Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Working on carving the plates to final specs

Friday, September 16, 2005

Now that I've learned how to use my scraper, I have been working on shaping the soundboard and back to a nice looking shape, and thinning them toward the final specs I am shooting for. Here's a pic of my soundboard, I'm pretty happy with the rough shape of it so far. The folks on the Cafe said I should get a good shape on the outside, and do most of the thinning on the inside, and that makes good sense to me.

One thing I've learned from the last couple of nights. Maple is pretty forgiving as to what direction you carve, I guess since it's a harder wood. Spruce, at least in the case of my soundboard, is not so forgiving. If I don't carve the proper direction, the scraper tears the wood and leaves a very jagged and ugly surface. It doesn't take long to get a feel for the right direction to carve. I'll bet if I go back to my Understanding Wood book, it will explain more about this.

I have quite a bit of thinning left to do on the soundboard, but like I said I think I like the shape pretty well and won't do much more to it. The back board is another story. That plate was very thick and had no shape at all, so I've put a lot of time into it so far, and needs quite a bit more shaping before I'll feel comfortable posting a pic of it here.

This post is kind of backwards, but I thought I should comment on how I got my dimensions. The old Siminoff book that comes with the IV kits doesn't have top and back plate dimensions written out, but it does have a plan that shows cross section dimensions of 7 locations on an F5 mandolin. I borrowed a friend's digital calipers, took a bunch of measurements on these cross sections, and transferred them to a photocopied plan of a soundboard in a topo map type format. This has been very helpful for me in shaping and thinning my plates. I took lots of measurements around the recurve area specifically, and actually made marks on the plates to use as a guide when carving. If I lose track of where I'm working and the marks are gone, I'll stop and mark them again. Eventually the shape starts happening and making sense to me, and I don't have to use the written dimensions as much. Seems like you can get the feel for it, almost like modeling clay. What a rambling paragraph, hope all that makes sense to somebody other than me.

I've never owned a set of calipers, but I now realize how valuable they are. I ordered a set of digital calipers that one of the engineers at work recommended, they will get here on Monday.


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