Basically I’m nervous…..Is this TMI?

October 2, 2015 Leave a comment

I’m in a time of transition at Turtlecove and thus I haven’t been very productive over the last month. I haven’t posted in almost one month basically because there hasn’t been all that much to share. That said, I have been busy book learning which is a good thing in its own way. I notice it was February 2013 when I posted my first entry announcing my desire to become a woodworker. In many ways I still see myself as a beginner but realistically I have probably been socially promoted to intermediate worker simply based on “time in grade”. When I started my entire goal was to gather enough tools and experience to feel confident enough to build stringed instruments. Over 2 1/2 years later I still haven’t built any and I know that I never will unless I take those first mistake-filled, ignorant, unskilled steps. So I have decided to set sail on this new skill set in earnest which for no good reason I could have done so earlier. Basically I’m nervous….

Book Learn’d

Recently I’ve spent more time hitting the books than making sawdust. Here’s a synopsis of what I’ve read up on.

The Luthier’s Handbook: A Guide to Building Great Tone in Acoustic Stringed Instruments – Roger H. Siminoff (Author)


Despite its title, this would not be the first book an aspiring young luthier would want to tackle. Although I am new to the field, I plan on reading lots of books on the matter so I gladly read this one cover to cover. It won’t help you build an instrument but it will help you to understand how acoustic stringed instruments make sound and the factors that can and do influence that sound. Mr. Siminoff is as influential a luthier as Orville Gibson or C.F. Martin and this is a very worthwhile supplemental read. Think of this as a college physics class for instrument builders, only this time you won’t fall asleep. Learn about tension and how energy is transferred from string to soundboard to surrounding environment.

Recommended as a supplemental read for acoustic instrument builders.




Fret Work Step-By-Step –  Erick Coleman and Dan Erlewine (Author), Stewart-MacDonald (Editor, Illustrator)


Again this is probably not the first book an aspiring luthier should purchase but who can knock an informative body of knowledge by these two experts? The format of the book is to present case studies of fret jobs each covering different instruments and the unique challenges and complications these jobs presented. Extremely informative and I’m glad I have the resource which I’m sure I would need to read over and over again to understand what exactly is going on.  I do tend to agree with other reviewers that this book sounds like a Stewart-MacDonald advertisement for tools and equipment. I have purchased two other Dan Erlewine / Stewart-MacDonald published books and neither of those came off that way. In those references Dan would mention the tools that he used (or the he or others had made) and seemed to offer many solutions for the task whether it was Stew-Mac or another vendor. I won’t re-read this book for fun rather I’ll pull it out to study when faced with a particular job.

Recommended but only as a supplemental read when attempting fretwork. In hindsight, I didn’t need this reference yet at my level. Very technical and precise work using expensive tools and jigs.


Guitarist’s Guide to Maintenance & Repair –  Dave Rubin (Author), Doug Redler (Author)



“A Tech to the Stars Tells How to Maintain Your Axe Like a Pro”. Well I can’t blame the fellow for using his street credentials to market the book. Sort of like, hey you’ve never heard of me but I know what I’m talking about because I’ve toured with ……! There was a lot of useful information in this book including some what to carry with you and how to fix things in a pinch tips.  The stories are interesting but the photos are in black and white and could have been a bit more illustrative. Well worth the $11 I spent to purchase this reference, I learned that much and more. Other reviewers have called it “informative, easy to understand advice”. I would agree with that and this is a very reasonable reference for a guitar player. I wouldn’t recommend this book as a sole reference for the guitar tech or builder.

In hindsight, I would have skipped this purchase and bought The Guitar Repair Guide straight away but that’s me and what I’m looking for in a reference. It think this is a fine reference for gigging guitar players who want to keep playing on the road.



Guitar Finishing Step-by-Step – Dan Erlewine (Author), Don MacRostie (Author), Stewart-MacDonald (Editor)

I absolutely love this book and highly recommend it for any guitar builder at any level.  Notice I said builder, someone who needs to finish a guitar. Probably too much information for a player or someone who just needs to polish their axe. That is my opinion although a couple of review I just read disagreed a bit. One fellow was an absolute beginner and complained that it was a “treatise on virtually every type of wood finish used on guitars in the last century” and although AMAZINGLY complete it was a disappointment for a beginner. Hummmm, a complete treatise describes everything I want in a book. Beautiful color photographs of stain mixing formulas, recipes and techniques (sometimes multiple methods) that can be used to successfully reproduce virtually any commercial instrument finish in the last century. Sounds terrible, not! One reviewer noted that this book was last updated in the 90’s and there was no (or little) material on HVLP sprayers that are now inexpensive and common. My version was published in 2005 and although I don’t have it in front of me, I’m pretty sure this option was at least mentioned. Anyway I know about these sprayers and I actually appreciated the detail given to compressed air spraying as otherwise I’d have been left ignorant. I never got the impression that this was a Stew-Mac advertisement, Dan and Don did a great job with this reference. Did I mentioned I loved this book?

