Saturday, January 28, 2017

Day 139: I'm Baaaaack!

I spent all evening in the shop last night. And it was good. The simple act of creation, even related to a small project, is something I didn't realize I had been craving in a real, fundamental way. The first thing I did when heading out there was to continue cutting the second upper register relief angles into the slots.

Naturally, I had to break a couple and glue them, as well as fix one that didn't quite make the cut on the table saw (no idea why - I was using Owen Daly's custom-made wonderblade). Then, I turned my attention to "closing the comb" on the first one. The registers are interesting creatures that are really just guides for the vertical motion of the jacks (the pluckers). Because I needed to slot the registers on the table saw, one side was necessarily left opened. Closing it up is the process of simply gluing a thin piece of wood to the opened side. I was pleased to use the go-bar deck to apply pressure evenly.

Yeah, it's under there somewhere.

I then decided to sit down with my trusty laptop and reacquaint myself with Mr. Miller's eBook Most Excellent. It had been a while since I had reviewed next steps, so it was nice to dive back in to see what I'm up against - I mean get to do - next. While I still have the second upper and the lower registers to go, I also have a soundboard to start thinking about.

A while back, my good friend, Alan Ollivant, sold me some "piano wood" he had been holding onto for about 15 years. It's a collection of tight-grained 1/2" spruce planks of various lengths that I'll be slicing up with the Laguna SUV to joint into a nice, clean soundboard. In fact, Alan applied his expert setup skills to the SUV and it's now cutting better than I ever hoped it would. The only thing missing from this scenario was a resaw fence of sufficient vertical size.

Resawing is the exacting process of reducing lumber into usable thicknesses. In the case of a 1/4", or even 1/8", thickness, it's terribly important that the board you're pushing through the saw stays as parallel to the blade as possible. The wider the board, the harder this is to do if the fence is only, say, 3 1/2" tall. And, yes, the Laguna stock fence is only 3 1/2" tall, which presents an angular dilemma when resawing a wider board. This prompted me to make a fence that's considerably taller.

In the end, all I really did was build a box that mounts to the stock fence with one side that's 14" tall. It mounts to the t-track in the back of the stock fence using some t-bolts and knobs I picked up at Rockler Woodworking many moons ago.

While it's not made of the synthetic product favored by many woodworkers such as my friend, Mark Roberts, it's good enough for now. It's taller than the stock fence, it's flat, and it provides a perfect 90-degree cut surface for anything I push through the saw. Now, back to the instrument.

On a completely unrelated note, as you may know, I enjoy a drinky winky from time to time in the solitude of the Tortuga Early Instruments Worldwide Headquarters production facility. Of course, I never, ever use a tool of any kind after imbibing, say, a snifter of Pusser's Rum and a delicious bowl of House II (tobacco, not what you were thinking). Given this, I've come to appreciate The Booze Traveler on Travel Network. The star, Jack Maxwell, always lifts my spirits and I love watching people react to his goofy comments. Jack was nice enough to friend me on Facebook and responded positively when I asked him for an autographed photo, which I've put in a place of honor in the shop - on the SUV.

At least I'll never have to drink alone again. Thanks, Jack. Cheers!

Until next time...

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Project Update: Preparing for my Comeback

Well, hasn't it been a while since my last post! As I recall, in it I mentioned something about life stuff getting in the way of the instrument progress. As it turns out, it's still in the way, though it's waning and I can see the light at the end of the long tunnel - I just hope it's not an oncoming train (it's not).

I've spent very little time in the shop since October of last year. This is not okay. One of the reasons for my absence has been related to the weather. We've experienced no less than four snowpocalypse events over the season and it's been quite cold in the shop. For some reason, I've not purchased any form of heater - not really sure why, frankly. I suppose the aforementioned life stuff has reordered my priorities a bit. Evidence below.

While cooling my jets (literally), Random Roger Green showed up at Tortuga Early Instruments Worldwide Headquarters to resaw some beautiful walnut.

The Laguna SUV finally served its intended purpose! It was an interesting exercise in discovery. When Roger finished resawing, we observed hidden tension released by the wood.

Roger tells me it has continued to cup and twist over time, so he has weighed it down with other wood and shop tools while it dries out a bit.

I was also visited last night by the North Clark County (Washington) breakout group of the Guild of Oregon Woodworkers, an organization of which I am a member. I really love this little group because it's composed of guys who have been woodworking far longer than I, some of them professionally, and they're all willing to share their deep knowledge and experience.

This was a fitting meetup because it represents my easing back into the shop in a large way. Over the next few months, I'll be hitting the instrument hard and, if all goes well, wrapping it up some time this summer.

Until next time...