Monday, March 30, 2009

Bridge Patterns Steinway O

We begin the bridge cap replacement by removing the old bridge pins. This is done by clamping on the old pin with a vise grip and pulling it out with a rotating motion. After the bridge pins have been removed, the next step is to make accurate patterns that will be used to relocate the bridge pins on the new bridge cap. I use .030" thick polycarbonate sheet material for my pattern material. It is ideal because it is clear, and is easy to cut and drill. We begin making the pattern by tracing the contour of the bridge onto the sheet, and then cutting the sheet to make pieces to place on top of the bridge. The blank pattern is taped into place, after which the drill press is used to drill indexing holes about every 9" through the pattern material, and completely through the bridge body. With the indexing pins in place, an awl is used to press a dimple into the pattern directly over the bridge pin holes. We then use a drill to drill a hole through the pattern into the vacant bridge pin hole. The result is a very accurate pattern that will be used to layout the new bridge cap. After the patterns are completed, the old caps are removed with a bandsaw.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Preschool Puppets Easter Program

On Saturday morning I was privileged to be a small part of an Easter celebration at McBIC for preschoolers. Our Preschool leaders did a great job of making the Easter story alive for these little people. I used two of my puppets to tell a small part of the story. Kandy Korn is my little girl monster puppet. She was very sad because one of her friends moved far away. She learned that she has a friend where ever she is. That friend is Jesus. This made Kandy feel better, and went off to make a card to send to her friend. Meanwhile, Uncle Henry , my story teller, told the story of Peter denying Jesus when he was taken away to be crucified. After Jesus' resurrection,Peter learned that Jesus still loved him, even though he messed up. The question for the children- who wants to be your friend? Jesus wants to be your friend forever.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Steinway O- New Soundboard Panel

I purchase my soundboard panels from A. Bolduc, Quebec, Canada. Mr Bolduc personally selects the trees to be cut, cuts them only when they are dormant, and mills the lumber at his own facility. He then hand selects the wood he uses , which is quarter sawn, very straight, clear and close grained. About 5% of the log is suitable for soundboard wood. Before gluing up the panels, the wood is color matched as well. This glued up raw soundboard panel is one VERY expensive piece of wood. When it arrives at my shop, this 5/16" thick panel of Eastern White Spruce is over sized and needs to be fit into the piano.

The first step is to orient the grain direction of the new panel. The old panel is placed on top and positioned so that the grain orientation of the wood on both panels matches. The the old board is then used to trace the outline of the panel onto the new wood. A scroll saw is used to cut the over sized panel down to size...well actually, almost down to size, as I want the new panel to still be slightly oversize so that I can carefully fit it into the piano rim. I use an electric sander to remove wood from the edge of the panel until it fits snugly around the rim sides while it rests on the rim shelf. This work all needs to be done with the wood at a specific EMC (5% in my shop) as the wood will change dimensionally with moisture content changes.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Steinway O Soundboard Begun

The first step in building the new board is somewhat like building a house. You need to start with the foundation. The foundation of the soundboard are the ribs. Ribs are selected from my stock and are placed on top of the old board to insure that each rough rib is of sufficient length. After noting proper grain orientation, the ribs are cut to the proper length, adding about and inch which will be removed later. The sides of the ribs are then planed to the proper width dimension, and the sides are sealed with schellac. After the schellac has dried, the ribs are fit into the piano. At this time they are cut to the proper length and angle to fit snugly in the notch that is cut into the rim shelf of the piano. Next a crown is cut into the rib to match the desired crown on the finished board. Following the crowning of the ribs, they are planed to the proper thickness. The final step is to cut and sand the reliefs on the ends of the ribs. More finish work will be done on the ribs after they are glued to the new soundboard....but that's a couple work weeks away.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Removing Old Glue From Rim and Bridges

The soundboard and bridges were originally glued into piano with hot hide glue. This glue has been around for many years and is actually made from animal hides. It is quite strong, but is easily reversible. This makes it possible to remove the old glue residue after breaking out the old board, and breaking the bridges from the soundboard. The first step is to use a chisel to remove any wood that is left in the glue line. Then the old glue reside can be removed. We accomplished this by making the old glue wet with a solution of water and wall paper remover. The solution is allowed to soak for 10"-15" on the old glue line, and then the residue is easily removed with a scraper. It is a bit messy as the old glue rejuvenates when it is made wet and becomes quite sticky. The wood parts need to dry overnight before you can continue working.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bridges Removed From Old Board

