Sunday, January 31, 2010

I'm Back!! Latest Projects

It's been a very long time since my last post!! Although I haven't been posting, I have been working. The last two months have been very slow bandura wise but I did get some work done prior to that, I was just too lazy to post. Below is a picture of six rims I've bent.

From left to right, we have the rims for two Kharkiv style instruments with a slightly modified shape from what I've been doing before, two baby kharkiv style instruments and two Kyiv Style instruments (I'll get to that later). As usual, click on any picture for an enlarged version.

The most interesting things about these rims is the material I used for the rim. In the past, I've laminated three thin pieces of hard maple, roughly 1/8" thick to make my rims. In order to save time and effort, I decided to use a material called "Compwood" Compwood is a regular wood that has been compressed to make it flexible. Once it's dry, it holds its shape.

Below are the forms I used to bend the compwood. I made two forms for Kharkiv banduras, one for baby and one for Kyiv.

Once the wood has been bent to shape, it must be dried. I made a simple kiln from styrofoam board with a small space heater inside. It takes roughly 3 days for the wood to dry.

Below you can see some of the forms and various rims that I made. I used C-clamps to hold the wood to shape while it dried.

So far my impression of the compwood is pretty good although it does have some shortcomings:

Because of the compression process, the wood arrives kind of wavy and such making it rather difficult to resaw. It's also very flexible and bounces a lot during the process. It's quite difficult to get an even cut.

Because it's still quite wet, you can't run it through a power planer because it tears out something awful. The drum sander works quite well but you must again be careful because it bounces so much. My drum sander doesn't have infeed and outfeed tables but that would help tremendously. If I decide to stick with this stuff I may have to add them. Because of the uneven cut, it takes many passes through the sander. I ended up using 3 different grits to get a nice finish on the non-bent pieces.

Over all though, I believe it is less work to use the compwood than it is to laminate.

Current Project: Kyiv Bandura (x2)

Because of some things that have happened in the past, I don't like to build multiple instruments at once. I bent several rims together because it's very efficient but now I'm switching back to serial production.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have little interest in Kyiv Style banduras however, a good friend of mine convinced me to build him one. He's interested in a concert style instrument with re-tune mechanisms. At first I refused because of the magnitude of the project - designing a re-tune mechanism is a huge undertaking - but then I had a though: if I could get a complete retune mechanism from the Lviv factory, it wouldn't be all that hard to do so, I agreed.

Because I've never built a Kyiv instrument, I decided I should build a prototype first before spending a lot of time on a fancy concert instrument. I'm planning on making a few changes to the standard Kyiv / Lviv design to go along with my current philosophies on Bandura design. I'll go into the details in my next entry.

Below you can see the roughly carved neck for the prototype. Initially, I didn't intend on doing a fancy scroll carving on the prototype but since I'm not very good at carving it would be good practice.