Tuesday, April 10, 2018

How to make an electric ancient Greek guitar

I made this ancient hellenic lyra out of 9mm birch plywood. I used plexiglass for the bridge and nut, a humbucker pickup and regular guitar tuning pegs. Ancient Greeks used to call similar instruments by the name "κιθάρα". That word is a close relative to the word "guitar" we use today.

First of all I made a template out of a piece of cardboard.

Then I used my circular saw and a guide rail to cut a piece of 9mm birchh plywood.

I then used the template to draw the shape of the instrument on the plywood. The guitar’s shape is symmetrical, so I flipped the template over to create the mirror images needed.

I then used the bandsaw to cut out the shape I wanted. I cleaned up the saw marks  with my rotary tool and a sanding drum. I hand sanded when needed. 

I then used a pencil to trace the pickup. I used my router to carve out the pickup slot.

I used wood filler to cover up any imperfections on the plywood. 

I cut a plywood piece that would act as string holder. I glued it and nailed it in place with my air powered nail gun.

I used rivets as string guides. I hammered them in place.

I then drilled all the holes needed to receive the tuning pegs. 

I cut thin pieces of plywood to act as bridge and nut. I glued and nailed them in place. I used the plexiglass as a spacer.

I then filed the string slots on the plexiglass bridge and nut.

With a forstner bit I opened up the hole for the output jack.

I finished the guitar with 3 coats of clear, water based varnish. I sanded between coats and used the heat gun to speed up the drying process.

I soldered the the pickup to the output jack and assembled the instrument. 

My electric κιθάρα was now ready! 

Friday, March 30, 2018

How to make a 2 string musical instrument out of coconut and wood

I made this acoustic instrument using half a coconut and spruce. It is inspired by the Greek small bouzouki we call baglama in our country.

First of all I drilled through the eyes of the coconut and removed the liquid from it’s interior.

I then used a hand saw to cut the coconut in half. I used a cheap chisel to remove the the flesh of the coconut.

I then sanded the hair on my belt sander. To flatten the coconut hemisphere, I used a white marker to mark the lips. I then sanded the piece against a flat sanding block until the marks disappeared. 

I then rounded over the back of the neck with the spokeshave. I used the neck to mark the opening which I shaped using my rotary tool and a sanding drum.

I then shaped the neck to my likeness on my belt sander. 

I cut a thin spruce piece on the bandsaw. I used the bandsaw again to add parallel cuts. These cuts make the piece bendable. I glued it inside the coconut to increase the glueing surface for my instrument’s top.

I then used the bandsaw and my belt sander, to cut and shape the rest of the neck pieces.

I glued the neck with the headstock. I glued the neck on the body and added a screw and shims to get a good fit. I used a sharp chisel to finish the shaping. 

I cut the top on the bandsaw out of a thin spruce piece. I made the sound hole using a forstner bit. I glued a brace under the top. I shaped the brace with a sharp chisel. 

I glued the top on the body. I used the spokeshave, a chisel and a sanding block to make the top flush with the body. 

I then used the bandsaw, a sanding block and a chisel to shape the fretboard. 

I used an online fret calculator to locate the fret positions. The scale of my instrument is 46cm from nut to bridge. I marked the fret positions with a pencil and cut the slots on a miter box. I then glued the fretboard on the neck. I used two bamboo sticks as pins to prevent the fretboard from sliding around while glue up. Those pins also act as fret number locators. 

I used a hacksaw to cut the string holder out of a scrap metal piece. I shaped it with a file and drilled the holes needed on the drill press. 

I used a flush trim saw, to cut the fret pins flush. I sanded with a sanding block. 

I used the spokeshave to finish the shaping of the neck. 

Using wood filler I filled any imperfections on the wood.

I painted the wood that was showing through the sound hole, black. 

I cut the fret wire to size and forced it in place with a clamp. I added a drop of super glue in the side of every fret. I used a file and a sanding block to flush trim all the fret sides. 

I sanded everything with 100 and 220grit. I applied three coats of clear water based varnish. I sanded between coats and used my heat gun to speed up the drying process.

I then cut the nut and bridge on the bandsaw out of a piece of plexiglass. I shaped them with sandpaper.

I assembled all the parts of the instrument and started playing it.