The next step in replacing the sound board is to remove the old bridges from the old board. The bridges are glued, screwed, and doweled to the soundboard. The screws can be removed from the bottom side. There is typically one screw at each end of the treble bridge, and several on the bass bridge. On a Steinway there are several stand off dowels in the tenor section of the bridge that must be cut from the top of the soundboard. Finally, the dowels that go through the ribs into the bridge must be bored out. When this preparation work is completed, the bridges are carefully chiseled loose, and pried off the soundboard.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Steinway O Soundboard Removed

Removing the old soundboard is another bit of a challenge, as the soundboard is glued into the piano, and must be "broken" out. The first step is to remove the trim pieces on the bass and treble sides of the board. These are glued and must be chiseled out. Also the bind bar at the front treble end of the soundboard must be removed. It is screwed and glued into place. The final preparation for removal is to drill the dowels that protrude through the board to support the plate. These are drilled down to just below the top surface of the soundboard.

Now we are ready to remove the board. This is accomplished with a hammer and "ramming" bars. I use as much care as possible in this process because I want to avoid damaging the rim of the piano where the board is glued, and I want to maintain the old board in a relatively intact condition so I can use the old board for an exact pattern for the new board. With some persistence, the board does yield to my ramming and prying.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Steinway O Pinblock Removal

Removing a Steinway Pinblock is a bit of a challenge. Steinway glues and dowels their pinblocks to the sides, the shelf and the stretcher of the piano. Trying to remove this pinblock with just chisels and force can be disastrous. It can result in a broken stretcher, or a keybed being broken from the frame, not to mentions several hours of frustration.

I personally want to use the old pinblock as a pattern for the new one being installed, so I also want to remove it somewhat intact. To accomplish this, I use a cutter mounted onto a router to cut the pinblock away from the stretcher. The router rests on the front of the stretch as the cutter is moved across the front of the piano. This a very dangerous tool, and great care must be take not to maim yourself or the piano.

Then I remove any screws used to fasten the block to the shelf, and also drill out the 5 dowels that are also going into the shelf. A portion of the ends and corners of the block must be chiseled out- about 2/3 of the thickness of the block. I then use a pinblock support devise to break the block loose on the treble side This must be done with care, but the block should break loose without too much resistance. After the treble end is free, the bass end can be popped out by carefully raising the treble end.

This whole process should only take 30-45".

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Steinway O Tear Down

Today I began the Steinway O project. The first step is to take the necessary measurements before removing the string. These included plate position, plate height, string height, and string bearing on the bridge. I also recorded the string scale. After I am done recording information, I am ready to remove the strings.

I use a pneumatic impact wrench to reduce the tension on the strings. Then a little tool called a becket breaker is used to...(surprise) break the beckets in the tuning pins (beckets are the bend in the music wire where it enters the receiving hole of the tuning pin). After breaking the beckets the impact wrench is used to spin the tuning pins out of the old pinblock. Then the strings can be removed from the piano.

After the strings are removed, the screws and lags that secure the cast iron plate are removed, the plate is free to be hoised from the piano.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Baldwin F Nearing Completion

As of this afternoon, I have completed 95% of the refinishing on the Baldwin. I had to respray the edges of the music desk today, so that will have to wait till Thursday to complete. Also there are some marks on the lid front flap that I am not pleased with. This will require some additional attention later in the week also. Some final work on the trapwork and the dampers will complete the project. Hopefully this week!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

TC Gang at family reunion

Yesterday I had the joy of performing with my puppets at Rosanna's Thrush family reunion. I was pleased with the response of the 12 or so preschoolers that were present. As you can see from the pictures, they were very attentive. I think the adults enjoyed it as well. At least they were kind and laughed at the appropriate times. I am looking forward to increasing the frequency of my performances outside my home church.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rubbing A Finish

