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Michael Doran

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Everything posted by Michael Doran

  1. What does height above top mean? Are you measuring from the top surface to the bottom of the fingerboard at the end of the fingerboard? I thought you might mean projection, that is the height of a straight edge laid on the fingerboard surface at the bridge, but that seems quite low. I would think somewhere between 31-33 would be more normal for that measurement. Michael
  2. Some other folks responded while I was posting. Are you asking about the total thickness of the fingerboard at the nut? I usually don't think about that measurement, it just happens when the radius is right and the edge thickness is appropriate. You could draw it out if you need to plan out your fingerboard blank. 33.75 is a fine measurement. I do think in quarter millimeters for some things. I wouldn't get hung up on the measurement at the neck root. Just make the ends right and plane enough scoop in the sides and you will end up right. What is enough scoop? I would say around 3/4 - 1 mm. Michael
  3. I think 6 mm is good for the edge thickness, maybe even 5.5. If you keep the same neck thickness dimensions and increase the fingerboard thickness you end up with a thinner maple portion of the neck. This is not a good idea structurally for the long term, and it doesn't look good, to my eye, to see so much fingerboard in the neck thickness. The only way to fix that later is a neck graft. I usually figure out the string length and make the board 5/6 of that length. This can vary a bit depending on the viola. 24.5 and 45 seem right to me. We had a formula at school for figureing out the end width, basically it just calculated how wide a violin fingerboard would be if you kept the angles the same and increased the length. That is to say the viola board was 42.5 mm wide at 270 of length, and this projected out to the end. I don't remember the formula, but it would be easy enough to draw it out. I might figure that out just for kicks and see what it comes to. It's probably 45-46 mm. As for the angle of the neck root, I would go with 86. I have also used 87, but there really isn't that much difference. The goal is to make the mortise not to deep at the button. If you tried to set a cello neck with 87 you would have very little block left, and it could be very difficult to remove later. Unless the viola has VERY tall ribs I think 83 is overkill. Michael Doran
  4. Absolutely right! The snowflakes are cool and rare, it's a favorite of mine. I also like the 20" Crescent bandsaws. If only I had a bigger shop. Michael
  5. I am a big fan of vintage machinery. I find that the quality is often much better than anything new in a non-industrial price range. The old repulsion-induction motors are roughly equal to a modern motor with double the hp, companies stopped making them because they are too expensive. In my shop I have two old Delta bandsaws. One is from 1936 set up with a 1/4 inch blade and a 1/2 hp motor for cutting curves. The other is from 1946, with a 6'' riser block and a 3/4 hp motor for resawing, I got that one with cello backs and ribs in mind. I would put either up against any new 14'' saw made today. In addition to being made really well I enjoy the look of these old machines. They are often are available at rock bottom prices, I paid $250 for the '46 (because it had a fancy cast iron base/stand, and I paid $75 for the '36) With a new set of bearings these tools will be just as good for our grandchildren. So before you buy a newer bandsaw, check out some of the ones pictured on www.vintagemachinery.org and look on craigslist and see if there are any available in your area. I would stay away from any delta made after 1970. Walker-Turner made some really great small saws as well. Be careful, old machines can be habit forming. Just ask my wife. Regards, Michael Doran
  6. For many years, and at school, we used hardware store denatured alcohol. If your exposure is minimal I don't think it is a really a health concern in the short term. Over 60 years maybe it is a problem, and especially when I use something for varnish I like to know what is in it. A few years ago I did some research into denatured alcohol and tried to find the safest alternative for long term use. To be denatured the alcohol needs to contain a poison so that is is undrinkable. When you buy the hardware store stuff there is no way to know exactly what they used or in what quantity. It can be a number of things, though typically it is some form of methyl ketone and kerosene or unleaded gas. In Washington sales of non-denatured alcohol are regulated by the state, though that may be changing. You can purchase a permit to buy 100% pure grain alcohol, but the permit costs $30 and you need to renew it periodically, and the alcohol is expensive around $70 a gallon after all the taxes. It may be less cumbersome and expensive in less regulated states. For industry there are different recipes of "Special Denatured Alcohol" (SDA) which means that the product is denatured following a specific formulation. There are lots of formulas. I decided that formulation 3C best suited our purposes. 3C is made from 95% pure grain alcohol and 5% isopropyl alcohol. Here is a list of the formulas http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=denatured%20alcohol%20formulation&source=web&cd=7&ved=0CFUQFjAG&url=http%3A%2F%2Fecfr.gpoaccess.gov%2Fcgi%2Ft%2Ftext%2Ftext-idx%3Fc%3Decfr%26rgn%3Ddiv5%26view%3Dtext%26node%3D27%3A1. In the US the federal government regulates who can buy SDA, and there is a permitting process that requires certain storage facilities and so on. It looked like to much hassle for my taste. But there is a provision in the law for people who are using samples of SDA for whatever purpose, and that does not require any special permit, you just need to keep the amount you use to 5 gallons per year, which for me is absolutely no problem. I think I use around 1 gallon a year for touch-up and polishing. I buy my SDA form a company here in Washington called Tarr LLC. They have been great to deal with. 5 gallons of 3C SDA costs about $50. They will not sell quantities smaller than that. Good luck, Michael Doran
