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Michael Doran

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Everything posted by Michael Doran

  1. I do this intentionally on my instruments as well. It looks really awful if the wing is above the rest of the arch. In the immortal words of someone, "that's not a bug it's a feature!" Don't worry about it, and don't do anything to 'fix' it. James- after the ffs are pretty much finished, I put a cork underneath the lower wing and press down on the rest of the arch. Then it's simple to use a fingrplane or gouge to cut back the wing a little.
  2. Sure! I'm happy to recommend them. The company is called Kelsun Distributors. Here's their website- www.kelsun.comI'm fortunate that they are located nearby, but I'm sure they would ship to you if you're not local. They are familiar with violinmakers tanning wood and curing varnish with UV. The fluorescent lamps I buy are medical grade. The government requires that you sign a form saying that you're not going to use the UV lamps on people, and Kelsun got audited or something last year- so they've been more strict about getting that documentation recently. M
  3. I was intrigued by the idea, so I called my UV lamp supplier. (Currently I'm using a mix of UVC and UVB fluorescent lights for tanning and UVB for drying varnish.) He and I had a great conversation about LEDs in general as well as UV LEDs. The tests he's done showed that that the LEDs on the market today are not actually emitting very much UV, nor was he convinced that the proposed nanometer ranges are necessarily accurate. He also told me that, in general, for a comparable amount of light emission (lumens) LED and fluorescent are about neck and neck in terms of energy efficiency. A particular LED or fluorescent tube could be slightly more efficient than the other, but he said it's mostly a wash. To be clear, both are drastically more efficient than incandescent. He thought the real draw to LED is the longevity, not the efficiency. He said that to try and rig up a comparable set up to what I have in my light box with LED would be very expensive, about as efficient, and not emit nearly as much UV. M
  4. LOL, Serious UV is right. I was recently messing around with the bulbs with them on for a few minutes because some weren't turning on. I had welding goggles on to protect my eyes, but I gave myself a sunburn on my exposed arms! Next time I'm wearing long sleeves. M
  5. I tan my instruments three to four weeks, 24/7, with as much light as I can throw at it. Two weeks minimum if I'm in a hurry. My cello box has 10 4ft, and 6 2ft lights, with a mix of UVB and UVC bulbs. For drying varnish I I turn off most of the lights and just use UVB. M
  6. The easiest thing to do is rough cut the mortise before you glue on the back, at least cutting through the the ribs makes a big difference. One thing I've done is trimmed the end of a Japanese saw with tin snips to get the teeth to go all the way to the end. Alternately x-acto makes some small saw blades that fit in their handles, I think the teeth go all the way to the end. Or you could score your line with a knife and pare away the waste with a chisel. However you end up doing it, it's a bit of a chore because the button is in the way. M
  7. Interesting, I assumed you were changing the angle at the neck foot and making the back of the mortise shallower, but from your reply to Catnip, it seems like you're actually changing things so the neck is set deeper into the top. To me it seems like more planning than I'm used to. (I also hate taking fingerboards on and off on new instruments- it's a pet peev of mine. It just feels like inefficiency to glue something and later re-glue it. Permanently gluing the fingerboard on is one of the benefits of setting the neck after varnishing, like I do.) To figure out the angle of my neck foot requires setting my angle gauge to 87*. Then I cut close and plane to my line. The exact angle doesn't matter, as long as it's in the ballpark, because I can make the mortise a little deeper or shallower. I was taught at school to finish the angles of the sides of the neck heel fully and fit that to the mortise. Now my system is more free-form. I leave the neck heel a few mm wider at the bottom than the finished button width and plane it down as I fit the neck. I can adjust the tilt that way on the fly if I think it needs it. The top of the mortise is centered on the center line of the top, and the back of the mortise hits the button. Sometimes the centers don't line up, but that is no problem because you can plane an asymmetric neck heel to hit the button and still maintain the tilt you'd like. (I'm always setting my necks to a finished button, even on my new stuff) It's sort of like the way I carve a scroll now. Everything gets roughed in at the same time, then once you're close you can start to pay attention. Everything gets roughed in except the end of the neck foot and the button, that is. I do take your point that the neck length doesn't change very much as you fit the neck farther into the mortise with your method. That sounds convenient. Perhaps I'm just not used to it, but the neck set in your photo just doesn't look right to me. Why make it deeper on the top? Perhaps for more stability- I'm solving the problem of stability in my necks by adding carbon fiber. I realize this comes with a whole other set of questions and concerns, but I have noticed a benefit in the stability of my projection, and, I think, a tonal benefit (though I admit its entirely possible I'm wrong as I don't have objective data) since I started putting carbon fiber in my necks. M Ps. I'm sure there are many things you would look at in my working method and think this or that was too much work. As long as we both get the to same place it doesn't matter much how we get there.
