Weekly Roundup by Tom Sands

The highlight of this week was doing a podcast episode with Anne of All Trades. You can catch up on that here. Hearing her story was super inspiring for us, and we hope it was for you too. And, of course, we asked her the important questions we need answering…

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We also released footage of one of the debut Model M guitars upon completion. You can catch up on that below, where Tom discusses what the Model M can do, who it’s for, and why he personally feels so attached to this guitar in particular. In fact, Tom explains that ‘It’s the guitar I’d spec for myself’. 

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Meanwhile, ‘The Tree’ Model M nears completion, and to celebrate this exciting occasion, we’ve documented it from it’s conception in a photo-heavy build diary. Check out part 3 which aired this week on the blog. Plenty of exclusive photos you won’t have seen on any of our other social media channels - as if you needed an excuse to look at pictures of “The Tree”… find it here!

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In other news, we’re fast approaching our Open Day. Don’t miss out, get in touch for more details.

We hope this week’s content can enhance and bring value to your weekend. Enjoy!




TS

Swiss "Moon" Spruce / "The Tree" Mahogany Model M - Build Diary - Part 3 by Tom Sands

It’s neck time.

For this neck I used some of my reclaimed staircase Brazillian Mahogany. Exceptionally stiff and close grained, it’s perfect for a strong, stable neck. And the deep rich colour really compliments this set of “The Tree”.

Fitting the mortice and tenon.

Fitting the mortice and tenon.

Flossing the neck.

Flossing the neck.

I carve my necks with an Auriou rasp, from a small forge in France. Because the rasps are forged by hand, the teeth are more random than a machine cut rasp. This allows a more even result on the carve.

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Routing the headstock with a template.

Routing the headstock with a template.

Careful detail work.

Careful detail work.

Filing down the copper fret position markers.

Filing down the copper fret position markers.

And that’s the woodwork.

And that’s the woodwork.

Ready for a lick of paint to make it pop…

Ready for a lick of paint to make it pop…

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This set of “The Tree” is just dying to come alive with a coat of lacquer. Check back next week to see the results…

Thanks for following the progress of this special guitar.

TS

Weekly Roundup by Tom Sands

Last week, we had the amazing John Smedley team in the shop to work on a very exciting project. We can’t reveal too much right now, but here is a ‘behind the scenes’ shot to keep you going…

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We’re also very excited to share photos of a new Model M build in “The Tree” and Swiss “Moon” Spruce. You might notice from these pictures that a different approach is being taken - and it involves something called ‘Nomex’. Nomex honeycomb is a composite constructional material made from aramid fibre paper coated in phenolic resin. When sandwiched between two substrate layers you end up with a structure with an extremely high strength to weight ratio. Just the kind of structure you want in acoustic guitar building.

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We are excited to also announce that we’ll be putting out a podcast next week with Ann from Ann of All Trades - you will be able to find that on all our social media channels and all your favourite podcast services very soon!

Have a great week!

TS

Swiss "Moon" Spruce / "The Tree" Mahogany Model M - Build Diary - Part 2 by Tom Sands

It’s part 2 time… which means we get to share more gorgeous photos of this special project coming together. As I said in the last build diary, it’s such a joy to get to work with this amazing wood, especially when it’s being included in one of the two first ever Model M guitars.

On with the build…

Hand cut notches in the rim assembly to hold the back braces.

Hand cut notches in the rim assembly to hold the back braces.

Routing the top - spruce looking like sparks…

Routing the top - spruce looking like sparks…

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A tantalising shot of voicing preparation.

A tantalising shot of voicing preparation.

The voicing completed.

The voicing completed.

….And breathe.

….And breathe.

#dasnice.

#dasnice.

Let’s get that back on and close this box!

Let’s get that back on and close this box!

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We fondly refer to these wonderfully useful Axminster trade clamps as our ‘duck clamps’. You may agree that they resemble a group of ducks on a pond when upside down…

We fondly refer to these wonderfully useful Axminster trade clamps as our ‘duck clamps’. You may agree that they resemble a group of ducks on a pond when upside down…

The router cutter can struggle with the compound curves around the cutaway, and so it’s so important to prep the rebate for the binding to sit in. In this instance, I wanted to be ultra careful about my binding job and so I used an old school brass gramil given to me by Mark Gaiero. It’s great to go old fashioned sometimes and finish the job off perfectly by hand. This delicate spruce is best handled with care, too…

The Gaiero Gramil.

