Workshop, tools & machines
In December 2014 I moved my workshop from Amsterdam to Leipzig where I have since been building instruments in the beautiful jugendstil neighbourhood of Stötteritz. The city of Leipzig has an exceptional musical tradition. It was here where Johann Sebastian Bach, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Robert and Clara Schumann all worked, and where Richard Wagner was born and received his musical training. It is also an exceptional centre for fine arts and crafts with many prominent contemporary painters and sculptors living and working in the various neighbourhoods of the city. The Grassi Museum of musical Instruments is of special interest to the lute enthusiast for its vast collection of baroque lutes and theorbos, many of them by the Hoffman family who worked in the city in the XVII Century.
Hand tools for making musical instruments have changed little over the centuries. The tools used by the great Mahler, Tieffenbrucker, Frei, Stradivari and Amati are indeed very similar than the ones we use today. I enjoy working with quality hand tools, taking good care of them, understanding their peculiarities. They help me reach a high level of precision impossible to achieve with electric tools. The most important hand tools are hand planes of many kinds and sizes, chisels and scrapers. I have also made some of those tools myself for very specific tasks related to lute building.
I only make use of the most basic machines to help build my instruments and only in the first stages of construction. They are basically used to process big planks or slabs of wood into smaller more manageable pieces that will be the rough parts of the instruments. For this a bandsaw is generally used. Another very important machine is the lathe with which the pegs are made.