Happy New Year from Wiens mandolins! I think it’s safe to say that 2016 was a rough year for a lot of us, and that was certainly true in my own life as well. So here’s wishing us all a happier 2017.
News! I’ve recently begun my own logging venture. I’m now logging my own spruce and hauling it back to my shop to cut & split. But alas my equipment budget has been pretty tight, so I’ve had to cut corners on machinery.
Hehe! Okay, I just saw this picture on Facebook and it reminded me of something I’d do. I’m kinda known for my wintertime cycling around town.
Seriously though, I’ve been very busy these past months building several new mandolins that will soon be getting their stain and finish. There’s a a particularly interesting F5 coming up that is cosmetically unlike anything I’ve built before. It will be fun to see it finally strung. Here’s a little sneak peek of the instruments as they get their final shaping and sanding just prior to finishing.
Speaking of finishing, as with any craftsman, I’m always chasing a better result in whatever it is I’m doing. Sometimes in that endless pursuit I find it’s my own tail I’ve been chasing. Such is the way with staining sunbursts on wooden instruments. On Wiens mandolins, I hand- stain my sunbursts directly into the wood. They are not sprayed on top of sealed wood as you see on most production instruments. As such, they have the potential to vary widely in appearance, depending on how that particular piece of wood absorbs the stains. I’ve worked at this for years and still I get surprises. That can be both thrilling and downright disheartening when they don’t turn out quite like you’d hoped. This past fall I had an interesting conversation with a well-known violin and mandolin maker who gave me some new ideas based on his experience in the violin world. I took his advice and I’m quite happy with the results I’ve had following that interaction. Here’s a look at the next Wiens F5 just after hand-staining. Keep in mind this is unsealed bare spruce. I think this one is really gonna have a Loar look!
Another little change that occurred in 2016 is that I’ve begun to hand-cut the Mother of Pearl Wiens logo on the peghead. I’ve used computer-machined CNC cut logos on my instruments since 1998. Back then CNC was a technological marvel that was quite new to the small production luthier and I think it became a bit of a novelty to have CNC-cut parts on otherwise handcrafted instruments. Of course CNC is no less amazing today, but I find as I’ve grown as a craftsman and instrument enthusiast, the hand-cut process with its slight variations gives each instrument just a bit more individuality… And it’s those little individual quirks that really turn the crank of any serious instrument afficianado. Here’s a look at me cutting one of logos for a new Wiens F5 using a jeweler’s saw.
Anyway that’s all the news for now. May 2017 bring you peace and blessings. Take care & Keep on pickin’