Michael Doran

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About Michael Doran

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  1. Are you using natural (blonde) boxwood pegs? Typically boxwood is stained with various methods to achieve the dark red -brown we're used to seeing. Some baroque style instruments are set up with blonde boxwood fittings, and it can be a very nice look. Pretty much every recipe for peg compound I've ever seen includes some jeweler's rouge, which is dark brown and will darken the insides of the peg holes and the shafts of the pegs. It's best to keep as neat as you can when applying the peg compound. I will add a little soap to the shaft and spin it the peg in the hole a little first, this makes the area of contact shiny and easy to see. Then I carefully apply the compound to just that area. Lately I've taken to using a small short bristled brush to apply peg compound. Michael
  2. Jack, For what it's worth, this is how I work. It's how the old instruments were worn in the first place. There is a difference to how the wood wears when it's protected by varnish, versus before varnishing. It's sort of like how carving a worn corner never looks quite the same as carving a fresh corner and then wearing it. I think it really improved my work when I switched to this method. It takes longer, for sure.
  3. Even though we use our light boxes for both, I find that tanning wood and drying varnish are quite different propositions. The amount of light you need to dry varnish pales in comparison to tanning. (Pun intended) MD
  4. I think the SolaCure bulbs could work well if you're willing to build your system around them. Dropping them into my existing system didn't work well. I had the ballast mounted on the outside, running four 4' bulbs. I think I had the Sun Horse ballast wired in High output mode, but I don't recall for sure. The cello was hanging about 4-5" away from the bulbs. The closer the bulbs are to the wood, the faster they tan. That's why I built my box to have the lights quite close to the instrument. At that distance you have to worry about uneven tanning with the SolaCure bulbs. So to use them, I'd either have to add more lights to tan evenly and quickly, or I could build a new box and put the lights farther away. With the lights farther away would it actually tan faster than my current setup? I don't know, maybe. I also decided that I'm not that interested in tanning faster. The 2-4 weeks it takes is not lost productivity, because I'm working on the next instrument. Fundamentally, I have a box that is built and paid for that works well, and the benefit didn't seem to be great enough to get me to change. MD
  5. I wasn't familiar with actinic lights, but after a little searching it seems like they are near-UV lamps for aquariums and coral. My understanding is that UV is between 100-400 nano meters, divided further into UVA, UVB, and UVC. The actinic lamps are 420 or 460 nm. I tried the SolaCure kit and was disappointed. The bulbs are very powerful, but if you aren't careful they will create uneven tanning. I also found them to be really hot, which made cooling my lightbox a challenge. I concluded that I would need 16 SolaCure bulbs to effectively tan a cello. That would be prohibitively expensive, and I'd need an air conditioner to keep the temperature down at that point. I've been using medical grade high output UVB bulbs and I like them. In my cello box I have eight 4' bulbs and six 2' bulbs. I usually tan for 2-4 weeks. I have also used UVC, but I feel like the tan is more on the surface, compared to the deep shine the UVB gives. UVC is also very dangerous- like you will go blind with short exposure kind of dangerous. I have a safety switch which cuts the power to the lights when I open the door. MD
  6. Hi Daryl, I haven't been installing a similar bushing on my violins. Doesn't seem like a bad idea, but the violin endpin isn't subjected to the same lateral wiggling the way a cello is from the extended endpin rod. MD
  7. I've been adding a maple bushing to my cello end blocks for a few years now. I think, given the forces involved, that it's especially important that the endpin fit well and remain stable over time. I find I'm able to get a much better fit this way, as opposed to setting the endpin in the softer willow or spruce block. I wrote a Strad article about my endpin bushings last year. I install the bushing before I glue the rib to the block, so it's invisible from the outside. I have a feeling that it helps with sound, but I don't have any evidence to back that up. It makes sense that if the fit of the endpin were sloppy than some energy would be lost, but probably not very much. I like the idea that this puts strength where it's needed, without adding unnecessary weight. I think perfect fit is more important than size. I turn all my endpin housings on a lathe after I get them so that the taper perfectly matches my reamer. MD
