My shop is my sacred space. When I cross the threshold into its confines, something changes within me. I move from a work-a-day wage slave to a creator. When I transform wood, it transforms me. Because I have to maintain a day job, I move at a turtle’s pace, hence the name of my company: Tortuga Early Instruments. My motto is “Tardus et stabilis…” or “Slow and steady…”
I am currently working on two projects. The first is a single manual Flemish harpsichord I’m building from scratch; it’s based on a 1640 instrument by Andreaus Ruckers.
The first stage of building such an instrument is to create the keyboard. I’m building the instrument in the Craftsman/Arts & Crafts style, which is non-traditional, but I’m keeping this one and I want it to match the rest of our home’s furniture. Thus, I’m using African blackwood and quarter-sawn oak for the visible parts and pieces; the rest is made from poplar and non-knotty pine.
I’m also working on an electric cello for my youngest son’s birthday in April. I don’t have much time, so I’m sourcing some of the parts from the Interwebs.
I will be shaping and bending these maple pieces into something resembling the skeleton of a traditional cello. So far, I have the body blank, the faux body strip, and the bridge, bow, and pre-amp. The best is yet to come – the next project will be a Baroque guitar!
In my little shop, which is really just a two-car garage, I have the following:
The only machine in this list I purchased new was the Central Machinery 4″ × 36″ sander because I needed it pronto. The rest all came from Craigslist. I’ve stripped, refurbished, fixed and repainted many of them and they’re all now close friends. Of course, I didn’t start out with this group; they came to me over time and I’m glad they’re here.
Here they are as they take their respective places in the shop:
I hope you enjoyed this tour of my sacred space.
-- Darin R. Molnar