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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:41 am

I am!!! It's me doing the work after all. And there's no heating in the garage, the weather has turned cold, my circulation isn't great, and the meths fumes are melting what little brains I had left :)

But I shall persevere :)

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:09 am

Well, a frustrating afternoon today.

Between saturday afternoon and this lunchtime it had definitely got quite cold in the workshop. I noticed that the olive oil in the dropper bottle had gone all waxy and solid. No problem there, or so I thought, when the temp gets close to freezing the oil goes waxy but once you warm it up again it's just fine. A couple of minutes rubbing the bottle in my hands and it was back to normal again.

I grabbed the 1st uke, got the shellac, oil, and pad to hand... loaded the pad with shellac and a drop of the now flowing oil, and started a new coat. But it didn't go on that well, the cloth was dragging, and there were cloudy marks all over. And thats when I had a :headbang: moment...

I might have warmed the oil in the bottle, but as the shellac hardens the oil comes to the surface of the instruments and it had gone waxy with the cold too. :madas: And as it has been raining, the humidity didn't help either.

Good news, no real harm done. But I had to put the 1st uke to one side, then I used a pad with meths to clean the surface oil from the second uke and then returned to the first uke to do the same. And I thought it would be best to leave them overnight to make sure all the oil had come to the surface and was cleaned off. So an afternoon lost.

Now, I've learned from the experience so that's good. But quite clearly it's going to be cold and/or damp a lot now so I need to think about matters. I'll examine them both again tomorrow, but I think I need a contingency plan. It's going to keep getting cold and wet from now on, and that's going to cause problems. I do have a workbench in my bedroom that I use for set-ups, electronics experiments, and general pottering. So it might be a good plan to move everything home from Mark's garage and complete the finishing at home. OK, there'll be a strong smell of meths, but I always have a window open and it will make a change from the white spirits I use to clean guitars... The more I think about it, the more practical it seems. And it means that I could even get more coats on each day and save some time in the long run.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:33 am

Well, I am a much happier luthier today. It was dry and a fraction warmer, which always helps, so I was able to actually get on with some work.

Step one, go over both ukes with a pad loaded with meths to lift the old olive oil from the surface.

Step two, make a new pad with a new cover and go over both ukes again with meths. Making sure that I had lifted all the oil from the surface.

Step three, apply two coats of shellac to each uke.

Step four, stand back and smile now that both are nice and shiny again.

However, I do think that I'll be moving them both home in the next few days because the weather is going to get a lot colder and wetter before it gets better. But until then I'll keep on going while I make space to carry on at home.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Frisonic » Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:53 am

zenguitar wrote:However, I do think that I'll be moving them both home in the next few days because the weather is going to get a lot colder and wetter before it gets better. But until then I'll keep on going while I make space to carry on at home.

Andy :beamup:

I think your plan sounds eminently sensible. There have been quite enough climatic calamities already! Plus it will be warmer and therefore, in the spirit of Project Ukulele, more fun.
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Dynamic Mike » Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:54 am

Frisonic wrote:There have been quite enough climatic calamities already! Plus it will be warmer and therefore, in the spirit of Project Ukulele, more fun.

The methylated spirit of Project Ukelele?

Sounds like a sensible idea to me. At least you'll have a stable working temperature & humidity.
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Folderol » Wed Oct 31, 2012 6:01 pm

Dynamic Mike wrote:
Frisonic wrote:There have been quite enough climatic calamities already! Plus it will be warmer and therefore, in the spirit of Project Ukulele, more fun.

The methylated spirit of Project Ukelele?

Sounds like a sensible idea to me. At least you'll have a stable working temperature & humidity.
Stable working conditions would be my number 1 box tick.

Hmm, hope that doesn't mean evicting the horse :bouncy:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:44 am

No room for a horse with an Ass like me around :)

It was much wetter today, and a little colder, but I learnt from experience and gave both ukes a thorough wipe down to remove the olive oil. And that was a good idea because when I got ready to apply more shellac I discovered that the oil in the jar had gone waxy again overnight.

But once I'd warmed it up again I got 2 more coats on each uke. But I think I really do have to clear some space and move operations home.

On a more interesting note, I had a chat with a guy in the village pub tonight. I'd heard on the grapevine that he was a time served Master French Polisher and highly recommended. And he's more than happy to give me some instruction and help in the future. I'm going to carry on with the method I've already started (no point in swapping horses mid race, that causes more problems than it solves) but he did appreciate the fact that I would rather look slightly foolish in the short term if that meant I would learn more in the long term. Lets just say that he is very damning of some of the methods being passed down by luthiers, and is more than happy to teach me properly when I have a future project. :)

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Fri Nov 02, 2012 2:25 am

This afternoon I decided to play things by ear. Gave both ukes a thorough spiriting off with meths. Then gave them both another thorough spiriting off. And then decided it was far too cold and damp to try another body coat.

Tomorrow I'll be bringing everything back home and then I'll give the ukes a couple of days to settle in and let the shellac harden fully. At that point I'll examine them both and decide whether more shellac is needed or whether the finish is sufficient for me to flatten with 200 grit wet & dry and then go on to the 1lb mix for the final surface.

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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Folderol » Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:48 pm

So presumably SWMBO is getting a surprise bunch of flowers and box of chocolates :D
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Sun Nov 04, 2012 2:01 am

no significant other to bribe... but I did get a pleasant surprise earlier in the pub when I bought myself a pint of cider ;)

Meanwhile, this afternoon I rehoused the ukes and french polishing materials. Taking advantage of a few dry minutes between showers. They are both settled side by side and getting used to the comfortable temp and humidity. And I'll examine them closely on Monday and decide whether more coats are required or whether I should start flattening the shellac with some fine wet&dry.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Frisonic » Sun Nov 04, 2012 2:46 pm

Just ahead of the weather there weren't you Andy! With the planning and preps at least. The old sixth sense must have kicked in...

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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:17 am

Just a quick message to say 'Don't worry, I haven't forgotten you all.'

Giving the ukes a few days to acclimatise and let them spirit off nicely. I've decided to flatten the finish next and see where I go from there.

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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby artzmusic » Sat Nov 17, 2012 1:30 pm

Did I just read that the ukes were waiting for Zen to ...

zenguitar wrote: spirit off nicely
?? :D
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Sat Nov 17, 2012 1:57 pm

artzmusic wrote:Did I just read that the ukes were waiting for Zen to ...

zenguitar wrote: spirit off nicely
?? :D

Yep, you did.:)

It takes a week or two for the alcohol to fully evaporate and leave only the shellac remaining. That leaves a nice hard finish ready for flatting.

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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Folderol » Sun Nov 18, 2012 5:54 pm

Hmmm. Spiriting off... Couple of weeks... I'll have to remember that - it might come in useful :lol:
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