Saturday, February 6, 2016

Parlor Guitar

My string bass clamps came in handy today when fixing up this tiny, beat-up, $8.00 guitar I found at a thrift store. It was good practice to glue because the open seam was very wide and warped, so the bout and rib needed to pushed in and re-glued in its original shape. It was a mini, less-intimidating version of the repair on my bass I worked on with Juan this last summer. That's something I'll post about soon. 

Also, huge props to Minwax wood stain markers and good-old Sharpies. 

I would call this parlor guitar a Monet — something that looks best from a distance. But when that Amazon guitar string order arrives and this little thing is strung up, I'll be really excited to share it with my boys and start teaching them. 

Relocation: Kansas City

Lambson Violins has relocated from upstate New York to Kansas City, Missouri. I apologize for the long absence from the blog! We have some catching up to do! More to come. 

Auctioned Violin

I had the opportunity to work on a violin to put up for auction as part of a scholarship fundraiser. It cleaned up nicely and bidders were generous. I hope it is well-loved (and generously played!) in its new home.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Recommendation: The Universal Dictionary of Violin & Bow Makers by William Henley

This compilation catalogues historical and accomplished makers—a helpful guide in determining the value and import of an instrument. I imagine this would be helpful when doing appraisals. Identifying an instrument to determine it's monetary value can be tricky because labels are often misleading or lacking much identifying information. But, if you at least have the maker's name you could look it up in this book and see if he/she is listed.

Apparently this book is most relevant through the 1950s/1960s or so. It's been in print beyond that, but it's not up to date with more modern makers. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Light in the Dark

When it comes time to smooth out the surfaces of the top and back plates, a dark room with a light angled low (in a chiaroscuro sort of way) onto the wood highlights the texture more than direct lighting will. 

Another Violin Painting

My summer apprenticeship has come to an end, and as a gift for my great teacher, Juan Mijares, I painted this little diddy:

Glue Brushes

I found a pack of brushes in the kids craft section of IKEA for like $3.00, and seriously, they are AMAZING brushes for that price. I got them to use for actual painting, but I did pull one out to use as a glue brush and it's so awesome. Love it. I like using a brush with finer bristles because you can paint glue on with the detail you need for the small, detailed surfaces on a violin. 

Here's a recent painting I did, just for jollies. Painting, lutherie, writing—it all comes from the same creative center. I consider myself an artist with four hats under the artist umbrella: painter, performer, luthier, writer. 

And a watercolor from a while back:

Trimming & Shaping the Linings

You could use a plane to trim the linings down to the rib edge, but it almost seems safer to use a chisel to get really close, then use the sandpaper adhered to glass to level and even out the entire top surface.

Now you can trim the bottom edge of the linings down with a knife and use some sandpaper to smooth it.

Here's an extremely childish doodle of various lining shapes people use. The first or second shapes (or something between them) are great, just fine. The others show cuts that remove extra "bulk." Some makers worry about that sort of thing. 

Gluing in the Linings with Clothespin Clamps

Bending the linings with the bending iron to fit the curves is much easier than bending the ribs. Once they're shaped, you can trim the linings until they're very snug in the mortises. You don't want to cut them too short. 

Clothespins wrapped with rubber bands are cheap and very effective clamps to hold the linings in place. You can start by putting a pin-clamp any place their might be a little gap, then work your way out from that point. 

Although hide glue dries well in about 4 hours, it's always safer to just let joints sit overnight before removing clamps. 

Cutting Mortises in Violin Corner Blocks

The mortises in the violin corner blocks, which will secure the linings in place, only need to be 7-8mm deep and maybe 6-7 long. A little marking tool like the one below is helpful when marking a pencil line to that 7-8mm depth. I guess you should settle on an exact number before you make your marking stick. 7.5 perhaps? 

Note that on the top and bottom blocks you just cut a shallow corner, then cut the ends of your linings to fit with that angle. 

A really sharp, thin, and strong exacto knife works really well to cut out that mortise. 

Juan just uses a chisel he made out of nail to pry that little chunk of wood out. 

And then you can test the fit of the mortise in the corner block with a scrap piece of your lining. 

Next Step: Bending and gluing in the linings.