Friday, July 28, 2006

Finished tone bars, and rough cut ebony overlay

Last night I put my wonderful finger plane to work and carved my tone bars to the first Siminoff book's blueprint sizes. Both of them together only took about a half hour, this is a very easy step. I continued to tap the wood as I was carving them, more for observation than anything, because like I've said before, I am not tap tuning in the literal sense. I'll be totally honest with you, I can tell a difference from tapping when they hadn't been carved at all vs how they are now, but some builders say they keep carving them until they get the desired "note", and I really couldn't tell much of a difference at all. I may consider taking a little more wood off the middle of the tone bars, after I do even more research on the topic. This is an area of mandolin building that is obviously still very much a mystery to most folks.
I also decided to go to work on my ebony overlay. At first I thought my jeweler's saw blade was too aggressive, so I put one of the tiny ones that I bought in the saw. It was working ok, but I broke it after just a few minutes. So that one was too small. I did figure out that the more aggressive one would work if I cut at about a 45 degree angle to the wood, so that's what I did. I don't have access to my vice right now, so I cut the wood while I was holding it, and I kind of think this might be a better way anyway than using a vice, since there are so many direction changes. I cut it to about 1/8 of an inch larger than the traced shape of the headstock, just to be safe. I plan to trim it down with my Siminoff Dremel binding router bit, when it gets here. Here's a cool pic of the top/sides with some curlies and my finger plane, and a pic of my ebony overlay. I forgot to take a pic of the completed tone bars without the curlies all over them, but you can see the bass side one in this picture.

Oh, one more thing. I'm not sure I like the looks of the rosewood(?) fingerboard with the ebony overlay, I would rather it be black, so I may ask the Cafe gurus if it's possible to stain/dye a fingerboard that already has frets and fret dots on it.


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