Stay in Tune vol#107
By luthier Patrick Podpadec
I hope that everyone enjoyed a save and peaceful holiday season and that the New Year will bring good tidings as well. I always look forward to the new year because I can look back at the last year and see what I want to improve for the future. It's all about moving forward!
So far the new year has started out very good. My son's back to school now after getting a a few extra days from that horrifyingly cold weather we had last week, my wife just started a new job last week and I have gone back to work doing construction work again. Even though it has been eating up a good portion of my time , I still find a few hours during the week and on the weekends to get my shop work done.
The shop work has been a little slow through the holidays , but has seemed to pick up a bit in the past week. I have big plans for this year for the shop. New tools, and most importantly I plan to add a small addition on to my existing building which would give me an additional 120 sq ft. of floor space. That doesn't sound like very much, but to me it's huge. Of course it is still in the "dream" stage, but I hope to have it all framed in by October, 2014.It also means that my electric service will have to changed a bit which will add a bit more to the cost, but I'm confident that it will be in full operation by this time 2015.
I also have plans to do more building of guitars this year. The extra space will allow me to arrange several workstations around the shop so I can perform certain procedures with more accuracy. After my visit to George Lowden's small but very effective shop in Ireland this last September, I have thought of a few ways to be more productive. By having designated areas for different procedures, such as one for building necks and fingerboards, one for glueing braces on tops and backs, and one for bending sides, etc. It allows me to focus more on the task at hand and not to become to overwhelmed with the whole project at once. It also allows me to perfect my methods of producing each part of the instruments that I will be building . I can build better and more efficient jigs for each part of the guitar. There are numerous ways to produce the parts and many can be found just by searching Youtube. Some are better than others of course, but the beauty of it is that you can pick and choose or add or delete something from everything you see and come up with your own "customized" jig or procedure. It is easy to get carried away when your building jigs, meaning the you can spend hours or even days overbuilding something that doesn't produce any better results than if you were to just keep it simple. My cousin said something to me last week that made a lot of sense to me. The phrase was "Economy of Motion". He was referring to how a good guitar player should approach his playing style , but I also think the concept works in just about everything we do. It just makes good sense. Especially in building guitars. I have seen some very sophisticated and expensive contraptions that companies have designed and built to sell to the luthier community for building a certain part. Often times these "machines" take elaborate set up time and " overkill" measurements that really might be unnecessary. I have also seen some extraordinarily simple jigs that luthiers have come up with to do the same thing for little or no money. And the results are sometimes even better because for one you are eliminating all of the extra setup time that it might take you to do the procedure.
As you can probably tell by now , I'm very passionate about building jigs. To me it is one of my favorite things to try to do. By trying to figure out every move it gives you a better sense of the final product. I have built a few things over the years that has helped me in my shop. One was a nice jig that clamps to my bandsaw that allows me to make sure that my very expensive wood does not become useless while I am trying to resaw it into thinner pieces for my tops, back & sides. Many of the jigs I have built can be seen in more detail on my website www.liamguitars.com.
Speaking of the website I have just launched a brand new site this year that looks great. "Times are a Changing" and I want to try to stay as current as I can. The old site was beginning to look a little outdated so I thought it would be good to give it fresh new look. I think things are now a little easier to navigate and I hope that all of you have a chance to visit it . I am still transferring some of the data and of course adding new stuff to it weekly so make sure you check in often . I also would like to get your feedback on some of the things you like or things that you might want to see more of. I hope to add a few new things of interest to music lovers and other guitar builders too.
Well all of this talk about shops, jigs and websites are getting me pretty antsy to get something done. So till next time please "Stay in Tune"
Keep Smiling !
Patrick from Liam Guitars / Wood-n-Strings