Highly recommended for any guitar builder.

The Guitar Player Repair Guide – 3rd Edition – Dan Erlewine (Author)

repair-guideIf you made it this far reading my post, then I will suppose you are interested in guitar building or maintenance/repair. Therefore I will suggest to you that is the first reference you should have purchased. Even if you are simply a guitar owner, this is the material that you will want to have at your disposal to keep it healthy and playing great. Want some interesting stories and celebrity name-dropping, it’s in this book as well but in the context of famous instruments, techniques and setup. Dan also includes sections written by fellow experts providing not just HIS experience but the best collected information on a subject that he can find. Interesting accurate, complete and very detailed. One of the reasons I have been so slow to start working in this hobby is because the there are so many specialized  tools and materials and every dang one of them is expensive. Dan doesn’t hold back telling you how to make a few of them on your own. Some reviewers disagreed with me. For a few there wasn’t a detailed enough explanation of a specific topic and for one novice reader, they found this repair guide was way too detailed to be of interest to them. I can absolutely see their points, I just don’t happen to agree. I personally like my references to have lot’s of tables (like the setup measurements for various instruments) as well as step by step instructions on their application. But if I already know what to do maybe all I need is a cheat-sheet with the numbers. You can’t satisfy every apatite. I have a few woodworking books that provided me essential information when I got started that I would now not need having already read it.

Highly recommended if you want to build or repair guitars, but especially electric guitars. Hell I think regular guitar players should have this reference on their shelves.

Thinking about it, I suppose I have been busier than I first thought. So as you see, I have been reading up and have purchased and made a few of the tools I’ll need to get started. Yesterday I received my order of aniline dyes so I can now get started coloring the PRS style kit guitar. I have also purchased parts for Les Paul Junior double-cut style that I’m tinkering with. The latter will be assembled from various parts so it will be a bit trickier than the kit. What can go wrong ….. right?

Turtlecovebrewer wants to know your favorite instrument related read.


Categories: Lutherie Tags: ,

Noisy Cricket mini-amp – Part 3

September 9, 2015 Leave a comment

Just a quick follow-up on the “Noisy Cricket mini-amp” project. As I mentioned in an earlier post this and many other interesting projects that one could find on the Beavis Audio site are now gone. I was about to post the PDF documents for three versions of this build when I noticed a reference to the Internet Archive and a cached version of the Beavis Audio site.

I encourage anyone interested in audio, guitar amps, pedals, etc. to have a look at this archive. There’s a whole lot of useful and entertaining projects to play with. If you just want to browse to this project you can find the archive at the following link.

The Noisy Cricket –

Cheers and best luck with your multimeter….


Categories: Electronics Tags: ,

The Noisy Cricket Guitar Mini-amp – Part 2

September 8, 2015 2 comments

Over the long Labor Day weekend, I was able to get in a little shop time along with getting some chores done. As a change of pace, I decided to finish up my “weekend project” I started a year and a half ago. Although I hadn’t taken recent inventory, I was pretty sure I had all the components I needed to finish the build and this proved to be true. Take a look at my post of June 23, 2014, “The Noisy Cricket Guitar Mini-amp” for more information on the project. Unfortunately, the Beavis Audio website where I obtained much of my materials is not longer online. I was going to have to make do with the images and printed copies that I had on hand.

Where to Start?

Previously I had started by soldering components to the Radio Shack small projects proto-board. At this point I sorted through my large stash of purchased components and picked out what I thought I was going to need to continue the build. Let’s see, two 1/4″ guitar jacks, a DC power jack, three potentiometers, two LED’s and two switches all needed to mount in the plastic project box. I was a bit overwhelmed so I began by laying out what needed to fit in the box and begin drilling holes to receive the bits. I would say the project case was awesome but I wasn’t too happy with the grooves on the walls inside the case. It would appear these could accept vertical dividers (or circuit boards) but they prevented my components from mounting flush. I attempted to work around this by mounting components in between the ridges which limited my creativity with respect to layout. When something didn’t quite fit, I used a chisel to shave off plastic until it did! With most of the holes drilled I called it quits for the day. I was at least warming up….


