Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More shawms - a brace of them

About the middle of 2009, I had the first shawm to a working state that was good enough to make me consider making some more.  I wanted to see what level of improvement I could achieve, based on my experience with the first one.

Differences I planned were:
  1. do it in one piece, which is a more period style
  2. focus rather more on the detail of the staple and reed end of the instrument, and less so on the bell end, since this is more critical to the final performance.
  3. make two at the same time, to see what consistency could be had.
These would still be trial runs, so I planned to mostly use rimu wood again (see Dacrydium_cupressinum), and I still had reasonable stock of well aged rimu to work with.

Easy parts first

Doing the bells would be a simple start, while I thought out the detail of the other end.

Here is a 4" x 4" composite slab being prepared.  It has been centre bored already, hence the groove for the hollow centre visible here. The G clamp and steel angle is a basic rest for the end turning of the bell, and has been improved on since this photo was taken.

Taking the bell profile from the original image from Trevor Robinson's book (see this earlier post), I made saw cuts through the block to about the right depths, and snapped and chiselled off the waste wood.
This photo shows the right end still in a relatively raw state, but the left end has some more accurate depth grooves turned in it, and I have done some rounding down.

Some time later, here are the bells, still siamesed, but with all the external roughing out done (but still oversize, since I hadn't decided the detail of the main body).  I have shaped most of the inside of one end, as much as was worth doing by end turning. Note that I have replaced the G clamp and steel angle with a more elaborate (and more robust) crosswise tool rest for end turning.

Once I had taken the internal shaping close to a final finish, I snapped off the internal nubbin (wot the fixed centre is poking into) and sawed the bells apart so the other one could be turned around and hollowed out.

Then there was a distraction, in the form of a commission which meant that nothing happened with the shawms for about four months (I will talk about this distraction in a later post because it is interesting in itself).

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