Monday, September 27, 2004

Long Promised Lute Project Pictures

When I first got it opened, the extent of the damage to the neck block was aparent. And here you can see the mailing labels someone had used to help repair it many years ago. Also notice I had damaged the top getting the neck out before I realized that I could take the whole top off and how. I cut with the grain, so that I could stain it and minimize the visual impact.

Here we see the original patch job on the broken ribs. The wood filler was up against the paper on the inside. Next is the "back of the front".

Heat Damage here from my first attempt at melting the glue holding the neck in. I figured I'd have to re-finish the back anyway, but this damage to the finish cinched it. Also, notice that one of the tuning pegs has a key missing.

After the paper came out, the broken ribs were loose and of course the wood filler fell out.

Here's the very small dovetail joint of the neck. I drilled pilot holes for screws to hold it in while I tested the action for the neck-reset. I figured that later the screws would help out with the tension, but I hide glued it (as I did everything else except for the two broken ribs) back in in the end.

Here are the re-enforcement ribs I put in -- I've seen them in other lutes. It just helps with the structure and helps keep the ribs sturdier and harder to push and break. I hide glued them in. Note the dowell above... I thought I might need it to stiffen the body to help the action, but when I tested putting it back together near the end, the fixed ribs and the support the braced top gave the body, I decided it wasn't needed and left it out. And the next picture (top right) is to illustrate that I did, in fact, make a new key for the peg and used JB Weld to glue it on. Worked great.

The end product (except that I need to make and replace the decorative wooden frets missing on the body below where the neck attaches. It'll be prettier.

And finally, here's where that hole was.

Hide glue, by the way. Mix 1 part unflavored gealatin with 3 parts water, heat to about 150 degrees. They say over 160 will weaken the glue. And you do get a LITTLE time to work with it, but once you put a piece in, don't pull it back out. You can move it some for about a minute, but make sure you've got it where you want it. It will gel and the death grip will set in. If you have any doubts about the strength, don't.

Don't believe me? Test it on a couple of pieces of scrap wood first. In 10 or 12 hours, you will be quite re-assured.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

The minstrels of the dawn

Well, we're back from KC. We did a whirlwind trip -- to Oktoberfest on the riverfront, where the oom-pah band played and the beer poured... we had bratwurst and mostly walked around and soaked it up. Did a little dancing to the headliner band, whose claim to fame was that they could do anything as a polka... although they didn't do much polka stuff. Matter of fact, it seemed that their real claim to fame was being able to do any song in any style they chose -- so we got the "Hang On Sloopy" salsa or something like that -- it was fun. We left, went home and went to the Renfest the next day, where the lute debued (more below).

The lute plays pretty well. The action could be a little beter, but when all is said and done, I did a pretty good job especially for a first time. I can do a few things to improve the action. If I'm not careful there can be a little buzzing on the fourth fret. But the JB Weld is holding the tuning peg key on quite well, and it keeps in tune better than I expected. Nylon strings stretch anyway.

Mark and Q and I went in costume, and the ladies went mundane. We split up, ladies/gents, and wandered off where Mark introduced me to Madame Red and the Vanilla Virgin, both quite lovely and friendly ladies. They seemed to have a certain... "feel" for me. Almost as if I had known them. ;-)

We strolled and played. Q wasn't feeling himself -- a little sick. It wasn't until about 3 in the afternoon that he perked up. A lot of people were very interested in the lute. I got a lot of questions about it -- most of the women wanted to hear me play something for them, and most of the men were quite curious about where I got it, what it was, and how it sounded.

I stopped and bought a CD from Matty Striker -- I've seen her and various others playing together on what appears to be a semi-permanent stage at the Renfest over the past few years. I've never had much of a chance to stand and listen to more than two or three songs, but I loved the music when I heard it. Turns out she also has a nice voice, and she's a striking woman with her streaked hair and garb. The CD (Lulle Me Beyond Thee) I bought is very good.

All in all it was a pretty nice day. I just love the atmosphere at the Faire, and it's fun to contribute to it with the garb and the music and all.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

More on the Lute

Sorry, but that's the major thing goin' on.

I polyeurethaned the back after staining it... then last night I glued the neck and top on. To hold the top down while drying, I used duct tape.

Unfortunately, it peeled polyeurethane in a couple of spots from the back. So much for my excellent finish I had going. But it's a minor setback.

I glued the trim on this morning.... it hangs over a little. I think fixing the body of the lute changed the shape slightly, to a more elongated shape. So the trim overhangs a little. I'll have to do something to keep it from being snagged from behind and ripped off.

I ended up using wood glue to glue the trim on, even though its mostly plastic. Thin plastic strip, thin strip of black paper, thin strip of plastic, then the larger piece of black moulding.

