Randall The Restorer

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  1. Some people make archtop ukuleles with f-holes, tailpieces and floating bridges. https://www.archtopukuleles.com/serena-details.html Depending on how you brace a flat-top ukulele you could also use f-holes, fixed bridge, or tailpiece and floating bridge. Also, one-piece backs and one-piece tops work well on ukes. Regards, Randy
  2. The Uke Book Illustrated : Design and Build the World's Coolest Ukulele https://www.leevalley.com/en-ca/shop/tools/books-and-dvds/110536-the-uke-book-illustrated This book is a graphic instructional of 1500 captioned watercolour illustrations with plans. This is an eminently useful and beautiful book. The author was a classically trained luthier working for many years in Italy. I own this book and highly recommend it. I have worked on all sorts of string instruments (including guitars and ukuleles) and have read dozens of scholarly books on lutherie. The ukulele/4-string nylon guitar is a serious instrument for serious music, despite its undeserved reputation as a toy for children or a prop for comedians. Do a web search to hear and see some of the virtuosi (soloists and ensembles) of the ukulele. Regards, Randy O'Malley
  3. That's why you produce quality work on a "regular" basis.
  4. Your lung health is far more important than a smooth varnish job. Have you considered a personal powered air filtration system such as the one at the link below? https://www.canadianwoodworking.com/tools/power-face-shield-respirators For dust-free varnishing you could make a booth from a large appliance box with a damp cotton sheet as a curtain door. Electrically ground the box with a copper wire attached to an outlet or water pipe.Scale modellers like myself use such an arrangement to spray dust-free, high-gloss finishes on model cars etc. If you have room in the shop put the booth inside a cotton "tent" that you can also moisten and ground electrically (IKEA sells such tents for children to play in). Finally, remind your selfish, shortsighted shopmate/landlord that you can't pay your rent if you can't work - when you can't breathe nothing else matters. Tell him it may be your dependents or estate which sues him for your disability or premature death due to avoidable dust inhalation. Make sure your requests and his refusal are in writing. Yours truly, Randy O'Malley, Respiratory Therapist (ret'd), Health Insurance Specialist (ret'd)
  5. Here, here, good sir. This forum is about making stringed instruments. Let us all take a break from opinionating and return to the workbench. Complete a project or dust off an instrument and put it in the hands of a player to serenade the sick and isolated - whatever the illness. I will send a free piece of tonewood to the first person to put this train on a positive track. That is not a joke. Sincerely and Reasonably yours, Randy O'Malley "Don't just curse the darkness. Light a candle." Unknown "Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain - and most fools do." Anonymous
  6. I love you, too. Give yourself a big hug for me.
  7. Certainly in the European classical music corner of the violin world. I bet jazz and rock and "world music" violinists wouldn't care or would prefer a non-traditional instrument. The world needs to hear those violins in your basement Ken. They deserve to be heard and to see the light of day. Change your target market and use some creative salesmanship. Tell the prospect to guess the wood AFTER he/she plays the instrument. At the very least donate the violins to charity auctions and get a tax receipt for the fair market value. The basement?! Egads, man! That's where the furnace and Dad's toilet belongs - not works of art. Go, Ken, Go! Fight and Win! Yaaay, Ken! Yours truly, Randy O'Malley
  8. Thank you for this information, Conor. I am a bit confused, doesn't the spruce and maple we use also split with the grain? I suggested a one-piece flatsawn back of tight-grained Pinus strobus. How might that work? Also, when you write Pine do you mean an Old World/European species? Sincerely, Randy O'Malley
