Monday, October 24, 2016

Project Update: Some Head-scratchin' Time

After taking some time to attend to personal matters, it's become clear to me that I need to ditch the current upper register and have a do-over. First, I made mistakes in cutting the slot widths and it's just too much trouble to repair them. Second, I realized just today that I could have made the 10-degree cuts using the Incra table saw sled with its awesome miter gauge, so why didn't I? I have no idea. Third, because the slots are equidistant, I could also easily build a jig that attaches to the miter gauge that will help me cut the slots perfectly.

This is precisely the sort of thing that Owen Daly of Owen Daly Early Keyboard Instruments calls "head-scratchin' time" and I've not taken enough of it lately. Granted, Mr. Miller's eBook Most Excellent is an outstanding resource as I work my way through this first build, yet Mr. Miller stated in an email to me that it's really designed for beginning woodworkers, which I am not. I am also not an expert, but there certainly are things I can do with the tools I have that don't require me to follow Mr. Miller's instructions to the letter.

As I've interacted with Master Builders like Owen Daly and Paul Irvin and Michael Peter Johnson and Martin Spaink and a host of others both in-person and on Facebook, I've come to realize there are, like religions, many paths to accomplish similar goals. Several builders and interested others have derided me for purchasing certain tools or helpful accessories when they probably started with those to begin with. I did not. I started my shop with the intention of building a guitar or two every now and then and it's morphed into something that speaks to my soul and lifts me up in ways I never thought possible.

And then there are those who are concerned with the ostensible speed of my work. I have, in fact, a single client: Me. Do I want more? I honestly don't know. My original intent was to build one instrument per year and give it away to a school or other institution that will value and care for it over time. In the end, the rate of my progress is singularly my own and, frankly, if I'm happy with it, that's all that really matters to me. I appreciate the concern of others, but it's simply not something that propels me forward - I'm perfectly capable of making plenty of mistakes without the added pressure of speed. Besides, I AM THE TORTUGA!

So, in the end, I realize I need to make space for more head-scratchin' time. As I think back to the early days of putting the shop together, there was plenty of room for me to take this time. Sometimes, I would simply sit in gratitude that my wife, Tonya, so avidly supported my efforts and that I was able to assemble what I did by filling the one-car with Craigslist gems, most of which have moved on as I upgrade to equipment that's easier to use and a lot less dangerous. I simply need to break out the pipe from time to time and fill a little highball glass with some Pusser's while I enjoy reflecting on what I have accomplished over the last few short years. And I need to think about what it means to build harpsichords that will most certainly outlast my time on this earth.

Head-scratchin' time.

On a completely unrelated note, a couple of books recently recommended to me by Paul Irvin finally arrived at Tortuga Early Instruments Worldwide Headquarters.

These, combined with the Boston Museum book, will give me plenty of entertainment and education over the next few months. As I read through the first chapter of the Ruckers book, I realized I was building an instrument by Andreaus Ruckers that he built just a few years before his (probably untimely) death. While this doesn't affect the quality of my work, it certainly adds a dimension to it that makes it more satisfying.

I was finally able to get around to mounting the Kreg Band Saw Fence and it's attendant Microadjuster last night, as well. This fence is important because I discovered the new Grizzly 14" band saw has a bit of blade drift. The Kreg fence is made to adjust to accommodate any drift in the saw's blade while sawing. You will also notice the slots in the fence itself; these allow me to mount jigs and additional fences to it as I think of new ways to use the saw - primarily through head-scratchin' time.

So, far, I couldn't be happier with the Grizz and the fence makes it just that much better.

Until next time...

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