Sunday, March 27, 2011

This apple tree stood in the back yard of our last home- one we built in Eugene, Oregon. It had been long neglected and despite several years of careful pruning, it never produced many apples, and had some serious rot issues. We cut it down, sadly, but the result ended up being great. The garden saw much more sunlight, and I managed to get about 1000 board feet of usable lumber out of it!

The tree was over 3 feet in diameter at the base. It yielded several sections of 18 to 20" wide trunk wood, which when sawn on the quarter gave me a bit of wood I thought might work as tonewood. The sections ranged from about 4 to 7 feet long, so there is plenty of material to use for some cabinetry in the future.
After an initial run in a dehumidification kiln (no heat, just blows air over it to carry away moisture quickly) I stickered and air dried a few pieces that looked like possible tonewood for about 4 years. I finally had a chance to build with it, and created this octave mandolin/ bouzouki. It looks and sounds incredible, and I am very happy to know that the apple turned out to be a useful tonewood. I would compare it's feel/workability/tone somewhere in the range of walnut or mahogany.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Federated Teachers Service Corporation parlor guitar

On the bench this week is a Federated Teachers Service Corporation parlor guitar. It appears to be from the 1950's or earlier. Through a little Googling, it seems the instrument is in the same jumble as Regal, Harmony, Stella, Galiano, having derived from Oscar Schmidt's work. It has dyed maple bridge, and a dyed maple or birch fingerboard. It seems the neck is poplar, which was commonly used for these instruments. In my research another mention was made of a lap steel- interesting since this guitar came with two nuts- one for normal playing and a tall steel one, presumably for lap steel playing! The fingerboard also has fret numbers at each fret written in by hand, in yellow!
An interesting thing about this instrument- I tried removing the bridge to either reglue or replace it, and even with all of my forces (heating iron, heated spatula knife, various wedges and prying devices) I couldn't even begin to budge it. I think it may be epoxied in place, as that is the only other adhesive I have encountered with that much staying power!