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 Post subject: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 6:36 am 
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First name: Dennis
Last Name: Kincheloe
City: Kansas City
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Something old: This redwood siding from my house, salvaged when installing a new front door a few years ago. It's been suffering in the extreme climate here for 50-60 years, so hopefully it's still structurally sound. I should be able to tell once I get it rough thicknessed.
Attachment:
SoundboardWood.jpg


Something new: I'll be doing my first armrest bevel. This is also my first parlor, first time using several woods, and I've got some diamond dremel bits on the way for working with hard stone inlay materials. Not my first time working with stone, but a new level of complexity.

Something local: All materials will be from USA, and some from right around my area.

And I'm doing a parlor with a price cap, though I may sell it and donate 10-20% of the proceeds anyway :)

Materials budget:
Redwood soundboard: Free (and hard earned, chiseling all the old paint off of it)
White oak back/sides: $35 from ebay zootman2 (RC Tonewoods)
Persimmon fingerboard/bridge: $15 from RC Tonewoods
Local pecan headplate: Free (sliced off of a block that Ernie Kleinman gave me)
Cherry neck: $15 from Hibdon
Walnut binding: Free (scavenged off other things)
Bracing/tailblock/linings: $10
Compression truss rod: $3 (bent and threaded myself)
Evo fretwire: $8
Bone nut/saddle: $8
Bone bridge pins: $12
Inlay materials $2 (a bit of green abalone for my logo. The rest is free sticks and stones I've collected)
StewMac Golden Age Restoration tuners: $42

Which puts me right at $150. I maybe should include the $15 shipping on that oak set, which would put me over, but I didn't have to make any compromises on material choice with this setup so I'll call it close enough.

The scale length will be fan fret 25.5 - 24.75". I'm still trying to decide between these two body shapes. The long skinny one is more traditional parlor proportions, plus may sound better due to the fact that the soundboard is off quarter and thus low cross grain stiffness. But the shorter one is just so beautifully proportioned, even though I could save it for a future project, it's still tempting to use it for this one too.
Attachment:
Plan.jpg

Attachment:
Plan2.jpg

For the inlay theme, I decided to go with a local critter, the American robin. Tons of them around here, and I have some good rocks to match their colors.
Attachment:
HeadstockDesign.jpg

The truss rod cover will be a slice of a stick from the back yard for him to perch on, and the rosette will be a nest made of more stick slices, with some eggs painted inside the box :)


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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 4:46 pm 
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That looks like fun. Please show how you cut the stone for the inlay...

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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2016 12:12 am 
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I enjoy seeing your theme builds. I can't wait to see this come together. You have chosen the I lay materials well for color and texture!

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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2016 6:09 am 
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sdsollod wrote:
That looks like fun. Please show how you cut the stone for the inlay...

The blue-gray ones are the main challenge. The rest are soft sedimentary rocks that can be cut easily with a jeweler's saw and files like any other inlay material, though they are much more brittle than shell.

My primary tool for hard stone work is an 8x3" extra-extra-coarse DMT dia-sharp stone. Takes some elbow grease, but I've ground through a lot of material on it.

Next option is freehanding it with a dremel cutting wheel. I tried to cut a piece for the tail off of the wing rock with it. It's slow going, and the wheel kept burning despite my best efforts to keep it wet. I also don't like having my fingers so close to fast spinning things. And then the tail piece broke :x At least the wing is still ok for the moment. I wish I'd cut from both sides instead of just the front. Might not have broken then.
Attachment:
DremelWheel.jpg

I've also borrowed my dad's diamond saw. It's heavy, noisy, and blocks up my bench so I can't do much else, but it makes quick work of simple cutting. With some effort, it can even "resaw" slices off of these rocks, which saves a lot of time grinding them flat. It has a convenient water dripping system to keep the blade cool and collect most of the dust.
Attachment:
DiamondSaw.jpg

I'm debating whether to use it to cut away the remaining excess from the wing, or try the dremel wheel again. This piece is particularly brittle, and the diamond saw is pretty aggressive so it might break. But I can definitely use the saw to cut a new tail from a different, less brittle piece.