I picked up my work on the PCB board and quickly realized that I didn’t have very much left to solder. Methodically I reviewed what had already been done and worked my way around the board. I finally located a source for the MPF102  JFET transistor and removing one from the packet, bent the legs to fit and soldered it home. I also soldered in 3 or 4 capacitors that I didn’t have before. There really wasn’t a lot to do here, most of the work was going to be wiring in the external components. Note to self – If you build this again, use sockets for the LM386 and MPF102. That way if something goes amiss, you can easily pop in a replacement.


The Potentiometers

The design uses 3 pots, one each for volume, tone and overdrive which they call “grit”. Each of the three calls for a different value so the first thing I did was to label the case, V, T, and G to keep them straight during the build. Even though I’m supposed to be a guitar geek (student really) it occurred to me that I didn’t know how to wire these guys. I knew the theory, being two points with a resister in between and a wiper that moves to vary the resistance. Great, but which is pin 1, 2 and 3? The Internet and my multimeter proved to be invaluable. I came to the conclusion that pin 1 is the pin on the left with the pot turned fully counter-clockwise. These pots also had a prong that stuck out on that side. Placing my ohmmeter between pin 1 and pin2 and turning the pot clockwise, I observed the resistance increasing until the wiper was fully open displaying the full resistance as rated on the pot. Seems right, now I can wire according to the plan.

The Switches

Deceptively simple, even switches can confuse. Many have multiple lugs so again the multimeter proved quite useful in my quest to get things wired. My power on/off for example can be wired to be connected in either the on or the off switch setting. Something I managed to do during my troubleshooting times on the last day. The DPDT (double pole, double throw) switch was also new to me but using my meter and a lot of logic I was able to figure out how to wire and LED indicator to the overdrive switch. The DPDT is essentially two separate switches that both operate with a single actuator. Wow six terminals, again I am thankful for my multimeter. So one switch closes the overdrive circuit, the other switch provides POS voltage for the LED.

Note: I see the Sparkfun site has great tutorials for many of things I learned over the weekend. This one of switches in particular.

The Power Source

Again I was thankful for the Internet while trying to figure out how to wire in the 2.5mm DC jack and battery. It turns out the jack has also three terminals. Obviously one of the terminals is for NEG (ground) and the other two somehow provide POS voltage either 9V if from the battery or 12V if supplied from a wall mounted transformer. So I knew the theory, power is supplied from the battery unless the external source is plugged in which case the battery is disconnected. I get that but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to make it work until I realized the external power needs to provide NEG on the tip and POS on the sleeve. All the power adapters I had looked at or had on hand all supplied positive power on the tip but reversing this was the only way I could make this work. As it turns out, the YouTube video I watched also did it this way so I figured I was on to something. Even after I had “figured it out” I still managed to misidentified the terminals and wired it all up wrong. My first clue was that the power LED didn’t light up. DOH!

The Test

Once I was able to get the power indicator light to glow, I figured I would see if the thing made any noise. I hooked up my guitar and…. nothing. Hummmmm. Let me turn some knobs and flip some switches. Finally when I flipped on the “grit” switch the noisy cricket made sound and it was definitely broken up as overdrive should be. Turning pots yielded a lot of snap, crackle, pop and hum. I was a bit deflated, time for some trouble shooting. I basically went over the entire board, looking for shorts and opens. Any solder joint that didn’t look sound, I reworked and tested. After some time (really not all that much time) I noticed a jumper that I had neglected to solder on the pcb. This jumper was underneath a resister and was something that I would have presumably done 18 months ago but had missed. The encouraging thing was the jumper linked the 386 to the transistor so it was definitely going to be important.

Like magic the amp sparkled to life with crystal clear sounds. DAMN!!! I went from deflated to well encouraged. Other than a some RF interference, everything seemed to be working. I played for a little while, turning knobs and testing. I could definitely overdrive the system using volume alone or turn volume down and use the “grit” setting. I was a happy camper.

Finishing Up

With this positive feedback, I decided to rework the “grit” switch to add in an LED indicator. For this I needed a different switch, which I was able locate buried in my stash. After figuring out how the DPDT switch worked I know only needed to find ground (NEG) and a POS source for the light. After looking over my options I decided to pull POS by wiring in to the power switch. It worked and just in time to mount all the components into the enclosure.


I had already drilled holes for all the parts except for the second LED for the overdrive indicator. Measuring the hole size of the other LED I made short work prepping this one. As I began to stuff wire and components into the enclosure I began bolting up one by one until reached the LEDs. Oops, they have to be bolted from the rear BEFORE you hook up the wiring.


