My shop burned to the ground in June of 2009. Nobody knows for sure what caused it - the fire dept asked me if it was electrical and I said I don't see how, since everything was turned off - so they put it down to electrical..... No insurance.
I had forty years and two hundred thousand dollars invested in that building and contents. I had spent a huge amount of time in it building and designing stuff, including half a dozen harps and all my patterns and jigs for building my harp designs. I am used to puttering around constantly and I'm always doing something. I had an old cheap cast table saw in storage and an old three wheel sears bandsaw, plus a chinese 8 inch drill press. I dug them out and sniveled a bit. I was spoiled by my investment in high quality stuff. My Grizzly table saw weighed more than four hundred pounds and could split a whisker. My Rikon bandsaw was simply superb and I loved it. Its neck after the fire looked like a flamingo's, all warped. I had little routers and a router table and more, all told ten routers were melted down.
Enough of that story. I raided pawn shops in Jacksonville and came up with a 3/8 inch hand drill, a cheapo router and a Ryobi router table with a router attached. Dusted off the band saw and checked the setup. Nice but no power. Checked out the table saw. Tried to skin a rough board like a poormans jointer - wobble marks - I bought a forty dollar blade and it helped but it still left a wobble cut on everything.- still it cut. Set up my storage shed as a sort of shop.
Now I had been considering buying a Mcnally strumstick or building a Musicmaker Strumbly for several years and I thought what the h_ll I can build something like that without much of a shop. So I set out to figure out what kind of project this would be. While running endless internet searches for free music and info on tuning etc. I ran across CigarBoxNation.com At that point it "only" had seven thousand pictures posted and it was about six months old. I was completely blown away Hooked is probably the word..... That was in late July of 2009 ..............
I set out to find a cigar box. None to be found in my little town so off to the flea market. None there either so ten more miles and I am in downtown St Augustine Fl which has a few cigar shops. Cost me four dollars to park and two hours of walking and I had four cigar boxes that I had to pay five bucks a piece for. Way too much, but I was happy. I did some lay out work and decided I had to have frets since I was still trying for a strumstick type instrument. Also decided that since I had learned of piezo pickups on Cigarboxnation that I had to have one of those too. So I put one together. I got the tuners on upside down and backwards. (really) I got the toothpick frets glued on slightly crooked and slightly off intonation wise. Still it sounded good (still does) I had so much fun with it that I just took off like a maniac and built a half dozen more. Finally I decided to try a slide and that was a major turning point for me. I have had HUGE fun with the slides and dearly love the old delta blues sound. I have built up a repertoire of noise that nobody complains about so maybe its music. My daughter said she thought I was playing a CD and it was me so I must be getting better.
These things breed at night I swear they do. I know have four two string didly bows - three two string didly bows seven slide blues guitars and four strumstick style fretted - plus a my old canjo and four or five of my original builds that I don't even count anymore.
So I set out right around Christmas to sell some - I figured as much fun as I was having somebody else would want on this bandwagon. I have spent a huge amount of time fooling with Ebay and generally don't like it. It might work out but I am taking a break from it for a while.
I started going to a music swap meet down by Orlando at the Mount Dora flea market last month and again this month. No sales and quite a bit of money spent. However I have learned a great deal about my current taste in music and about the average guitarists perception of cigar box guitars. More importantly I discovered that in order to sell these things I HAVE TO master the music and I had to get some power. The March swap meet was expensive for me but I got two amps one that has fifteen watts of power and it makes my cigarbox guitars sound great.
The really good news is that I scored a Roland Micro amp. Nearly as much useful power as the `15watt and it has 22 effects built in !!!!!!!! I have had an absolute blast playing with this thing and I swear it makes me sound like I know what I am doing.
I have sold three of my builds and made decent money on two of those sales. I have had a great deal of interest in all of them. Guitarists seem to have a snooty ego about them and generally don't like them. The general non musician public seems to love them and the music. I have become pretty dedicated to finding the key to what will sell. Partly the Johnny Appleseed effect - Its just too much fun not to share. I have a plan and will share how it works out right here.
I am going to post some more blog notes on building tips here as I get time to do so - but thats it for now.