  7. Michael- Were you able to get a permit for air dried wood as opposed to kiln dried? When I looked through the APHIS regulations they place a lot of importance on kiln drying for most lumber that is imported (for pest control), but I thought there was a way to get a permit for air dried. Also did you list several countries on your permit or just Slovakia? Thanks, Michael Doran
  8. I buy empty paint tubes from Daniel Smith and store my varnish in them. It is worlds better for me than jars. I find I have very little lost to the container and no skin can form on the top. I do like to filter my varnish when it is warm through a fine silkscreen, I just stretch the silkscreen over the open end of the empty tube and pour in the varnish. -Michael
  9. Jacob- Pardon my use of the word "think". I was just in the ring with customs last week over my next 18 months worth of wood to make my living. At one point I was sure I was going to have to re-export it to Germany and try again. Reading the tariff codes myself, I would not be comfortable trying to explain to a CBP officer that the blanks that I will use to make my cellos are an "accessory to a musical instrument." I could be wrong, but it doesn't seem to fit with the examples given in the HTS. I agree that if you try to fight customs you will just tear yourself up. That is why I carefully complied with the regulations as explained to me. It was a headache, but it worked. Whatever HTS classicication you use that gets the wood into your shop is great, as that is the end goal. I am just trying to relate my recent experience.
  10. I saw that Michael posted on another thread that his wood was destroyed because the shipper didn't have a permit. First, I hope his wood has not been destroyed and I certainly would look into it. Second, it is his responsibility, as the importer, to have the PPQ-585 permit to import the wood. I think that SVS could have been more helpful, but really if you don't want to deal with the hassle of importing, buy from importers here in the US. I still think it is a stretch to classify tonewood as an accessory, I think it is much closer to lumber than it is to a metronome. Maybe you can get away with that with violin wood because it is smaller than cello wood.
  11. Michael, I feel for your situation. I had a shipment of cello wood from Germany held up by customs last week in fact. There may still be hope for your wood. Initially I was given the option, by CBP, of re-exporting the wood or destroying it. If I had decided to destroy the shipment it would have been at my expense and I would have been responsible for making the arrangements. There is a clause that says that the destruction can't cost the government a penny. I had heard stories form people about shipments being destroyed, but when I asked the CBP officer about that he said that they would not destroy my wood without my involvement. The shipper was able to provide some additional documentation (phytosanitary certificate) that customs requested, and then I had to apply for a permit to import the wood. The permit is from the USDA, and was free. I had to register with the USDA, which was a little bit of a hassle, but all in all not too bad. The permit can take up to 30 days to go through, but once I had given proof to the CPB officer that I had applied he was able to release the shipment. The permit is PPQ-585, google that and the APHIS website with info on the regulations and such will come up. I think the point about the harmonized tariff code is important. I classified my shipment as 4407.10.01.xx "Wood sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or peeled, whether or not planed, sanded or end-jointed, of a thickness exceeding 6 mm", which definitely requires a permit to import. The idea to classify it as 9209.92.00 - "Parts and accessories for the musical instruments of heading 92.02", may be valid though I think it is more applicable to pegs and such. If the wood can be shown to be "processed" then it doesn't require a permit to import, though processed can be in the eye of the beholder. My cello backs and tops were deemed "planed lumber" by customs. I think more makers need to be aware of the pitfalls of importing wood. It is extra confusing because customs doesn't enforce the rules on every shipment. I ordered some wood from the same supplier last year and there were no problems. The first shipment was with UPS, while this last shipment was over 200 lbs. and had to go air cargo- and therefore was under more scrutiny. Next time I will have all of my forms/permits in order before I order the wood. -Michael Doran
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