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Renaissance Workshop Company
The foremost manufacturer of early musical instruments worldwide

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What are the minimum essential tools to build a instrument?

It's impossible to give you a definitive list of tools required, partly because no two projects are identical and partly because each person has different preferences and budget. The best way to approach this question is to break down your project into discrete operations, and then the tool(s) required for each operation will be fairly obvious. To spread out the cost, and to avoid the trap of buying tools you think you'll need only to find later that you've wasted your money, buy tools only after you are certain you need them. By the end of your project you will have acquired a complete workshop exactly tailored to your preferences and budget. The kits of the Renaissance workshop company come with some difficult to find tools and instructions to make your own.

Does it take a fully-equipped woodworking shop to build stringed instruments? I don't have that much money to spend on expensive power tools.

Many of us started out without a workshop, without any power tools, and without any woodworking skills. We did not spring into this craft as fully-formed and outfitted woodworkers, but as kitchen-table-based hacks. It's a misconception that it takes an expensive shop filled with power tools to do a good job. What it takes is practice.

Stringed instrument building is woodworking, and you can't expect to engage in it without learning such basic woodworking skills as using a handplane to plane a good joint. That doesn't take expensive power tools, just a well-tuned handplane and the investment of time to learn how to use it. And just buying a bunch of power tools won't make you a woodworker either. It takes time to learn to use power tools properly and safely. You can ruin just as much wood with expensive power tools as you can with hand tools, only faster. To say nothing of valuable body parts.

I'm putting together my first real shop and am planning on a dust collection system. Do I have to ground it?

You must ground your dust collection system. Not only is it cheap insturance against the possiblilty of a dust explosion caused by static buildup, but the static charge accumulated by the system *hurts* when it discharges to you! Just run bare copper wire on the inside of your pipe connected to every machine on one end, and a proper ground on the other.

Can I use a hand-held power planer for flattening or jointing plates?

No. Hand-held power planers are designed for rough carpentry work and cannot be adjusted to the fine tolerances necessary for instrument making.

I can't afford a drill press. Are those portable drill guides any good?

Not for instrument building. If you can't justify the expense of a drill press, see if there's one at your local technical school or high school shop you can use.

I need a bandsaw but can't afford a 14" model. Can you recommend a good bandsaw that's smaller and cheaper?

There are no good bandsaws smaller than 14". We recommend saving your money and waiting until you can afford a 14" bandsaw. There's a huge difference in quality, and in the amount of work you'll be able to do, once you make that step up to a 14" saw. If you're desperate, buy a hand-held power jigsaw to tide you over until you can afford a 14" bandsaw. 

Copyright © 1999 Renaissance Workshop Company Ltd.
Last modification: 17 de septiembre de 2010
Phone & Fax:(+34) 91 450 30 50