Then the real challenge will be the head, because it has lots of concave edges and 3 delicate pointy corners. That rock with the white inclusions is one of a kind, so I really hope it doesn't break. I'll make a practice head from a different piece first. Steel tools don't work on this kind of stone, so my current plan is to CA glue it to a piece of wood, drill the eye and cut out the shape using dremel router with diamond abrasive bits, and then sand the wood off. But first I have to wait for the bits to get here...


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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2016 7:27 am 
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Using rock is something I want to try. My sister is a mosaic artist and she has some tools I can use. I used to work in a metal test lab and we had a diamond saw that we used to cut sample of real hard metals. It took forever but you just mounted your piece, start the saw up and then get back to it in a couple of hours. Really looking forward to seeing how you make out.


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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2016 9:16 am 
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Woohoo, I discovered that the diamond saw has a low speed setting by flipping the power switch in the opposite direction. With that, I managed to cut the wing excess without breaking the offcut, and I think it's big enough to use as the tail.

The diamond dremel bits arrived, and they work great. Very impressive considering that I paid $10 for the set of 30 on ebay. Even if they wear out quickly, that's not a bad deal. If anyone else wants to try stone working, these are the ones I bought: http://www.ebay.com/itm/361428998750?_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

My plan as described in the previous update was a good one. Glue the stone to a small piece of wood, glue that to a bigger piece of wood to hold it, and go at it like routing an inlay pocket... but with water to collect dust and keep the bit cool and lubricated. The main difficulty is that the dust clouds up the water so I can't see what I'm doing for very long at a time. But the practice head came out great, so hopefully the real one will too.
Attachment:
PracticeHead.jpg

Then I remembered that I found a decent sized clam shell while hiking a few months ago, which I was hoping to use next time I was doing a local materials build. And now is that time :) There are usually a lot of tiny shells next to rivers and streams around here, but this is the first big one I've seen. It was all full of dirt, but the two halves were still connected. Got it cleaned up and peeled apart.
Attachment:
Shell.jpg

I have no idea how to properly cut up shells, so I just started grinding the lumpy parts off the outside, and then flattening an area near the edge, which revealed some surprisingly nice colors. I was only expecting to get white from it. So I kept grinding until my flat area was big enough to get the curve of my logo D, which involved going all the way through the shell toward the inside.
Attachment:
ShellLogo.jpg

It was kind of tricky sawing from an angled surface, plus this shell is brittle and flaky, at least out here near the edge. But fortunately it didn't break, and I managed to reattach the one big flake that came off with CA, which otherwise would have left the bottom end too thin to use. Then ground the piece to even thickness, and smoothed out the edges with needle files and rubbing on diamond stones.

So here is the current state of all the pieces. Still some more careful cutting and grinding to go, but no tragedies yet beehive If the real head breaks, I might actually use the practice one. It will be a lot darker once polished. I also still need to cut the vertical line for the D from that shell.
Attachment:
InlayPiecesInProgress.jpg


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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2016 12:14 pm 
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Dennis, looking forward to see this come together...

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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2016 10:03 pm 
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very cool Dennis, I look forward to seeing how this one turns out


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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2016 4:14 am 
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Not a whole lot to report, but since we're supposed to give regular updates, I shall :)

Here's the mostly-completed bird inlay. Got a bit of CA on it, and the legs aren't attached (I'll inlay them separately since they're so fragile), and there's no eye (I'd really like to use onyx, but I might settle for ebony since black is black...), but it's basically ready to inlay as soon as I get the neck made.
Attachment:
Bird.jpg

I've also been working on a proper plan for this guitar, at the request of gregorio. I've been meaning to draw up some instrument plans for a long time, and this is as good a time as ever to give it a shot. It's harder than I expected. I've done vector graphics before, but not to such a level of OCD precision... And I've never actually built a guitar from a plan before, so I'm sort of winging it on what information is needed. It's also frustrating that the total length of the guitar is 37.5", whereas the place I'm going to have it printed has 24" wide and 36" wide rolls of paper. 24" wide ends up with wasted space since I can't put the shapes side by side (and asymmetry prevents using half-shapes), but 36" is more width than I need, and not quite enough to rotate 90 degrees and fit. I currently have it set to 33x40", but the space still doesn't seem that well utilized. I could separate the neck and body to have more options of arranging everything, but especially with the way the fingerboard end fits to the soundhole, I think it's good to have a full view. There are still a couple more things to do, like the neck cross section, heel end view, maybe more details of the head and tail blocks, but here's the current state:
Attachment:
Plan.png