What is rubbing a finish? It is actually sanding the lacquer level to bring the finish to a smooth satin patina. As the lacquer is sprayed on to the case part, it never lays completely flat. This give the finish and "orange peel" look. If you were making a high gloss finish, finer and finer applications of sandpaper and "elbow grease" would be applied until a high gloss is achieved. For my satin finishes, I start sanding with a 320 grit dry paper, move to a 320 grit wet paper, and then to a 400 grit wet paper. I complete the rub out with 0000 steel wool applied with steel wool wax. the end result is a beautiful satin finish. I am completing the finish on the Baldwin F, which is an ebony finish.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Preschool Puppets

I love teaching preschoolers. I especially love doing puppets for them. They are full of wonder and have great imaginations. Today I had the joy of doing a puppet Bible story presentation for our preschoolers at McBIC. Kookie (blue puppet) was sick, with his body covered with spots. After checking his throat, blood pressure and temperature, I confirmed that he was sick. Since he wasn't feeling good, he didn't want to tell the story, so he went back to his bed (suitcase) to rest. My friend Uncle Henry, a retired doctor checked him out before coming to tell the children a story he remembered in the Bible about 10 sick men. They were very sick with leprosy, and no one would be their friends...except Jesus, who loved them and wanted to be their friend. He healed the 10 men because He loved them and wanted to help them. Who wants to help us? Jesus wants to help us.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Steinway O S/N 208703

This morning my next project arrived. The timing is good, as I am hoping to finish up my Baldwin project next week. God is good! As you see from the pictures, the soundboard is shot, so I will be installing a new soundboard, bridge caps and pinblock. This is a subcontract job, so the owner will be doing the remaining work.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Where Do We Find Hope?

This month (March 2009) in UpStreet and KidStuf, our virtue is HOPE- believing that something good can come out of something bad. In the news we hear much that could make us fearful. But the writers of the Psalms teach us to put our hope in the Lord God alone.

25:3a- No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame.
31:24- Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.
33:17a- A horse is a vain hope deliverance.
33:18- The eyes of the Lord are on those whose hope is in his unfailing
33:20a- We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
33:22- May your unfailing love rest upon us, oh Lord, even as we put our
hope in you.
39:7b- My hope is in you (the Lord).
42:5b, 11b, 43:5b- Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my
Savior and my God.
62:5- Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
71:5- For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence
since my youth.
119:74b- I have put my hope in your word.
130:5- I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.
146:5- Blessed is he whose hope is in the Lord his God.
147:11- The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his
unfailing love.

Our hope is not in power (horse 33:17) or our own strength, but in God’s word and his unfailing love. So, be strong and take heart, for our hope is in the Lord.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Harp Back Glue Up

The plans for my harp call for the back and soundboard to be made of plywood. Being a long time piano rebuilder, it goes against my grain (no pun intended) to use plywood anywhere in a musical instrument. Plywood would be stronger and less likely to crack, but I believe solid wood makes for a better sound. So to make the back, I took a piece of 1" X 7" rough cut walnut lumber and resawed it to 1/2" thickness, then planed the two pieces to 3/8" thickness. The pictures show the two pieces being edge glued together. Because the two pieces came from the same board, I book matched the pieces, which makes for a very beautibul grain pattern on the panel. After the glue has dried, I will plane the panel to 1/4" thickness, and cut it to match the pattern.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sand, Sand, Sand. Tune, Tune, Tune.

The past week has flown by with less shop work getting completed than I had anticipated. The reason- I have been very busy with tuning calls. That's a good thing, except it cuts into my shop time. It appears this week is going to be some what the same. I am very grateful for all the work, but dislike very much getting behind schedule on shop work. But on a four month project, whats a few more days?

That has also meant that I haven't gotten much done on my harp project the past several weeks. And i have a few projects I want to build for our cabin at Roxbury. I am looking forward to day light savings time beginning next week, because I think it will be easier to get motivated to do some things in the evening beside staying close to the warmth of my wood stove at my home.

Yesterday GJ talked to the kids in UpStreet. This Sunday I will be using Kookie and Uncle Henry to talk to the preschoolers. I also have a gig on April 1st that I must prepare for, so I must find time to work on ministry things this week!