Preparing for 2012

A brand new year is only days and my mind floods instantly with thoughts of all the things I’d like to make and accomplish within my workshop!

2011 wasn’t as ‘successful’ as I was hoping it would be, for various reasons. Moving further away from my workshop hasn’t been easy but, in some ways, I’m fortunate to still have access to this space right now. I cannot say with any certainty that I will still have this workshop one-year from now… Regardless of whether or not the world “ends“! So, there could be a lot of questions surrounding that – can I afford to rent somewhere? What will happen to all of my machinery? If the economy’s in a better state, I may look at restarting a business to keep my workshop dream alive – but, uncertainty is the word of the moment.

There is one new area that I’d like to explore next year and that is the art of guitar making

To be more specific, I’m talking about the electric guitar with solid timber bodies. I already own an acoustic – I just haven’t yet taught myself how to play it! I already own a good book on the subject and I’ve seen numerous forum posts in the past that document the making process for several different models so, with confidence and belief in my own woodworking ability, I’m confident that I can produce something and make a very good job of it. Without being too specific, I’m thinking of either a Les Paul or Fender Strat. I also intend to learn to play this once I’ve made it and, from what I’ve read, these are the two main ‘styles’ recommended to beginners.

Once I’ve sourced all the necessary parts, the timber and probably some downloadable plans for templates, mu biggest challenge will be to produce something that is ‘environmentally sound’. A lot of guitars today are produced using timbers such as ebony, from such exotic locations that it’s almost impossible to know whether the timber truly came from a sustainable and renewable source. It is a corrupt world that we live in. My aim then, is to produce a bespoke guitar using timber grown in the UK and, ideally, sourced within a fifty-mile radius of Bristol in the south-west.

Whether or not this will work as well, I do not know. While the acoustics aren’t at risk in the same way as a hollow-bodied acoustic guitar, I’m sure there is some significance in the use of certain timbers over what we’ve always had available locally. As far as I’m aware, no-one else in the UK is currently manufacturing a guitar like this… If it works well for me then, I may also consider it as a small business opportunity.

I expect to spend up to around £300 on all the necessary materials and supplies for this project and it’s certainly not something I’m going to rush in to, as soon as possible. This does mean that it’s likely I’ll have less spare cash for other projects (unless I get a surprise, generous pay rise at work!!) so, once again, my attempts to get back in to the annual Bristol exhibitions may be faltered.

That’s not to say that I don’t have plenty of ideas rolling around in my head. Last week, I received the latest issue of Good Woodworking magazine, where I was inspired by one of Gary Rogowski’s stools in one of the main feature articles:

My thinking is that I could somehow take my step stool design from a couple of years ago and develop it from there:

Do I really need a stool like this? Well, probably not. I would only expect to see a stool of such height surrounding a kitchen bar which, as it happens, neither my mum’s house or my own rented accommodation happens to have! But, guitarists are often seen seated on stools while playing so, I’m sure I can justify the time spent on this one.

I’ve been living in my own space since the end of March but, as circumstances have changed recently in my mum’s house, I may be returning ‘home’, early in 2012. That would bring me back closer to my workshop and, with a reduced living space, I may end up in ‘need’ of a new desk for my laptop and assorted paperwork…

I guess I could just cut down the large chipboard-with-metal-frame construction that I’m currently using but then, I could just as easily give it away to someone locally.

Another idea for an exhibition piece came from the Millcreek Woodworking blog, in the form of this hall bench:

It’s not the kind of piece you see very often (certainly in the UK) but, with it’s storage facilities and the fact that many people (women!), like to sit down while they’re on the phone, I wonder whether it’s the kind of idea that could be developed so as to ‘convince’ people that they need on in their hallways…! 😉

My main piece was going to be a traditional-style blanket box or chest with reassuring frame and panel construction. With that in mind, I accidentally stumbled across a job lot of “old elm roof beams” on eBay, from a seller only one-hour away in Yeovil. There was something like forty-two lengths in total; each cut to around 2.1m/7ft in length. Dimensions were a mix of 4x2in and 7x2in sawn, which left room for a lot of potential. There were the obligatory signs of woodworm and some other areas of damage in places but, someone got a bargain as the whole lot sold for a bit less than £100!!

Sadly, no, it was not me. I briefly entertained the idea but, even if I could’ve spared the cash, I wasn’t convinced that it would all fit in the back of my van. I didn’t have a roof rack or even the basic bars at the time, either. Now that I’m considering selling my van, I doubt I’ll bother to purchase those parts. I was quickly deterred from laminating and making my own roof bars as no insurance company would be prepared to pay out in the event of an accident, due to the use of non-standard accessories. A point well made!

I am pleased that I got the loft-space sorted in the workshop last year. That really has made a huge difference to improving the efficiency of my current workshop; I just don’t get the time to use it! For several reasons, I won’t be looking to insulate any part of the interior. At best, the only further improvement I’ll make to the building is the replace the up-and-over door. But, that could easily cost another £150 in materials and it’s also the time and hours that could otherwise be spent working on more pressing projects.

My mum has asked for a fitted wardrobe, once she’s finished redecorating in the next month or so. That’ll call for the purchase of a new plunge saw – yep, you’ve guessed it; more money!!

Although I may sound negative at times, this should be a very interesting year and I hope you’ll stick around to follow my journey.

A big thanks for reading, and to everyone who’s followed and subscribed over the past twelve months!

7 thoughts on “Preparing for 2012

  1. I too am posting a series about blogging results in 2011/goals for 2012 after seeing you do this last year. Oddly enough, I made mention of the world ending, so hopefully that won’t happen!

    Good luck next year!


  2. i have more ideas of stuff to make than lifetime left my workshop is on the side of my house and i have constant interuptions i was thinking of renting but then the economys buggered and your always chasing rent it would be nice to talk to other woodworkers as italk to myself alot a lot of friends have given up but i keep going if your interested in buying wood i may be able to help

  3. Happy New Year! I look forward to seeing how the guitar building goes. Being a fan of the Telecaster, I might suggest that for a first solid body. Les Pauls introduce angled headstocks and angled necks. Strats are nice, but the ‘belly cut’ can be tough to get right. TDPRI is a great resource of all things Telecaster and beyond. For a first guitar, Telecasters have very basic construction (most of your work will be with the neck and frets), but you learn a lot about the process.

    TDPRI also has an online contest, usually in March/April. It is a great way to do a build with lots of encouragement and interaction with other builders. I participated last year and had a blast.

  4. Olli, I wish you all the best for 2012, with a lot of quality workshop time! I’m very much looking forward to your take on making a guitar! As you’re mentioning Gary Rogowski’s stool – I made a stool inspired by it just some month ago – check it out at You’re right that it makes a good kitchen bar stool, but its definitely a useful piece also for the workshop – especially with the high table heights in the workshop.

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