Thursday, July 22, 2010

Making some points

Today I am fitting some points to a lute body. Here are a couple of pieces of ebony which I've planed to the appropriate thickness and taped together to encourage symmetry in my carving. I drew a little arc for guidance, but it's only a rough indication. I'm just aiming for an interesting curve.

My pride and joy. This is the sharpest knife I've ever owned. It's a small slojd pattern forged for me by Del Stubbs
It's capable of powerful shaping cuts, but the tapering design allows for really delicate work too.

A couple of swift carving motions leaves this result. I'll use some thin double-sided tape to fix these in position and trace around with a fine pencil.

A scalpel blade ensures a clean cut. I aim to bisect the pencil line down it's centre. The little "o" is a reference mark to keep track of which piece goes where.

When the glue (fishglue in this case) hits the freshly cut spruce, it will swell the fibres just a bit. A little firm pressure is sufficient - they don't need to be clamped down. It's hard to make out in this photo, but I've left the spruce in the area of the top block just a bit thicker than need be. I learned this one the hard way- it's much easier to scrape it down to the level of the points than vice versa. Cleaner too, as the ebony dust loves to lodge in the pores of the spruce, leaving a dirty grey appearance.
The ebony fingerboard overlaps the sides of the neck by a small margin to allow me to blend the curve later in the final scraping. Note the arrow indicating grain direction near the nut. It's another precaution to make sure I don't end up crushing black dust into the lute's face during leveling and scraping. I'll press a couple of tacks in place at the nut end to keep the board pressed firmly against the points.
Surgical tubing. It's the most positive clamping system. Robert Lundberg apparently used a series of laboriously shaped cauls, which I find interesting - given that he used rubber strapping to glue on neck veneers. Strange.
Here's another instrument on the go these days. It's a five course baroque guitar. Points originated as a pragmatic solution to to cover up repair and alteration work as larger necks were grafted to old instruments when more strings were added. Interestingly, by the time the inspiration for this guitar was fashioned in the early 1700's, they had become a design convention and were fitted to new instruments at the time of their construction.

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