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Andrew tkinson

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    Craft history, String instrument making and trying to have fun and learn stuff by combining these two interests.

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  1. Time is flying rapidly so I thought it be good to post some stuff here showing how I still haven't managed to restart my violin making! Never mind, there's lots of violin stuff on this fine site so maybe my varied woodwork themed bumblings will make a refreshing change? (I am at the soundboard purfling stage on my violins and seem to be avoiding this exacting work as I find it quite daunting) Anyway - since August I finally completed my doorframe. Here I am assembling it , the joints are coated with "thick paint" and drawbore pegged together Applying more paint to partly inserted pegs Hammering the pegs home and drawing the joints permanently together I then allowed the frame to dry and after a day or so I tested the fit by placing the door in the frames rebates. I was pleasantly surprised that the fit was quite good especially as I had made the frame to fit this old 'uneven' door which I had brought with me from my previous house (I had had an extension built on the house and this old exterior door was now inside the house. I didn't mind having a letterbox and house number on what was now an interior door but when I put the house up for sale I thought it would look strange to potential buyers so I replaced it but knew I would find a use for it so kept it - there is always a use for everything if you wait long enough!) Here is the frame in position at last. Wedged in place then fixed with screws and plastic rawlpug type things ( I would really have preferred to have used wooden plugs but the modern fixings were quick and effective and the job needed to get done!) And the old but sturdy door finally in place (Held temporarily overnight with a piece of rope) When my older brother and I were fitting the frame we kept hearing a little splash/plopping noise from a nearby drain. The next day when I was working on the door's hinges I heard it again and investigated. I found this little frog sitting in the drain from the kitchen. It was underneath a small grating and about a foot down so I think it was sort of trapped so I reached in and he offered no struggle. I released him/her onto the garden and he /she took a minute or so to start hopping away into the undergrowth. A few days later I found another, smaller, frog in the same place and took that one out also. I probably need to seal the grating better as a frog living in that drain will probably not survive long as the washing machine discharges into the same water trap in addition to the effluent from my kitchen sink! I used the offcuts from my doorframe wood to make wooden 'sealing strips' to nail around the edges of the doorframe between it and the brickwork. I planed a quarter round hollow on the trips to match the similar strips on my house's front door and window frames. I used old cut nails to hold the narrow strips in place, the holes bored with a bradawl to avoid splitting the narrow section wood The bradawl in action I was pleased to finally get the door in place. Meanwhile autumn was arriving and my little pear tree had so much fruit on it a couple of branches had snapped half way through. I removed the fruit from these two small branches and used string and small wooden splints to reinforce the breaks. I have done this a couple of time before hopefully they'll heal and be ok by spring. I thinned the fruit out on the rest of the tree. The small pears were still ok to eat! Soon it was time to pick the pears, probably the best 'harvest' I've had, a nice little box full Autumn was definitely here as shown by these great colours on the little oak tree in a pot at my front door. (It is over 30 years old and in a small pot! I really need to plant it somewhere where it can grow properly - too many projects!) I then took a trip to Carlisle to meet an old friend and visited the Andrea Amati violin in the museum there. Please excuse the poor photography. I think it is great that there is such a nice violin in a smallish museum in the North of England After having been at close quarters with such a violin I felt inspired now! But unfortunately, not to make violins but to make some small planes, and one of these ended up being in the shape of a pig! Time for bed now, I'll have to continue this exciting and curly tale tomorrow! ------------------------- (Or maybe the day after tommorow, as it is 'tomorrow' now and I have just spent over 2 hours writing the rest of this and lost every word somehow due to a faulty mouse/touchpad thing! Never mind! To be continued!)
  2. Here are a couple of planes I made recently that may be of interest to someone? I had forgotten how hard boxwood is to work! This plane would perhaps be suitable for "hogging" away material on small projects? This little pig plane wouldn't sit still so his picture is blurred, here is a top wiew less blurred, he was more settled now as he had just been given a meal of shavings! This little plane is modelled on an old type of Dutch plane This small plane seems quite at home resting on my thumb? Here it is being tested on some scrap softwood and seems to work quite well, so despite being a thumb plane it seems it can be used on wood also?
