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14 September 2010

Today I carved a new nut for the understrings from arbutus wood. I had some big chunks for firewood and narrowed it down by axe, saw, chisel, razor, sandpaper… I don’t have photos, but I’d already glued an arched arbutus nut to the underside of the tailpiece to keep the understrings out of the way of the fine tuners. I had drilled four staggered holes through the metal tailpiece and will be using ball-end strings withe the ball on top. After cleaning up the edges inside the neck a bit I glued in the new nut with just enough clearance to get under the fingerboard.

setting the under nut

Also undocumented are the four holes bored through the bridge with a leather needle (I didn’t have a drillbit nearly small enough). I reinforced the wood around them with some glue, but I’m not sure if it will hold under the tension of strings. If it works I will try flattening out the arc a little bit for a more traditional string setup.

On my last trip into Vancouver I visited my most excellent luthier Chris (http://www.kcmstrings.com) who set me up with the tailpin I somehow misplaced, ordered me some gut strings, reset my soundpost and gave me a little vial of crystallized hide glue. This afternoon I melted it down and filled the kitchen with a noxious stench.

the worst smell

My first attempt to reattempt the fingerboard was a massive failure as the glue gummed up too fast to work it. I remelted it, added more water, and gingerly held the fiddle and fingerboard inside the oven to warm the wood and give me a little more working time. I feel like I might have added too much water, but the glue is setting now and I’ll know in a few hours…. I don’t have the right clamps to hold a job like that, but Ryan suggested plastic wrap and electrical tape as an alternative.

super clamp

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