Randall The Restorer

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Everything posted by Randall The Restorer

  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
  16. Davide, Your words remind me of the SARS crisis here in Toronto, Canada and surrounding area back in 2003. That strain was less contagious but more deadly, even killing healthy hospital workers. I'm glad I stopped being a Respiratory Therapist by then. Southeast Asian and Chinese markets were like ghost towns, but I still frequented my favourite Vietnamese restaurant for Pho and spring rolls. Now SARS is a distant memory for most of us who lived through the worst of it. The other dangerous microbes haven't gone away: Norovirus and E.Coli are foodborne and direct-contact spread so be careful what you touch and what you eat when you go out in public. Wash your hands often and thoroughly. Remember that humour is the most powerful weapon and the strongest defense in any war. "The only thing we have to fear is fear it self". Franklin Roosevelt In the same time period drunk driving and distracted driving will kill and maim more people (like I was) than this virus will - but bad drivers aren't being quarantined. And we don't need to theorize about who is to blame. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for human stupidity. So drive sober and alert. Keep a positive mental attitude. Something is going to kill each of us someday - so keep on living life to the very end. Go to the opera. It ain't over 'till the fat lady sings. Let me leave you with this: One day things were going very badly for me. I sat alone in the dark - tired, sad, and worried. Soon, a little voice inside of me chirped, "Cheer up! Things could be worse.". So I cheered up. And right away, things got worse. Yours truly, Randy O'Malley Mississauga, Ontario, CANADA
  17. Nathan, I snuck past the guards and nurses to get to an internet cafe to post this. I'm Canadian so please spell it "Loonie". And next time use an emoji (I just learned how myself). I just measured my flat-sawn, old growth Eastern White Pine and its density is 480kg/m3 or 29.95 lb/ft3. Average willow density is 25 lbs/ft3. Average Lombardy Poplar is 24lbs/ft3. This Pinus strobus is also slightly harder and stiffer than any willow I have come across. It rings like a brass bell with just the right amount of sustain for a one-piece back. After 50 years of seasoning in an Ontario, Canada garage it is the colour of malt whisky or coffee with just a little cream. I'll start a new thread and post pictures when I have a chance. I better get back before they notice I'm gone. I don't want to miss breakfast - it's International Pancake Day and I'm supplying the real maple syrup. Cheers, Randy O'Malley
  18. Crytsal Drano should be much more effective than pure sodium hydroxide (aka lye) available from a paint store. WARNING Don't get either solution on dried shellac unless you want to dissolve the film. If it gets on skin it will turn your flesh to soap (saponification). Have vinegar handy for a neutralizer. According to the National Institutes of Health's Household Products Database, the crystal form of Drano is composed of: Sodium hydroxide (lye), NaOH Sodium nitrate, NaNO3 Sodium chloride (salt), NaCl Aluminium shards, Al After Drano crystals are added to water, the reaction works as follows: Aluminium reacts with lye: 2NaOH + 2Al + 2H2O → 3H2 + 2NaAlO2, although the exact species in solution may be NaAl(OH)4.[1] The release of hydrogen gas stirs the mixture and improves the interaction between the lye and the materials clogging the drain. It's possible that pressure may build up inside the pipe, causing the hot, caustic solution to spurt out of the drain. Sodium nitrate reacts with hydrogen gas: Na+ + NO3- + 4H2 → NaOH + NH3 + 2H2O. This removes hydrogen, which poses a fire and explosion hazard and produces ammonia, which is also capable of decomposing organic material, albeit less aggressively than lye. The sodium hydroxide (lye) is consumed by further action of the first reaction. Aluminum Oxide is one the hardest substances known to woman and man. It is used to polish and sharpen hardened steel. Any particles in suspension might also act to brighten the shellac film (for this I defer to a Chemist). Randy O'Malley, with help from wikipedia
  19. That's terrific, Violguy. Give me several days to get the wood from storage. Remind me if you don't here from me. Randy, out.
