Woodworking – making a bending iron

Posted by jerry on December 28th, 2008 — Posted in Music, Woodwork

While I successfully used a piece of water pipe and a blow torch for forming the sides of my travel violin, I felt I needed something more reliable for the mandolin. I had read of the possibility of using a heat gun – the sort used to strip paint – to provide a steady heat source, but saw no plans for doing so.

It was time to think it through and find my own solution. And here it is.

luthier's bending iron

Please note that the air needs a place to escape so that the end of the heat gun doesn’t melt. But the solution is a durable one.

luthier's bending iron

The pipe structure comprises an internal plug with a square top – which is held in the vise. Attached is an T-junction connector, with one opening towards the heat gun, the other vertical. To the vertical end is attached a short piece of water pipe using a connector. And that’s it. The heat enters the wider aperture of the T-junction, finds the lower aperture plugged, and diverts up the vertical tube. The vertical tube is narrower than the T-junction, so the tube gets to be heated, while waste air is released out the top – away from the person doing the bending.

luthier's bending iron

On the hot setting (600C) the vertical tube is plenty hot enough to boil water on contact, but because the waste heat can escape, there is no heat buildup to melt the heat gun, and there is no hot blast of air against the body of the operator.

The proof is in this piece of binding which was used to test the bending iron.

luthier's bending iron

Steam gramophone

Posted by jerry on October 22nd, 2008 — Posted in DIY, Music, Steam, Technology

Geoff Hudspith, UK inventor and steam enthusiast has built a steam powered gramophone to play records at the various steam fairs he attends.

Powered by a small Stuart single cylinder double-acting steam engine, the gramophone took four years – between other projects – to complete. Water is fed into the boiler by a hand pump and an injector, and then heated by kerosene. The gramophone is fairly standard with the speed regulated by spring weights and the exhaust steam is cleverly vented through the sound horn.

You can see more and hear the gramophone on the BBC website.

Here is another view of it at a steam fair in Denmark

This is the ultimate in steampunk entertainment!

Here is a different gramophone powered by a stirling hot-air motor. This one is a Paillard “Maestrophone No. 205” gramophone manufactured in Switzerland between 1910 and 1914.


Full Circle goes recording

Posted by jerry on June 22nd, 2008 — Posted in Journal, Music

A successful foray into the recording studio – with a number of revisits planned. We accomplished a lot at Tam Lin’s studio in Sydney – some great sounds and a well equipped studio with state of the art mics running through pro gear and a large mixing desk all feeding into a large desktop mac running ProTools – very similar software to Tracktion. With this kind of gear it won’t be long before Full Circle’s debut EP is together and ready for the airwaves.

Full Circle in the recording studio

We played around with some tunes, a couple of songs and a couple of a-capella shantys to show our vocal versatility. At the very least it will be a good demo for festivals and the like. So it was a very productive session. We are booked in again in a couple of weeks time to do some overlays and possibly a couple more songs.

Full Circle in the recording studio

There is of course a great deal of work still to do – recording is just the first step, then there is post-production to get the tonal values right before a final mix down. Then there is the mastering for professional production and the design of album covers etc. But after ten years it is high time we responded to all the calls for a CD. This time it’s actually happening – and it’s a pretty exciting step for us.

Full Circle in the recording studio

More on how this story unfolds later 🙂


National Folk Festival Canberra 2008

Posted by jerry on March 24th, 2008 — Posted in Journal, Music

I have returned from the National Folk Festival here in Canberra with a notebook full of tune names and a camera full of images. Great session, great concerts and a fabulous meeting of old friends – some of whom I hadn’t seen in twenty years!

Highlights were:

  • the Vin Garbutt, Genticorum and Trouble in the Kitchen concerts;
  • getting up close and personal with a nyckelharpa
  • playing sessions with Bob McInnes and Scott and Louisa Wise and Chris Duncan
  • my Full Circle concert at the Merry Muse (maybe they’ll hire us next time?)
  • playing a Dave Guscott violin – and buying Octave Violin strings
  • the positive reactions I got to my pochette fiddle; and
  • playing music with such wonderful people and meeting old friends

You can read the full write-up on my other blog – Fourstrings

Full Circle at the Merry Muse, National Folk Festival Canberra 2008


Full Circle Band – St Patrick’s Day 2008

Posted by jerry on March 19th, 2008 — Posted in Journal, Music

Being on a Monday, St Patrick’s Day was potentially going to be quiet, I thought as I packed my fiddle and loaded the van. At least the set-up would be easy – no pushing through the crowds… Okay, so how wrong can you be?

The set-up for the first show was amidst a lunchtime crowd who were in no mood for going back to work. And they were even less inclined to go back to work once we started playing.

St Patricks day - Full Circle at PJ O'Reilly's

We played a long set and then it was time for the Irish dancers who did some great dances to some not altogether traditional Irish tunes!

St Patricks day - Full Circle at PJ O'Reilly's

Then two short sets and we were packing up ready for the next show – at Filthy McFadden’s in Kingston. We had the other sound system pre-set up so I just needed to set up the lights and mic stands and we were ready for another three and a half hours.

St Patricks day - Full Circle at PJ O'Reilly's

By now the crowd was leaving work and arriving in droves – quickly filling the pub to bursting where they stayed until late. We finished up about 9.00pm exhausted after seven hours of playing and singing – but it was a good high energy show and the time fairly flew by.

St Patricks day - Full Circle at Filthy McFadden's

We certainly had a great time and made loads of new friends 🙂

See you all at the National Folk Festival!