as any other Taiwan/Chinese-made saw. They offer a line of Italian made beauties that are pretty far out of my price range, yet the SUV has maintained a largely excellent reputation for being an outstanding resaw solution. It's got a 3hp motor, 12" resaw capacity, solid cast iron wheels and table, can take a 1" blade, etc. It really is a great saw, so I went ahead and purchased one from Woodcraft here in the Portland area. And, to top it off, they price-matched Rockler's current online price, which saved me $200 off list. Customer-for-life accomplished.

As you can see from the photo above, my father helped me get the thing home. He was kind enough to also bring his truck for the move. The thing is, once we got it loaded (it weighs 420 pounds), we had the interesting task of getting it off the truck.

We ended up building a ramp with 2x4s reinforced by a couple of scrap 4x4s. We simply slid it down the ramp and unscrewed the carriage bolts holding it to the pallet once it was inside the shop. Our neighbor, Mike, was instrumental in helping us get this done. The guy can do anything with metal and/or wood. He's my idol.

Now, I begin the long process of putting the thing together. I need to mount the motor and table, both two-man jobs because they're so heavy, as well as get everything placed properly. For instance, the power switch much be moved from its current shipping position to its final operational position. And, yes, that's Big Bertha in the background. I have a Craiglist dude coming to look at her tomorrow night. He's asked a lot of good questions, so I suspect he'll be taking her home then.

Speaking of power, this saw has prompted me to do something I should have done months ago: seek out help with installing a 240v plug in the shop. Yes, the saw requires it. This will also provide power so I can now build a bending tool worthy of the 1/2" bentside. The great irony here is that once the bending tool is built, I will no longer need to resaw the poplar for the bentside to 3/16" in order to laminate it. I'm still up in the air about the bending vs. laminating thing. Only time will tell which one I end up doing long-term.

Until next time...

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Project Update: Goodbye and Hello

When I resawed the 3/16" boards for the bentside, I was not happy with how they came out. One of them has a dip that can only be attributed to my inexperience resawing combined with some of Big Bertha's quirks, so I've decided to go ahead and let her go to make room for a new Grizzly 17" bandsaw with a Laguna Resaw King blade. This was a tough decision, but the level of work I intend to do demands it. So, as a fitting tribute to Bertha, I present her Craigslist photos for your enjoyment.

The new saw will have many improvements over Bertha and I will be resawing wood for other luthiers with it, so I wanted to get the best I could within my budget. This is what I've settled on:

Hopefully, Bertha will sell soon so I can find room in the shop for the new beast. Until I get the new saw, I'm going to halt production on the instrument. It shouldn't be too long - things tend to move faster than expected at Tortuga Early Instruments Worldwide Headquarters.

Until next time...