No option but to snip them and solder them back after insertion. Now I do like this package because you get the LED, the panel mount holder and the needed resistor all ready for 12V service. I was now a soldering iron ninja so this didn’t take long and finally I had the project assembled.

noisy cricket - front noisy cricket - rear


It felt good to finally put this together and have an actual working example but there are a couple of final touches. First off, the internal wiring is definitely “spaghetti and meatballs”. I’m surprised there isn’t more RF hum than I’ve actually experienced. For this project, I’m not even sure how one would go about shielding but I will give it much more consideration on future builds.

noisy cricket - inside

A couple other last tasks include, securing the battery holder to the case and making rigging up a power adapter. I was thinking of just using hot glue to mount the battery holder. I have a surplus transformer that I think will work but I need to purchase a 2.5mm plug for it.

The neatest thing about this project was hearing it come to life and being able to button it up in the enclosure right before dinner time on my last day off. Priceless……

Thanks for dropping in— Sparky aka The Turtlecovebrewer

Grizzly G0634XP – 12″ Jointer/Planer – FollowUp

August 25, 2015 Leave a comment

Yesterday, I was able to squeeze in some shop time after returning from our trip to Nashville. I took one extra day off work because I wanted a day for decompression and this allowed me to get a lot of chores done including taking Alexandra to her first day of middle-school (6th Grade).

My last post left us with a feeling of accomplishment as I had struggled over a 4 day period to take delivery of the new combo jointer/planer and having finally wrestled it into place in my shop. I still didn’t have a functioning tool but it was in my shop.


The weekend following “delivery” I began the setup process. I began by removing the shipping bolts which held the infeed and outfeed tables, so far so good. Grizzly sells a citrus cleaner which they recommend for removing the cosmoline-style grease protecting the cast iron tables. I had a similar cleaner on hand which I used successfully to remove the semi-hardened film. I lifted both tables to their upright positions (as though in planer mode) in order to reach the coating on the planer tables, etc. It was then I noticed that a bolt which is used to lock the outfeed table was loose and the locking mechanism non-functional. It is a bit hard to describe but here goes. A through rod (lock lever) is slid toward this bolt and when turned a quarter turn, will lock the tables in the down (jointer) position. If the infeed table lock wasn’t working I don’t think I would have ever figured it out. Basically I just kept adjusting the bolt up until I was able to get it working. If you miss the correct height, it doesn’t work either and you just have to start over and keep adjusting until you get some positive feedback.

Grizzly G0634XP table lock adjustmenttable_lock_lever


The G0634XP comes with a 10 ft electrical cord but you have to supply your own plug. After a trip to the big box store, I carefully wired up my new plug and was happy to see that the cable actually reached my outlet without need of extension. So far so good; I was ready for a test run. Wait for it and….. nothing…..

The G0634XP has a magnetic On/Off switch and an emergency stop switch wired inline. Normal operation is to enable the circuit by twisting out the emergency stop button and then pressing the green On button. My machine was not running and I have to tell you after all I had been through to get to this point, I was a little disappointed. I had done all I could do for now, I would have to attack the problem after some research.


I used my multimeter to establish that 240V was present at the magnetic switch terminals. After a bit of testing I found that pressing the switch override, the jointer growled to life. Perhaps the mag switch was bad?? Perhaps the emergency switch was bad or had been damaged in transit. With power unplugged I used my multimeter to test the emergency stop switch which was in fact working properly. At this point I shot off an email to Grizzly customer support. I couldn’t call them because it was Sunday and they are open weekdays only. At least I could queue up for a response on Monday at start of business.

Rather than wait for an email response, I phoned support on Monday morning and found Joe, the Grizzly tech to be a very courteous and helpful fellow. I started by giving Joe a summary of my testing and it didn’t take him long to suggest my problem might be another switch, the “Limit Switch”. This switch is used to sense when  the outfeed table is in the down position and thus in jointer mode. I knew it was in the circuit but I needed Joe to help orient me as to where it was located which he did by pointing it out in the user manual. I was convinced this was my problem but it would have to wait until I got home from Nashville to continue the test.


Success at Last

One of the tips Joe had for me was to try running the machine in planer mode. The limit switch is only used to detect jointer mode so if it fires up in planer mode the limit switch would likely be the culprit. Planer mode worked, it was indeed the limit switch! Using a 10mm socket I removed the upper belt cover and located the limit switch under the outfeed table. After a quick study I could see that the switch button was stuck and after depressing it one time, it functioned normally.

Limit switch located.

Limit switch located and tested.

I buttoned everything up and gave it a test. Success at last!

