I do all my work in one workshop at home, which I built myself, and also built the workbenches in it and the buffing / polishing machine. My workshop is permanently overcrowded, both with machinery and instruments in various states of repair, construction and re-spraying, and much of the machinery is unique.
For example, I have a fret cutting machine that I commissioned a number of years ago from a very well respected engineering company called Mobile Applications Ltd. This enables me to cut the fret slots to a very high tolerance of accuracy – i.e. ten thousand. It’s a magnificent machine which is a credit to British engineering.
The same company also built my belt sanding machine to my specifications, and provided me with one of their prototype band saws. I have a small British built jointing planer and an overhead, purpose built router, as well as numerous hand held routers for all difficult applications.
However, my favourite tools are hand tools – many of which I have made myself, such as knives, chisels, etc. When you build instruments, you also have to build a lot of the tools because they are so specialised. Fortunately, I really enjoy all aspects of building, and it gives a great sense of satisfaction to create instruments using my own purpose built tools.
The spray booth is located at the far end of the shed. When it comes to spraying guitars, for example, if I use nitro cellulose, I use between twenty and thirty five coats of paint, depending on the type of wood – and I have to sand them down every time between coats. If I use two pack melanine, then it is approximately twelve coats. I always use clear basecoat so whichever colour paint I use doesn’t leech into the wood. This is particularly important if you ever have to scrape the colour off to start from scratch.
Even though space is limited, having built a piano in my shed, I would have to say that no job is too big for me to undertake.