A little traveling music...

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A little traveling music...

Postby Frode » Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:42 am

Oops! I had a crash last night while trying to put a post together, and didn't realize it had actually taken this part. Computer 1, Frode 0 :oops:
I honestly don't know why I found this so interesting, as I don't read music, and can't carry a tune in a bucket. A while back I stumbled across an article on medieval string instruments. Looked kind of interesting, a fun carving project, why not?
The first thing I tried was a little pochette. Not a green wood working project, but the tools a and techniques were what I learned here. All done with hand tools, except for the string holes in the pegs.
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Next up, and this is what I was trying to load when everything went south, is what I hope will turn out to be a rebec. Now, it seems I recall someone on here mentioning one in the past, though I don't recall hearing how it turned out (I'd like to hear, though).
I'm told by music people that instruments should be made of well seasoned wood, but I figure I can let it dry and work too hard carving it out, or carve it out the easy way, and let it dry. Seems like it should dry nicely after it's thinned out, maybe strapped down to prevent any warping. We'll see, I guess! Again, all hand tools, starting with my newly reground ax.
So, more or less in order, here is where I am so far. The wood, by general consensus here, is probably pin cherry, just as wet as it was six months ago when fresh cut.
Thanks for looking,
Frode

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Last edited by Frode on Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A little traveling music...

Postby SeanHellman » Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:22 pm

?
"Scarcely anything is original- it`s very hard to be totally inventive, so I am not terribly interested in originality. Vitality is all I care about" Clive James
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Re: A little traveling music...

Postby SeanHellman » Sun Dec 11, 2011 12:44 am

It makes sense now. I have made drums didjeridoos and flutes but never a stringed instrument, although I often find myself talking to guitar makers. Does it need to be very thin as with other stringed instruments?
Do let us know how you get on
"Scarcely anything is original- it`s very hard to be totally inventive, so I am not terribly interested in originality. Vitality is all I care about" Clive James
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Re: A little traveling music...

Postby Frode » Sun Dec 11, 2011 1:02 am

Hello Sean!
As I understand it, the main body should be as close to 1/8" thin as possible. Which means the easy part is about done, and the slooow and careful part is about to begin in earnest. At the very least, I count it as good bowl carving practice, and an opportunity/justification to try a couple of new tools.
Drums, you say. That thought crossed my mind, too, while looking back at some shrink pots threads. Hmmm.
I will keep you posted!
Thanks,
Frode
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Re: A little traveling music...

Postby jrccaim » Sun Dec 11, 2011 5:00 am

Bravo Frode. I speak rebec. Ancestor of the violin, in fact. The thinner you make it the better it will sound; it's got to vibrate and if it's thick, it won't. On the other hand if it's too thin it will break. 3mm "sounds" about right, no pun intended. Violins are planed down to about 2mm on the sides. Fine balance there. Lots of stuff on the web on it including what it should sound like, .wav or .mp3 files available. Rebecs were bowed. Probably could use a violin bow without problems. I would not like to make a bow. All that horsehair! But what got me about the post was, hey, this is just a great big spoon! Very thin-walled spoon of course. Looks like a great winter project for me and I will be watching this space for further developments. I'm interested to see how you will do the top. Also interested in how you will tune it. If I had to do it I would use violin tuning. And if it wouldn't be too much of a bother, give us some rough dimensions.

And see http://owyheemountainfiddleshop.blogspot.com/ for a blog on violin-building. In Idaho, where the potatoes come from. May not be greenwood; but it's really interesting!
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Re: A little traveling music...

Postby Frode » Sun Dec 11, 2011 8:02 pm

Very interesting blog, jr, Thanks!
Ha! my first thought was large poorly thought out bowl with useless handle, but I think spoon suits it better! I have a 3-4mm plank of quartersawn sitka spruce that I'm planning on using for the top, though I do also have a piece of 2mm mahogany. I have used some of that on a three stringed gourd fiddle, but that's not done yet either, so I don't know how well it works. Looks good, though.
I've heard of these being tuned like a violin, either three lower strings, or three higher strings, and I'll probably try it both ways.
Interestingly enough, a certain online purveyor of books, and everything else for that matter, happens to offer a 30 inch long hank of white Mongolian horse hair, just right for bow making. Hmmm.
I'll set out some measurements here in just a bit.
Thanks,
Frode
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Re: A little traveling music...

