Thursday, 29 July 2010

New tools, old tools...
The acquisition of fine woodworking tools has always been a passion of mine and there are some tools that I simply would not be without. In the centre of the picture is one of my two trusted cabinet scrapers. There is not one part of the guitar that isn't touched by this tool at some point or other. When I was first making guitars I used to get terrible blisters from using the scraper but my thumbs soon got used to it.
To the right of the scraper is my small thumb plane, whose main function is to shape the top and back braces, although it gets called into use for other tasks as well. This particular plane is no longer made I believe. I got it originally from Sidney Evans Violin making supplies in Birmingham.
At the top of the photograph is the newest tool in the workshop, a Lie-Nielsen block plane all the way from the USA. This really is a wonderfully made tool and is a pleasure to use. (Thanks Frank)
And finally the awl at at the bottom of the picture. This is a tool I use all the time and is one of those things I would be quick to save if a fire or flood threatened. When I was at college there was a great hunt to find Brazilian rosewood which was getting very scarce at the time (1985ish).
One of my tutors, Michael Gee, had just uncovered a huge pile of sumptuous material in Millers Dale, Derbyshire and I was determined to spend the summer vacation trying to track down some more. I was tool hunting in Brighton's Gardener Street market one Saturday when I found this awl, for 10p as I remember. The Gardener Street market was like a scene out of Brighton Rock, crawling with dubious antique dealers and fly-by-night chancers. You kept your hand firmly on your wallet as the place was the haunt of snatch purses. The handle of this little awl is exquisite rosewood and stamped with the name of its previous owner, F Monk.
I took the discovery of this tool as a good omen and looked forward to finding a lot more Brazilian rosewood but as it turned out this was the last I found that summer....

Richard Chapman has just sent me a copy of his new recording, Lost Places and I am thrilled to see this at last. This is a truly remarkable recording and one that I have heard much about from Richard and others over the past year. I have been working with him for several years now and the result of that relationship, the drop-shouldered cutaway guitar can be heard on this album.
Complex, yet utterly accessible, this is truly new music. It is hard to pin down but I find myself constantly drawn back to it. It has an elusive quality but is also shot through with a strong sense of the English landscape, particularly in On Downland. Go to Richards site to find out more.