First jointed surface using the Grizzly G0634XP 12

First jointed surface using the Grizzly G0634XP 12″ jointer/planer


I have a bit yet to learn regarding the care and feeding of my new machine but I am pleased to finally have a functional unit to begin my education. I’ve decided to celebrate by working on a simple nightstand!

Thanks for sharing the triumphs and failures of the Turtlecovebrewer

Has your zeal for woodworking ever made you do something foolish?

August 4, 2015 4 comments

Recently I found myself in a bit of a “predicament”. In fact for several days I lost sleep searching for a solution to my problem. To my credit, I took the problem seriously and didn’t anything rash that could have at best caused great grievance or worst serious bodily injury. Enough with the introduction and on with the story.

My usual modus operandi is to spend many months surfing the net and planning my next “must have” tool or project for the Turtlecove workshop. Fundamental to any woodshop would be ability to surface rough stock. Now I had saved almost enough “points” on my Amazon Rewards to purchase a Dewalt  DW735 which I’m sure would have served me well; the only problem was this left me without a jointer. I was having enough problems working out a planer to buy, I think my mind might have exploded over a jointer selection. The guys on FWW Shoptalk Live continue to recommend an 8″ jointer (or larger) if feasible and this did make sense to me as well. All that said, I haven’t even yet mentioned the discussions over sharpening/replacing and adjusting planer knives. It all sounded like a compromise to me.

Enter Grizzly Industrial and their 12″ Planer/Jointer combo machines. I wanted the one with spiral carbide cutterheads. Let’s review the advantages, one machine instead of two taking less room in the shop (maybe). A 12″ jointer with index-able carbide inserts and a 12″ planer using the same carbide cutters. Sounds like a sweet deal only there are some concerns.

  1. First off, I was going to need shop space for this machine and savings or not it still consumes a 2 ft. by 6 ft. footprint. Even more when you consider the logistics of operating it.

    Check, I have a large basement so all I need to do is spend a half day moving, sorting, hauling and arranging to expand the shop.

    TC workshop space was expanded by an extensive cleanup.

    TC workshop space was expanded by an extensive cleanup. Could use some additional lighting though.

  2. Secondly, although Grizzly machines are quite affordable and they had a sale on, the machine was still going to set me back $2,500. This was just a tad over the $500 worth of points I had saved up.

    Check, I was going to take advantage of PayPal Credit and their 6 months interest free if paid in full. No worries, I had the cash but I don’t want to use it because I don’t have to.  I’ll let PP float my loan and pay in 5 installments.

  3. Thirdly, what was Susan going to think about my project?Check, my wife is awesome, end of story. Even if she doesn’t particularly like a decision or has concerns she is almost always going to support me. I let her know it was coming however before the delivery. I’m not completely stupid.
  4. Lastly, how was I going to handle delivery of the machine?Check, I’ll use a similar technique to what I with the table saw. I’ll meet the big truck at the road with my trailer, then ferry it to my garage door opening and into the basement. Viola! Better yet, now that I have my brand new pickup truck, I don’t even need the trailer, I can put it right in the bed of the truck. Oh yeah, and the jointer/planer comes with a built-in mobile base for moving around the shop.


Clearly my lack of planning was problem on this whole process. For one thing, I ruminated over this purchase for months. During that time a newer/different version of the 12″ combo device came out. Ultimately I opted for the Grizzly G0634XP which came with end-mounted fence and was a couple hundred bucks less expensive to the model I first considered. That’s all fine and dandy only when I finally decided to “pull the trigger” on the purchase I was so concerned about making sure the charge went through PayPal Credit that I neglected to consider that this particular model didn’t come with a built-in mobile base and that the shipping weight was going to be  700 lbs.

OK well I did know the damn thing was going to be heavy but I definitely should have immediately ordered the necessary mobile base at the time of purchase. And the part about getting the machine onto my truck and moving it down to my basement all worked without a hitch. UPS guy was awesome and after lowering it to my tailgate, we just both slide it on to me bed. Driving slowly over the radically bumpy driveway, the thing never budged.

It was at this point that my 4-day nightmare began. I now had a 3 ft. by 6 ft. shipping crate with a 700 lb. (expensive/delicate) machine in it, 3 ft. above the ground.  And then it started to rain and rain and rain. For 4 days it rained.

The delimma

Now how am I going to get this off my truck without getting killed or breaking something?

SITREP – I was home with no vehicle and no help. Basically I could do nothing on Day 1 other than back my truck under the carport to get the beast out of the rain. I was smart enough to get on to Amazon Prime and order that heavy-duty mobile base. It would be delivered in two days.