I really like the way it came out!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

How to make a DIY cinema clacket

I made this vintage cinematography gadget, out of birch plywood. It is the type of clacket that you use chalk to write on it. It is useful to note several information about the scene you are shooting. Through the editing process this can help a lot!

First of all I marked the basic dimensions with a pencil and ruler. Then I cut the basic shapes on the bandsaw.

Using a long sanding block I sanded all the saw marks clean.

Using a compass I marked the hole positions and the round overs of the edges.

I rounded over all the edges on my desktop belt sanding station.

I then cut, shaped and drilled all the parts needed. When the parts needed the same operation, I used masking tape to hold them together and perform the process once for all.

I then glued the hinges in place. I used my air powered nail gun to nail the pieces in place, while the glue dried.

I then sanded everything with a sanding block.

Using my hacksaw I cut a piece of threaded rod to size. I cleaned the saw marks on the belt sander. I also used the belt sander to create bevels in each side of the rod. This way the nuts will slide much better in place.

I wanted to be able to write on the clacket with chalk. So I painted with non gloss oil paint. This paint is thinned with white spirit. I applied two coats of paint. I used my heat gun to speed up the drying process.

I then used blue masking tape to create the masks for the white painted parts. I applied two coats of white paint, and when that dried I removed the tape.

I assembled all the parts with butterfly nuts, washers and the threaded rod!

My vintage cinema clacket is ready for shooting!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

How to make a painter's folding desktop easel

I made this small desktop easel out of spruce. It is ideal for creating small paintings or drawings. I made it using mostly the table saw. 

I begun by making the base of the easel. Using my cross cut sled on the table saw I cut all the pieces to size. 

I then taped two pieces together and created a notch on each one using the table saw. I did that with several passes. 

I then made the two pieces that fit in the notches out of plywood. I taped them together, drilled the hole needed and shaped them on the belt sander. I then glued and screwed them in the notches. I then glued the pieces of the base. I used pocket holes to screw them together.

I then needed a vertical cut on the side pieces of the easel. I did that by making a temporary jig on the cross cut sled. 

I then screwed the pieces of the top part. I predrilled pilot holes to avoid splitting while screwing. I also used my clamps to hold the pieces for the screwing process. 

On the sides of the top I needed two long straight holes. I clamped the piece on the fence on the table saw and slowly lifted the blade of the saw until I reached the width I needed. 

I then cut, shaped, and drilled a few other similar pieces of the build.

I prepared the pieces for the place that the canvas sits on. I glued and nailed them together. I used my nail gun in this situation.

I then nailed the piece on the easel to hold it in place. I secured it with a few screws. 

I also glued, nailed and screwed the center piece in place. 

I then made the horizontal piece. In byzantine iconography this piece provides support for the hand rest used in this type of art. I used the cross cut sled on the table sew to make a notch in the center of the piece. I then drilled a hole and counter sinked it with a forstner bit.

I then marked equal distances on the center piece using the back side of my caliper. I drilled the holes. In those holes the horizontal piece is secured in place with a bolt.

Most movable pieces of the easel are joined together with screws. I cut the screw to size with a hacksaw. Using the belt sander I created a bevel in each end of the screws. This helps the nuts to be more easily screwed in place.

I then assembled all the parts together with butterfly nuts and bolts. When needed I used washers as spacers.

I sanded everything with 100grit using my random orbit sander and a sanding block.

My little easel is now ready for painting and I am really happy with the way it turned out!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Making 50 wooden spinning tops for a good cause

Again this year Greek woodturners make tops for a good cause. We make tops and send them to the non profit organization SYZOI. I made 50 tops out of beech wood.

The event is called "Top battle 2018" and it comes to life from:


Now as far as the making of process is concerned, I made all my tops out of beech wood.

I first jointed and planed my stock on my planer jointer machine. 

I then ripped cut my stock on the table saw. Using a stop block on my cross cut sled, I cut the blanks of my tops. 

I then mounted the blanks between centers on the lathe and turned them true with a bowl gouge. I also used a skew chisel to create a dovetailed tenon that would fit my chuck.

I then mounted each blank on my chuck and begun shaping the top with a spindle gouge. I also used a parting tool and a skew chisel. I sanded each top at 100grit.

