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The FireDragon Triplets


Christine

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8 minutes ago, Jabba_the_gut said:

Hi Christine,

Looking forward to seeing this build thread progress. I've always liked the Thunderbird shape but I've never actually tried one. I keep thinking of building myself one with a pair of EMG's pickups but there's always too many other things to do - I'll make do watching this for now!

Do you mind me asking where you source your wood for bass projects?

Cheers

Jez

For this I use the local timber yard Huws Gray, they are FSC registered, for stuff like Maple/Walnut probably Timbmet and foe home grown I use an old friend call Dave Hoyle in Llangernyw

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7 minutes ago, Jabba_the_gut said:

As you like Gibson basses, the 'Gibson Bass Book - An Illustrated Tribute' by Rob Van Den Broek is an interesting book full of excellent photos if you don't have it already.

I think I might have had the first copy of that, I was on the first dispatch and all the others went to the States so mine arrived first :)

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1 hour ago, fryer said:

Surely you didn't cut these with just a circular saw ? You said you had a thicknesser ? 

Yes, I ripped the bigger boards down with the saw to make the laminates, the planer only gives a straight edge and makes them parallel

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One of the nice things sometimes about making thing on spec is being able to change your mind and I think I'm just about to do that. I think this morning you have to imagine a me digging a pair of high heels into the ground and doing a U turn, what is she going on about you may ask?

 
The trouble with buying Mahogany is sometimes you look at a board when buying it and it looks wonderful, just what you need but once you plane it clean it looks, well, just dull and sometimes you see a board and think straight grained and uninteresting, it will be ideal for framing (being a furniture maker) and you plane it resolving a surface that blows you away! As I said yesterday, the wood for the wings isn't quite what I hoped for, it's OK but not what I hoped for. After sleeping on it, the thought not the wood I have come to the conclusion that for a hand made bass with my mark on it, it's not really good enough, as a timber it's good but just visually no.
 
I had already decided that my bass in this trio would have a quilted Maple veneer on the front with a candy apple red burst fading into transparent red spray job with a Satinwood fretboard. Now I have already ordered the Rocklite Ebano fretboards for the other two, so I don't think Maple is the right wood for those, just wrong to me somehow, a contrast too far. I have decided then to veneer the fronts of the other two in Macassar Ebony and possibly the backs too depending on the final shape of them and thickness.
 
You may be and quite rightly be thinking two things at this moment, the first being why not use a solid laminated top not a veneer; well the solid top introduces a distinct lamination which is a tone changer and that I don't want to do, there is nothing wrong with the tone on a thunderbird as is and it will mean cutting quite heavily into the centre piece of the body. Whilst that isn't a bad thing depending on how you design it but on a Thunderbird type thing?  The other and more pertinent here is veneering a white of black wood which is only 0.6mm thick onto a red wood is going to look a little odd as well as having some vulnerable edges. How do we get around that, well we hide it somehow, we could use a binding, which I've been mulling over for a while. Imaging a Thunderbird with a decorative binding, it would be like seeing Joan Jett in a pink tutu! The other way is to blend it into the radius of the edges of the body so it is smooth and then paint over it as a burst so the edges are hidden, better I think? So that is the way I'm going, a candy apple red (over gold) for me and a black burst for the other two.
 
So now we have a new plan, not what I envisaged but I think it's better than my original and certainly adds a different look to a classic design. I am open to discussion on the colour of the burst on the Ebony pair if you feel you have a better idea :)
Edited by Christine
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Planer thicknesser and the saw: Well I needed to rip up some stuff to make sticks for stacking so I took some pictures of those being sawn. Notice no guard, naughty me! the truth be told, the guard on this machine is horrible, I hate to say it but I feel safer without it. As a rule I always use guards, one day I might show you a picture why.

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Yes that blade is spinning

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The sawIMG_5272.thumb.jpg.3973d6316a18c02fe5cb68175edd37cb.jpg

Just a cheap Bosch site saw on a cupboard on wheels, very useful for quick conversion of boards into almost dimensioned material

 

The Planer thicknesser (with the guard removed :laugh1:)

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The cutter block that does the actual cutting, think of it like a large horizontal router

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How it works (not running)

 

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Converting to a thicknesser, remove the guard and fence

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Lift the tables

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Flip the dust extraction hood over

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Feed the wood underneath the cutter block (not running or even close to wood)

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The cutter block and feed rollers, notice the two types for either side of the cut, a nice touch

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Does that give you an idea of how it all works?

As an extra, if anyone is considering this machine it is very good, I am very pleased with it and would buy another without thought. The guard is actually very good, one of the few that are easy to use, doesn't get in the way and is safe too. BUT... when the machine arrived to convert it to thicknessing mode was a nightmare involving lying on the floor with spanners to remove the guard arm so you could remove the fence so you could tilt the tables, it took maybe 15 minutes. With the best will in the world that guard would never ever be used again, What I did though was remove all the bolts and add some stainless studbar and a stainless handwheel nut so now I can get it off in seconds so the guard is always used and is a pleasure to use. Mr Record, take note, with due respect whoever invented that was having a laugh!!