And unrelated to this project, a tree fell in the yard, and it did make a sound :mrgreen: But miraculously, despite the fact that it was hanging over the little storage shed out there, as well as the neighbor's fence, it managed to miss both of them. Fell at a weird angle to avoid the shed, and then was perfectly arched over the fence thanks to its curved shape. So we rented a chainsaw, and my dad, brother and I went about chopping it up. And I took one piece and sliced a few quartersawn boards from it. Resawing by chainsaw is slow and difficult, but here's what I ended up with:
Attachment:
BackYardMaple.jpg

Attachment:
BackYardMaple2.jpg

That tree had a big fungus on it last year, so as I'd suspected, it has some nice spalting in it. Surprisingly, the boards haven't gone all squirrely yet when drying. They're about 1/2" thick, sticker stacked with endgrain shellacked. I was expecting trouble from reaction wood since that tree was all bent over trying to reach the sun away from the giant oak branch above it.

Hopefully we can do another challenge next year and I'll make a harp ukulele from it, together with more of the house siding redwood :D


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These users thanked the author DennisK for the post: gregorio (Fri Jun 10, 2016 10:58 pm)
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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2016 7:34 am 
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Wow. That really is something. I like the little bird.
The back and sides material is really pretty as well. Is that maple? Hopefully it's not too cracked up or bug eaten to be useful.

Thanks


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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2016 1:09 pm 
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Yes, it is silver maple. I already trimmed off the buggy parts, and there don't appear to be any cracks yet, so barring any surprises I should have a good harp uke set plus some extra. I wish I'd had time to cut up more of it.


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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2016 1:59 pm 
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That robin looks great! You chose your materials well indeed. I can't wait to see it inlaid and polished up/under finish.

Well done on making up the plans. I wish I had the skill and resources to do that. All my stuff has been design on the fly and sometimes I remember to draw it out on paper to keep for future reference but sometimes not. It would be nice to have a computer file I could save and always have available.

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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2016 2:35 pm 
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Bryan Bear wrote:
Well done on making up the plans. I wish I had the skill and resources to do that. All my stuff has been design on the fly and sometimes I remember to draw it out on paper to keep for future reference but sometimes not. It would be nice to have a computer file I could save and always have available.

The only resource you need is time :) Inkscape is free. But save often, because it crashes pretty frequently. Use ctrl+mouse wheel to zoom in and out quickly for accurate positioning of things.

FretFind2D can output .svg files, which is what I used to do the fingerboard. It's kind of wonky and un-editable, so I had to trace parts of it to do the fingerboard end and half fret there, but certainly easier than laying out all those fret positions by hand...

For guitar shapes, try using just 8 nodes. Top center, bottom center, and 3 for each side (upper bout, waist, lower bout). Control handles for each curve go straight vertical or horizontal from there. Surprisingly my hand drawn asymmetrical shape was pretty much perfectly traceable that way :) Plus a couple more for the cutaway.

The kerfed linings are done using a path effect.


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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2016 2:49 pm 
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I think I've mentioned it before, but theres a free program called G Thang that draws outlines and fret templates from inputing measurements. It's a little bit limiting, but you can export to dxf and edit them in sketchup, which is also free.

Sent from my GT-I9300 using Tapatalk

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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2016 4:03 pm 
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I have used Gthang to design my last two body shapes and I like it a lot for that (once I got used to it). I keep hearing that it can be exported as .dxf and them imported to sketchups but I have never been able to do it. It has been more than a year since I last tried so I don't remember where the failure was (exporting form gthang or importing to sketchups) but I know I was unable to do it. I remember doing a lot of googling to figure out why it was not working. Each time I ended up just printing out the outlines so I could make templates then drawing the bracing and stuff by hand. It sure would be nice to be able to do it on the computer instead of erasing and redrawing over and over again. . .

