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  1. Steve, I lived in the Chicago area for 7 years. It is a great town, and you will find most people very friendly. All the bad stuff usually happens in bad areas, and if you avoid those, you should be OK, although sometimes bad stuff finds good areas too. You should call the Chicago School of Violin Making in Skokie. I lived just around the corner from it during most of my time in Chicago, and knew it was there (it was next to the place I brought my lawn mower to be repaired), but I was not interested in lutherie then, so never explored it. They may have contacts or connections with fellow luthiers who might know of a good workspace for you. There are some wonderful loft spaces in Chicago, but they have mostly been taken over by hipsters and turned into super expensive condos and apartments. Unlike the DC area, where I live now (I remember that bow maker at the Torpedo Factory, but he never seemed to be in his wonderful little shop), the Chicago area is chock full of craftspeople and people who love to make and build things. You might try getting on some forums and searching around, putting some ads online for shop sharing situations. I agree with some of the above comments, that Chicago is a huge city that spreads over a large area, but once you figure out some little tricks for figuring where things are in the city, it is not too bad. And yes, the public transportation system is much better than the DC area. Good luck!
  2. Does anybody have a photo of an instrument, or even just a piece of wood, finished with mastic varnish? Would this be a ground or a top coat? Would you color it, or use a color base coat?
  3. Hi, The contractor who built my luthier shop for me found a 1/2 cello in the trash at another client's house, and left it on my doorstep (I build Greek bouzoukis and archtop jazz guitars as a hobby, and am a member here, because I am interested in all types of instruments, especially violins, as they relate to archtop guitars. Plus your work is often very inspiring, and I just love seeing and reading about how you make your instruments). Anyway, this is a 2004 used rental instrument. I suspect the homeowner's children used it, lost interest or outgrew it, and then it got damaged, and they dumped it in the trash. There are a few cracks, that could probably be glued up with hide glue, and I could probably do a hack job of matching the varnish with some shellac, just to make it presentable. I called the shop that is listed on the label, and they said they rent these out new for $35 a month, and used for $30 a month. I have never made a violin, let alone a cello, and I have no use for it, other than as an interesting and educational repair project, but I am sort of short on time due to a busy work schedule, and way too many other personal projects. But, I hate to see any instrument just thrown in the trash, especially when I know there are kids out there whose families can't afford to rent them an instrument. I thought I might try fixing it up and donating it to the school (although I have not contacted them to see if they would be interested in such a donation). My question is, is this thing a goner, or is it worth spending a few hours gluing and touching up? Below are some pictures. Thanks for your advice. Christ Kacoyannakis
  4. I think it will be like the LMI one, but it will look more like the violin makers plane. For some reason, I am picturing it with a nice big, fat, cherry palm knob on the end. That would be the ticket. Right now, I am using a nice custom made cocobolo and ipe carving plane that I had made by Knight Toolworks, before he switched over into just making plane kits. It works great, but it is a bit big, and gets hard to hold after a while.
  5. About two years ago, I was checking out the Solomon archtop guitar site, and noticed that he had designed an archtop guitar carving plane, based on the ones John D'Angelico used, and he announced on his site that Lie Nielsen was going to be making them. I contacted him, and he was unable to give a date when they were going to be produced. So, I contacted Lie Nielsen directly. They said that they didn't know when or if they would ever start producing these planes. Solomon's web site has no new information. It would be great if they did produce these, as nobody makes a small plane like this with a palm knob anymore that actually works. I remember a number of years back that all the luthier catalogs had them, in various sizes. For some reason, they disappeared. Wish I could give you all more encouraging news regarding this project.
  6. All the best to Craig. Please get well soon, and return quickly. Take care.
  7. My public library was able to get a book for me from the Library of Congress. Check out this option.
  8. cmkaco

    Hattori Rasps?

