Now I also make jewelry

Friday, 27 November 2009

Veneer on back of headstock

The mahogany veneer has been glued onto the back of the jatoba headstock, and walnut veneer on the walnut headstock (there are several more of those on the go). Next stage will be shaping the contour of the headstock and then veneering the front, or vice versa.
Went to the annual "wood show" in town today and actually picked up some more black walnut strips for necks.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


Narrow pieces of wood (black walnut in this instance) are glued onto the sides of the headstock to make it wider: this way you don't waste wood as you would if you were to trim a wider board down to the width of the neck proper.
The disadvantage is that the uniform appearance of the headstock is lost: it doesn't really matter for the front since one often covers it with veneer anyways, but it means glueing an additional piece of veneer onto the back. Here mahogany veneer will cover the back of the jatoba headstock... and my sins, since I've had to fill with wood putty some gaps where splinters had broken off the neck while I was shaping it with rasps and files (jatoba is not really easy to work with)!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Chakte Kok Neck

Lo and behold! I had forgotten about this one: a chakte kok neck in the making from last year: I had done the scarf joint, glued on the heel (part of it is padouak, also a red wood) and bandsawed the sides. So today (we still have mild weather and no rain), I went outside and shaped the arc of the back and the heel.
The wood was purplish red on the surface, but actually pink and rose underneath with lovely darker lines: I can see why it is apparently used for jewelry, so rich and delicate it looks. Precious, really... hence the question: am I going to be able to make
something worthy of that natural beauty?
It is easy to work with and something of a relief after carving another jatoba neck yesterday.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Chakte Kok

One of the joys of learning to build musical instruments has been the discovery of wood and its many beauties. I am very fortunate that there are not one, but two lumber stores around here that stock domestic as well as exotic species. I visit them regularly because they often have items on sale, offcuts and odd pieces at prices I can afford. Today was a lucky day: 40% off on some pieces of chakte kok. I had had my eye on them for quite a while and here was my chance. I bought two lengths from which I should be able to get 6 necks.
It's a lovely reddish-orange wood with prominent veins. I had used a small plank last year for two necks of my early ukuleles and the color is still intact.
Aside from its visual appeal, this wood has a name that makes it irresistible, so exotic it sounds. I finally googled it today and ended up finding "chakte", meaning "red tree", in a dictionary of Mayan glyphs: knock on a door and sometimes a whole world opens up!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Bari in the making

Another baritone: the rough work is done, the neck and body properly joined. Now it will go and rest in a corner until next spring when I can start sanding outside again. As for my first baritone, I've used lacewood and ivory for the back, jatoba for the neck, that wonderful maple for the sides, but spruce for the soundboard. The body is deeper at the bottom than at the top, the waist is "plumper", and the shape of the headstock is also different.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Neck 2

Here is another one, made of cherrywood: I've glued on a plate of cherry veneer on the back of the headstock to hide the lines of the scarf joint and of the "ears". The heel is birch (I didn't have any more cherry).
There are more in the making of course, but this could become tedious...

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Neck 1

I am working on assembling a couple of new instruments, but the bulk of my time is spent preparing various parts of future ukes: messy operations that generate a lot of dust and for which I have to work outside the house before snow season. Such is the shaping of necks.
Here is one neck made of jatoba which is quite a bit harder and more difficult to work with than mahogany. The headstock has been covered with a burl veneer: unidentified wood, beautiful shimmery velvet.