  3. Hello Mike and Steve, I did notice when watching the moulding plane video that wedges being made in 1962 looked simplified and 'practical' looking rather than being the beautiful more fully shaped versions seen in earlier planes. One thing I was really interested to see in the video was that that the profile of the unhardened moulding plane iron was filed to match the plane and the plane wasn't made to match a standard blade, it makes sense though when seeing how he did it. I have to admit to being fond of wooden planes and like to use and sometimes make them as I am interested in messing around in a bit of a 'historically informed ' manner, trying to work with the tools similar to those used by violin makers of the past. I used to hunt out wooden planes at car boot sales and markets and have far too many of them really, I suppose! I sort of felt I wanted to preserve them at times and thought it was great you could often get something beautiful and usually quite useble, made in the late 18th Century for under £3 if you knew what to look for. I remember being a regular visitor to a secondhand/antique tool dealer in Islington, in the 1990's, and was shocked when the owner told me that old wooden bench planes were so common that he could make more money cutting them up to turn replacement chisel handles. That day, I bought a really well preserved, almost certainly professionally made but 'undocumented', probably 18th century (Flat chamfers and round topped old iron etc) jointer plane from his bargain bin for, I think £6. Sadly, it was stolen a few years later, along with many, many other tools from my cheap dodgy East London storage facility. I made a list of the tools stolen and distributed copies of it in the hope of getting some of them back. I gave a copy of my stolen tool list to the dealer and he said, as he gestured around with his hand at the full shelves in his shop, "probably every tool in this shop has been stolen at one time or another" and he continued " I'll tell you what I can do, if anyone offers me any of these I'll buy them and you can have have them from me for what I pay!" His, usually quiet, shop assistant said " You don't want to get the police involved that will do nobody any good!" I accepted his offer and didn't mention that I had already contacted the police. I never got any of them back but never mind. Back to wooden planes. Here are two planes I made copied from a picture of a plane, that you will know, left in 1597 by Dutch explorers when they escaped from the arctic island of Novaya Zemlya after spending a winter there after their ships became trapped in the ice. I made the wedge too thick on the smaller one, which I made first, but it still works quite well and its the home made plane I use most. Here is a small boxwood plane, I made in around 2003, being used on my first violin's bass bar. It is my very small version of an old Dutch plane design. The home made iron is a bit soft but holds and edge just long enough to be of some use, I should try to reharden it Here is a slightly larger small plane, in use on my as yet unfinished second violin, with a curved sole and a home made toothed iron, I made this a bit after the one shown above and my work was was getting better. Back in 2004 I still wasn't needing glasses! I hope Mike doesn't mind me posting all of this stuff on his thread?
  4. Here is a link to the excellent Moulding Plane making video, I couldn't resist posting it, I hope no one minds? I have just watched this and was quite impressed that in the Marples works in 1962 Mr. Bayliss is still using a wooden brace and what looks like a shell bit to drill the hole through the moulding plane stock. I suppose people like to stick to the tools that work and that they know well? I also notice with interest that at one point he uses a plastic handled chisel and seems to be using a hammer on this instead of his wooden mallet! For much of his work he seems to prefer a wide looking light coloured jackplane which, I was interested to see, has what looks like a piece of lignum vitae set in across the whole width of the sole at the front of the mouth. I expect that planing nothing but beech all day will wear plane mouths out quickly. Perhaps this hard wood mouth insert was set in tightly but not glued so it could be replaced or altered more readily as the mouth wore? A bit of a sad sight is when the camera pans around to show the shelves holding a couple of centuries worth of what are probably old "mother " planes which would soon be no longer needed! I know it is not a violin making video but I hope others may find it fascinating to see the planes used to make planes, the special jigs and tools that help speed the work along.
  5. Hello, in Britain these planes were made by many companies and here they were called Technical Jack planes as they were intended for use in 'technical training' in craft and ordinary schools as their lowered handle and being made slight smaller they were reckoned to be easier to control with youthful hands, than the full height average wooden Jackplane. Here is a picture, this one is unusual as it has a closed tote/handle which is usually only found in British bench planes on Larger planes or on Scottish style Jack planes I do find it interesting that each country has its own designs and variations of tools. When I look at old wooden planes I am amazed at the level of precision and consistency that was achieved using hand tools on hard beechwood. I suppose if you are working within an old craft tradition and start doing something when quite young and do it for many hours a day for a few years you will get good and quick at doing it. Here is great atmospheric video that you will probably have seen already but it may be of interest to others. There are lots of other interesting tool related videos from this scource - The Ken Hawley Collection in Sheffield. About twent years ago I volunteered to give a talk on old tools and lute making and Ken was in the audience and put me on the spot in a nice way with few good questions. If you liked this planemaking video there is one showing a similarly nearly extinct Moulding plane maker called Norman Bayliss and many others. It is good that Steve and others are continuing in the footsteps of these toolmakers.
