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Where to start? Well...


Colleen McTigue

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So... how does one prepare for re-entry into the world of the hobby luthier? Pretty much whatever is necessary and/or works, I guess. Issues facing me (that I know about):

  1. When I bought my current house 5 years ago, it was with the express intent of having a workshop in which to do stuff like this, which is what led me to buying the house I now live in. It has a one-car detached garage, which has a nice large workshop (complete with workbenches and shelves built-in) attached to the back of it. AND a goodly-sized shed besides! Lots of space. What I've learned since moving in, however, is that the garage workshop is not only un-attached, it's also un-insulated, un-heated and un-ventilated. I knew all that when I bought the house, of course, but didn't realize how much of a problem it would be for actually using the workshop. Not that I've really tried.
  2. Besides that, the garage workshop area has been pretty much a dumping ground for detritus of all sorts these past 5 years. Partly out of inertia, partly out of not knowing what I should really ditch and what I'd want to keep (ending a marriage in mid-life is a real bitch, and there are still things I'm not sure I'm ready to go through and decide the fate of), and partly because a new life partner moved in with me a few years ago, and lots of his stuff is still where it was parked in the garage workshop when he moved in.
  3. For some reason, I've been really, really slow in figuring out that I would want a workshop inside the house as well. Now that I've made THAT decision, it makes all kinds of sense, and solves a number of problems.

So... onward.

Things I've done so far:

  1. Decided to split my work areas between the garage workshop (most power-tool work, and anything large or extra-dirty) and the basement (hand-tool work, carving, gluing, finishing)
  2. Decided where in the basement to locate my workbench and UV-drying box)
  3. Ordered some tools and supplies from Dov Schmidt (great quality and low prices!)
  4. Located some of what I still have (1 complete set of ebony fittings, an extra set of ebony pegs, a new bridge, 3 sound posts).
  5. Discovered that my favorite wood store is actually on my route home from work (both my company and, apparently, the wood store have relocated since I was last there), so I'll be making a trip there at lunchtime to reacquaint myself with their products, and perhaps obtain some quality wood for future making.

What I currently have:

  • I have a garland for my #2 currently on the mould, and the back for it has been glued together. I have an Englemann Spruce top for this violin as well, but not planed or joined yet. I also have a 30+ year-old Bosnian maple neck block from Dov Schmidt (which I bought back in 2009 or '10) that will go on #2. So #2 is already well-supplied and under way.
  • I also have what I think is a decent back that I also bought back in '09 or '10, and I have a whole bunch of ribstock of various kinds, I have to take inventory of that. I no longer remember what I have - it was given to me several years ago.

Beyond that, I think I'm pretty well equipped with tools, but the act of setting up my basement workshop will no doubt confirm or refute this. I did, after all, make #1 with the tools I had at the time, and I've added some additional tools in the meantime.

One thing I will need to do as a preparatory activity is spend time sharpening everything - gouges, planes, etc. I remember I bought a nice jack plane at an antique store a number of years ago too, that will need a fair bit of setup in addition to sharpening.

No shortage of stuff to do!

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