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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 9:06 am 
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Bryan Bear wrote:
I have used Gthang to design my last two body shapes and I like it a lot for that (once I got used to it). I keep hearing that it can be exported as .dxf and them imported to sketchups but I have never been able to do it. It has been more than a year since I last tried so I don't remember where the failure was (exporting form gthang or importing to sketchups) but I know I was unable to do it. I remember doing a lot of googling to figure out why it was not working. Each time I ended up just printing out the outlines so I could make templates then drawing the bracing and stuff by hand. It sure would be nice to be able to do it on the computer instead of erasing and redrawing over and over again. . .

Sorry I forgot dxf import is only there in Sketchup pro. You can make it work in the free version, but it's a bit more complicated. First you have to download this plugin (requires an account, but it's worth it if you're into sketchup): http://sketchucation.com/pluginstore?pln=freedfx
Then open sketchup, go to 'Window', 'Preferences', open the 'Extensions' tab and click the 'Install extension' button in the bottom corner. Then just find the .rbz file you downloaded and it should do the rest for you. Restart sketchup and you should see the import dxf option in the 'Extensions' menu.
While you're about it download the 'bezier curve' and 'mirror' extensions as well - you'll wonder how you did anything without them!

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These users thanked the author PeterF for the post: Bryan Bear (Sat Jun 11, 2016 9:21 am)
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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 9:21 am 
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Thanks Peter! This will come in handy in the future!

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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2016 9:20 am 
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Well, my thread is down to the bottom of the page, and that just won't do :mrgreen: Not much progress though. I've been working on a different kind of music making tool: a computer program. It's still in early stages, but hopefully will solve all the usability problems and feature limitations I've had with every other piece of music software I've tried.

But as for the Robin's Nest, all I've got done is joining the plates, cutting them out, and rough thicknessing.

Cut out the soundboard halves while the siding board was still at its original tapered thickness, then planed it down. Only the side that was originally painted was dark colored like you can see in the first post. The back side was nice and light just underneath the rough surface. Due to the pattern layout, the bass show face came from the back side, and the treble show face came from the front (dark) side. And with the thickness tapering out at that edge, I wasn't able to eliminate all the dark color. But that's ok. Amazingly, it seems to be in perfect structural condition aside from that one avoidable nail hole :)

Then plane the joint, stretch a few strips of tape across,
Attachment:
SoundboardTape.jpg

Add a long one up the center to keep the show face clean, flip it over, lift it up like a tent, squeeze some glue in the gap, and drop it down. Press with thumbs on both sides of the joint up and down the seam to make sure both halves are perfectly aligned, stretch a few more strips of tape across to hold the joint closed, and set it aside to dry. Then scrape it smooth and shellac.
Attachment:
SoundboardShellacked.jpg

Joining the back was more tricky because it's very unstable. I've always been concerned about using oak because its humidity numbers are so wonky (5.6% radial, 10.5% tangential expansion), and it certainly lives up to the reputation. Even though this set is almost perfectly quartersawn, it still wants to cup. I used water to coax it into a temporary state of flatness so I could get the joint planed and glued straight.

This back is ridiculously wide. I kind of feel bad about wasting it on such a small guitar, but at the same time I can probably use the offcuts for ukulele sides, as well as the headplate for this guitar (which I think will look even better than my previous idea of pecan).
Attachment:
BackOversize.jpg

After drying, it's sort of S-shaped, but I managed to get it cut out and thinned anyway using my trusty toothed blade block plane.
Attachment:
BackCutOut.jpg

The medullary rays are beautifully reflective under shellac.
Attachment:
OakRays.jpg

Next up will be either the neck or rosette.


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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2016 9:50 am 
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Those rays look great!

I bet the color of the top evens out over time. It will be much less noticeable this time next year.

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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2016 3:07 pm 
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As usual Dennis I sure do enjoy your build threads and this one is no exception. Look forward to seeing the Robin inlay.

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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2016 1:00 pm 
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That robin is really nice! I like seeing raw materials as the starting point, although I don't go quite that far.

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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2016 9:43 am 
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I was thinking of you last week while vacationing. I spent some time walking the shores of the lake looking for rocks or anything else interesting to use for an inlay. I was hoping something would inspire me. I came up blank. Now I am even more impressed that you were able to see a robin laying around in parts and put together such a cool inlay from found materials.