  6. Hello Mike, I have also noticed that the old thick tapered wooden plane type irons have this shallow grinding angle. Perhaps it is to allow more secondary bevel sharpenings on a stone in between regrindings as the irons are quite thick at the sharp end and. This seems to make sense to me but I may be wrong. I have noticed that very old chisels intended for hand - non mallet - use seem delicate and thin and I wondered, if, in addition to using less of the expensive iron and steel, this was desirable as a thin chisel was easier, less metal to remove, to sharpen and grind by hand power? I am interested in possible historical methods and find it interesting to experiment with single iron planes as the double iron seems not to have been in use until the second half of the 18th century. I also started to experiment with an old Italian design of pull plane a few years ago (I made this one but I have seen, but did not buy, a similar one on ebay that came from Italy) I got it out tonight and will flatten the sole and get it ready to try to use it to make a centre joint on my next violin? The plane is similar to surviving ancient Roman examples and I based my copy on tools shown in paintings by the Bassano family of artists (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacopo_Bassano ) who were working in the late 16th century near Venice and therefore, I wondered if the Amatis or Gasparo Bertolotti could have used such planes? Here is a detail of a painting by Jacop Bassano showing tools and activities occuring during the building of Noah's Ark. I do seem to like getting side tracked with old tool stuff, no wonder I never get any violin making done?
  7. Being a bit of a crackpot, I like using old tools and have to admit that in my experience old British laminated steel/iron plane irons can vary a bit in hardness. I think that the manufacturing process while being surprisingly fast was quite un-mechanised (I read somewhere that a visitor from the Europe in around or after 1900 was surprised to find that the Sheffield smiths were still making plane irons by largely by hand) and the quality relied upon the experience and hand and eye skills of the smiths and other workers, which will naturally tend to end up producing tools with varying properties? Here is a nice old jackplane I was using tonight Here is the iron from the plane, nearly worn out alas! I sometimes think that if an old tool, plane blade, chisel or gouge was good and held a nice edge it tended to be used up. I have a couple of old nice looking old chisels that are nearly full length and have had little use and when I have sharpened them they didn't hold and edge very well which perhaps explains their good unused condition? One time I bought a lot of old unhandled old chisels and found them all very soft, I suspect that they had been in a fire which explained the missing handles?
  8. (I have taken so long typing this that while I was typing it seems you have made good progress with your centre joint, congatulations! I will still post this as you may wish to avail yourself of my workshop footwear advice?) Hello Crimson, being a novice violinmaker myself, perhaps the first and most valuable thing I should say is to take heed of the advice generously given by the experts of Maestronet! I have been doing woodwork of sorts for many years and I really love making things. I have to admit that for some tasks I seem to suffer from a bit of a lack of patience- being a person from an English branch (no garlic) of the Professor Van Helsing school of woodwork who really does enjoy chopping wood with an axe and the hammering in of all types of nails, brads and spikes - and perhaps I am not naturally temperamentally suited to the careful exacting nature of much of violinmaking? However even I have had some sucess when I have worked carefully following instructions from a good book or teacher and have resisted my strong urge to try to run before I could barely walk. I love planing wood but I have had (and still do have) difficulty with centre joints and flat planing generally because of these main factors 1 My plane wasn't very flat 2 My plane iron/blade was sharpened to a curved profile - good for rough planing but not the best for planing flat joints 3 I am always tempted to "save time" by attempting to use the plane (chisel or gouge) without sharpening it first or checking if it is sharp enough and end up wasting time and effort in the process. Here is a picture of my last centre joint being made using a home made single iron plane. I was successful as I took my time, I had recently flattened and remouthed my plane to make the opening small and sharpened it carefully. I held my wood on the benchtop wedged between the pegs on my small experimental bench top Regarding your workshop sandals perhaps you could consider trying some Dutch style wooden clogs, I like wearing them in my workshop, no one else is there to see me! and apparently they are recognised as safety footwear.
  9. I hope nobody minds me posting this here but I hadn't seen anything on this site about the passing of this 'pioneering' lady. I am pretty much living in my own bubble in the North of England and browsing away on my computer tonight I discovered that, the luthier and teacher, Juliet Barker passed away in August. There is an obituary for her here https://www.thestrad.com/news/a-tribute-to-luthier-juliet-barker-1934-2022/15416.article I have her violinmaking book and when I attended a course back in 2012, at her workshop in Cambridge, I asked her to sign it. When she signed it she laughed and said something to the effect that her late husband used to joke that he couldn't understand why people would want to reduce the value of their book by having it signed (as so many other violin enthusiasts had had their books signed the unsigned copies were the rare ones!)
  10. Hello Dwight, I remembered reading somewhere, something about "welding" wood. Here is an article I found when I typed welding wood into google https://www.cdbb.cam.ac.uk/news/developing-wood-welding-rapid-timber-joining-technique I can imagine IKEA will be making their shelves out of this welded wood soon!
