CLC Newsletter January 2018

Chris Larkin Custom Newsletter January 2018.

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Hello again from the West coast of Ireland,

One way and another not a lot got done since the last Newsletter. Christmas was quiet as it was just the two of us but none the less great for that. We awoke on Christmas morning to find we had no electricity, not unusual locally in the winter. No problem for us as we cook with gas. But without lighting? No problem the rechargeable led array did the job.  

Finally got around to putting up outside lights on the house which is a bit of a tradition in our area. On the one and only warm(ish) sunny day I clambered around and got them in place.


Then we switched them on as darkness fell and this was the result. Completely over the top using every possible program permutation in rotation. We love them.

Medical Report.

The last treatment had the biggest effect on me so far. The fatigue and inability to concentrate lasted several days longer than in previous times - perhaps the effects are cumulative? Anyway I was unable to do my usual days of work so not much progress on the current builds.Next Tuesday will mark the half way point. The treatment that day will include some scans which will given indications of the way the chemo is working. That will be a long day but interesting!    

Tech Bit - Fettling my Big Bandsaw.

Most of the time I use the big bandsaw the accuracy is not too critical. However, when it is required to cut tops, backs and sides it needs to be very precise. So, every so often, I need to fettle the saw, that is, checking that all the settings are optimum. Each setting will affect the others so it takes a while - time well spent.

Bandsaw 101? A bandsaw uses a continuous steel blade that is supported by two wheels one of which is connected to a motor to drive the blade around. The blade passes through the table on which the wood to be cut is supported. To ensure that the blade runs true it is supported above and below the table by guides which prevent twisting on each side and also from behind the blade to take the thrust that pushing wood through the blade will create. Usually there is a fence that gives a straight edge to guide the wood across the table. This is my big bandsaw which can cut up to 300mm high.


  This is the way I do the fettling. Firstly I loosen all the guides and check that the blade has the correct tension which means looking at a gauge and adjusting tension to match the blade width. I check the blade is running correctly on the top wheel. The wheel has a curved surface and I run my blade so that it is basically in the centre of the wheel rim which means that the teeth of the blade are not touching the rim. There is an adjusting knob at the back of the top casing if adjustment is needed.


I then adjust the guides (above and below the table) to support the blade side to side and behind the blade.


For the clearance at the back of the blade I use a double thickness of business card as the measurement.


  A quick run of the machine with all guards in place checks that things are set at this stage. I adjust the table so that it is square to the blade. This is the adjustment for this on my bandsaw. I use the gauge the manufacturer sets as a guide only and adjust to suit my fence and my blade setting.


Next, and very important, I check that the blade is running parallel to the fence/table. I place the square across the blade making sure that it does not touch any of the teeth and check that the distance from the square to the fence is the same at both extremities of the square. If this is not correct then, on my saw, the whole table has to be aligned which is a bit of a job but makes all the difference to accurate cutting.

  Finally I adjust the blade so that it just touches the fence and set the zero mark on the fence adjuster so that I will have accurate cuts.


With everything adjusted  correctly this bandsaw will cut to within 0.4 mm on a height cut of 250mm - here cutting a pair of archtop wedges. 


If you have an idea that you think would make a good subject for the Tech Bit let me know and I'll see if I can include it in a future Newsletter.    

In the Workshop.

No visitors last month and I wasn't fit enough to do too much anyway.I wanted to spray guitar that should in the USA by now but it was not possible. Why should the weather affect the sprayroom? Because the new fan is so efficient that is sucks out all the warm air as soon it is on. This is replaced by ambient air from outside the workshop which drops the temperature too low for the lacquer to cure. Why not heat the spryaroom Chris? Actually I do Chris but the electric oil radiator is not able to compete with the fan when the temperature is below about 12C. 

I did spend two days cutting some of my beautiful Irish walnut for future builds. I had two large pieces of crotch - where the trunk of the tree makes it's first division - that yielded some superb tops as well as great sides from the outside of the pieces. Here is the crotch and two examples of what came out from it - a bookmatched top for an ASAS carved top semi...


...and, also bookmatched, a top for a Lug. Pretty or what?


Not In the Workshop.