Next day was slightly better. After taking my daughter to friends I could use her vehicle for the duration as she was gone for week. At least I had transport so off to Harbor Freight I went to buy a crane and crane accessories. This went fairly well and only 3 hrs and $300 later I was home assembling a 2 ton capacity crane.

2 ton Capacity Foldable Shop Crane

2 Ton Capacity Foldable Shop Crane. (at least it fits in the car)

Of course it was again raining and conditions were unpleasant but at least the insect repellent was working. Alas I had a crane, a load balancer and two lifting straps but….. no way to connect everything up. I began to consider my dilemma further. The jointer was long-ways in the bed and my crane boom was never going reach anywhere near I could get a safe grab and lift. I was going to have to do this in stages, scooting the device toward the rear of the truck so as to ultimately get a safe enough purchase to cleanly lift. Only problem was this thing was heavy and it wasn’t scooting on its own. Day 2 ended and once again I was again defeated and forlorn.

Day 3 and once again Susan was working and I was alone with no moral or physical assistance. Rain was the worst yet and in fact it was almost at a Tropical Storm level. I decided to work in the basement to finish the moving and clean-up I was going to need anyway. This was a moral regrouping for me. I felt I was never going to get that thing off my truck safely. A major concern following that of death and dismemberment was the possibility that this thing would rip the tailgate of my brand new truck right off. I couldn’t let that happen. Another night of interrupted sleep thinking about possible solutions. Some good news for Day 3, the mobile base had been delivered as promised!

Day 4 and it was again raining. But Susan was home and was willing to give me all the support she had to make this thing happen. She volunteered to go to town with me so that I could get the chain and turnbuckles I would need to do a proper lift. I also purchased supports (metal saw horses) and some 2x4s to rig up a trestle support to protect my tailgate. $100 at Lowes and I had supplies, I had help and I finally had most of the logistics sorted. Unfortunately it already 3 PM and I was pretty sure I was going to run out of time.

After setting up the tailgate support, Susan came out and we discussed series of procedures we would need to perform. I was able to tilt the jointer enough to slide a floor jack under the far end (nearest the cab) so that side would roll if we could just get the near side lifted enough. We rigged up but only had enough lift to move the jointer an inch or two before we had to lower, tighten the chain and lift again. After about 3 such moves the near end of the jointer was just at the edge of the truck bed. It was at this point we realized that we weren’t going to be able to lift the machine in this configuration. The jointer beds stuck out too far for the boom to reach in AND the roof was also in the way.  So we were going to have to take a risk. I extended the boom to the 1/2 ton setting to get the reach. This would allow us to reach in far enough to lift and rotate the unit 90° getting the jointer beds out-of-the-way. Although theoretically overloaded, the crane performed flawlessly and the rotation we performed with no difficulties albeit we had to lift twice to get the full 90°.

Voila! We had done the impossible and now the overhead lift was looking possible. I reconfigured the crane for 1 ton and we rigged to get that thing off the truck. The plan was to lift and not moving the machine, I would remove the tailgate supports and Susan would drive the truck out from under the jointer. And that is what we did. Earlier that morning I had already assembled the heavy-duty mobile base and measured for fit. Now was great time to simply twist the jointer 90° (long-wise) and set it right on the mobile base. Done, the nightmare had finally ended!

Success, the jointer/planer actually in Turtlecove workshop

Success, the jointer/planer actually in Turtlecove workshop.

This is not the sort of thing I do or have ever done. I was extremely relieved and thankful that nothing dreadful had happened. I was very, very grateful to my wife without whom I would still be trying to sort out the problem. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with a good challenge but I acknowledge I should have put more planning in before placing the order.

A relieved but slightly over-budget Turtlecovebrewer is looking forward to setting up and using his new jointer/planer.





So you want to be Luthier?

July 13, 2015 Leave a comment

Two Shop-made Tools

Why yes, rhetorical question, that is the reason I started woodworking in the first place. I think I’ve got a mental block with regards to instrument building. I’ve reached the point where I’m ready to overcome it. I just have to get started and I have a plan…. no really I do!

Radius Sanding Block – Band Saw Method

While surfing the InterTube, I came across yet another interesting idea for making one’s own fretboard (radius) sanding block/caul. Lovely examples of these tools can be commercially purchase, for a price. An 18″ aluminum version runs $136, and it comes in 7 radii. Wow almost $1,000 if you wanted one of each. A 5-piece set of 4″ maple blocks is much more affordable at $44 but really if these were to be used for cauls, you’d need several sets to do the job. This is the sort of tool that cries out for a shop-made solution and many have been developed. I wanted to try out one that utilized a bandsaw as published by “Dave Mac’s Window on the World“.


