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Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Jisch, Oct 16, 2021.
Check out this build:
StewMac must hate this guy. Amazing build!
I’ve been developing an eye for re-purposing cheaper tools for more expensive “Luthier” tools, which are sometimes the same tool with a huge price increase, but I often trade money for time and skills since bass building is a hobby, not a profession. I’m often humbled by old furniture, knowing a lot of it was made entirely with hand tools. That video makes me feel like a spendthrift piker.
My former employer at the acoustic guitar factory took a trip to a semi-famous town in Mexico back in the 1990s, known for their guitar building. Some of those guys were knocking out reasonably functional axes with the tool. Not “tools” but tool, singular. Basically a knife. He couldn’t believe it until he watched the entire process start to finish. Said he’d never consider doing it that way but was amazed at the talent and ability of these guys.
Knew a bit of a weird guy back in the early 90s here in San Diego who was making basses - good ones - out in east county using no power tools. He did amazing work, looked professional and factory quality.
Have read in the old shortwave literature from back in the 30s and 40s about guys who would make their own tubes. While the procedure was plausible, I’m still not sure I believe that’s possible for an untrained person to do it.
Imma be real with you, I don't have a lot of those tools at home, either .
I was gonna try to be funny and do the whole, "back in my day, all you needed was a hatchet", bit.
But now it's not funny, because there really still are a few badasses left in the world.
And I'm not one of them. Just thinking about all that hand sawing in the OP vid made me wanna take a pain pill and lay down.
We tend to romanticize hand tools in a way the original users probably didnt. I get the appeal of a more direct connection of hand to wood, and the relative peace and quiet, but I bet the old timey cabinet makers would have ditched some of their hand tools in a heartbeat for a decent tablesaw. The brutal economic realities of custom Luthiery make it nearly impossible for a hand tool builder to compete.
While I don't recommend it, I'm typically better using the Macgyver method [wrong tools I have at hand w/ no direction], than I am with proper tools and directions laid out in front of me.
For those of you into learning this sort of “primitive” (it isn’t) woodworking, I recommend “The Woodwright’s Shop” by Roy Underhill. It is…humbling yet still very, very educational. What I know is a cup, what he knows is an ocean. The sole thing I could teach Roy is what a good piece of wood for an instrument sounds like, and he’d get that concept in about fifteen seconds.
I (try to) use the appropriate tool for the job, and with a decent selection of "hand tools" in good shape, for a one-off rather than "let's build 100 of these" there are a number of times that the hand tools unapologetically win. And other than the miter trimmers (which I treat with all the respect they deserve, bloodthirsty things...), it's generally harder to take a finger off with them, too.
Was not always this way, but that had a lot to do with growing up where the various hand tools around had generally been abused and neglected so they did not work well - you really need to do "sharp" well for hand tools to perform at peak efficiency.
No longer a personal issue, but being trained up in "pushing sticks trough machines" wood-dorking meant I spent a long time without a shop as a student and early-jobholder (limited space and funds) which could have been a lot more wood-dorkable with a compact set of hand tools, but I knew not at that point.
20 minutes well spent... almost makes me want to go out in the woods and throw together a bass....
well... maybe I'll just go practice instead... or take a nap.
I followed a thread on here a few years back where a guy made a precision bass with little more than a jig saw, hand saw, rasp, sandpaper, and lots of elbow grease. Blew my mind. Product was great in the end.
That was some cool video. I always enjoyed watching The Woodwright's Shop too, even learned a few tricks.
The guy in the video has obviously got considerable skills. Making those long rip cuts with such accuracy is really hard to do; and when he sketched out the profile of a Tele so effortlessly, you cold tell he has a lot of experience with this kind of work.
I too have built a couple of guitars the hard way. At least I had a band saw, drill press, and a belt sander along with a collection of generic chisels, files, etc. I would never attempt what the video guy has done though, it'd be impossible for me.
Odd thing; while I was writing this post, a female voice started reading the thread out loud. I must have pushed a wrong key or something. At first I thought it was kind of nifty, within 5 minutes I was irritated by it. Anybody know how to turn it off?
Serious answer: that will depend on the hardware and software you are using to read talkbass, so it's not a solution anybody but you has enough information to provide.
Luddite Answer: Smash it with a rock and submerge it in holy water before the deamon takes over your mind!
My fave guitar build of Burl’s is the coffee bean guitar.
That was awesome thanks!
First few builds I did were done in the kitchen. No room in the kitchen for a table let alone a bandsaw / drill press or belt sander.
Hand tools do the job same as power tools , just takes a bit longer .
In the 80’s I took a guitar repair course taught by a guy that learned to build classical and flamenco guitars in Spain.
He did all his jointing with hand planes, used cabinet scrapers more than sandpaper and taught us how to use jute rope and wedges instead of clamps.
He would slot a fingerboard with a square and a dovetail saw with the kerf flattened.
Many of the Stewmac tools are nice, but not really necessary with the right knowledge and skills.
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