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Shop-Made Bandsaw Dust Port

Shop-Made Bandsaw Dust Port

by John Calkin

Published online by Guild of American Luthiers, September 2021

 

My old bandsaw was made before dust ports were added to every power machine, so I made one out of wood. It's a close copy of the heavy-gauge steel cover for the lower wheel but made out of light plywood. The dust port itself was purchased and screwed to the cover. A mahogany interface to accept the 3" vacuum hose was made to fit the port. The sides of the cover were kerfed to permit easy bending to match the original metal cover. I think the rest of the construction is self-explanatory.

All photos by John Calkin
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Activating Hide Glue with Steam

Activating Hide Glue with Steam

by James Ham

Originally published in American Lutherie #102, 2010



A technique of mine that has attracted considerable attention involves the use of fresh hide glue in assembling my basses. Rather than rush to clamp a joint before the glue gels (not an option on a large instrument) or try to work hot glue into a joint with a knife, I coat both surfaces to be joined with glue, and then allow it to dry before clamping. When the pieces are perfectly aligned, I reactivate the glue with a focused blast of steam from a handheld steamer.

The idea developed over many years repairing instruments. One of the most common repairs I encountered was that of regluing an open seam. The normal method is to introduce hot water with a thin palette knife and move it around until the glue feels slippery, then add some fresh glue with the knife and clamp it. Sometimes you don’t even have to add fresh glue. New hide glue is perfectly compatible with old. If the seam is open for a long way, you need to put the clamps on before you do this, and loosen just a few at a time so you can get the knife in.

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Bending Sides with Silicone Blankets

Bending Sides with Silicone Blankets

by Michael Keller

from his 1990 GAL Convention workshop

Originally published in American Lutherie #25, 1991 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Three, 2004



Althrough I attended the 1977 Guild convention in Tacoma, I exhibited my instruments for the first time at the following year’s convention in Winfield, Kansas. I visited Stuart Mossman’s shop while I was there, and I saw the side-bending mold that he had. It must have cost a fortune. It was about the size of a Volkswagen van standing on end, and it had all sorts of hydraulic pumps and pistons. In a production shop that kind of tooling might make sense, but for a small shop like mine, making twenty to thirty instruments a year and bending wood for repairs, I don’t need that kind of investment.

I bent sides for years over a hot pipe I bought at Lewis Music in Vancouver, B.C. I had to work at a regular job and save money for quite a while before I could afford to buy two Overholtzer side-bending molds. A friend of mine had a custom mold made by the Overholtzer company, and it cost $1,000, I believe. That’s a lot of money. I can bend guitar sides with either a hot pipe or a cast mold quickly and accurately, but I am in this to make a living, and if I can save time and money I will do it. That’s why I prefer my new method. By the way, would anybody like to buy two nice Overholtzer molds?

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Shortening Schaller Shafts

Shortening Schaller Shafts

by David Golber

Originally published in American Lutherie #33, 1993 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Three, 2004



I’ve been making a Yugoslav folk instrument called prim. It’s something like a small mandolin; the scale is 15 1/4". For tuning machines, I’ve been using Schaller M6 minis, but I’ve been modifying them to solve some problems: the peghead is only 3/8" thick, and the threaded bushings that come with the Schallers don’t tighten down this far; the instrument tends to be too heavy at the head; and I have trouble getting enough string angle over the nut.

The photos show what I’ve done to the Schallers. The threaded bushings have been shortened; the metal knobs have been replaced by the proverbial Handsome Pearlescent Plastic; and the shafts have been cut down short and reshaped.

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Musical Strings

Musical Strings

by H.E. Huttig

Originally published in American Lutherie #9, 1987 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume One, 2000



In the realm of stringed musical instruments, logically enough, the quality and strength of the sound produced is largely dependent upon the strings that the instrument maker must use. To be sure, a string tensioned between two fixed points with no sounding box will scarcely make an audible response when plucked. On the other hand, the sound made by a finished instrument varies widely with the qualities of the strings that are used.

There is a Persian legend to the effect that the stringed instrument concept was discovered by a person wandering in a desert. He came upon the shell of a tortoise. The bottom was lost but the top part still had dry sinews stretched across the hollow shell. The wind blowing across them made a musical sound. The Chinese gave us the idea of strings made of silk. There is still controversy as to whether the hunting bow with its vibrating string gave man the idea of a musical application or whether it was the other way around, the stringed instrument providing the idea of the archer’s bow.

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