Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Final de año

That means year's ending, or something like that, dear readers.

Are you still alive? I was, all this time, but busy and bored, too involved in life to write about stuff.

The title comes from a Borges' poem, and ends saying that something in us endures, something that didn't find what it was looking for.

It's always fitting, at least to me, not only when the year is leaving.

I spent plenty of days thinking how to come back here, after such a long silence. I never found the answer. So I just started writing, as well I could start now.

To make a long story short, I broke up with Julia, met Natalia (in that order) and my life was reorganized as it correspond to a proper love according to badiou, something about capsizing isn't it?

I moved out, creates a workshop in house full of musicians and dancers, a french luthier arrived one day, and we finally started to make guitars a few months ago. I left mine last week looking something like this:

Yeah I know, that a solid workbench Roubo style. Working with the guitars on the ground is not as good when you walk over them.

You see that? a workbench, a toolwall, joints and order. What else can you ask of life. The wine glasses are at the right of the guitar whereas the wine is at the left, all properly out of the frame.

It's four of us. We use kanna everyday, and stanley block planes. Naniwa stones and an american made bandsaw. German plans and chilean woods. We work by hand and drink and play music in the workshop. The spirit of Valparaiso has taken over: a drunk globalisation, with it's own beauty and humbleness, taking whatever it wants from wherever is found. At the end of the world a unique way of living, grounded, related to the hills and the sea, local.

There is a poem by Höldering I found not long ago. It goes like this:

Wenn aber ist entzündet
Der geschäfftige Tag
Und an der Kette, die
Den Bliz ableitet
Von der Stunde des Aufgangs
Himmlischer Thau glänzt,
Muß unter Sterblichen auch
Das Hohe sich fühlen.
Drum bauen sie Häußer
Und die Werkstatt gehet
Und über Strömen das Schiff.
Und es bieten tauschend die Menschen
Die Händ’ einander, sinnig ist es
Auf Erden und es sind nicht umsonst
Die Augen an den Boden geheftet.

A horrible translation goes like this:
That's why they build houses
And the workshop is so busy
And ships sail against the currents
And men exchange greetings
Holding out their hands; it's sensible
On earth, and not for nothing
Do we fix our eyes on the ground.

The poem has the same melodic metaphysics as Ister, you remember, the stone needs engravings, and furrows the earth...

That's it. Nothing makes any sense yet, something that didn't find what it was looking for. I leave you with some pictures of our workshop, wish you a happy new year, and close this blog for ever: next time I write it will be a book.

Thursday, February 9, 2017


This is the third day since we started working with keiran in the etaux, and we put some oli on it already:

We started from some 2" lenga that needed a glue up for the jaws, since they are 2 1/2"

This was pretty much what we did the first evening.

Following day was mostly cut dovetails and the moulding on the resting plate.

Today we made the brass braces. First saw them, then drill holes, bolt them together and file them to shape.

 This afternoon it was glue up and oil time.

And a test ride with my little helper Toto.

I got a book about guitarmaking, and all the spanish and french makers that appear on the pictures have one of this on their workshop. So I thought I could use one too. Later on the week we will start with the solera for the acustic guitar.

There is still some work to be done on the inside but will wait for my friend to bring the router. The braces need a runner on the botto but I got tired of sawing today so it will have to wait a bit.

All this because summer school was cancelled due to third parties reasons. A shame, but you need to woodwork anyway in your vacations, isn't it?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

New shield

One of the few things I missed when moved to my new workshop was the little shield for saw sharpening. It just disappeared between the planes and the shavings. 

So today I made a new one and I like it even more than the previous one. 

It's made out of a piece of hacksaw blade grinded to a thin edge and polished in a diamond stone. 

A shot for a size idea

And the taper and central nick the shield has

This is how you hold it:

My small fingers are touching the back of the saw, it's a very gentle grip, I reckon you can see that from the pictures.

And that's a madonoko that finally is getting ready. Since I gave mine to Jason haven't had time to play with one. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Summer school 2017

Well well, I know is a bit of a short notice but I have consider this instance more of a holiday than a project, but maybe some of you are traveling down south and want to drop by and help a bit.

Image totally not related.

We are heading south to Puerto Varas from 5th of february or so to finish the roof of this baby, you may remember it from last year:

 We need to finish the hip roof this time

At the moment we are 3 confirmed plus a dog. We are staying there for 3 weeks to have plenty of time to cut joints, travel around, make bbqs and visit the hotsprings.

