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Thread: A 17th.C. Italian Style Marquetry Guitar I made

  1. #1
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    A 17th.C. Italian Style Marquetry Guitar I made

    This was a special order from a well known actor. The back and sides Are completely covered with hand sawn marquetry done with a deep throated fret saw made from yew wood.An instrument of this degree of decour would have been owned only by royalty and the very wealthy during the period. It took several months to make.The saw had to be deep enough to reach the length of the body.Balancing the fairly heavy saw,and not breaking the very small blades was the major problem in the work.Fine 8/0 jeweler's saw blades were used to saw the designs.

    The body is walnut and holly,and the neck is inlaid with silver wire,rectangular in form,driven into little grooves that were punched in with a very small chisel. Then,a burr,similar to the burr on a scraper was turned on the bottom edge of the wire to lock it into place when it was glued into the grooves.The glue added moisture to the wood,swelling it around the internal burrs.This is how wire inlay was done on fancy early firearms of the 16th. to 19th.C. guns.

    All of these designs are my own composition.If you examine the designs,you will see that they are the same: Hearts becoming larger,while hearts going the opposite way become smaller. My designs include authentic elements from the period and culture,but the way I employed them was my decision.The sides of the guitar are 1/2 of the total design seen on the vaulted back. As the areas covered with design work became smaller,I simplified the same design to fit into the 3 basic areas,in order of their importance: The back and sides were the largest and most important visual feature,next,the neck,then,the piercing in boxwood in the center of the peghead.

    The back of the guitar is vaulted,and composed of four ribs coopered together,as was common in the 17th.C.,somewhat related to the way lutes were made.The designs on each had to register with each other.

    The neck is pearwood stained brown with iron and nitric acid. It will never fade,being at the end of its chemical evolution.

    The tuning pegs are boxwood.They have small ebony "eyes" in their ends.

    The face of the instrument is spruce,with inlaid tracery below the bridge in thinly scraped ebony,similar in technique to the silver wire inlay. However,the design is shaped to properly occupy the shape of the lower bout of the soundboard.

    The wings of the bridge are thin ebony,again pierced with the saw.The tie off block of the bridge is overlaid with engraved ivory,though it may be hard to see.

    The fingerboard was left plain,of Gaboon ebony(as is all the ebony),to facilitate the player finding his way about easily on the fingerboard. This was not always adherred to,as you will see in another instrument.The extended soundboard wing,traveling up into the neck, is typical of the period,and is inlaid with ebony tracery as well,to bring continuity to the overall composition of the soundboard. The highest frets are ebony,as was common in the period,because music was not commonly played in the highest register of the guitar while the actual playing frets are tied on gut. They did not have tempered musical scales until the late 18th.C.,and could slide these frets to play in what we now call a mean tone scale,which was modified for each different key.Actually,more perfectly in tune than out modern tempered scales,but not as handy,since each fret positioning was applicable only to one musical key.

    The soundhole inlay is actually three dimensional: The leaves are set into recessed areas routed into the top to about 1/32" deep. The small ivory blocks set between black-white-black purfling around the leaves,are also set into a recess,and were glued in one block at a time corner to corner.

    The wide yellow strip around the edge of the top side is actually a 1/8" thick piece of boxwood glued on over the sides to make a raised area,for further three dimensional effect.Upon this area,rosewood binding and purfling is mounted.

    The perimeter of the peghead is carved into a vertically oriented design,consisting of chisel cuts made vertical to the plane of the top and back surfaces of the peghead,forming a moulded effect.

    The center of the peghead is cut away,and a pierced boxwood design 1/8" thick is inserted half way through the peghead. This is held in place by small mouldings made with a scratch stock in boxwood,mitered at the corners.

    I will have to post a separate picture of a closeup of the neck. These three pictures are all I have of this instrument.There was an elegant case,but I have no photographs of it. I will post pictures of another instrument case similar to the one that went with this guitar.

    This instrument was made while in public completely using period hand tools.

    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Zahid Naqvi; 03-30-2009 at 2:19 PM. Reason: added the guitar neck detail picture from other thread

  2. #2
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    Well, I dont really now what to say...

    Except, I agree with the earlier post that you should put a book
    together!

    Oh, is are any of your stunning pieces somewhere we (I) can see them
    in person? I'm pretty sure the actor and the Queen won't be accomodating

  3. #3
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    The actor went out of favor in a legal dispute with his studio. I have no idea where the guitar now is.I would like to do a book of how to use tools,and maybe include photos of work too,but it would cost a fortune.At my age,it would be good to leave a legacy in print.
    Last edited by george wilson; 03-30-2009 at 12:13 AM.

  4. #4
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    O.K. That's over ther top. Go to your room.

  5. #5
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    Smile

    But Hank,I am in my room!!!

  6. #6
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    Incredible is the only word that comes to mind.

    jim

  7. #7
    Wow! is my only contribution. Amazing work.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  8. #8
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    Now that's what I am talking about!
    Dewey

    "Everything is better with Inlay or Marquetry!"


  9. #9
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    Maybe start small

    George, I don't know how you would organize such a huge task, but what
    if you started small? One of your chapters might be a book to me. For
    example, the recent discussion of saw handles raises a lot of questions
    for me. Particularly, how do the aesthetics balance with the functional
    aspects including grain orientation and the desire to avoid short grain. Also,
    the embelishment of the top of the disston 7 handle looks great, but it also
    helps when I use the saw with both hands. Is this what was intended?

    I realize as a relatively inexperienced woodworker my questions are likely
    to be sophomoric. However, given your interesting comments and fantastic
    examples of your work you've posted, I don't think you should underestimate
    the markets willingness to pay for your insights, however small.

  10. #10
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    Thank you for your ideas Lowell. I will give them thought.

  11. #11
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    George, that's just crazy ridiculous skill in inlay. Outstanding!

  12. #12
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    George, I think the idea of the book is excellent. It is very expensive if you are fronting the money for the publishing. Why not using a publisher whose business it is to hire a writer and print and sell books? What about any of the major presses having to do with woodworking. Does Colonial Williamsburg have their own publishing branch?
    Veni Vidi Vendi Vente! I came, I saw, I bought a large coffee!

  13. #13
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    I was going to post a pic of the push stick I made this weekend but have changed my mind!


    That's truly amazing George!
    Last edited by scott spencer; 03-30-2009 at 4:43 PM.
    Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by scott spencer View Post
    I was going to post a pic of the push stick I made this weekend but have changed my mind!
    Too funny!!
    If at first you don't succeed, look in the trash for the instructions.





  15. #15
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    How did it sound?
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

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