Monday is our day of rest. The day when the Handmade Craft House is closed. The day when we try to ‘down tools’ and do nothing shop related! Sometimes it’s easier said than done, as everything we do seems to feed in one way or another back into the business.
A Journal in the Making
By Mike & Gail Dixon
Ulmus Glabra, or more fittingly, “The Scots Elm” is a tree that has been ravaged over the years by the Dutch Elm disease and it is hard to find timber of practical size and use. A while ago I came across three twisted, bent and in places cracked boards. Despite all the faults the beauty of the grain hidden beneath was crying out for a special purpose. So I bought the wood, thinking they may come in for door panels and they have sat in my wood yard since then.
So, at the end of last week I had everything glued together and it looked suitably “guitar-shaped”. This time I had the challenge of making it actually playable and adding the finishing touches. This was by far the hardest part of the build and had me sweating with concentration on more than one occasion!
As I mentioned last week, my goal was to go into our workshop and make myself a stringed instrument from the materials I had at hand. I’ve set myself the limitation of not buying any specialist materials or tools – everything has to be sourced from the workshop. That means that frets, tuners, saddles and nuts (the bits the strings sit on) all have to be made by me.
After much “um-ing” and “ah-ing” I’ve decided to make a 6-string guitar, rather than the usual 3-string Cigar Box variety. I just felt that after putting so much time and effort into the project it would be a shame not to play it as often as my “normal” acoustic guitar. So, that’s 3 more strings, goodness knows how much more strain on the neck and I need a way of keeping the thing in tune… what could go wrong?
I always get an immense satisfaction when something that I’ve made not only looks the way it was meant to but is actually usable. It’s a wonderful feeling seeing that your design and hardwork has produced something that works!
This all goes to say that when I received a beginner’s Cigar Box Guitar (CBG) as a gift earlier this year, my mind soon turned from playing it to working out how to replicate it. Now, there are hundreds of blogs and forums on the internet about the instrument, along with countless plans available to build your own. But what I like most about the instrument is that it is homemade; originally built out of scrap and junk that people had lying around. They didn’t have to be perfect; they were meant to make a sound; and as long as they made a sound they could be used to make music.
After a successful homemade sandpit a few months ago, a homemade guitar sounded like the perfect weekend project!
Well, summer officially begins soon and we’re already beginning to see much more of our friend, the sun. Time for tidying the garden, planting flowers and planning new crops. The problem is, we’ve got two garden-loving little boys who love the idea of pulling up sticks, digging and burying things but don’t understand that some things (namely seed potatoes) are meant to stay buried.
So, Gem and I set ourselves the task of trying to curb this behaviour, at least until it’s time to dig up our potato crop at the end of summer. What better way to encourage their love of digging (and preserve the veg-plot) than by building them a homemade sandpit?