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Dave Higham

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Dave Higham last won the day on September 20

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  1. Thank you for your comments but I hasten to say it's not a 'first build'. It's a first electric guitar. I have made basses and other odd acoustic instruments. As for GOTM, it seems a bit presumptuous for a first build thread on this forum.
  2. Thank you for the complimentary remarks chaps.
  3. So, that was all the bits and pieces made. All that was left was to apply finish and screw them all together. I say ‘all ‘. Finishing is my ‘bête noire’. I always seem to have problems. I pore-fill with Z-poxy Finishing Resin which is fine. It’s easy to sand. I even gave the maple top a coat because, although it’s not supposed to need it, it really ‘pops’ the figure. But I always seem to find that, even after two or three applications, when I start to apply whatever finish, unfilled pores start showing up. I’ve had success with Tru Oil in the past but sometimes find it dries too fast and in the wiping off picks up tiny fibres. So this time I used Liberon Finishing Oil which seemed OK on the back, but again I found little specks on the front. So I sanded it off the front and applied a few coats of Osmo Polyx. Although this went on and wiped off fine, I still had smear marks so, in the wiping off, I started wiping so vigorously that I seemed to be polishing it. In fact, for a satin finish, it looked quite shiny, so I stopped. I don’t recommend this finishing procedure! Anyway, I finally got all the bits screwed together and this is what it looks like. There’s some colour variation in the photos. They were taken in indirect daylight and the sun kept going in and out, which didn’t help and this maple seems to change colour depending on the angle from which you look at it. Without the bridge cover. Showing the discrete arm bevel and the bridge cover. It looked OK on the drawing, it’s the same width as the pickup rings but in reality it’s rather intrusive, even though I modified it by making it sloping. The pickup rings with black screws. The pickups come with chrome screws (which I dislike) so I mounted them from the back. Full frontal. Should have put the bridge cover on as it might have looked OK in this view. Too late now. Back view. I lke battery boxes. No hassle or risk of damaging the wiring if the battery needs changing. Body/neck junction. This probably doesn’t make the instrument any nicer to play, but I find it more aesthetically pleasing. I’m sure Fender could do something similar if they wished. After all, they’re made by robots these days, but perhaps the purists would be up in arms if they got rid of that big, clunky square block. I know they’ve introduced what they call a ‘sculpted heel’ on some models which, I imagine, is no more ergonomic then mine. YMMV. A closer view of the arm bevel. And one of the clunky bridge cover. Knobs and switch and jack socket. Headstock front. (I really should have straightened that string tree.) And the back. If you have been, thanks for watching.
  4. Thank you Prostheta for your very generous remarks. I served an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering (when that sort of thing still existed) learning what a lathe, a milling machine, a surface grinder, etc, was, in the apprentice training school, and then spending 6 months in every department on the shop floor until I finished in the drawing office as a design draughtsman. Looking back, I was very lucky to start out there. It was a firm where everything was done in-house. Machine shop, sheet metal shop, forge, foundry, pattern shop, toolroom, everything. I then went to work as draughtsman for an Industrial Designer called David Mellor (CBE, FCSD,RDI) https://www.davidmellordesign.com/david-mellor-key-designs where, in the tiny workshop occupied by 3 silversmiths, there was also a lathe, a milling machine and a surface grinder, as well as a woodworking bench, a circular saw, a bandsaw and a planer-thicknesser. The boss worked as a freelance consultant for various people and we made models (usually full-size) of most of his designs. We had great fun (to the consternation of the locals) setting up a half-barrier crossing with traffic lights on a disused railway line and flooding his lawn with a full size model of a fountain for the botanic gardens in Cambridge. After 20 years I left (the work was great but the boss was a PITA) and moved to France (cherchez la femme) where I was lucky enough to get a job (again as a design draughtsman) in a small firm in Bordeaux. At first on the drawing board, paper and pencil, then 2D Autocad and in the end 3D Pro Engineer. I retired at 65 and for the last 14 years I’ve amused myself making music (think of a sort of French barn dance band) and instruments for myself, one or two friends, and family. Sorry to go on at such length, but you did ask!