I then set my lathe at minimum speed and painted each top on the lathe with two stripes.

I then added a roundheaded nail in the bottom of each top. This protects the wood from damages and helps the top spin better.

I then used the bandsaw to cut the tops away from the rest of the blank. On the belt sander I sanded off any saw marks.

My are ready to be sent to my friends in Thessaloniki who will then send them to SYZOI.

I hope my tops will bring some joy to other people! :)

Friday, February 23, 2018

How to make a DIY scrap wood city picture frame

I made this simple photo frame out of walnut, spruce, oak, maple, plywood and olive wood scraps. All the pieces were shaped to resemble to buildings and then glued and nailed on a piece of birch plywood.

First of all I cut the plywood base frame on the bandsaw.

I then started making the buildings out of the scrap wood pieces. For the shaping I used the bandsaw and the belt sander. I then glued the pieces on the base frame. To avoid clamping I used my air powered nail gun. I used a couple of olive wood pieces which had their bark still on. To kind of stabilize the bark I used super glue. The super glue is really thin and can penetrate into tiny gaps.

I tried to kind of divide the different parts of the wood in harmony around the whole synthesis. This way you get a more balanced aesthetic result.

I then sanded the frame on the belt sander. I also hand sanded many parts.

To act as the back of the frame, I cut a piece of thin MDF on the bandsaw.

I then used a glass cutter to cut the glass. I first scored the line with the cutter. I then lightly hammered the scored line. Finally I broke the glass on the line, against a piece of plywood.

I cut and shaped the openings of the frame out a piece of oak. I predrilled and counter sinked the holes for the screws.

I applied three coats of clear, satin, water based varnish on the frame. I lightly sanded between coats. To speed up the drying process I used my heat gun.

I then made the back support piece out of a piece of birch plywood. Once again I cut the basic shape on the bandsaw and finished shaping on the belt sander. I glued and nailed the piece on the MDF back.

Finally I assembled all the pieces of my picture frame. I am really happy with the way it came out!

I hope you like too! 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

How to make a wooden toy sword

I made this toy xiphos out of oak and beech wood. It is inspired by the double-edged, one-handed Iron Age straight short sword used by the ancient Greeks.

First of all I planned and jointed two faces of my stock on my planer. I then used the thickness planer to plane my stock to size.

I split the oak piece in half on the table saw. Because this wood is really hard. I completed the cut with several cuts. I passed the board through the thickness planer again to clear the saw marks.

I then used the cross cut sled on my table saw to make the cross cuts for the tang of the sword. I finished the shaping of the tang on the bandsaw.

I then marked the bevels I wanted the blade to have. I shaped the bevels with a hand plane and a spokeshave. 

To start carving the fuller, I first a established a line with a V varying chisel. I then carved more with a round carving gouge. I finished the fuller with a cylindrical sanding block.

I then cut a piece of beech on the table saw. This would act as my guard. I roughly shaped it on the belt sander. To make the slot for the tang I first removed as much material as I could with a forstner bit. I then finished the slot with a chisel and mallet.

I then started making the handle. This is two beech parts. I completed the groove for the tang with several rip cuts on the table saw. Each time I moved the fence slightly back. I cleaned the saw marks with a chisel. I then glued the handle parts together.

I wanted the blade to fit in the guard. So I routed the area needed and finished it with carving gouges. I then created the bevels on the guard on the disc sander.

I carved the shape of the handle. I first used the V carving chisel and then shaped the rest with gouges.

I made the pommel on the lathe out of a beech piece. I used the bowl gouge for shaping. I also used a flat chisel, a parting tool and a spindle gouge. I used a forstner bit to drill a hole on the center of the pommel. I then shaped the tip of the tang cylindrical with a chisel. The pommel fits snuggly on the tip of the tang.

I then glued all the parts of the sword together using wood glue.

After the glue dried, I blended the shape of the pommel with the handle. I did that with a flat rasp. I then moved to a file and finished with sandpaper.

I sanded the sword starting at 100grit, moved to 220 and finished to 280.

I also added a hanger on the pommel. I first predrilled a pilot hole.

I finished the sword with 8 coats of shellac.

I am really happy with the way it came it out, I hope you like it too!