The Gaiero Gramil.

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As you can see above, I also used a razor blade on the back binding channel to ensure the rebates are perfectly square. Another great tip from the Somogyi shop…

Time to bind.

Used inner bike tubes make a great binding elastic.

Used inner bike tubes make a great binding elastic.

Don’t forget the cutaway…

Don’t forget the cutaway…

Bound. Boxed. Time for a neck. Just in time for some Autumn sunshine!

Bound. Boxed. Time for a neck. Just in time for some Autumn sunshine!

Thanks for reading part 2, next week I’ll share photos of the neck coming together. Have a great week!

TS



Swiss "Moon" Spruce / "The Tree" Model M - Build Diary by Tom Sands

Last year, I received an order that I couldn’t wait to get started with. This client wanted me to build him a guitar made with some of the rarest wood on the planet, some quilted mahogany from “The Tree”. You might have heard of it… if you’re still unsure, click here to read a ‘Wood in Focus’ we did a few months ago, which will hopefully clear any questions up. We paired this amazing wood with Swiss “Moon” harvested Spruce - a beautifully straight, close grained wood. with a fabulous pale cream-white colour.

Not only did this humble me when I realised I was the first UK builder to use this extraordinary wood, but it was doubly special because this guitar would become one of the first Model M guitars (built alongside another Model M in Redwood and Maple). Now that this Model M is away at the finishers, I thought I’d share some of the photos of it coming together.

Bending the sides using a Fox style bending form.

Bending the sides using a Fox style bending form.

Bending the cutaway with the hand bending iron.

Bending the cutaway with the hand bending iron.

Laminated linings for an ultra-stiff rim assembly.

Laminated linings for an ultra-stiff rim assembly.

Trimming the rim assembly into shape.

Trimming the rim assembly into shape.

Fitting the cutaway.

Fitting the cutaway.

Inspecting the rim assembly.

Inspecting the rim assembly.

Checking the cutaway.

Checking the cutaway.

Carving the end block.

Carving the end block.

Installing the radially etched copper rosette.

Installing the radially etched copper rosette.

Be sure to check back soon for Part 2 where I’ll be sharing more photos of the build.

Thanks!

TS

Weekly Roundup by Tom Sands

Last Monday we had the talented Will Bremridge visit the workshop to photograph a series. Here are the results!

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We are also so excited to reveal the new project that is now ready for a coat of lacquer. It’s a Model S ‘White Label’ in a wonderful pairing of Sitka Spruce and Santos Rosewood. It’s complete with a dyed grey burl rosette, with matching dyed grey birdseye maple headstock veneers.

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This project was all about trying new and different things - stay tuned for more…

This week we have more photography and videography plans, as John Smedley, makers of the finest knitwear in the world, are coming to work on a special project with us to celebrate British craftsmanship of all kinds. Again, make sure you keep up with us on our social media and blogpost channels so you don’t miss anything.

Although we love having all these different people are coming to visit the workshop to create art, it does make us question whether we are using our (relatively small) space to it’s best advantage. We wrote a blog post on the importance of a clear workspace, which you can read here.

We hope you have a great week!

The Importance of Being a Workspace by Tom Sands

William Morris said that you must have nothing in your room that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. Dieter Rams reiterated a century later that ‘less is more’, and today you can hear Marie Kondo from every television screen insisting ‘does it spark joy?’

Today’s world see’s ‘too much stuff’ as a daily complaint, with our plastic memorabilia included in every fast-food takeout bag and with endless commercial holidays to cater for and receive upon. Often the culprit for not letting things go is down to sentimental value, from pointless books gathering dust from schooldays that your not-yet-concieved children may need, to a wooden box given to you by your late grandmother with a broken lid. And then there’s the ‘I might find use for this one day’ which also feeds into the sentiment of your prized piles of ‘stuff’, offered up to your future self, pressuring them to use it ‘one day’. And really, that future you doesn’t even exist yet, let alone have need for some old clothes pegs in case the dryer breaks.

Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful
— William Morris

What all those designers, philosophers and clutter-savvy minds say is that it’s best to let things go if you haven’t thought about them at least after one year.

