A secret project

Lately I get a lot of invitations for weird weird projects and odd events. Guess it is something in the water here in Holland.

One of those projects is a sort of luthier showcase. A group of Dutch and Belgian guitar makers was asked to make a guitar they would like to have themselves. Everything is allowed, just be creative… After some deliberation I decided to join. The only thing is that we’re not allowed to tell too much about it before the unveiling…

But there are some things I can share. Like the small hints and materials.

Oak projects

Ever since I started making guitars I have been thinking a lot about the materials we use for instruments. Our impact on the environment. Do we really need all those precious and endangered woods traditionally used for guitar making? And do we have to cut down new trees, or is it possible to use salvaged materials?

A couple of years ago the Belgian CMB Lutherie School started on a wonderful journey. The Leonardo Guitar Research Project, making guitars from local and tropical woods and trying them for their sound. It is a wide research, in collaboration with a school in Finland. Their conclusions are very interesting…

Over the last years my interest has been drawn to oak. Not because of its appearance or anything like that. Initially I hated the material, thinking of the ugly plump and heavy furniture of my grandparents. At the flea-market where I volunteered my hands held hundreds of those boat anchors. Solid, weighing like lead, dark and virtually indestructible.

But when I started using salvaged materials for some instruments, it didn’t take long before somebody gave me an oak side table. Well, after some deliberation I decided to give it a try… Made tools, and instruments from that little table. Two hand planes, a little workbench, renaissance guitars, a vihuela and a little medieval lute…

It slowly started to grow on me. I stared to like the material. First of all it is wonderful wood to work with. I do understand why it has been the first choice for furniture and other artifacts for centuries. It’s durable and easy to work with, smells nice, not too heavy, sometimes even rather light. The grain can give the most beautiful patterns. And most of all, it is a great tone wood. Resonant and reflective.

About two weeks ago a friend left a surprise at the door of my workshop…  Old benches from the local catholic church. Two of them made from thick slabs of solid oak… They are about fifty years old and were probably first used for the church choir.

It’s almost a pity that I have to cut them up, they are beautifully made. One of the tops is made of very fine quarter sawn wood. This will be ideal for the back and sides of the secret guitar. But there will also be other projects where these benches find their place. At least a couple of guitars, lutes and lyres. At least one of the end boards will become a medieval gittern and or citole…

So to be continued…

This entry was posted in Guitar, History, Jheronimus Bosch Lute, Lute, Projects, Think different, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Woodworking, Workshop and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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