Now that I'm done I realize I had a chance to make the lute look REALLY cool by staining every other rib in alternating colors. Oh well. It's closer to original this way.

So I can put strings on tonight and test it out!

Going to the Renfest Saturday after the KC Oktoberfest Friday night. So it'll get a test drive Saturday.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The lute

Well, the lute body is glued, and the stability strips are glued in. I epoxied the broken ribs back into one piece apiece (there were two), put a veneer strip on the inside behind the holes, and filled the holes with wood filler and any cracks that weren't full to the top. Sanded it all down. Used a black permanent marker to re-mark where I was missing the thin veneer strips between the ribs.

Started the staining process last night. I liked the color of the mahogany gel stain better than the liquid stain. Unfortunately I think it has wax in it and the wood didn't take it like it probably would have the liquid ... at least that's what I'm theorizing. The gel stain says put multiple coats (8-10 hours apart) on it to get it darker. I want it darker. I've put two coats on it so far. It's not taking it evenly. I'm plowing ahead though... it may contribute to the "old" look of the instrument since I'm NOT going to refinish the neck and the top.

It's looking pretty good. I put strings on and tightened it before I started sanding down and the neck did not budge, the action is okay. I think it will be playable.

So stay tuned (no pun intended).

We're cell phoned now. That's all I'm gonna say for now. I don't want the number getting out. We did NOT do what I wanted to do and get rid of our land line. So that's now $91 a month just on phone alone all totaled. But... convenience, right?

Kevin got an apartment. He'll be moving in this weekend. So... tomorrow should be the last day I have to deal with Mia. A sweet dog, to be sure. But I don't want a dog. Too much trouble. And my house is starting to faintly smell like one.

He also got a new job with MBS. Doesn't pay much more, but he'll get benefits and more opportunity. And away from MediCredit -- where he's basically being abused.

My elbow tendon attachment is acting up again. It's hurting to work it out (arm day and back and shoulder day weren't kind to it). I'm starting back on ibuprofen and ice.

Going to the Mizzou/Ball State game this weekend with the neighbors. Hope we don't suck as much as we did last week.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

In the scuffle I found my beer

Well how do you like that?

Got an email from a guy named Steve who was doing a search for something else and stumbled across my blog. He read about "Too Far Away From My Beer" and he knows who did it.

It was an obscure punk band from Florida called "The Bobs" (not "Iso and the Bobs - Bobs", this was a different "Bobs"). It'd be tough to find the album, "White Gazebo" but wouldn't it be fun?

Somehow I feel a little closer to my beer now.

The Irish Washer Girl

Irishfest was fun. It was a nice day -- a little warm -- but that's only relative to THIS summer. It was held at Crown Center in KC. Crown Center even surprised the Irish Fest folks by dying all of the fountains green for the occasion -- which looked really neat.

Crown Center donated the grounds for the weekend, Boulevard donated all the beer -- and I'm sure lots of other places donated stuff.

The location and atmosphere were great. Music was streaming from various stages, and people were out in force. Cami was soaking it up -- in her element. It was a laid-back, mill-around kind of day. There were several little shopping tents -- but I wasn't in the mood to buy anything. I had beer and limeade and water and listened to the music.

Bobby bought a very nice pennywhistle which he's decided he's just going to learn how to play. He's never played an instrument before, he was just fascinated by the machining of the solid aluminum piece.

The highlight of my day I think was the fountains that spurt up out of the ground (they didn't dye these green) and all the kids playing in them. I even ran through them a couple of times to cool off.

There were kids running with wild abandon in their underwear, a couple of twins dancing with each other -- but one little girl... maybe 10 years old or a little younger caught my eye as she was totally absorbed in the experience, literally dancing in the water unselfconscious and surprisingly (and charmingly) graceful. I snapped some pictures -- I didn't get the one I wanted, but I got a couple of ok pictures out of it. The one I wanted was her kicking water up out of the puddles on the ground in the middle of her dance.

With her dark hair and red dress and bare feet and body language, she was a beautiful little girl with a feminine child's innocence that just made your heart want to sing along with her dance.

I also got the most fun shot of Nathanial, turned here to make it look like he's Spider Man.

Vicki had a migraine and couldn't enjoy a beer, but the meat pies were good and she had a strawberry scone and liked the music.

Mark and I played some songs at home and Bobby was trying to learn to read music and play in the background. He's going to learn "The Irish Washerwoman" first.

Wandered around the Park on Monday, helped Cassie catch bugs for a bit, and played a few more songs in the park before the party had to break up and travel on home.

When we got home we watched "The Butterfly Effect" with Kevin and Adrianne. It was an interesting movie. Certainly not an uplifting one.