But this is life in general; when you take these principles inside a workshop, which often is smaller than the smallest room in your house, or sometimes IS the smallest room in your house, these principles must be applied not only once in a while during a de-clutter, but at all times. The same goes for any workspace. Is that personalised paperweight actually useful? Is that centimetre of ‘The Tree’ off-cut still residing in the ‘stuff’ draw really ever going to be useful? It’s a tough decision no matter what your trade.

The things we prioritise in a space have to be important; otherwise, you are housing not only a cluttered space but a distracted mind. Here are some of the things we give space to in our workshop, and why.

‘The objective of skill is to make a dream a fact’ - inspiration from Alan Fletcher’s ‘The Art of Looking Sideways’

‘The objective of skill is to make a dream a fact’ - inspiration from Alan Fletcher’s ‘The Art of Looking Sideways’

This is just one of four books in the shop. Alan Fletcher’s ‘Art of Looking Sideways’ is a new edition, which inspires ways of looking and thinking differently. Fletcher was a British graphic designer who’s work inspired so many artists before us, and so we keep it tucked away above the workbench in case we need a challenge, an inspiration, or a lonely coffee break. Other books include Dieter Rams’s ‘As Little Design As Possible’, Taschen’s ‘1000 Chairs’ and Ervin Somogyi’s famous duo ‘The Responsive Guitar’ and ‘Making the Responsive Guitar’.

The glue-up badger, with assorted glue brushes

The glue-up badger, with assorted glue brushes

The things we prioritise in a space have to be important; otherwise, you are housing not only a cluttered space, but a distracted mind...

Glue-up badger is not only a stylish compadre that sparks a lot of joy, but is also a handy holder. And, he doesn’t take up much room. If you are housing a woodland creature, make sure they are spatially aware...

Whisky for those late night sessions, vase by Michelle Sparnicht, headtorch

Whisky for those late night sessions, vase by Michelle Sparnicht, headtorch

Palletboard spanner detail, ft. telescopic view of the moon and wave pattern.

Palletboard spanner detail, ft. telescopic view of the moon and wave pattern.

Cultivation of other artists’ work on walls.

Cultivation of other artists’ work on walls.

Craft can be an isolating thing. Although this may be something to be relished, the danger is you are naturally excluding creativity. We make room for the work of others on our walls to foster the cross-pollination of craft. Much like a writer is a prolific reader, we think it’s good to have an ephemeral collection of work by other makers and artists for inspiration.

And it’s always great to receive the odd sticker or business card to add to the bandsaw.

Band(wagon) saw.

Band(wagon) saw.

Chief provider of fresh oxygen and greenery.

Chief provider of fresh oxygen and greenery.

And then there’s your materials - make sure there’s room for those - they’re important…

And then there’s your materials - make sure there’s room for those - they’re important…

What’s in your workshop, workspace or home?

TS

Build Diary - Redwood / Spalted Maple, Part 4 by Tom Sands

Part 4 brings us to the close of this build diary. But don’t worry, we have a wealth of photos to show you for this instalment!

Here are some shots of the woodwork all completed:

Patinated green copper back inlay to draw everything together.

Patinated green copper back inlay to draw everything together.

Macassar ebony fingerboard and patinated green ebony rosette. with matching Macassar ebony head plate and patinated green copper headstock inlay.

Macassar ebony fingerboard and patinated green ebony rosette. with matching Macassar ebony head plate and patinated green copper headstock inlay.

A closer look at the patinated green copper rosette.

A closer look at the patinated green copper rosette.

Copper indicator markers.

Copper indicator markers.

Detail of the cutaway.

Detail of the cutaway.

Mahogany neck.

Mahogany neck.

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I am confident in saying that this is one of the best finishing jobs I have ever seen on a guitar. The attention to detail matches my own during the build project, and I could not be happier with the result. It looks amazing!

After the finish work, gluing the bridge on.

After the finish work, gluing the bridge on.

Installing the handmade Robson tuners.

Installing the handmade Robson tuners.

The back of the headstock upon completion, fitted with Robson tuners.

The back of the headstock upon completion, fitted with Robson tuners.

Here are some pictures of the guitar waiting to go to it’s new home

The guitar in the Billiard Room at the Broughton Hall Estate.

The guitar in the Billiard Room at the Broughton Hall Estate.

The guitar in the Red Drawing Room at the Broughton Hall Estate in North Yorkshire.

The guitar in the Red Drawing Room at the Broughton Hall Estate in North Yorkshire.