MSCSA Conference and Bridge Copies

pyramid bridge about halfway finished

In the Belly of The Beast

Last weekend, I attended a student leadership conference and general assembly of the Minnesota State College Student Association legislative body.  As a member of the MN SE Technical Student Senate, I was able to represent my school and help make platform decisions, along with attending some great professional development workshops.  I also visited the Mall of America.  Wow.  It WAS just like in the movie The Mighty Ducks.

There were 300 student in attendance, representing the incredible diversity of the Minnesota State College system.  I was impressed with the stories of my fellow students, who as a rule are full time students while often working one or more jobs, sometimes also as parents.  These folks still managed to carve four (!) days out of their  schedule to come together and work towards improving our representation of students and improving lives for students across Minnesota.  An inspirational group, to say the least.

The general assembly, numbering 300.

In Class, we have moved pass nuts and saddles, and are finishing up Acoustic Setup class with bridge copies and bridge re-glues.

The final assignment in the class is to make a traditional pyramid bridge from blueprint.  Using a piece of flatsawn rosewood we must attempt to make an accurate, elegant bridge based on a drawing.  It is very pleasant work, as the rosewood lives up to it’s name, with a lovely scent and excellent workability.  Unlike previous assignments, where we were given an example of how to complete the assignment, this time we are on our own.

I always love a challenge!

completed bridge copies, in maple

Tools Class ends, Fall Begins

Boy Howdy,

We’ve been keeping busy over here, busting out our projects, playing music during lunchtime, and eating the last of the sweet corn and making salsa fresca as much as possible.  I’ve also been keeping busy after class by prepping my little cottage for a fresh coat of exterior paint.  It’s a bit of rush to completion, with the brisk promise of autumn chill in the air already; the trees begin to show gorgeous perennial colors and the wool clothing is gladly taken out of the closet.

This week, we wrapped up our Tools Class, where we’ve become well acquainted with block plane, chisels, the concepts of Square and Flat, and the efficient and accurate use of time and material.  It’s been an excellent proving ground for me, as my at-home practice and experimentation of woodworking gave me a bit of a head start.

Just the same, I struggled along with everyone else, finding my own best and most  accurate way to accomplish each task.  I learned well, and and well pleased with the results.  I was able to finish all projects with a couple of days to spare; I was then able to work on my violin-maker’s knives (that I’ll make a post about later).  All in all, it’s been a blast so far.

local wildlife

Been loving roasted taters and cheese curds!




More Tools and Projects

Well, we’ve been keeping busy in this first month of school by focusing on hand and power tools, wood theory and mechanics.  We’ve recently made our own curved cabinet scrapers, with perform like  excellent little curved-bottom handplanes.  We’ve also continued on our scarf-jointed neck mockup by adding a mahogany headcap veneer.  We’ve also been prepping stock for a myriad of new projects.  Before too long, I expect our projects will be very useful tools and neat to look at as well.


plenty of work completed for a Wednesday…


Well, well! This first week has been great, so far we’ve plowed right into the tool preparations, and got up to speed on the safe use of the Jointer, Planer, and Table Saw. I’ve found that, despite having devoted a fair amount of time to learning about lapping and sharpening and hand tool use, I’m still struggling to efficiently achieve class goals. The standards are (thankfully) rigorous, and there is no allowance for shortcuts. While I’m frustrated that my tools have taken longer to shape up than usual, I’m glad to say that we should all come out of the tools class with exact standards for tool maintenance, safety, and effective use.

I also will say that my hands are sore from too much lapping, honing, and planing. I’m ready for a weekend trip to Wisconsin for some much needed music, food, and friendship with my homesteading buddy Jesse Downs.

As for the new house; it is gorgeous! Every sunset has been spectacular, as well as the sunrise this morning. I could hear owls softly hooting and critters a-rustling. It was such a pleasure to wake up this morning with amber light streaming through the trees, making myself some good strong coffee with eggs and toast. Every good day starts with breakfast!

We have two old apple trees that are laden with fruit; I grabbed a handful, then cored, peeled and sliced ’em so that I can make a pie. Yum!

I’ll be sure to take some elegant photos of the Labor Day festivities!