Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wednesday Night

This has been a busy week of traveling, neck shaping, and sanding, so in lieu of a clever, entertaining story from me, please enjoy this slightly jiggly video I took last night of Reggie Harris and Lucas White playing Doc's Oak 000 and my dad's #52, respectively. They are kind of ridiculously talented. 




Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fall

I have a love/hate relationship with fall. I absolutely love the weather, when it is almost cool enough that jackets are required at the beginning and end of the day but not all of it, and I can still wear open toed shoes without much concern that my toes might fall off. Also, I love cooking, and in my opinion, fall is one of the best cooking seasons. Butternut squash, pumpkins, cranberries, rosemary, thyme...hearty soups....I am getting off track. But the downside to fall is that winter hides behind the bright fall leaves ready to pop out when they finish falling from their branches. And then I have to wear socks. And that socks. (hehe, get it? Well, I thought it was clever anyway.)

Exploded Touch-Me-Not seed pod.
One thing I love about fall is that it is the season when touch-me-nots bloom. (Actually, it is Jewelweed, and I bet I have a lecture from Bob Gale about it's invasive properties coming to me after he reads how I love it (but maybe not, because Josh Kelly just told me that it is native to our area. We will see. They are both the smartest ecology-minded people I know)). Anyway, these bright green bushes, highlighted with small, orange blooms fill my heart with excitement every time I see them. When I was young, my dad and I used to take walks in the woods, and keeping an eye out for those orange blooms was a favorite pastime. It didn't occur to me that it only happened once per year until recently, but who's keeping track of my observational skills? Along with the little orange buds, there would often be seed pockets growing alongside them. The exciting thing about these seed pockets is that when you touch them, their coats recoil, spilling seeds over the ground. It is kind of like a jack-in-the-box, waiting in anticipation for the pod to explode under the lightest touch. My dad would always pick the biggest pods from high on the bush and hold them gingerly until I could grab them. My cousin Leah also told me a couple of weeks ago that the seeds are edible, a statement I am not confident is true after I collected a mouthful and went to town on them, only to have a horrid taste spread through my mouth and last for the rest of the day.


Fall is also a time for transition. Summer is kind of lazy (definitely the opposite in my case this year) but fall is when school starts, and you are ready to turn over a new leaf, if you will, and get down to business. Even though I had a pretty strenuous summer, I still experienced that September rush to be productive and get projects moving. I am so happy to say that due to this excitement, I have finished the body of a Koa cutaway guitar, totally finished a soprano ukulele, and am in the process of making a tenor sized uke as well.

Pearl binding on a Koa Cutaway OM.
So far no major hiccups in the progress of the cutaway OM, which is exciting, as those tend to get the better of us sometimes due to their extra, asymmetrical part that constantly needs dealing with. I did set a little bit if binding on fire if we are being totally honest, but you know, sometimes that is unavoidable when you are trying to perfectly fit a piece of ivoroid into the spot where the sides meet on the bottom of a guitar. Since it has to match the space routed for it just right, lots of trips to the sander were made, and a couple of them ended in frantic stomping of sparks and jumping out of the way of their wrath. Not an ideal situation in a wood shop, so that is just another reason I prefer wood binding. This will be the second guitar of mine that does not have wood binding, and it is due to the cutaway shape. The thin strips of curly maple I tend to prefer would likely have difficulty withstanding the extra contraption mounted to the side bender to add the extra bend and therefore would likely create a raging headache. Though now that I think about it, I am not sure which  would have produced a lesster one, things catching on fire and filling the shop with the smell of  a charred Vick's VapoRub tub, or a few broken bent wood bits...hm...

Anyway, I am off to finish cutting the pearl for the fingerboard and headstock of the cutaway. I am extra excited to debut my new headstock design, but I am going to wait to show it to you until the guitar is further along. Just start preparing to see something pretty neat, and in the meantime, enjoy the fall and the extra productivity that the cooler weather, touch-me-nots, and changing leaves bring!

Finished soprano uke! Full body Koa, curly maple binding, ebony bridge. 

Final note: if you are on Facebook, please like my new EJ Henderson Guitars and Ukuleles page!! There you can get quick updates on a instrument's progress, see more pictures of the process of building, as well as finished products!