  8. Bummer that your back seam opened up. This can be a tricky repair. You basically have two options. If you think the joint is good, and it fits together well when you dry clamp it, you can just glue the section back together. Watch out for glue contamination on the outside finished surface. Try to work cleanly and scrub the area after the joint is dry a couple of times to wash any glue out of the pores. If the joint doesn't come together perfectly, you'll need to take it apart and plane it which is really tricky. I have done this before by building a jig for each half. Take a very flat piece of 3/4" plywood and install setscrews every two inches or so. Then spot glue each half of the plate to its own board, making sure the joint hangs over the setscrews and the plywood. Using the setscrews you can adjust the height of the joint until both sides match perfectly. Then shoot each side with a jointer plane on its side until it fits perfectly. Careful, because material gets removed faster than you think, and if you remove too much it will no longer fit the ribs. You can then glue it back together either in one nerve wrecking shot, or take out of the jig and glue it one section at a time, like a crack. Either way, you have the advantage that you can scrape the outside a little if the joint doesn't register perfectly. Best of luck, Michael
  9. Hey Jim, Hey Jim, I don't know if I've ever seen corner blocks on a classic instrument that were all perfectly square. You're quite right that sometimes perfection can feel a bit cold. I don't think it's an excuse to not hold yourself to a high standard, but it's not the look I'm going for. M
  10. I have the Delta benchtop version. I went with the Delta because it had the smallest amount of runout in a Fine Woodworking review. The spindle is not long enough for cello blocks. I've been very pleased with the performance. I got it initially for corner blocks and jigs and other things, but I realized that I didn't want my corner blocks to be square. I intentionally try to make them off square now. I do use it for the backs of scroll blocks, and roughing out the neck shape. I've found it to be really helpful for making jigs and fixtures, and it's the logical counterpart to a disc sander. M
  11. I really like the Kevlar tailguts. Ive been using them for about a decade. The brand name tailguts were much too expensive, so one of the guys at my shop did some research and found a company that sold the same stuff for pennies per foot. I have a little jig that I built to pre-stretch the cord once it's tied onto the tailpiece. I apply more force than the strings can, so it does all the stretching it's going to do and stays exactly where I want it. Because the knot is cinched down firmly after this, it's impossible to unite. If I need to shorten the length a little I use an ebony shim glued lightly in behind the knot on the underside of the tailpiece. if it's just 1-2mm it's no problem, anything more and I just cut the cord and start over. Soundwise, I've been very pleased with them. I think it frees up the rotational mode on the tailpiece which makes the whole instrument more lively. M
  12. I'd have more to say about the process of starting a business here in the US, but here is some advice anyway. Stay a sole proprietor as long as you can. The tax benefits really only start to make sense when your income is above 100K, and the liability protection is minimal if you are the only shareholder in an S Corp. (This is how it is in the US at least) Buy insurance from Heritage, and you'll be fine. Talk with an accountant and they will go over what you need to save and record. When in doubt, keep it. M
  13. I live in Seattle. What is this "sun" that you speak of? Is that the bright spot you sometimes see behind the clouds? M
  14. You could use maple and double the edge, like you would on an old top or back that had been planed down over the years. It's not that difficult a repair when you don't have to worry about preserving the original outline or arching. You can easily add 2 mm took your arch this way. I did this for a particularly nice top I didn't want to throw away because it was too short for a proper arch. M Ps. This goes along with the long standing tradition of button grafts and ebony crowns when the maple is just barely not long enough.
  15. I love texture, both in tops and backs. Obviously there is a range that is tasteful and it can be over or underdone. I think texture makes a straight instrument more interesting, and is a huge component of my antiqued instruments. Good antiquing is all about contrast and transition from one area to another. You need to use the whole spectrum of texture and color available to you. As for classic fiddles, here is a photo of a cast of a Strad showing flame texture. Whether that was present on day one or not, I don't know- I wasn't there. The second photo is an attempt to illustrate the depth of the bumps, it's not insignificant.