The methodology is actually quite simple although it took a couple of moments to get my head around it. Essentially a 3″ or 4″ board is pinned the correct distance for your radius (in this case 12″) and is rotated through the blade for the cut. But wait, that leaves the end of the board with a convex cut so what gives? Of course we are interested in keeping the off cut with the concave radius. So by dividing the board into equidistant  sections and drilling a pivot hole at each location, you can slice off as many cauls as you need then glue them together into a block.

Simple jig to band saw 12" radius cauls.

Simple jig to band saw 12″ radius cauls.


The holes in the board are equidistant which results in off cuts being the same size. It is the pin hole in the clamped board which is set to the desired distance from the blade. In this case it is 12″.

This was my first attempt at this and my impression was very favorable. I did notice some very minor blade flux when I entered the cut but I kept the work piece flat and used a steady cut rate and the results were very consistent.

Off cuts (cauls) cut to 12" radius.

Off cuts (cauls) cut to 12″ radius. My goal was to cut 24 to make an 18″ sanding beam.

All went very smoothly until it became time for the glue up. The devil is in the details as they say. I decided that it would be hopeful to glue up all 24 (actually I only had enough board for 23 and the first cut is always a different shape because the end is not rounded).  To help get things lined up I glued 2 sets of 11 to make reduce the complexity. After being frustrated using F-clamps on the first attempt, I opted for weights on the second. I think it was easier to get things aligned with the latter method but neither turned up perfect.

Two ways to clamp the stack.

Two ways to clamp the stack. The F-clamps proved tricky without a jig.

Oops, I forgot to glue up one of the pieces. Actually I was using the convex end of that piece to help align the stack but it only proved partially successful.

Out of clamps and a level sanding.

Out of the clamps and to the bench vise for sanding and clean up.

Once the stacks were out of clamps I took them over the bench for some sanding and clean up. Some parts were aligned quite well and other bits were not. I used that caul again with some sand paper to sand everything flush. The jury is out. I feel that these will make very suitable clamping cauls when gluing a fretboard to the neck or when pressing frets but I’m not sure it is precise enough for the initial radiusing of the board. It might be especially if the inner surface is covered in cork first.

To finish off this project, I’ll cut tops flush and then put a nice round over on for better gripping. In theory the cauls should have been of identical size but I was obviously not as careful as I should have been with this. Had I been more consistent, alignment would have been easier I’m sure. And a final observation, Dave from whom I borrowed this technique mentioned he had no trouble with alignment by turning them concave side down on the bench. I too realized that was the only common alignment point but didn’t find the narrow edges perfectly consistent at least not enough to rely on for alignment.

Conclusion, it worked well but I’ll need to rethink my methods for glue up.

Fret Bevel File

So this tool was basically following the DIY Fret Bevel File from Derek at Big D Guitars. Derek has a wonderful YouTube channel which I enjoy immensely, thanks Big D!

Essentially this a piece of wood with a kerf cut down the center wide enough to epoxy a file in to it. One side of the wood is beveled to 35º for filing the fret edges on the edge of the fretboard.

Shop made fret filing bevel tool.

Fret bevel ready to epoxy in the file.

The only thing tricky here was shimming the skinny end of the file to prop it up. Derek recommended exposing about 1/4″ of the file above the block. I decided to mess around with the wood burning iron for a little customization before adding a coat of Tung Oil finish.

Messing with the wood burner freehand.

Messing with the wood burner freehand.

Did you notice the plaid duct tape? I was wondering if this would provide a frictionless surface while using the tool. It also served to keep the oil finish off this area as I might want to try some UHMW frictionless tape on these surfaces. Might be overkill but it would also be no-marring I should think.

Tune in next time for a Turtlecove fail project… at least failed on the first attempt


Categories: Lutherie, Woodworking Tags:

Building Jeff Miller’s – “A Benchtop Bench” – Part 3

July 6, 2015 2 comments

I was able to complete the mini-bench build over the 3-day July 4, weekend. Hurray! So let’s get on with it shall we?

Friday Build

Friday was the July 4 Holiday for us as the actual day fell on Saturday. I was able to get some build time in on the mini-bench. I began by attaching the top to the trestle base as a first step in figuring out the vise assembly. When I began this project I found myself referring to the plans quite often but as the build progressed, I was at the point of needing to figure things out a bit on my own.

My last quick post was that I had decided to downsize the thickness of the vise chucks but it became immediately obvious that the bench-side chuck had to be the thicker (3 layers of 3/4″ vs only 2) version. This because the veneer press nut was to be recessed inside the face and 2 layers just didn’t cut it. So I ended up with 3 layers on the inside and the 2 layer version for the outside. The colors don’t match, oh well…. it’s not fine furniture.

