Volume #74 A Day In The Shop

Written by Patrick Podpadec on . Posted in Northcoast Voice

Stay in Tune vol# 74

By Luthier Patrick Podpadec

I know I have thanked the powers that be before, but I figure one more time can't hurt. I'm so thankful to be able to work on musical instruments and make a living at it. A meager living, but a living just the same.

All of the people who read my articles in the Voice, all of the different customers that come by the shop and all of the other interested musicians who stop by my booth when I'm at a musical festival just wanting a few questions answered is why I'm still being able to work at the thing I love the most. To all of you, my many other friends, family and supporters, I Thank you again for your continuing support.

When I used to work the construction business doing painting , drywall, etc. it was so much easier . All I had to do was go to the job , perform the task at hand and come back home. Some days were a little more physically demanding than others, but for the most part it was pretty easy.

I find it much more challenging for me to discipline my time to a work on 3 or 4 and sometimes even 5 or 6 different small projects every day to get something done. I might start off removing a bridge from a guitar and while I do a small splinter of wood from the top ( sometimes not so small) will decide to come loose with the bridge too, so I stop to take the time to replace the splinter and reglue it back into position so that I can continue my procedure. Well now I have to wait for the glue to dry, and I can't just sit there doing nothing, so I start in on another guitar repair. This time I have to replace about 5 frets on a fingerboard because they are worn past the point of leveling and recrowning them. So I start to remove the frets and find they are being a bit stubborn in their removal and while I'm doing it a few extra chips of wood fly off of the delicate old brittle fingerboard. So after I clean the old fret slots out I have to repair the chips with some colored epoxy to match the fingerboard. After a couple of trial and errors of matching the color I finally put the epoxy in the areas where it chipped out and set it aside to dry for at least a couple of hours before it has cured enough for me to work on without lifting right back out of the chipped area. I'm now off to project 3 because I still have to wait about another hour for the glue to dry on the first bridge repair. I now have to decide which job that I want to take on so that I won't get me too distracted so that I can still get back to the other ones because they need to be done in two days. Many of the repairs that come into the shop require a certain amount of time to plan, sometimes the planning takes an hour or more. I plan out the procedure of how I'm going to go about fixing the instrument and in what order I'm going to perform each procedure so that I can make the best use of my time.

So I pick up and old Epihone that needs to have the nut replaced . I can usually build a bone nut from start to finish in little over I hr. so figure that's about what I need to get back to project 1 & 2. I remove the old rusty strings and decide that I at least have to clean this guy's fingerboard so that my new nut will look good against the fingerboard. This leads me into inspecting the frets and I find that I better give this instrument a “quick” fret leveling or chances are that after I build the new nut I will find that it buzzes here and there and that will reflect badly back to me and the new bone nut that I just made. So after another ½ hr or so of a level & crown and reconditioning of the disgustingly dirty fingerboard I start on the new nut.

I often start a list of of instruments that I will work on that day , but I find that on most days I end up having to change the list because new things are always “popping up”. So this Epiphone wasn't even on the list for the day, but I decided it was the right job to do while I was waiting for my glue and epoxy to dry. After an hour the new nut is on and the new strings are up and running . I have lowered all of the string slots to the proper height and the epiphone is finally finished. “Wait a minute” the action on this guitar should be lowered so that it plays easily when the customer gets it back. After all, “isn't that why he brought it into the shop?” So I spend a few minutes to lower the action and decide that I need to get this thing off my bench because I'm doing way to many “free” repairs to it and I'm really only being paid to build a new bone nut

Well now it's about noon and all I've done is something that wasn't even on the list for the day. I stop to take a quick lunch and to feed my son who is off of school for summer vacation . I love working from my house but there is always a few domestic distractions that always find a way to screw up my work day agenda. I have to make a list of things for my son to accomplish for the day . You know the things like, Feed and walk the dog, make sure the bunny hutch gets cleaned out , water your mothers flower garden, mow the lawn, pick up the dog crap etc. The hard part is checking everything on the list to make sure that he actually did it.

So it's back to work for the afternoon . I just hope I get something done! I love my job cause I never seem to know what I'm going to do next, even when I have the “To do List” right in front of me. Take care and we'll see you next time!

Thanks Again!

Patrick from Wood-n-Strings / Liam Guitars