Making a Nut Float

The problem with making tools, is that eventually you have all the tools you really need. I have met this problem and figured out how to conquer it! Simply manufacture the need! In this case I have decided to make a mandolin.

This requires a bunch of new tools! Since I want to learn luthery, I have started out by doing repair, adjustment and fine tuning. Repairing a range of instruments means even more tools.

One such tool is for cutting or adjusting the notch in the nut to take a string. Ideally you want a perfect fit. Of course you could just buy a set of nut files, but since you need a nut file per string size this could mean four files for a basic mandolin. If you broaden you range, you can quickly find a need for quite a few nut files.

Here is a small collection of string sets;
String Sets

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Finally, I can make a decent cut with a Western Saw!

I took the day off to get dental work and found that my dental issues were not as bad as I feared.  So there was nothing for it, I went to the Dallas Lie Neilsen Tool Event.

It was a very important day for me.  As a woodworker, I have suffered from the inability to make anything like a reliable cut with a Western Style Saw.   Not the worst handicap, since I have no issue when using a Razorsaw(Gyokucho) 650 Royoba.   Sometimes however it would be nice to push a blade and not have sawdust covering the line.

At this event I met Frank Strazza, from the Heritage School of Woodworking.

Frank Strazza

Frank managed to teach this old dog a new trick.


I was missing four things.  The first clue is the sound of the saw.   I can’t really show that.

The second is the grip, solidly held with absolutely no pressure or tension.


The third was the stance.


The fourth thing I was missing was how to hold my other thumb when starting the cut.  When drawing a Japanese saw, I am pulling, and I guide with the side of my hand.  For starting a push cut I needed to see the other side of the saw clearly.  By using the tip of my thumb as a guide I was able to manage a decent guide when I needed it.   I practiced without my thumb to get the method clearly, but I can assure you when I cut a line that matters, I will be using Frank’s method from here on out.

Frank is a brilliant teacher with the ability to watch for a while and figure out better approaches for a task.  I would love to take several of his classes.

Lie Neilsen’s crew was wonderful as always, and I had the pleasure of meeting Lynn Dowd!
Dowd's Tools
Lynn Dowd is the person to contact if you are looking for fine vintage tools in Texas.

Dallas is quite a bit out of my way, but getting to go to this event really helped justify the time and expense.



I made an ‘amplifier’ for my iphone.

CedarAmp in the Mist

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Hot Hide Glue Pot



Here is what I use to warm my hide glue with.

Glue Pot Corked

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A Tale of Two Screwdrivers

Sadly my favorite screwdrivers of old are beginning to show their age.  Not much life left in the few that haven’t gotten lost or broken.  While searching the web for a good ratcheting driver, I found a very interesting screwdriver. It is called a double drive screwdriver. Kobalt makes it and Lowe’s carries it. After reading about it I may have drooled a bit.  It is a ratcheting drive that turns the screw when you twist the grip. It also turns the screw when you twist the grip the other way. It looked very plastic and aluminum, but it also looked solid, so I had to try it out.   I am a technician by trade, so I use a screwdriver constantly.  A good screwdriver is a must have tool.

The price was a bit high, around 25 dollars, but it looked like a pretty nice leap in tool art.  It if worked as advertised, it would also save me time.

For comparison, I also obtained an HDX screwdriver set from Home Depot. This costs about $7.  I had already tried these out and found them to be fairly nice.   They don’t ratchet, but they have interchangeable bits and still end up working as well as a fixed bit screwdriver.   I had already converted several to wooden handles and found them to be a real pleasure to use.

Two screwdriver sets in packages

I was very exited to try out the nifty blue screwdrivers.  fortunately I had a magnifying lamp and an air conditioner that I needed to put back into working order.

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