If you would like to visit the place and see people building a timber frame by hand with japanese tools and methods, just drop me a line and I'll give you the address. If you want to be part of this you are welcome to join but you need to arrange your own accommodation. There will be space to camp but no electricity or running water (there is a spring 30m from the gazebo though, so there will be a lot of chop wood carry water). A good time to arrive would be from the 14th of february onwards so we have time to set up shop. If you want to work you need to bring your own saw and your own chisels, and you will be only allowed to work if you have previous experience. We may run a short introductory course but is not my aim for this year, I'm more interested on finishing the roof and traveling around and forming an even tighter group of friends working together.

So yeah, summer school 2017 is happening again.

Sunday, November 20, 2016


Stupid mac stopped loading pictures for some weird reason, so it's been a while without updates.

Stuff has been going on here, we have a communal workshop going on, three guys into guitar making and one into cajones peruanos and just playing around. Feels cool.

Beatnik woodworkers if you fancy.

So here a small review of what's been going on the last weeks here, it's just pictures since my mind is busy trying to conceptualise what's going on here on valparaiso. As america sinks into a nightmare worse than neoliberalism, we dance to live music in small bars, talk till early in the morning and drink life like if it were sangria, and we vote for a leftwing mayor of 31 years old while making guitars by hand with tools made by hand and eat food made by hand:

That was yesterday night. Before rice and saturday's short night.

The woods I want for my first acoustic guitar. 

Japanese style clamping. Spanish cedar for the neck, I have a mahogany too on the making, perhaps for a steel string guitar.

 That's the black locust bridge pitu ate the other night. Will try to get rosewood for the next one.

Japanese tools, english tools, chilean tools and tea. The body was made and routed by Juan Manuel, I'm refinishing the sides to smooth things out and give a better flow to the curves

that's Antoine, french like the beginning of the world that finally found it's place in the centre of the workshop. Some people like mao in their workshops, I rather grab 'em by the pussy.

That's the neck taking shape. Ca. 2 hours job to shape it with a paring chisel, a gouge and a knife. Really really loved the experience.

And the last one for today. That lamp was brought by Diego, our in house musician and luthier apprentice. As you can see, the workshop has changed a bit. More people require more space and I had to re-organise for ease of work. It's flowing quite well and the workshop is usually cleaner now that I have to share it.

We are building a roubo bench for Juan Manuel soonish that will go there on the left, perhaps we move the bandsaw and lathes to the next room to have more working space for people.

I was reading some time ago pedagogy of the oppressed, I like to think we implement that here as we are teaching each other to build something. I also like to think of power as the experience of being able to do something, as its etymology implies. Being able to make your own guitars, to play them in your own parties, dance to your own music in bars with people you don't really know but see more often than your own family. And that experience of sovereignty, which is overall a sovereignty of the experience, which starts by the mere technique but touches us as humans in contact with each other is what creates the conditions of possibility for a leftwing kid to take power at the local level in this crazy but beautiful city. And perhaps that is what's lacking in the north to fight against populism, hatred and stupidity.

The shit is starting to look real.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Why I need a mill

Today visited the workshop of the university.

Ricardo, the workshop maister, asked me why I didn't study mechanics. Cause I didn't know I liked so much this shit till my third year in physics.

I needed to groove my blade so I could use the adjuster to move the blade, it worked perfectly:

there were also some random pieces that took home with me.

A small little future anvil, and a 1/2" chisel.

and this is why I need a mill. Doing this by hand is a bit beyond me.

We didn't have a T-slot bit so had to improvise, that's why the groove is so wide, at least wider than the original.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Blade upgrade

A quick one. 

The end result:

 As you can see the edge is a bit slanted. I didn't want to grind too much of the steel since still need to make the ura nice and flat I rather have some room to spare.

The small contraption for thicknessing filing. Tape helps to keep the bastard in place. On the background is another handle model, just wax and oil tho, larger than the previous but still a tad too small for that monstrous file. The best was to draw file it to get a nice even texture on teh back:

There you can see the slant. And the lamination, and the wrought iron.

Before you scream for me butchering a japanese blade into fitting a lie nielsen, let me show you the mirror side. (Still need to work a bit on it, but will be done in subsequent sharpenings.)

I had to grind pretty much 5mm on each side of the blade, it was left on the body and rust ate all the hagane where it was making contact with the wood, and on other places, still didn't manage to take away all the pit. The good thing of working with a japanese blade is that you can grind only the hagane holding the blade at 45 degrees from the stone and then simply file or saw the wrought iron, making for a faster job. 

I still need to make the groove where the adjuster fits, but I'm thinking that maybe that's a job for a milling machine. At the moment I just retreat the adjuster and push the blade if I need to. This is plane that mostly works in one setting only though.

That's it. 5 usd rusty blade turned into state of the art upgrade for western planes. (You may wonder why I own a brass plane? Well, small japanese planes are a tad too light for my taste, so in contrast to bench planes, here I do want metal in the body.)