Showing how it fits

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And fitted

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Now to tell you what I did today :)

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On 16/08/2018 at 13:32, Christine said:



Time to move on to the next builds, {snip}
Oh and as you may have guessed from the title, I'm building three of them :nailbiting:

If I ever get this flipping solo EP, album thingy written, can I name a track The FireDragon Triplets?

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So what has been happening in the land of dragons and ladies in tall black hats today?

Following on from stacking wood yesterday afternoon I realised all my stacking sticks had disappeared, so I made some more and restacked my stash :) A word about stacking wood for those who don't know or want to know how to stack wood properly. Basically it needs to be on a flat service top of accurately machined battens (sticks) with all subsequent battens on top of the last so there is no bending load on the timber. This lets it breath and settle without added strain


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After that, well there wasn't much I could do but I had a look for some Satinwood fretboard blanks I hid about 15 years ago for this very build or more accurately dream of a build. Then I gave it a bit of a plane to check how it looked, the answer was great. Satinwood is hard and interlocked, it is the most difficult wood I have ever worked with, thankfully this piece wasn't too bad but the face will just be routed then sanded to shape so it won't be a problem. Then I had a hunt through some old bandsaw cut veneers to use for binding and blocks for the fretboard. This is them with a wipe of white spirit on them to give an idea of how they will look

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Out of interest to those who think wood isn't really that absorbent. That veneer was 2.76mm thick as you can see but if you look at the back you can see how the white spirit has soaked through the spring growth

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Quite amazing don't you think?
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Once I'd selected the piece I ripped off 2 8mm strips for use as binding and kept an off cut to use for inlay blocks. I marked a pencil line down one side for orientation while working with the piece, then I ripped it to the width of the widest block (19th), planed the edge marked it then sawed off the inlay with an old (yes I mean old LOL) Ulmina mitre saw and then ripped the blank down to the width of the next widest inlay (the 17th), planed it and so on. This will give me consecutive inlay blocks from the same piece, I doubt it matters but that's how I like to work so that's how it happens

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And just for fun :)
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I'm having one of those mornings remembering friends departed that you get from time to time. The post above about the white spirit soaking into the rosewood reminded me of my favourite oil finish that was explained to me by a Devon cabinet maker called Alan Peters and I thought I'd share it here. This oil finish isn't for the light hearted, impatient or fretboards, it is best suited to darker solid timbers, Walnut being a perfect example.

Many people might well just slap on four or five coats of Danish oil and call the job done, well yes that has it's place and can be more that adequate for many applications but it lacks that little something and lacks a lot in durability especially on furniture but less so on guitar bodies :) So why bother mentioning this, well if you see the two side by side there is no comparison at all visually, the depth of colour is really brought out by this method and after time (several years) the colours and subtleties of the wood explodes with life whereas the four or five coats of Danish oil will just have faded a little.

So what is it and how do we do it: Well you finish sand your piece, then with a damp cloth wipe the surface to raise the grain, then with 240 - 320 paper sand it smooth again, do that again three or four times until the wood remains smooth after wetting leaving a good hour between goes. Your piece is now ready for the first part of the oiling.

In a jar of some sort mix 50:50 white spirit and RAW linseed oil, now wet the surface of the wood, almost flood it if you can, every time the surface has soaked up the oil re flood it and keep doing this until the wood will absorb no more, give it a wipe between coats to remove any dust with a clean rag with white spirit on it. That process may well take a good week, sometimes even longer until it has become saturated. The wood now has to be left to evaporate out the with spirit, so a warmish room for maybe two weeks with good air circulation.

Once the smell of white spirit have gone and it feels dry the next stage is a two stage process using BOILED Linseed oil. The first part is with the oil diluted as above with white spirit, once a day flood the surface, let it stand for 20 minutes then wipe dry and leave for 24 hours and do it again. If the surface stays wet looking after the 20 minutes let it rest for a couple of days then move on the the part two stage which is exactly the same but with undiluted boiled linseed oil, you need four or five coats of this until the surface layers are totally saturated and won't absorb any more. Now you need to let that fully dry for about a week before moving onto the final stage.

