Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Branching Out (IW#'s 43 & 44)

I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to take apart an old piano, which yielded a bunch of white pine veneered with what I think is rosewood.  It is a very old piano, what is left of it, and the rosewood veneer is really thick.  Concurrently, I seem to have a lot of friends that play uke, and as it seemed a shame to throw out any of the wood, and as all the pieces were small, making a pair of ukes out of the scrap is obviously the way to go.

While it has not been my intention to make this a "how-to" or process blog, I am wading through some new water for me, and I thought it might be useful to document some of the process here.  Unfortunately, I did not get any photos of the pieces as they came off the piano, nor of them before I thicknessed them.  So the documentation picks up sort of mid-stream.  Being that white pine won't bend, I am making my own cigar boxes, in a way, and then I will make the boxes into instruments.  I am actually making these ukes from zero, which has never been the intention here at the Instrument Works, but it seems right for this pair.  And I sure have learned a lot about what I don't know about making instruments.

Here is the story so far, picking up after the pieces have been thicknessed and ripped to width:

Here are the parts for the two boxes.  I am mitering the corners so the veneer wraps.  I had contemplated finger joints like you see on cigar boxes, but this seemed to make more sense.

For the lids I salvaged some shingles form a house that is getting reshingled around the corner.  Turns out the old cedar was too fragile, even though I tried gluing up several pairs of shingles I only had one survive the trip through the planer.  The other top and the backs will be made from cedar siding scrap out of the same refuse pile.  They homeowner replaced the shingles with siding and left the off-cuts on the curb.  It is a little thicker (I am almost afraid it is too thick, but only time will tell).
Here they are home from the big shop and on my bench, ready for hand work.

Of course it is important to me that all of the parts come from the piano, so I laminated some up to make the necks.

the shingles, once they were planed down, were so skinny and delicate that I thought that some bracing might be in order.  I have never put bracing on a lid before, here's hoping this works.

Here are the heads getting glued on to the necks.  It is almost like I am making real instruments or something.

So there is a lot of faux luthery going on here, cobbled together out of what I remember from visits to actual luthier shops.  I hope these sound ok, I am sailing new waters here for sure.  More updates as I have time to post them

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