  20. The narrow waist and long neck of your design may have been taken for inuendo. (joking) Could it be that she was accustomed to a different brand of strings (broken-in) or a different bridge type/setup? Did she use the same bow and rosin as on her "easy" instrument(s)? Artisans understand controlled experiments - many musicians do not. I need to lose weight and strengthen arms and neck. So, I'm also designing an exercise viola. It will be 18 inches long, 22mm arches, Ipe back and ribs, Douglas fir top, lignum vitae fb and fittings. Handcart, dental guard and ear muffs included. (joking - for now).The viola will be fitted with a PFD in case it falls in the water.
  21. This is what a wise driver or motorcycle rider does when operating an unfamiliar vehicle for the first time.
  22. Consider the impact of the words you type on the people who might read them. I'm new here and we don't know each other from Adam. Carefully reread your original message to me and Google the definition of "loony bin". Twice, you suggested I was mentally ill. How is that in any way funny? I don't need to lighten up. I've got a healthy, gentle sense of humour. It's evident in my posts. You need to work on your material and your delivery. The Don Rickles style is out. Bottom Line: If you can't write something nice, don't write anything at all.
  23. Mr. Slobodkin, Your reply is useless and abusive. I'm surprised the moderator approved it. Why are you being so narrow-minded and mean-spirited? I consider your repeated use of the phrase "loony bin" to be hate speech. May you receive better treatment from others the next time you suggest trying something new or different. Respectfully yours, Randy O'Malley
  24. Eastern White Pine Pinus strobus lumber has slightly superior vital statistics (as per The Wood Database) as compared to Black Willow Salix nigra. The two are comparable as tonewoods (Please read on). The wood of Pinus strobus can be resonant with a wide range of tonality and degree of sustain. Mature wild Pinus strobus trees are large, straight, and tall. With a large natural growing range, growth rates, densities and stiffness can vary. The wood hardens when seasoned properly for a sufficient duration. Eastern White Pine lumber was used for centuries by the Royal Navy for the masts and spars on warships, and for planking ship's boats. It was widely used for heavy-duty furniture by pioneer settlers in Ontario, Quebec and The Maritimes. As a tonewood, Pinus strobus is overlooked, unappreciated, underutilized. (which makes it extra good for violas). Since most Eastern White Pines grow in Canada you should expect that it is a friendly, helpful tree and timber with few vices and unassuming beauty. And it smells good. The wood of Pinus strobus can be resonant with a wide range of tonality and degree of sustain. I have plates that when tapped ring like silver bells and others that coo like mourning doves. With a supply of boards/billets from different trees, I believe you can build an excellent instrument entirely from Pinus strobus (minus fb, bridge , etc.). I have a supply of lonely, well-seasoned, Pinus strobus lumber just waiting to have its singing voice set free. Dear open-minded luthier, won't you please help? Any instrument you make will be greatly appreciated. Don't wait. Call now. Operators are standing by. (well at least one is sitting around). This was message was generously underwritten by Randy O'Malley.
  25. We are kindred spirits, Marty. Possibly because of our shared cultural heritage. My maternal grandparents Genya Korpach and Michael Makutra were born near Lviv/Lvov circa 1900 AD. I grew up on red borscht, kapusta, holubtsi, and pierogi/pyrohy. I will make violas. I just received the necessary Henry Strobel books in the mail. I prefer listening to deep, mellow tones, working with different wood species, and hanging out with misunderstood, unappreciated, essential people. I'm unable to play a viola with my cervical spinal cord injury. I could play a small cello but I'll work up to making one. I've got good quality spruce and hardwoods to share, trade, or sell cheap: 40 year-old billets of Sitka for 15-inch violas. Ancient Chamaecyparis lawsonia, aged 15 years, for one-piece tops. Numerous gorgeous, resonant one-piece backs with ribs long enough for cornerless 18-inch monsters. Slightly curly-koa, aged 40 years. Slab-cut backs of Liriodendron tulipifera, seasoned for 100 (one hundred) years in a Toronto shed. We need to get together, Marty. Whereabouts do you live? I'm in south Mississauga, just west of Toronto, Ontario. This coming April, I'll be driving to Hilton Head Island, SC via Erie, PA and Morgantown, WV. By any chance, does your better half stitch needlework, play tennis or play piano? Do you have a child who is a Lego maniac? Are you owned by a parrot? If so, one of us made a visit to "Total Recall" in 1990. Yours truly, Randy O'Malley