  11. I do think there is quite a lot of skill needed to use nails well. This has nothing to do with violin making but In his book "Mechanick Exercises or the Doctrine of Handy-Works" first published around 1680, Joseph Moxon writes (pages 124-5) "There is required a pretty skill in driving a Nail " he goes on to say " A little trick is sometimes used among some (that would be thought cunning Carpenters) privately to touch the Head of the Nail with a little Ear-wax, and then lay a Wager with a stranger to the Trick, that he shall not drive that Nail up to the Head with so many blows. The stranger thinks he shall assuredly win, but does assuredly lose; for the Hammer no sooner touches the Head of the Nail, but instead of entring the Wood it flies away, notwithstanding his utmost care in striking it down-right." I have heard about a violin maker in the past being found guilty of the murder of another maker, I wonder if perhaps someone who thought of himself as a 'cunning' luthier was caught in the act of applying some earwax to the heads of another maker's carefully straightened neck nails and was then dealt a fatal blow with the hammer?
  12. Hello, I have only nailed one neck on, when I made my lute, so I hope you don't mind me joining in this discussion, With nailed necks, I am inclined to think that the glue is doing the main job of holding the joint, the nail of course adds some reinforcement but to me its main purpose seems to be to act as a clamp when gluing up an awkward shape, especially if the neck heel was nearly fully shaped? The nails would allow this awkward clamping job to be done in a simple - no jigs or special clamps needed - quick and traditional way. I think that it would be bit difficult to get the neck to fit nicely to the both top rib surface and the button of the back during a speedy gluing and nailing operation so it makes sense to me that it would have been done before the back was fitted. When I glued my lute neck I applied the glue then hammered the nail home. I then had a few of seconds to finely adjust the neck with a few gentle taps of the hammer, as it had rotated a bit out of line during the 'operation'. I would think also that the hole would be predrilled carefully until the nail only needed tapping home the last few mm, firm enough to hold the joint while the glue dried and add a little strength. If the hole wasnt predrilled carefully I suspect that a nail, or several nails could easily split a small short object like a neck heel especially in relatively hard and not spongy wood like maple? I wonder if the sharp spikey tipped nature of the nails could be used to advantage, maybe the pre drilling could be done not quite to full depth so the thinnest -least likely to cause splitting - last few mm of the nail could have a really good hold on the wood? When I nailed my neck I used the actual nail to ream the predrilled hole to its final depth and shape but if I did a lot of neck nailing I would think I would soon acquire a square sectioned awl/nail hole reamer of a similar shape and size to my nails of choice.
  13. I have been thinking that if I was going to nail a neck on a violin maybe I would drill a initial hole - smallish so capable of being reamed later, closer to the shape of the nail - for the nail in the block while the rib assembly was still fixed to the mould. It would be more stable and easier to hold and manage? I admit that I am not an experienced violin maker so often am puzzled by things that are obvious to skilled makers so please go easy on me but I wonder if anyone has noticed any traces of drilling on the Stradivari moulds left by over enthusiastic drillbits as they went through the neck block? It would be interesting to see these traces, if they are there, as they would maybe indicate the type of bit used eg shell bit or small gouge used as drill or spiral pointed or centre bit etc? I hope this talk of drills is not too boring? (Sorry!)
  14. A few years ago I made a lute sttepting to use "historically informed" methods. Here I was drilling the neck block for the neck nail using an old shell bit in a home made bit stock/ brace Being unable to use the brace inside the lute body I then used the same shell bit with a small home made handle, like a small gimlet, to drill the nail pilot hole in the neck holding the unglued neck body joint together carefully while drilling (If by some strange chance you may want to see and read more about my efforts in this area, see here https://www.lutesociety.org/pages/building-lute-original-methods ) I reckon a nice square section tapered pointed bradawl - a big version of what is sometimes called a birdcage awl - would have been easily made by an average blacksmith, strong and good enough to make the pilot hole for a similarly shaped neck nail? Perhaps it would have been used to 'ream' a nail shaped hole after the initial boring with a small straight shell bit?
  15. Hello, I hope I don't incur anyone's wrath if I suggest that if you are making handles for old chisels or gouges you do not always need to go to the complication of adding a ferrule. Here are some very old - probably over 150 years old - well used gouges with some user made octagonal handles. Admittedly the handles may be a bit younger but they are still quite ancient and I think they have a rather attactive design in way the facets are taken around the end I think if you are not levering or using a mallet with your chisels and fit the tapered tang carefully - a bit like the way I would fit a nail to a violin neck if I ever get around to it - using perhaps three different drill sizes to bore the handle to accomodate the tang's taper and then using the tang itself to ream the hole so the handle can be carefully tapped on the last few mm (or a sixteenth of a Cremonese inch?) Here is a nice big old 1 3/4" gouge which, when I acquired it, had the double ferruled handle loosely fitted which I carefully removed. To make a new big long handle I took a nice bit of rippled beech I got from the woods many years ago, which I had been saving for something nice, shown below the gouge Here is the finished handle after I had fitted it and rubbed it with some linseed oil, the other handle I made of some plain beech I hope nobody objects to this slightly contrary contribution, I freely admit I am no expert and I know from observation there are some on this site that do not suffer ferrules gladly!
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