I was very sad to hear of the death of Halvard Kausland, a friend, customer and one of the best Norwegian jazz guitarists. He will be much missed. Here is a video of him playing one of my archtops.

Some other pics of customers that I received last month.

A cool looking Christoph with his Razerbird and wearing a fine hat!

Helsinky, a Finnish lady living in Sydney, recording with Denny's fretless Reacter.

Karl Øyri sent me this Christmassy video with his Archtop. 

And Ken Zeserson sent me this pic of his Irish flamed ash Parlour alongside one of Syra's paintings in his house. Good combination!


Syra is expecting her Art to be published! Look at the January edition of  Women in Art278  


The Recipe!

Syra and I cooked a vegetarian Christmas dinner. The main course was a mushroom pie that was seriously delicious. Looked like this before covering.....

....and like this when cooked.

Credit to the Buddhist Chef for this.

Ingredients: (for 2 portions)

2 tablespoons + 3 tablespoons olive oil.4 cups white mushrooms (700g)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1-2 spoons of maple syrup (we used honey)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can coconut milk (400ml - full fat, not light) Note: Canned coconut milk should contain only coconut or sometimes a thickening agent like guar gum but no sugar or anything else added.salt and peper to taste
4 sheets phyllo pastry
4 cups baby spinach.


1 Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C).
2 In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons (30 mL) oil. Brown mushrooms and onions for 5 to 10 minutes.
3 Add garlic, allspice, soy sauce, maple syrup, and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking for 2 minutes.
4 Stir in coconut milk, mix well and COOK UNTIL THE SAUCE THICKENS , about 10 to 15 minutes.
5 On a lightly floured surface, using 3 tablespoons (45 mL) oil, lightly brush one sheet of phyllo with oil. Cover with a second sheet and brush lightly with oil again. Repeat for all 4 layers of phyllo.
6 Place prepared phyllo sheets in 9X5 in. (23X13 cm) bread pan, making sure one side overlaps (allowing you to fold it over once mixture has been added).
7 Pour mushroom mixture over phyllo and garnish with spinach leaves.
8 Fold phyllo dough over and lightly brush with oil.9 Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Please send in some of your recipes. I like this section!  

T-Shirts and Straps.  

T-shirts (same old logo) and only in black, M, L, and XL (all the 2XLs are gone) available. Price is held at €15 each and postage will depend on where you live. These are going well and I need to order more.


The new batch of the exciting Chris Larkin Custom straps are in stock and here is Shauna chuffed with the one she got for Christmas!


These are highest quality Levy's Leathers straps custom made with an embossed leather oval. Price is also €15 with the postal shipping costs depending on where you live.

I can't guarantee that these will improve your playing but they will certainly lift your image!

If you would like to purchase either of these items please contact me and we can sort it out. 


   The Stocklist.

From time to time I have instruments for sale directly from the workshop. Here is what is available now - all basses! 

 An ASAPB5 acoustic bass guitar with back and sides of Irish walnut, adjustable bridge and RMC pickups. This one is amazingly loud acoustically and has that 'woody' sound.  

A very versatile, 3 pickup, solid bodied Syra 4, passive in fetching pink...  


  ...and an SC5 throughneck with headstock in figured Irish maple and all the active EQ trimmings.

If you would like to see other shots of these instruments and get more details on them you can at the Stocklist page.

These instruments are all available to try if you visit the workshop and if you would like to know more about any of them please contact me and I'll be glad to help. 



On a bitterly cold day with a northeast wind we went for a walk along the beach at camp as far as the Finglas river. Didn't fancy crossing the river though!


 ...Finally, finally...!

The final course for our Christmas dinner were crepes. As usual we flambé with brandy. Did we possibly over do the brandy? Don't try this at home!


No crepe was harmed during this event. In fact they were super delicious!

    ....So Finally, Finally, Finally.... 

If you have any ideas for the Newsletter, would like to send me a recipe, an article for inclusion, want to promote your band (if it has one or more of my instruments in it), an event, pics of your Larkin, any YouTube video of you playing one of my instruments or anything else suitable, contact me and I'll see what I can do.  Feel free to forward this Newsletter to anybody who it might interest. The mailing list can be joined by filling in the form at the bottom of any page on the website.