In the autumn of 2018 I got out my sassafras boards and began making a bookcase. They were really nice boards with lovely grain and few knots. My challenge was to make the shelf unit I wanted with only the lumber I had. As I said, they were lovely boards, but they did have some warps and twists that had to be considered in every component. I like to make bookcases and shelving with sliding dovetail carcass construction. I have also long ago put aside plywood backs for real-wood framed paneled construction, maybe except for units with the most utilitarian of purposes. I wanted this unit to be in-the-round, so the extra work of bookmatching panels and mortice-and-tenon framing was worth the effort. I was thankful to have enough sassafras for everything, even though I cut a shelf short and had to piece another one together, and I only have small scraps left over. The doors are very attractive and nice to look at every day. I guess it is Craftsman style.
I had about everything completed on the bookcase when I was contacted for a blue violin. If you read the recent projects page you can learn all about that. I put off finishing the bookcase until the blue violin was done, paying customers and all. I like to think I have a good enough imagination, but up to then I hadn't been willing to make blue, or purple, or green instruments. I did make a pinkish mandolin, a custom order, and you can see a yellow violin on the Violin Page, but the wood on that one was naturally yellow. But after "Chandraneel" and time permitting, I think I will try an emerald green or grape purple violin some day.
After Chandraneel, I went back to finish the bookcase and moved it into the house. Then I started my next project, a Mook Jong. Ever since I took my son to a Kung Fu teacher, I thought a Mook would be a really interesting thing to build, and it is. First, you have to get a log that will finish out to five feet long and nine inches in diameter. Then you have to figure out a way to turn it to the preceeding dimensions. By the way, logs this big like to crack open. Once the log is dimensioned, then you lay out the mortices for the arms and leg and begin cutting them with long drill bits and chisels. When all that is done, you make three arms and one leg. After they're fitted, then you gotta figure out how it will be mounted for use, which can vary depending on how much space you have and if it will be permanently mounted or not. I haven't done this yet, but one can fill the big cracks (mentioned earlier) with an expensive epoxy, which can add color as well as integrity to the log. Once everything is done and mounted, you can punch and kick and practice your bad moves, and only one of you gets tired or hurt. Guess who.
I had a bit of kind providence fall down on my neighbor's property, in the form of a large maple tree. Where the tree was split open I could see that there was a lot of curly grain suitable for instruments. With permission from my CFO (wife) I was authorized to purchase a chain saw and cut what I could into managable pieces, and now I'm waiting for it to cure. At my current rate of production, there may be enough wood to last the rest of my life, for fiddle making anyway.
In November I was asked about making a Great Wheel spinning wheel. Sure, why not. Guess what, there are no plans available for a great wheel, at least that I could find. I did find a wheel dimension, but that was it. Thankfully I was able to get some measurements from a wheel that is housed at a local living history site, as well as insights on construction details. There are lots of cool things to do in making a spinning wheel. There are the turnings for legs, posts, handles, spokes and all. A wheel hub which can hopefully be made from a single solid four inch blank and not from a lamenated one. Most of the mortices are tapered, and naturally you can't just go down to your local home improvement or even fine woodworking store to buy tapering tools, no, you gotta make them yourself. You get to cobble together a steam chamber so you can bend the wheel treads...oh yeah, you gotta make the forms for the wheel treads. And you get to use your metal working skills to make a spindle. Anyway, lots of skills necessary and a lot of fun. I spun some pitiful looking yarn, but didn't get the chance to get good at spinning as my customer was anxious to take possession. She lent me a copy of "The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning" which will make your head explode with all of the history and guidance for fiber production and preparation. A second wheel is in the "thinking about" stage.
I apologize for the long wait between posts. Though I'm not always writing, I am not idle, as there is plenty to do.