Postby Frode » Mon Dec 12, 2011 5:58 am

As promised, some basic measurements;
Over all length, 20", width at widest point of body, 5", depth of bowl area, 2 1/2' from rim to outside bottom.
Below, she sits at around a fat 1/4" wall. For the record, a misshapen bowl with no foot is very difficult to hold while carving :? .
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Re: A little traveling music...

Postby gavin » Mon Dec 12, 2011 9:22 am

Frode wrote: For the record, a misshapen bowl with no foot is very difficult to hold while carving :? .


hence the cunning hole lip or ledge in the end of Robin Wood's bowl mate. You press the work onto that ledge with your hand or body. First one you make will be improved as you work out what angles & hole size works best.
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Re: A little traveling music...

Postby Frode » Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:55 pm

Hi Gavin,
A good reason to make another bowl mate. I never got that detail into my first one, and looking at it now, I see a massive crack running nearly end to end. Shouldn't have used one of the cherry logs, I guess. I'll have to dig around a little more to see if I can find any photos or video clips showing that feature in use...
Thanks!
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Re: A little traveling music...

Postby jrccaim » Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:37 am

Thanks for the pointer to the bowl mate, Gavin. On my ever-growing project list now.

Sitka spruce is very, very nice stuff. Cuts like a dream. Very hard to come by these days, too. I had some but had to leave it when I moved. Gave it away. Sigh.
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Re: A little traveling music...

Postby Frode » Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:26 pm

A little update. The distance between 3/8" and 1/8" thin is longer than between solid and 1" thick! Actually, most of the body is around 3/16", according to my uncalibrated fingertips. The curved knife (a modified hoof knife) is doing all the inside work now, and a carving knife, small plane, spoke shave, and card scraper are contributing to the outside finish. It has a distinctly hollow (surprisingly loud) sound when tapped on the neck or peg area. Lots of pictures and info available to help with the body and other parts of the rebec itself, what I'm coming up short on are specifics on how to make and assemble the medieval style bow for the thing.
More to come...
Frode

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Re: A little traveling music...

Postby Frode » Sun Dec 25, 2011 1:45 am

jrccaim wrote:...Sitka spruce is very, very nice stuff. Cuts like a dream...

And so it is, and does! I found a nice piece about 5mm thick, quartersawn but rough cut. I've taken a piece to about the right shape, over-sized by about 2 mm. I've read that medievally there would have likely been a couple of cross braces under the sound board, as on a guitar, or lute, and you can see the smaller one in the photo. This soundboard will be shaved down to about 2-3mm, then hide glued in place. This is still a mostly green wood project, and I intend to turn the pegs from a still pretty green chunk of maple I have left. Or maybe some mulberry heartwood. I used a knarled piece of that as a mallet for a long time before it finally splintered.
More to come...
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Re: A little traveling music...

Postby Frode » Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:45 pm

Hi folks,
A little update. Work proceeds apace, albeit slowly. I carved the soundboard and fingerboard, and after dabbling a bit, hide glued them in place. Just for the record, and I'm sure I'm probably wrong, I have to believe that, except for special circumstances, most things got made, or partially made, green and then left to dry before final finishing. At least that's the way I'd want to do it. Carving that (fully dry) maple fingerboard provoked me to unpleasant discourse on the subject of its uncertain parentage on more than one occasion. The bow, on the other hand, was green work from the get go, an entirely pleasant experience. Still all hand tools, so far, and yes, that's medieval masking tape. I'm sure I read about it somewhere.
Cheers,
Frode

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Re: A little traveling music...

Postby simon » Sun Jan 15, 2012 4:10 pm

Looks wonderful. Will you be holding your breath when you string it?
Make it, mend it, wear it out,
Make it do or do without.
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Re: A little traveling music...

Postby Frode » Sun Jan 15, 2012 6:09 pm

simon wrote:Looks wonderful. Will you be holding your breath when you string it?

Thanks, Simon! Holding my breath? Don't you know it! :lol: Must be a common worry, though, as I've read on several violin sites not to worry about the "ominous popping noises" the instrument makes as the bridge settles in on stringing. I still flinch when I re-tune the pochette!
I mis-spoke earlier, I did use a power drill to drill the holes for the hair. And I probably will again for the holes on the tailpiece. My twist gimlets tend to split thin wood going in. Would a spoon bit work better on small holes in thin wood?
Thanks,
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