Veneer press nut

Had to go with the larger sized inside chuck in order to hide this large veneer screw nut inside it.

I decided to add a thin sheet of plywood on top of the bench for two reasons; first the plywood would make the top perfectly flat and second I could replace it when it get’s chewed up in the future. I needed to go ahead and mount the ply because this would impact where I needed to mount the vise. So I did this before the next step.

Before I could route for the nut, I first need to mount the inside chuck. To this end I decided how many 3″ screws I wanted to use and laid out their position then using my drill press and a 3/8″ Forstner bit, I counter bored then followed up with a smaller twist bit drill completely through. After clamping the chuck into position (it’s pretty heavy) I used an even smaller bit to pre-drill into the bench side to accept the screws. Not wanted to over-tighten I set the clutch on my drill and drove the screws home.

I could now decide where the two vise screws would be best mounted and I marked these positions before removing the chuck. It was time to make the recess for the vise nuts and it was at this point that things went a bit wonky. I started by routing shallow area,  slightly deeper than the flange. I then needed to figure out how to drill for the nut casing using a limited number of sizes from my drill sets. Here’s what I knew: a 5/8″ hole was not quite wide enough to allow the screw to penetrate. A 5/8″ hole followed up with sand paper and patience could be made to work. A 3/4″ hole allowed the screw to pass freely and I decided this was the way to go. The screw nut was too big for my 1″ bit and the only thing I had even close to size was a hole saw. Let’s just say, I tried it and I wasn’t happy with the result :-(  I finally gave up trying to be close and used my largest Forstner bit 1-38″. The hole was over-sized but the screw was kept in place with two screws through the flange so I called it, “good enough”. If I had been worried I suppose I could have backfilled the area around the outside of the nut but the shallow recess holding the flange, the two screws and the fact that this is inside the chuck screwed to the bench gave me a feel some confidence it will work as is. Should the nut come loose in the future, I can always unscrew the chuck and service it.

So with the flanges mounted, I re-mounted the chuck so that I could mark where I needed to drill into the bench. The vise screws needed a place to go as the vise is closing. The good news, pine is soft. The bad news, these holes needed to be deeper than any bit I had at my disposal. I began the hole with my 3/4″ Forstner bit and when it bottomed out, I switched to a 3/4″ twist bit. When it bottomed out I figured I was done. It was a sloppy job and the holes where not quite deep enough for the chucks to close fully. It wouldn’t be until Sunday that an answer would come to me. But that was it then, the bench was finished (almost).

Bench with vise mounted,

Bench with vise mounted,

Saturday Build

As I had made substantial progress on the bench build on Friday, I decided that I would go to town with my wife and daughter on Saturday. Susan works out everyday and this gave me a window in the morning to drill the dog holes in the chuck and bench top. Once again, I began the drilling with my 3/4″ Forstner bit and then it occurred to me. I have Spade bits, they are long and I can finish drilling through the top with a Spade bit! Why hadn’t I thought of them before while I was anguishing over not having any long auger bits? Because woodworkers don’t use Spade bits, right …. Foolish thinking I say! Of course I did clamp a board onto the underside of the bench to help with blow-out but let’s face it, this is 2×4 pine so there was some splintering even with this precaution.

I used my trim router and a chamfer bit to make a nice chamfer on top. I don’t have a plunge base so with the power off, I carefully line up the bit and keeping one side firmly planted, I rocked up the other side, powered on and gently rocked the bit back over the hole. The technique worked perfectly once I had mastered it but it took a couple of tries to get the hang of it.

Dog holes

Dog holes

Dog holes


Picture me now surfing the net, drinking Starbucks while my wife and daughter shop for dresses at the Mall…..

Saturday Build (conclusion)

By the time we got home, the day was pretty much concluded. I wanted to get a coat of Tung Oil finish on the thing so that I could wrap up the project on Sunday.

Sunday Build

Entering the shop I encountered the lovely smell of oil finish still hanging in the air. My bench was exactly as I had built it the day before only a little darker in complexion.

With a coat of Tung Oil finish.

With a coat of Tung Oil finish.

With a coat of Tung Oil finish.

The last task for this project was to crank out a few shop made bench pups to try out the bench. Using the Lee Valley bench pup as my model, I made 6 pups on my band saw from 3/4″ dowel stock.

Shop made bench pups (dogs).

Shop made bench pups (dogs).

And finally a test to see if they work

Project completed and ready for action.

Project completed and ready for action.


Feels good to finish, thank-you for visiting the Turtlecovebrewer



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