  8. Hi Matt, I've been curious about this method of setting necks. I heard about it for the first time at Oberlin from someone else who works at Jerry's. I respect immensely the talent and innovation that has come out of his shop, but this one has me scratching my head a bit. The way it was explained to me was, in a restoration setting on an old instrument, that you need to take into account all of the numbers in a neck set and figure out what the angle at the neck heel will be. This will change depending on the arch height, extension, etc. What I don't understand is why you would fix the depth of the mortise, which is relatively easy to adjust while setting the neck to adjust the extension, and adjust instead the angle of the heel, which is very difficult to adjust once the fingerboard is installed. I suppose I could see an argument for just making the angle more acute in general, like most folks do for cello, but it seems like a lot of planning and work to go to for an aesthetic choice. Are there other benefits I'm not seeing? The way I was taught to install necksat the shop where I worked was a very flexible, adjust on the fly, working method. I'd be interested in your thoughts. Thanks, Michael Ps. Pardon the off topic digression.
  9. I have a rule that if I make a combination of three mistakes or small injuries in a day I am not allowed to work anymore that day. I got that from a contractor friend of mine. It's better to cut your day short than continue working in a careless state of mind and possibly hurt yourself seriously. The day I had my tablesaw accident I had already reached my limit, and it was only 9:00 am; I should have walked away. M
  10. I stay away from tablesaws. M
  11. Really, it depends on how tall your purfling pieces are. My purfling regularly sits above the channel. This makes it easier to grab onto when I want to take it out for fitting. M
  12. I think your concern about the purfling cracking the top is a bit over cautious. The thing I worry about is the purfling becoming too loose in the channel and buzzing later. That's one of the reasons I like the idea that as the glue is applied both the purfling and the channel swell a little and clamp the purfling in. I suppose theoretically this could be taken to an extreme, but I've never heard of that happening. I like the idea of glue sizing and activating with hot water while he purfling is already in the channel. I've been trying something similar, but sizing the purfling, instead of the channel, with glue several times before I cut it into strips. M
  13. Regarding getting the purfling into the channel for glueing, I'm a big fan of the purfling squisher. I have a little pasta machine that I run my purfling strips through to compress them a few tenths. It helps get the purfling in and out of the channel easily while fitting, then the water in the glue will make it swell back to normal size. Making violins in the Italian tradition. M
  14. It depends on how deep your arching channel will be. Typically a 2mm deep purfling channel, measured from the top of your edge, is enough, but you need to do the math for your model. When I was making my first violins at school someone told me to think deep on my purfling channel because everyone always makes it too shallow on their first try. What did I do then? Yes, I purfled right through my back plate and out the other side in a few spots. M
  15. IMHO the best way to avoid deep sanding marks is not to use a sander on your ribs. I process several sets of cello ribs at a time and it's a lot of square centimeters to work with. I feel like I have a fairly efficient system. A good toothed blade (with irregular teeth) is essential. If you can cut the ribs yourself you can get a lot closer to measurement, unfortunately a lot of the commercial ribs rock is cut very thick. After planing and scraping the outside of the ribs to a finished surface, I drill depth marking holes in the ribs on the drill press- like you would for rough graduating a plate. My system is pretty dialed, so I drill to two tenths over my measurement and plane until the holes are gone. After that a light scraping is usually enough to finish the thickness. I was astonished the first time I used the depth holes at how much time I saved by not picking up the calipers to check the thickness every 30 seconds. M
  16. You could use softer tailgut or harder ebony. It's never been a problem with it be Kevlar tailcord I use. Some makers intentionally file grooves for the cord to run in. That's about the only way to get them to stay off-center- if you think that's a good idea. M
  17. Sure, tuning up a plane can be work. I think for something like a jointer, where flatness is of the utmost importance and where the size makes tuning difficult, buying a new Lie-Neilsen is worth it. Block planes are really very simple animals and it's not challenging to flatten them on a small flat surface and some sandpaper. M
  18. No, no, no, Carl. Stay very far away from the new Stanley stuff. Their quality started going down hill after 1950 or so and its abysmal now. The new sweetheart line they are making now is awful. Here's a link to an auction for a nice old 9 1/2. http://m.ebay.com/itm/121658820058?nav=WATCHING_ACTIVE Some older record planes can be good as well. I also have seen some very nice millers falls block planes, though essentially all of those are copies or versions of the Stanley design. Bottom line- get something old because it's better and it also happens to be not too expensive. The Stanley blades are not suitable though, tool steel has come a long way, my favorite is the A2 Cryo from Ron Hock. M
  19. Get a Stanley 9 1/2 standard angle with a Hock blade. Stay away from anything made after the 40's or 50's, or that comes in a color besides black. They regularly are available on eBay for $25-50. Much as I love my Lie-Nielsen #7 Jointer, I can't reccomend their full size block plane. It's too heavy and narrow. Their smaller version of the Stanley 102 in bronze is good, but not as your only plane.