  5. Made some matching knobs too. Started by cutting out circles on the band saw. And sanding them as near round as possible. I have a small model making lathe and milling machine. The lathe was a retirement present from work colleagues and the mill a retirement present to myself. They are both very useful for this sort of thing. I don’t have any sophisticated accessories for the machines, so I made this little gizmo to cut grooves in the outside of the knobs. Cut groove. Loosen screw. Turn one division. Tighten screw. Etc., etc. Finished knobs.
  6. . . . and wasn't it? (I'm afraid I didn't understand. When I came to France I was 45. I married a French woman. I worked in a French company for 20 years. I've been retired for 14. I still have trouble with French, so Finnish . . . )
  7. I suppose I could, but that would make it difficult, or perhaps impossible, to get the pickups out.
  8. I also made some matching pickup rings from EIR. As I wanted to avoid metal hardware on the front, I first made a template to use mainly for drilling small holes for magnets in the rings and matching holes in the body, also for magnets. As I’d made the template I also used it to trim the outside shape of the rings. And then drilled blind holes for the magnets. Which got them to this stage. I cut the apertures the old-fashioned way. Drill 4 holes and join them up with a piercing saw. Finished the apertures with a sanding stick. I find I have much more control over sanding sticks than files or rasps and I can make them whatever length and width (and grit) suits the job. I asked the chap at EMG if it would be OK to use magnets to hold the PU surrounds and he wasn’t keen. He thought they might be too close to the PU magnets. So the blind holes got turned into countersunk holes. So there goes my idea of no metal showing . . .
  9. I spent the first 45 years of my life in England and the only exotic wood furniture I ever found was an old, broken chest of drawers (with some missing) that turned out to be solid mahogany. Not much of it was useful for making instruments.
  10. As I’d decided to use this nice maple top, I wanted to cover as little of it up as possible, so no pick guard, no control plate and if possible, no metal parts showing on the front, not even screws. Leo designed the original Teles with a bridge cover, so I decided to make one. I don’t think mine will become an ashtray as it will be made of wood, although it will be removable. I first cut a piece of rosewood with a 2mm x 2mm rebate, cut it into sections and mitred the ends. Glued the frame together with CA. If the mitred faces are flat and smooth it makes quite a strong joint. I did a trial run and it took quite a bit of force to break the joint. The piece of pine is clamped down so it can’t move and it’s also holding down a piece of backing paper from double sided adhesive tape. I apply a drop of thin CA to one of the pieces of EIR, push the sharp end of both against the pine, and bring them together. In a few seconds they are glued. With the frame glued up (I forgot to take a photo) I thinned an off-cut from the top to a little over 2mm and cut a piece slightly larger than the aperture in the frame. I carefully sanded the edges on a sanding beam (This is half of a builder’s straight edge (square aluminium tube about 2 metres long) with 80 grit abrasive stuck to it. I find I use it for all sorts of things) . ... until it just fit into the rebate. I then ran some thin CA round the inside to glue it in place. Made a cut-out in the front for the strings... ... and another for the bridge plate, as the front of the bridge will be flush with the cover. The cover is held in place by small neodymium magnets. It’s a Gotoh hardtail bridge and the six in a row hold onto the intonation screw heads and the other two onto the two front bridge fixing screws. Although the cover looked OK on the drawing, it looked rather bulky and not very refined in reality, so it got modified later, as you’ll see. It was made so it doesn’t actually touch the body, so can be put on and taken off without marking the top.
  11. Years ago I worked for an industrial designer called David Mellor. https://www.davidmellordesign.com/who-we-are/ I was the draughtsman and the guys in the workshop were highly skilled craftsmen, silversmiths in fact but they could turn their hands to almost anything. I used to work in the workshop too and if I found difficulty doing something and asked them how they did it, they'd say "Eh lad, there's no substitute fer skill". But I think that patience goes quite a long way towards it. I learned a lot in the 20 years I worked there and patience was one of them.
  12. It is indeed an old boxwood spokeshave almost identical to this one, except it doesn't have what looks to me like a lignum vita insert screwed in. https://www.oldtools.co.uk/collections/wooden-spokeshaves/products/old-wooden-spokeshave-boxwood I have a couple of cast iron ones too, one of which is a Stanley, but neither of them work as well as the wooden one.
  13. It's a Microplane. https://www.microplane.com/microplane-woodworking-tools Although if you Google Microplane now, all you seem to get are their products meant for cookery. I've noticed that in TV cookery programmes they all use them for zesting lemons, etc.
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