Lightly sand the surface with 320 grit paper then wipe the dust off with a clean rag dampened with white spirit then wipe it dry. With a clean cloth apply the first layer of Danish oil, wet the surface, leave it for about 20 minutes then with the same cloth wipe the surface dry, leave it 24 hours to fully set then lightly sand with 320 grit. Do that again the next day. On the third day we change our technique slightly, we apply the oil and wait 20 minutes (or so depending on how quickly it dries), then with the same cloth rub the wet slightly sticky oil in circular and figure of eight patterns as in French polishing until your left with a swirl free finish, the oil will thicken during this and get pushed into the pores of the wood. The next day if the wood feels perfectly smooth then do the same again, if it feels slightly rough cut the surface back slightly with 0000 wire wool first. You might need four or five applications like that until you feel the surface is as you want it. Once the last coat is on leave it overnight then have a good look at it in the morning, it should be perfect, if not then with a very clean soft duster buff the surface in the same patterns as you did with the oil then it should be 100% perfect and with a high sheen. Once we're there we again set the wood aside for a week to fully set and become durable. If you want a satin finish then at this stage just cut the surface back with 0000 wire wool

That's about it, ongoing maintenance would be an occasional wipe with Teak oil as needed. Your surfaces should now be deep and full of lustre and be ultra hard wearing. Whether or not you want to do that on a bass body is up to you obviously, it's a long process but if you have a nice piece of wood it may be worth it.

Lastly a word of caution, those rags with oil on, dispose of them after every use either by laying out flat to dry before binning them or by burning them, oily rags can and often do spontaneously combust. I once did a job fitting out the local church with new fittings (alter etc.), I needed to do a little oiling there for some reason I forget but rather than take the rag back to the workshop I threw it into a public dustbin outside the church, four or five hours later that bin caught fire :laugh1: Whoops! :angel:

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Today I cut the fret slots on the three fretboards. I also inlaid the Rosewood blocks and fitted them, being wood they could be radiused the same time as the fretboard without worry. I've included a sequence photo of my marking procedure as a reminder but a full description can be found on the Les Paul Twins thread. After that I dimensioned the board and bound it.

Once that was all dry I started to radius it, initially I was going to use my jig for the router but I was out of other things to do today so I thought I'd have a go with the radius sanding block. It took 15 minuted to shape but I actually preferred that method, I felt a lot more in control of the amount of wood removed and it was easy to keep putting the straight edge on to check it was flat. I don't think it was an awful lot quicker either. Anyway, it was sanded down to 320 grit and thoroughly cleaned before slapping a bit of Teak oil on it. I have tried to photograph the figuring of the Satinwood, it's very difficult but it is truly stunning in the flesh, you can see how it got it's name.

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16 minutes ago, Christine said:

Today I cut the fret slots on the three fretboards. I also inlaid the Rosewood blocks and fitted them, being wood they could be radiused the same time as the fretboard without worry. I've included a sequence photo of my marking procedure as a reminder but a full description can be found on the Les Paul Twins thread. After that I dimensioned the board and bound it.

Once that was all dry I started to radius it, initially I was going to use my jig for the router but I was out of other things to do today so I thought I'd have a go with the radius sanding block. It took 15 minuted to shape but I actually preferred that method, I felt a lot more in control of the amount of wood removed and it was easy to keep putting the straight edge on to check it was flat. I don't think it was an awful lot quicker either. Anyway, it was sanded down to 320 grit and thoroughly cleaned before slapping a bit of Teak oil on it. I have tried to photograph the figuring of the Satinwood, it's very difficult but it is truly stunning in the flesh, you can see how it got it's name.

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Lovely job!! That's the next job I've got to do on my build I'm thinking of using the rocklite ebano fretboard like you did on your les paul 😀

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It's been a full day but a fruitful one

The Cherry constructional veneers were due to arrive this morning so I set out on a quest to get the necks glued. I planed, squared up and thicknessed the outer thick laminates, then thicknessed the inner Mahogany laminates. Just as I was finishing the veneers arrived :) I ordered enough for three necks but I was sent enough for seven, a bit of a misunderstanding somewhere, well they won't go to waste. I ripped those up into strips on the circular saw with an 80tpi blade.

Then after lunch I used a bench plane to clean up all the glueing surfaces, if you remember from the Les Paul build I don't consider a surface straight from the planer to be suitable for glueing, that's just me perhaps, it is done daily by many woodworkers without issue. After that (yes I was tired!) I glued them up, I changed glues for this, let me explain why. Titebond although it is considered the industry standard and with good cause it has a very short open time before it becomes less than ideal. As I had twenty surfaces to glue up in one go I needed a glue with a long open time, I chose Cascamite, a Urea formaldehyde glue, it's a powdered glue you mix with water, it is a very ridgid glue which has less tendency to "slip" when set than aliphatics so you can argue it is better for laminated neck
s but it will be no worse. It isn't an ideal glue for other aspects of luthery whilst it would be fantastic for glueing set necks you wouldn't want to use it because it is very very water resistant, you could never ever get it off again without a saw.

So anyway, glue, clamps and three necks glued up :) The last picture is the aftermath of the day in the workshop, I am far too tired to sweep it up this evening, a job for the morning I think

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The difference in colour on the laminates is because some are planed and some sawn, they are all identical really :) IMG_5310.

Three necks glued IMG_5311.

Tomorrows first job! IMG_5312.

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