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Dave Higham

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Everything posted by Dave Higham

  1. I only have a Panasonic Lumix about 12 years old and only found that feature after I'd had it for a few years. You know what they say, RTFM! I use it for every photo, especially in the workshop where I have 'warm white' bulbs in Anglepoise-type lamps, fluorescents overhead and daylight coming through the window. You don't need a white wall, you get the camera set up on the subject, then set the colour correction by putting a sheet of white paper in front of the lens. I also use Photoshop elements to correct framing, brightness and contrast. That's all I did to convert the first photo into the second one.
  2. Dosesn't matter about the déraillement. It's my thread and I'm the one who quoted Voltaire. When I show my wife (who is French) something I'm making, saying 'there's just that bit there that could be better', that's what she says. What she means is leave the bl***y thing alone, you'll probably go and ruin it!
  3. Not quite in the same vein, but there's a French expression, 'Le trop (ou le mieux), est l'énémie du bien'. It's attributed to Voltaire and translates into English as 'Perfect is the enemy of good'. In other words, when something you've made is pretty damn good, don't go and ruin it by trying to make it perfect! Something of which I have to confess I have been guilty in the past. Shakespeare said, Were it not sinful then, striving to mend, To mar the subject that before was well? Confucius said, "Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." Watson-Watt, who developed early warning radar in Britain to counter the rapid growth of the Luftwaffe, propounded a "cult of the imperfect", which he stated as "Give them the third best to go on with; the second best comes too late, the best never comes." Just thought you'd like to know. (Thank you Wikipedia)
  4. Well, not counting the wall hangings I made as a teenager, I made a classic guitar (I'd found a book, that's all there was then) in 1970. That turned out OK so I made a 'dreadnought' in 1971 (that was a dud). Then life got in the way until I found myself plonking along on a cheap electric bass guitar about 20 years ago and thought 'I could make one of these'. So with the help of Melvin's book (which I still recommend to anyone wanting to make their first- thank you and RIP Melvyn) I made a 5-string neck-through from a reclaimed, broken mahogany chest of drawers. Thanks to Melvyn it turned out well and I plonked along on that until I'd made another one. Yes, I'd got the bug. Since then, if I remember rightly, it's 4 solid body electric basses, 1 sort of 335 contruction 5-string bass (based on Rick Turner's Renaissance model), an acoustic bass guitar, my version of a MkII Ashbory rubber stringed thing, 2 Ukulele basses, 2 tenor ukuleles (twins), a cuatro, a Nordic mandola !!!, an OM acoustic guitar with all the bells and whistles, the 2 Teles and another OM without any bells or whistles which is almost finished. So, strictly speaking, the short answer is 5. 1 classic, 2 'acoustics' and two Teles. I make stuff for fun and making the same thing again isn't as much fun for me. I've only made 2 instruments for people who asked me to, and they were friends, and I told them that if I or they weren't happy with the instrument, they didn't have to buy it. Fortunately we were all happy. I do go on don't I? But you did ask.
  5. Thanks for the kind words guys. I'll have to find something else to post now. I don't have a current project I could post but I have a few previous projects with a lot of photos if that's OK.
  6. I bought a standard Tele pickguard and modified it to a Merle Haggard-ish shape. The horn is slightly different and I cut it straight across the bottom. I don’t think Tele pickguards were really meant to provide protection from picks. They were there to cover up the routed slots for the pickup wiring which is why they are cut round the bridge and the control plate but I don’t need to do that. It’s held on by black screws (I prefer them to chrome) which almost disappear. The bridge, tuners, control plate and knobs are all Gotoh in Cosmo Black. The finish is Osmo satin Polyx Oil. It’s supposed to be for floors and furniture so it should be reasonably hard-wearing. Spruce doesn’t need pore filling but I decided not to fill the khaya either. The Osmo, after several wipe-on wipe-off coats, half-filled the pores and gave a finish that I quite like. Thanks for watching. Dave.
  7. I made a binding router set-up with drawer slides which I've used on other instruments. The problem with this one was that the slope on the arm bevel is such that the router support hits the top before the cutter gets to the lowest point. It would need a very thick 'donut' (the part in contact with the surface) and an extension for the shaft of the router cutter to be able to cut the rebate. Something to think about before making the jig. Hope that made sense.
  8. I’m afraid I didn’t take blow-by-blow photos this time, so there isn‘t a lot more to show. Fred bound his in white plastic with a tortoise pickguard. What on earth prompted him to do that? He should have bound it in tortoise to match. Anyway, I happen to have some tortoise binding so I’m going to use that with white/black/white/black purfling on the front (I’m not a fan of herringbone) and a white line on the sides. The forearm contour makes binding a bit tricky, so fingers crossed. After trimming the spruce flush to the mahogany, I cut most of the binding rebate with the router but had to go back to traditional gramil and chisels in the area of the contour. The tortoise (plastic) binding bends easily horizontally but doesn’t really want to bend vertically, so I forced it into the shape I wanted and applied some heat. Because I was working on other things it also stayed in there for a few days, which might also have helped. It didn’t keep the shape perfectly and sprang back quite a bit, but I managed to get it to go where I wanted it by forcing it down and gluing it at the centre of the arm contour and working out from there.
  9. I thought 3mm of spruce might be rather fragile so I glued on some cross-grained patches in the hollow areas. Belt and braces really. After all, acoustic instruments are only that thick or less. Then the top got glued to the body. The old 'forest of clamps' shot. So far, so good
  10. I made a bending form for the top and did a trial run with a spruce off-cut. The form is a peculiar shape as it got modified a couple of times before and after the trial run. The top being bent. It’s dowelled to the form to stop it moving around. The area to be bent is dampened, the silicone blanket is put in place, the wood and blanket are clamped and the heat is turned on. When it gets up to about 300°F the part under the blanket is gently pushed down onto the form and clamped. The blanket is allowed to cool down and it’s left overnight. It worked well, with just a little spring-back.
  11. So there I was, having finished this guitar, https://www.projectguitar.com/forums/topic/54223-a-%E2%80%98telecaster%E2%80%99/ with this spare ‘Mighty Mite’ neck I hadn’t used. What to do with it? Well the answer’s obvious. What’s more, stepson had mentioned that grandson was learning to play, so problem solved. I’d seen a Tele that one of the Fender custom shop luthiers, Fred Stuart, had made. He loved the old Martin acoustics , so he’d made one with a spruce top, herringbone binding, tortoise pickguard, mahogany neck, etc., which gave me the idea of what to do with this one. I decided to make it more of a ‘traditional’ Tele with a modern Tele bridge, metal control plate and knobs and a pick guard, and one or two personal touches; a spruce top, a forearm contour and binding and a belly cut. I started with a one-piece khaya slab for the body. I hollowed it out in a similar manner to a ‘Thinline’ to counteract the weight of the metal hardware and keep the weight down as much as possible. The cavities are slightly different, because of the forearm contour. The spruce top will only be about 3mm thick to allow me to bend it for the forearm contour, so I glued in a support at right angles to the line of the bend. I drew out the profile of the contour and stuck it onto the body, then shaved it down almost to the line and finished off using a large sanding board.
  12. 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.
  13. Thank you for the complimentary remarks chaps.
  14. 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.
  15. 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!
  16. 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.
  17. . . . 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 . . . )
  18. I suppose I could, but that would make it difficult, or perhaps impossible, to get the pickups out.
  19. 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 . . .
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
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