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Smoking hot cigar box guitar tail pieces

A good friend of ours has been making cigar box guitars for a while now, and he recently asked us to  make him a few tail pieces from some brass scrap he had laying around.

Being given free license of design we created a variety of shapes, textures, and themes. I like how the scroll work flows naturally across the piece, while the animal designs send a stronger message.

Brass is really a joy to work with. It’s harder than copper, but it has many of the same properties. I think that it is easier to cut the jewelers saw because it is less gummy than copper. Once polished its gold like appearance can’t be beat.

Product review “Copper Solder”

We recently received some copper solder that we had ordered from Rio Grande and couldn’t be more happy with the purchase. This copper solder is affordable, and easy to work with.

We recently received some copper solder that we had ordered from Rio Grande and couldn’t be more happy with the purchase. This copper solder is affordable, and easy to work with.

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In most cases it matches pure copper material very closely. It can be used in the same way one would use silver solder, by placing a small piece on a joint and heating the work until it flows. But it can also be applied like plumbers solder. You can heat the work, and then bring your solder to it, allowing you to add more solder as needed. I find this technique to work well and save time. I always found the hardest part of working with silver solder was setting the solder where you wanted it, and then getting it to stay there once you start heating the work.

The solder is %93 copper and %7 phosphorus making it self fluxing. From what I have experimented with so far it has worked very well. I just build the pieces I want to solder, making sure they fit as tightly as possible and pickle them. Then bring the joint to heat and touch the solder to it. I did find that the solder was harder than the copper material that I was working with. This is noticeable when sanding or filing.

In the end it cost about $55 Canadian including shipping for 1lb, 235 feet of solder. Sadly Rio Grande doesn’t sell it in smaller quantities. But for the price you can’t really complain. The possibilities are really only limited to your imagination.

A Dungeons & Dragons Screen

Our client asked if we could make a DM screen. The confident response was “sure, of course we can… ah but whats a DM screen?”

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He explained that a DM screen is a visual screen or shield to prevent players (of Dungeons and Dragons) from observing the DM’s actions, such as checking notes and rolling dice. Seeing the look of incomprehension on my face he went on to explain that a DM is a (Dungeon Master) who acts almost like a computer does in a video game. The DM will describe the players surroundings, other creatures in the area, and the success or failure of the players actions.

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The DM wanted to be able to use the screen as a prop in the telling of the story. It also needed to be durable, and portable. The idea of a castle or keep was suggested, and we were confident that the design could incorporate hinges to allow it to fold up and be packed away.

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We really wanted the screen to be three dimensional, to really look like a real castle. 1/4″ aluminum plate was used for the castle walls and battlements. Every part was was hand cut, and hand riveted together. The riveting technique allowed the battlements to be fitted without welding giving nice tight edges. All the aluminum parts were acid etched to give the impression of stone and mortar.

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The doors were made of teak, with hand made copper door knockers. Groves were cut to give the effect of the doors being made of boards. The DM was given the option of having real functioning doors, but  ultimately he opted for them being purely aesthetic.

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The final stage of the build involved the addition of four rare earth magnets to hold  the copper designs shown here. The magnets allow the DM to move the designs around, and create his own in the future.

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It was a huge pleasure to work with this client. We were given lots of excellent ideas to work with, and the freedom to really explore the possibilities of this project. It’s a really honor to make something that a person will use and cherish for many years.