A very short week in the shop

This was a short week in the workshop due to Laura and I spending the last four days at what is now our annual sojourn away from reality at Wilderness Festival

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It was nice to hang out in some woodland studded with stages with our group of Wilderness friends, eat nice food, drink nice drinks, and listen to some good talks, and obviously some good music. As with last year, I’ll put up another post here shortly with the music Iiked in it.


Guitar build wise I didn’t manage to move things forward that much, as I finally was defeated on the old bandsaw. I wanted to cut out the body for the recent offset commission, so I mounted the template and went to the bandsaw to trim things down.

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Unfortunately the bandsaw blade was in a bad state, and whilst just a few days earlier it had made light work of offset #6’s body, that wood being unusually light and the blade being in a better state, that day it was just no go. With the new bandsaw about to be commissioned I didn’t see the value in changing the blade out for a new one, and just deferred this to when the new bandsaw is ready.

Which, I’m glad to report, it is. I’ve not yet been back to the workshop due to galavanting in a field for over half a week, but in my absence Graeme and other Makespace members have got the new bandsaw working, so I just need to find time this week to be in Makespace at the same time as Graeme so I can get a quick tutorial on the newer, more industrial, machine.


Given I was blocked, I took some time to learn a new skill: using a sewing machine. 

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For the cigar box guitar I wanted to complete the home made look by making it a strap and a bag to carry it around in. A regular guitar strap looks a little oversized on the cigar box, and obviously a regular bag won’t match size-wise either. Thus my plan is to get some corduroy or similar heavy material and use that to make them.

Claudia, who looks after the sewing machine at Makespace, kindly took time to both teach me the machine and then offer guidance as I did a bunch of practice pieces on my own. The sewing machine is a machine that takes very little time to learn how to operate, but clearly takes a lifetime to master (which makes it interesting). As with a lot of things in the workshop I normally inhabit, there is some setup that you need to get right, but there’s a real skill that needs to be learned through repeated doing before you can get the kind of quality you’d hope to be producing - experience is everything.

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Claudia, knowing that eventually I want to make a bag for the cigar box guitar, encouraged me to make a series of pockets, each one having more complex structural properties than the last. In the above picture the one on the left is just a very minimal pocket design, and then on the right is the same thing but with a proper hem to give it a nicer outside edge and some additional stitching in the corners to make it keep that open shape without anything in the pocket.

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Finally for this practice session I made an actual box from fabric, using a single ring of material for the four sides and then another bit of material for the bottom. My execution was very rough, but it showed me how to make seams that hold shape and to feed more complicated arrangements of material through the machine.

As with anything of this ilk (e.g., wood work) the secret here will be to slowly build up to making the more complicated bag, so I can see a lot more test pockets being made, and then the next thing I try will be a strap. That in itself will present an interesting challenge: by far the most difficult thing of making the pockets was cutting material with scissors, so I need to get better of that first!