14 January, 2016

Sidetracked! How I wound up making sewing aids

It all started about six weeks ago - a kind of Advent plan for the New Year.  As I was carrying my instruments to a rehearsal gig, I realized that I really need to streamline the experience.  Better than that, I realized I have the wherewithal to do something about it!  You already saw the new soft padded carrying case I made for my recorders - aka straight wooden baroque flutes.  Bach, Vivaldi, Telemann, and Handel, not to mention many other composers of that period, wrote for these flutes - the modern metal flute didn't exist in those days.  Neither did the clarinet or saxophone for that matter, but that's another story... And the side  blown wooden flute kinda came into its own with Mozart ( Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pagge-e-e-e-eeeno!) who, funnily enough, detested the flute but wrote exquisite music for it.

So I decided to apply my "soft materials engineering" (sewing) skills to a little hard materials task:  making a portable yet very stable music stand.  One that will stay upright and prevent my delicate wooden toys from crashing to the floor in the hustle and bustle of being bumped by an inattentive musician in a large group.

A quick trip to the local hardware store, a narrow oak board and a few dowels, and a little elbow grease, gave me this:

A recorder stand!
The lower part of the base, folded flat above, rotates out when in use:

That's three sopranos, two tenors, two altos, and a sopranino. 
This is a very stable, completely non-tippy, happy musician configuration.  :D

Then I made a base for my modern instruments:  

The base is rosewood, so it's naturally heavy.  Since it isn't intended for travel, it doesn't need a cross piece.  

It can hold a clarinet, up to three flutes, a spare flute head, and, in a cunning little hole at left, a tuning fork!  

(keep reading, I'll get to the sewing part soon....)

You know how one thing leads to another?  I was chatting with a relative who also plays recorders in a chamber group, and she mentioned she doesn't have a protective case for them.  Or a stand.  

Digs to the rescue: 

The carrying case is designed so the alto recorder can be stowed without being disassembled.  
I also made her a matching padded velvet bag with a flat bottom and drawstrings to carry both the stand and the recorders.  

Then I made a stand for my bass flute:

The base is made out of morado, a dense and heavy Bolivian rosewood.  It's big enough that I can add pegs for a regular C flute and an alto flute without compromising its stability.  There's actually quite a bit of woodworking in this little item, as the original piece of morado was a narrow board.  I had to plane the sides very flat, dowel and glue them together, cut to shape, sand, sand, and sand.... The vertical dowel is inset into the base, glued in, and secured with a large counter-sunk bolt from below. 

Bass flute??? Oh, people, it's a thing of beauty: 

On to sewing!

I discovered a wonderful new wood store nearby when researching the materials for these things, and... one thing led to another.  I thought to myself, there are a few sewing things I've always felt the lack of.  Like a clapper and a point turner. 

So I made them. 

For these two items, I picked a South American hardwood called jatoba, aka Brazilian cherry.  It's nothing like a cherry tree:  its only similarity to cherry is its colour, which also resembles a light shade of teak. The wood is very dense (thus heavy), and very hard, so it keeps edges and points very well.  Jatoba is a very common large tree, used for things like railroad ties.   

The clapper is made of a double layer of the board, 13" (33 cm) long, 2.5" at the wide end, 2" at the narrow end, and 2" high. It weighs 2 lbs 6 oz (1.1 kg).  I still want to add grooves along the sides to help with grasping it, but.... my routing skills are rudimentary, and I'll want to build a jig to hold the clapper in place and guide the router in a straight line... so it may be some time before I dare to apply a cutting blade to this very lovely hunk of very smooth wood. 

Here's my new point turner: a useful little piece of modern sculpture!

I'm willing to hazard a guess that might be the only jatoba point turner in existence.....

I freehand designed this one.  The top is 13 3/8" long. The base is 11" x 4.5":  very useful for clapping down entire items like pockets.  The hole in the middle, is 2 1/4" in diameter, perfect for grabbing it.   The whole thing weighs a whopping 3 lbs 9 oz (1.6 kg).   Everything is held together with glue and dowels - no screws. 

Both pieces are sanded very, very smooth:  120, 220, 320, 400, and 600 grit.  That's the natural colour of the wood, too - since they're intended to be used with fabric and a hot steamy iron, I couldn't (and won't) oil or varnish the wood in any way.  

I got only a short (and inexpensive!) length of board for this project, 33" overall. My stingy pattern layout skills allowed me to lay out the parts in such a way that  I made the two pieces above and still have a 7" square board to serve as another instrument stand.  Very efficient use of materials, if I do say so... 

More sewing aids in the works....  Hint:  I'm on a roll!

1 comment:

  1. Very impressive woodworking and such a lovely way to store and display your wonderful instruments! I've never seen a bass flute so that was a treat. Karen