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Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Freeman Keller, Jul 12, 2020.
It will take as long as it takes. And depending on how the FP goes, it might take that long.
Not surprised you do metric on the fingerboard, the 650mm scale goes back to late mideval lutes lol. It's impressed in our brains by now lol
For my next trick I need a bridge. Actually, I have one, a long time ago I picked up ups several bridges to use on repairs and crazy schemes like this. However that would be cheating, so lets build one. If that doesn't work out I can use the already made one and come up with some kind of excuse.
C&N (by the way, I happened to be reading the Big Red Book of Lutherie, volume I last night (yes I'm really bored) and it had an article by William Cumpiano about how they wrote the book and the trials they went thru to get it published. Pretty interesting story, the point is that publishing any small interest book is really an undertaking. Sorry, back to topic), C&N describe two ways to make a bridge, one completely with hand tools and one where they allow a router or mini router or table saw to cut the slots. OK, that opens the door. My table saw and router table are stored away in the attic, I don't feel like getting them down, but I do have this cool jig thing that works with a dremel ("mini router") to allow me to route saddle slots in bridges that are already glued to a guitar. I'm going to stretch the rules and use it.
I don't have good pictures but I stuck my rosewood bridge blank to a piece of MDF and spent an hour futzing around with my dremel. I happen to have a 3/32 bit (saddle size) so I did the saddle slot and the edge of the tie block. Classical saddles are not angled like a steel string, they have the same amount of compensation for all of the strings (except sometimes the G string gets a little extra). Anyway, hard to see but here it is
With the main slots routed I cut the wings to general shape and chiseld the valley between the saddle and tie block
Back to the mini router and two small channels for the bone strings on the tie block and more shaping
Clamped it to a block of wood at a slight angle and drilled the string holes
Here is mine (foreground) and the one made on a cnc somewhere in cnc land
And sitting on the guitar
I'll put the commercial one back in the parts box
Fired up the glue pot and stuck 'er down
Might finish this thing after all.
I have never done a French polish. I've built 27 guitars and used some sort of lacquer on every one of them, including the classical that I built a long time ago. I've used shellac as a sealer between finishes and to protect delicate tops while routing but I've never done the full French polish ritual. Time to fix that.
What is French polish? It is a very specific method of finishing that involves both the materials and the method of applying it. It consists of shellac dissolved in "spirit" (grain alcohol) apply by hand by rubbing it onto the wood. There is a tiny bit of some sort of oil used to lubricate the rubbing pad. The alcohol evaporates very quickly leaving a very thin film of the shellac, after many applications the shellac builds to a thin glossy finish. It is one of the tradition finishes for old instruments (various varnishes being the others) and is the classic finish for classical guitars.
French polishing seems to be as much an art as a science - there are people whose reputations and abilities are almost legendary. I've watched several videos and read several articles on how they do it - time to try it myself.
First I had to go down to the spirits store and get some 190 proof grain alcohol - Everclear. Also picked up Bootles for Mrs K's G&T's and some single malt for myself - kind of an expensive trip. Made an application pad (aka tampon, mouse, several other names) and got some olive oil from the kitchen. Different people use different oils, walnut is also recommended, but I'll use what I have. I had some flake shellac and it needs to be mixed by weight - I started out with what is called a "2 pound cut" (the equivalent of 2 pounds dissolved in a gallon of alcohol)
I let the shellac sit over night, strained it into a small container and put some of the olive oil in a little bottle with a flip top. The little pipettes let me "charge" the pad with a small amount of shellac
The procedure is both easy but remarkably difficult. You charge the pad with a small amount of shellac which is held in the material in the middle of the pad (its not really on the surface). One small drop of oil on the surface lubricates the pad - this seems all wrong, you would get oil anywhere near a lacquer finish. Then just rub the pad around on the wood. Right.
The pad needs to be in motion all the time, it hits the wood moving and its moving when its lifted off. If it stop for even a fraction it will stick to the top, instead of a nice smooth shiny surface it will be rough and dull. If the pad starts to stick (you can feel it) a tiny bit more oil is added and the rubbing continues. The amount of shellac deposited is tiny but after many applications it starts to build. The individual applications are called "sessions", there might be two or three "coats" per session but you can't really think of them the same way as a coat of lacquer. Two or three or five sessions a day, very light sanding (400 - 600) each day and slowly the finish builds.
Here is starting. You never do that with a charged pad, it would become glued to the top
Somewhere along the road. I don't know how many sessions or coats or what day this is, but the finish is building
Quite the adventure! Thanks for taking this on, so we can have a better understanding of what's happening.
Maybe a little like the first time you eat an oyster?
I love oysters, my wife hates them. Says they taste like the bottom of a boat. I didn't ask her when she had tasted the bottom of a boat.....
Splendid job! Better than any of my mandolins
Crazy Dave makes mandolins !?! I'd love to see one. Here's my #5 (sorry for the sidetrack Freeman)
Not a problem, and lovely burst. Here is my FK-5
My first attempt at a hand rubbed 'burst
WOW - you catch on quickly. The FP is looking great, and your mandolin is delicious. I've been sidetracked on a jewelry assignment. My wifes birthday is Sept. 11, and every year I make her a new piece. I'll post it over on my thread.
I have done that before! I cut my hand about two years ago but wanted to finish the binding so I whacked on a disposable glove. That other stuff that sticks to a blanket has nothing on CA and thin latex gloves!
French Polish is very much an art-form and I admire that you're tackling it on this great project. Looks great so far!
I USED to build mandolins and other acoustic instruments. The only one I still have I made for myself,a rarity. Also it's a mandolina, tuned in fourths not fifths. Mine is much smaller and simpler than the original which were 6 string and the size of a mideval lute
A mideval uke if you will lol
I mixed up a 2lb cut of orange flakes yesterday myself for a project I'm 75% finished but now have to face my build nightmare ................. the finishing!!! The previous bottle of shellac I mixed lasted for a very long time to my surprise, but it was kept in a dark green glass wine bottle in a cupboard in the workshop. Not sure if the bottle caused it to remain in good condition as it was more than 12months old, but I'm guessing the least amount of sunlight to the solution the better? Love your work!
Time to finish finishing this thing. I have no idea where I'm at now or even what day this is. I've been doing two or three or four or more sessions a day for probably a week now, I know I've got a pretty film thickness. The sessions leave the guitar pretty smooth and shiny, but not what I would call high gloss.
Somewhere along the line I ran out of the 2 pound cut so I made a couple of ounces of 1 pound and am mostly out of that. There is a magic ritual at the end of doing FP called "spiriting off" - I think its time.
The idea of "spiriting off", as I understand it, is to apply either pure alcohol or very weak shellac right at the end. The alcohol kind of bonds everything together and gives a nice smooth glossy finish. Kind of like shooting that last flow coat of lacquer that is suppose to pretty much eliminate the need to buff.
OK, here goes. I sanded the entire guitar with 3000 grit micro mesh and carefully removed any dust or anything on the guitar. I cut some of the 1 pound shellac about 50:50 and did two polishings.
I think thats about what I'm going to get. I've now officially done a French polish - does that make me an expert?
Sure, why not?
Looks great Freeman.