Bass-bar encore (also corner-blocks)

I haven't mentioned that it was Ed’s younger brother Addi who, when invited to admire our work on the bass, immediately pointed out that the bass-bar was on the wrong side. We didn’t even bother to deny it: half a second’s thought put it beyond doubt. Sharp lad, that. 

Well, these things happen. Are they more frequent in the eighth decade? If so, then at least I’m a good deal calmer about them than I used to be. Thirty years ago, I would not have been in the least amused by this sort of nitwittery— and being ambitious, but not commensurably competent, I would have taken it too seriously and fretted about it. 

In any case, there really isn’t much choice about what to do next:



The bar's new position is now correctly marked on the opposite side of the top. (One encouraging observation is that our original glue job was excellent.) We followed the same procedure as before—chalking, rubbing, planing and scraping until we had a satisfactory joint, which took a lot less time than the first attempt. Once the clamps were removed, Ed and family friend Andy B.-F. shaped the bar to its correct form:


Wait—is that on the right side now, or did we..?

With the new bar correctly in place, it was time to think ahead. Time, in fact, to make a list of all the things that need to be done to complete this stage of the construction. Our ambition had been to complete the carving of the top and back, and then glue them to the ribs to make a more-or-less finished body. So what needs to be done to get to this point?

1. Finish work on the front. Should this include the purfling? No; I can do this after Ed goes back, and after the body is glued together. Some makers do purfle before assembling, some after. I’m fairly certain that the edge profile of our front will need some adjustment after it’s glued to the ribs in order to ensure the correct overhang, in which case we’d do much better to inlay the purfling after any changes. Also any final shaping and finishing of the top can take place when it is glued in place. (After some on-line research I also see that it's necessary to carve away material close to the edge (including cutting into the purfling). This step is not mentioned by Chandler.)

2. Ribs: although these are now glued to the corner blocks, there is still much to do. The corner blocks need to be cut away inside, and the ribs themselves need scraping smooth to remove all the sanding marks. Finally, the linings need to be planed square to the edges of the ribs, ready for gluing to the front.

3. Back: The inside hollowing is only roughly begun, so that’s the main job. The outside also needs finishing work—and, of course, purfling.

4. Design a maker's label and glue it on inside the back.

5. Glue everything together.

There’s nothing mentioned here about the neck. Although the tapered mortice has been cut, we're leaving the making and fitting of the neck until the body is all together. I hope that this is wise…

Corner Blocks:


This is altogether quite fun.


Hollowing the inside surfaces.

And here the father/son construction team will take a break for a while, at least until Ed returns for another West Coast visit. However, I shall continue to work on the body (or the corpus*, as I saw it referred to the other day) until it’s together, and I can put it somewhere safe…

* Not too fancifully, either: we also have a neck, a back, a belly and some ribs.

Working on the ribs:


Scraping the ribs is quite straightforward; the difficulty is in holding them firmly enough to work on. The striped figure of the Western Maple is emerging quite nicely:


There I’ll leave this for a bit. Next up, finishing the back, and preparing to glue. Possibly even gluing…

February 1st, 2014.