  20. I think, ideally, if your varnish is good, it will leave a nice texture just from the brush. Lots of factors affect this, oil/resin ratio, hardness of the varnish, thickness of varnish before application, thickness of coat, application technique, how fast your varnish dries and how you dry it.I make mostly antiques, though I make new instruments and then start the aging process. My varnish has a delicate 'orange peel' texture straight off the brush, which I like. If I were making a straight fiddle I think I could just lightly French polish the surface and be done. I say lightly polish because my goal is not to remove the texture and fill up all of the divots and such, but just to add a little shine. I find that after a few days the shine dulls down slightly to a nice happy medium. The problem I see with abrasives is the scratches that are left and successive grits; once you start it's hard to stop until you have a bowling ball. The Brandmir book has some truly excellent photos of texture on pristine instruments. I would look at those for inspiration. Here is a picture of some texture on a cello of mine before major antiquing, after inducing crackle. I think if I were making a clean instrument I could just French polish this. I'd probably knock off the big dust particles with a scraper one by one. M
  21. Sometimes a weak solution of ammonia in water can take the shine off of a polish. I would ask the question- why are you polishing to a high gloss in the first place? In my experience its not a good look.
  22. Don- So are you saying that, as far as you can tell, a cylinder of identical weight and size with no floating magnet would have the same effect as the Krentz wolf eliminator? If that is the case then it seems the real innovation is a convenient way to install an easily moveable weight. If you cannot fit the body of the wolf eliminator through the "ff" hole, Krentz claims you can test it out by putting the larger body on the outside and the small magnet through the sound hole. The problem there is that you might need to get the chin rest out of the way. That might be worth a try on your snake fiddle. Is there anybody close to you who has a cello you could test? M
  23. I have 2 workbenches. A planing bench and a drafting table. The planing bench I designed and built myself. It took several months and about $750 worth of material, hardware included. I spent a lot of time reading about workbench design. I can recommend the workbench book from Taunton press. It has a lot of great pictures and design ideas. In the end I made a workbench similar to the Ulmia benches I used at violin making school. I made it out of European beech, for tradition and stability. The top is 28"x 72" and 3.5" thick in the middle. The ends and front are 4" thick, I extended the thick part in from the front 6" so I would have a flat surface to clamp to. It's 38" tall- I'm 5'10", and I find it a comfortable height for standing. I included a tail vise. Most of the heavy planing we do involves boards longer than they are wide. A tail vise and square bench dogs excel at this job. I also included a wide shoulder vise, long enough to hold my no. 7 upside down for joining plates. The shoulder vise has two rows of round bench dogs which can rotate for camping wide or curved pieces. The legs are two sets of joined trestles which attach to the top, and to each other, via crossbeams and hardware. The rear horizontal crossbeam is for stability and storing clamps. The 45* braces at the front are so that I can sit at the bench and have room for my legs. If I ever need to move I can detach the legs. After about 7 years of using the face as a cutting backstop, I mortised out a section and glued in a dovetailed insert that can be replaced or planed when it gets too cut up. The half-blind dovetails were to keep end grain out of the vise jaws, and to show off a little. I also dovetailed the corners of the runners the same way around the top. I made some other design choices that I think bring it together- I made the radius and step the same on the trestles and the shoulder vise for continuity. I also made the horizontal base of the legs thicker than the verticals, to visually offset the weight of the top. The thing weighs about 350lbs all together, and is solid as a rock. I also have an adjustable height electric drafting table made by Hamilton. I bought it on Craigslist for $100. I removed the original top and use a solid core door. I find that the adjustable height is incredibly useful. It goes from 32" to 51". It's so convenient to pick the exact height for the job I am doing. It's easier on my body as well to have options; I find doing the same repetitive motion can be hard on my joints. It also tilts. I find that I really like having the bench at an angle for finger plane arching. It's not nearly as stable as the planing bench, but I find its adequate for most of my work. -Michael
  24. In my experience collaborations via mail are divided up. One person makes the ribs and back, scribes the rib outline onto the top and sends it to whomever is making the top. Someone else makes the scroll. You can have each person varnish their piece separately, or you can assemble it and then vanish. If they are varnished separately the varnish/ground used needs to be fairly similar, and antiquing can do a lot to bring the pieces together. M
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