  9. It seems we share some of the same ideals after all. Firstly, you also use the term "fiddle" without disdain. Secondly, you talk about traditional methods and attitudes of work. I collect and use antique woodworking tools and demonstrate their use to schoolchildren. My teenaged son wants to learn blacksmithing. The old methods are safer: less dust and fewer severed hands and fingers. As a member of The (antique) Tool Group of Canada I learned and taught about various traditional trades and crafts. Living museums (especially the maritime type) are my favourite places. I also restore antique and vintage cedar-canvas canoes. I still write letters with my late father's fountain pen on handmade paper that was made with handmade tools. I still shoot black & white 35mm film and develop it in my basement darkroom. I hand - grind my coffe to brew in a French Press. On the other hand, as a Respiratory Therapist in the ICU and OR I use the most sophisticated machinery on the planet to save lives. Your approach to tradition and innovation is a thoughtful, careful one - worthy of respect. My issue is with traditionalists who suffer from mental inertia or bigotry. I also take umbrage with people who insist on change just for the sake of change. As for my idea of slab cut Eastern White Pine for a back, or quartered for a top, it applies to tonewood quality specimens of a New World species. I think if the old masters saw and felt boards like those in my collection they would have given them a try. Being Ontarian I like to use Ontario (Canada) woods (sort of a 100-Mile Diet for luthiers). The way I see it, suggesting a different wood species for fiddles or guitars isn't breaking with tradition. Suggesting carbon-fibre or aluminum would be a definite departure. May I recommend Roy Underhill's, The Woodwright's Shop books and television show? You should also enjoy The Forgotten Arts and Crafts by John Seymour. These men are practical philosophers as well as artisans, historians, and teachers. Finally David, I write my entries, and urge you to continuing writing yours, not to debate or to listen to myself but for the benefit of impressionable, open-minded young people who might read them. "Don't just curse the darkness. Light a candle." Unknown Yours truly, Randy O'Malley
  10. Thanks for your reply, David. I suspect someone said something similar to Andrea Amati or Gasparo da Salo when they created the first violins; and to Louis Spohr when he invented the violin chin rest. It was definitely said to W.A. Mozart, Beethoven, and Stravinsky when they created their innovative styles of music which we now call traditional. I have found that retaining or regaining often takes more energy than exploring and little new is learned. Reascending "traditional alpine peaks" - actual or metaphorical - usually involves treading some unfamiliar ground. How about choosing a bit of both of our philosophies? Surely, you have discovered enjoyable food flavours (a new brand of your usual beverage) or music sounds, etc. when circumstances beyond your control steered you away from the familiar. Conversely, good or neutral habits in one area of life can facilitate positive change in another area. Yours truly, Randy O'Malley
  11. Manfio, The 'best' carving wood (see Grinling Gibbons and wildfowl carvers) is Basswood/Linden/Lime, which is softer than poplar. Red Cedar and White Cedar also take sharp edges ( see Native N. American carving). Creating the scroll in poplar is not a problem. Durability in use of crisp scroll edges would be the issue; and that depends on the player/owner.
  12. The 'T' word - tradition - the enemy of progress. As I stated at the beginning of my post, old growth Pinus strobus(a softwood) is actually slightly denser and harder than some traditionally used hardwoods. Plus, once sun-tanned, dyed, and varnished (perhaps antiqued) the woods all look equally attractive. Oh, if only people would buy musical instruments with their ears instead of by labels and cultural bias. Maybe if a dealer told a prospective buyer to audition the instrument while he/she fetches the spec sheet the violin would sell itself. Excuse me while I go buy the world a Coke. Sincerely, Randy O'Malley
  13. Perhaps some isolated effect on extractives due to natural phenomenon or human activity. I once lived near a large old Elm tree (resistant to Dutch disease) that was poisoned by zinc and/or chlorine from the galvanized water pipe draining a nearby swimming pool. When the tree was later milled into boards I could see in the grain evidence of the 'poisoned' years. Don't quote me - I studied human physiology.
  14. He must also have traded lumber or bought it from estate and going out of business sales - just like so many of us do. Some things never change.
  15. Amen to that, Brother Noon! And trees don't recognize political borders or call each other by the names we call them. That is why good wood is where you find it. Trees are wise, positive, easy-going creations, but they don't like nitpickers, know-it-alls, and naysayers. Try to pigeonhole an Elm tree and it might drop a limb on your head. How is your flat-sawn violin belly experiment coming along? I have for you a viola sized well-seasoned board of flatsawn Transcontinental Spruce that is right from the tree - no laminations. The fee is a donation to your local food bank. Give me your shipping address and I'll send it off. Yours truly, Randy O'Malley, tree-hugger extraordinaire