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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 9:52 am 
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DennisK wrote:
It's also frustrating that the total length of the guitar is 37.5", whereas the place I'm going to have it printed has 24" wide and 36" wide rolls of paper. 24" wide ends up with wasted space since I can't put the shapes side by side (and asymmetry prevents using half-shapes), but 36" is more width than I need, and not quite enough to rotate 90 degrees and fit. I currently have it set to 33x40", but the space still doesn't seem that well utilized.D


"Standard" sheet sizes are 24x36 and 30x42. Most places can print those sizes (here in the US, anyway) I've drawn my plan on the 30x42 format, but I'm not satisfied with the arrangement. There's just not enough room on a single sheet to show everything that needs to be shown, particularly with dimensions. There's things that can be left off, like the neck sections and neck joint, since most builders don't follow plans for those things anyway. On the other hand, it would be nice to show an M&T and a dovetail neck joint, that would make the plans much better for a new builder. New builders are who uses plans the most, so more information is usually better.

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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 5:31 pm 
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First name: Dennis
Last Name: Kincheloe
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Rodger Knox wrote:
"Standard" sheet sizes are 24x36 and 30x42. Most places can print those sizes (here in the US, anyway) I've drawn my plan on the 30x42 format, but I'm not satisfied with the arrangement. There's just not enough room on a single sheet to show everything that needs to be shown, particularly with dimensions. There's things that can be left off, like the neck sections and neck joint, since most builders don't follow plans for those things anyway. On the other hand, it would be nice to show an M&T and a dovetail neck joint, that would make the plans much better for a new builder. New builders are who uses plans the most, so more information is usually better.

Thanks, I was wondering if there were any standards like that, but couldn't find anything other than the A0 size (33.1"x46.8"). I ended up using 33x40". Unfortunately I don't think I can squeeze into 30" wide without sacrificing one of the views, but I'll keep it in mind next time. I did get a print of this one made on a 36" wide roll of paper, and it turned out great. The main thing I'm missing is a side template. I may bump the length to 44" and add it in once I have a finished guitar to trace it off of, though the paper is already tough to wrangle at the current size...

One thing to keep in mind with the layout is that the space inside the side template is usable by other things. The free Grellier L-00 plan is a good example.

Bryan Bear wrote:
I was thinking of you last week while vacationing. I spent some time walking the shores of the lake looking for rocks or anything else interesting to use for an inlay. I was hoping something would inspire me. I came up blank. Now I am even more impressed that you were able to see a robin laying around in parts and put together such a cool inlay from found materials.

Oh well, better luck next time. Just keep an eye out for "interesting" stuff, even if you don't come up with an idea for it on the spot. Especially small pieces that are easy to grind flat and thin. Get a variety of colors, and especially anything bright like this red rock, or that looks like it will have non-homogenous patterns inside like the wing and head. Looking at them all together is when the robin idea occurred to me :) On the other hand, my space guitar was inspired by the Jupiter rock alone, and then I kept watching the ground for rocks matching the other planets, and collected them over a period of time.


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 Post subject: Re: The Robin's Nest
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2016 3:30 pm 
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First name: Dennis
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Time to build the nest :D

Step 1, go collect some sticks from the back yard. I think I've got sycamore, black walnut, silver maple, and shingle oak. Possibly also hackberry.
Attachment:
Sticks.jpg

Most of that pile didn't actually make it in, since I'd already done a previous batch before that.

Thinning them down is somewhat of a challenge since they're pretty brittle, not flat, and hard to hold on to.
Attachment:
ChiselingStick.jpg

Then just start inlaying them a few at a time, layering it up.
Attachment:
Rosette1.jpg

I worked on this over the course of a few days due to all the glue drying time. Takes more patience than it does work hours.
Attachment:
Rosette2.jpg

There were a lot of little gaps so I drowned it in hide glue. It's not a very good gap filler since it shrinks a lot, but if you bubble it over the top then it will get the job done. The color looks nicer than any other filler I've tried.
Attachment:
Rosette3.jpg

Scrape it level, shellac, and it's a done deal :)
Attachment:
RosetteFinished.jpg

Next comes the fingerboard and neck. I can probably get a tail block from the neck offcut. Then make dentellones, brace blanks, bridge plate and bridge. That's about it for things I can do before winter bracing season.


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