    Try the Corradi Gold rasps (corradishop.com). Aggresive cut, and fine finish.
  9. I have the Worksharp 3000. Great machine! It has made sharpening very easy and repeatable (not messy either). They recently came out with an attachment that allows you to use all the Tormek jigs.
  10. cmkaco


    Just went to a woodworking show in the US to look at bandsaws. I sat in on a bandsaw tuning class by Carter (the people that make Carter guides and blades). I looked at the new General, Hammer and Laguna. All good machines. The General and Laguna are 14 inch (wheels), and the Hammer is 17. The General is multi speed, and they were touting the ease of changing speeds, because the motor is mounted in such a way that it is very easy to loosen one bolt, and the motor pivots and allows you to move the motor and pulley and quickly change the blade. It is 110 V (probably changeable to 220). Resaw height is 12 inches. Looked like a nice saw. The Jet Pro 14 is new, and is set up so you don't need a riser block to get 12 inch resaw height. The Hammer looked like a very good machine as well. It was more money, but it was a 17 inch wheel, however the resaw height is only 12 3/8. I ended up buying the Laguna. This saw has been rated top tool by numerous reviewers. It has a lot of features you only find on much bigger saws (14 inch resaw, rack and pinion guide height and table tilt, much heavier wheels, foot pedal brake with micro switch, bigger table and quick detensioning lever). The few things that were really important to me were the table, the detensioning lever and foot brake. I have read great things and not so great things about the Laguna guides. We will see. A few reasons I did not select the other saws: resaw height on both other models, the Hammer was more expensive, the Hammer had European blade guides, (which looked easier to adjust, but Carter doesn't make replacement for this model, and if I decide I need to go that route for set up, I want the option down the road). One last thing, I talked to the Carter guy about what he thought. He thought the Laguna was a good machine, but he said a lot of people end up not liking their guides and put Carter guides on them. He also said to look at the new Jet saw, as it was very good. As far as touting their guides as better, you have to take that with a grain of salt, but it could be true. However, they sell guides and see a lot of saws at the shows, so I kind of value their opinion on the quality of various saws. All that went into the mix, and I ended up with the Laguna. Just my thought process.
  11. Last year, I met an archtop guitar builder, who gave me a tip. He uses spark plug feeler gauge blades (removed from the handle) as small scrapers. They are relatively inexpensive: Spark plug feeler gauge He only sharpens the edge, and he uses a wooden block a little narrower than the steel with a thin saw cut in it to hold the blade vertically. You could also sharpen them to a knife edge. He likes to use them for fine finish scraping. I have not tried this yet, but I did buy several sets of feeler gauges to give it a try. Lots of different thicknesses, and nice small precut size. Don't know the quality of the steel, probably varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.
  12. The Blog at Tools for Working Wood was doing some experimentation on dewaxed shellac that would not dissolve. What they discovered was that oxygen caused the problem of shellac not dissolving, and that waxed shellac did not suffer from this problem, because the wax prevented oxidation. So, the more dewaxed the shellac, the more of a problem oxidation can be. They suggested oxygen proof bags, oxygen absorbers and storing in a refrigerator. Link to TFWW Blog article
  13. I looked at the VSA web site, but could not determine the answer to this question: if I don't preregister, what is the price difference to attend the show (i.e. I think it cost $100 to preregister (plus the VSA membership, because I am not yet a member, do I have to be? I would assume so.), so what would it cost if I show up at the door unannounced)?
  14. Probably not much endangered wood in a violin, although there is ebony and some of that is endangered, depending on which variety it is, and how it was purchased. Could be some in rosewood pegs. So, I am starting to think about these issues. I have bought ebony fingerboards before, always from places like StewMac or LMI. You never get any kind of certificate that it is legal. Even if they did send one, what does that mean? There are no serial numbers or registration marks on the wood, and even if there were, they would get removed when we machine it to size. Say you buy a dozen fingerboards and they send you one certificate. You make 11 violin fingerboards out 11 pieces and use one piece to make a whole bunch of nuts. How do you link the fingerboards and nuts to the certificate (which you probably didn't get anyway) and prove that is where they actually came from? Now, the other question is what do you do for your customer? Say you make a violin and somebody buys it, and they take it with them across an international border, and it gets seized for an alleged CITES violation. Of course, the customer will say they had no idea, and they will want their money back, because you didn't give them a certificate or some such nonsense. What are people doing about this issue?
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