Guitars and Motorcycles and Work, Work, Work

Holy No Posting, Batman! It’s been five months since I wrote an update here. While I’ve sort of made my peace with the fact that weekly written updates are not a necessity right now, I didn’t realize it had been quite so long. Here’s what’s been happening.

All Work and No Play

Just yesterday I finished a 19 day stretch of work at my regular job without any weekends off. Working third shift is tough enough, but when 40-hour weeks turn into 58-hour weeks and those turn into 66-hour weeks, it’s enough to drive most people batty. Things may calm down, but I’ve definitely looked around for other opportunities more in the past month than I have in the past year.

Electric Guitar Build 2017

Although most of my guitar playing is acoustic, last year I sold my number one electric guitar to pay some bills. It was kind of a drag. So when I got my tax return this year I decided I was finally going to build my own.

A digital mockup of my guitar build

A digital mockup of my guitar build

This is one of the digital mockups I did of the guitar. Some specs that I’ll share:

  • 5-piece laminated walnut and maple bolt on neck
  • Body with walnut top and back and a chambered maple core
  • Custom knobs with inlaid Indian and Liberty head nickels
  • Nickel plated copper etched pickguard and stop tailpiece
  • Original handwound pickups

At one point I thought I might be done building this by the end of April. Then maybe by the end of May. Now, I’m not sure. I have the vast majority of the supplies on hand, but I don’t always have the ideal tools for the job. Right now I’m at a point where I’m going to try making a fence for my oscillating spindle sander to flat sand the laminate pieces for the neck. Maybe that will happen this weekend, but I’m not going to rush it. You can see many more pictures in the Guitar Build #1 Facebook Photo Album as well as the Neat & Keen Instagram.

The Triumph Motorcycle Print

This print got started last summer and I’m a bit dismayed that it’s taken me so long to finish, but it’s really near the finish line now. All but the final film are mostly done and require some touchups. I’d get more done on this regularly if setting up the inks and cleaning the pens afterward weren’t so time consuming.

Films laid out for the Triumph Motorbike print

Films laid out for the Triumph Motorbike print

Even though I was on a good pace with the guitar building, I feel like the motorcycle print has to take priority. It’s easy to get too many projects started at once, but I feel exactly two projects is okay. Waiting hours for glue or ink to dry is a common hold up and when that happens it’s nice to have a second project to continue work on. Guitars and motorcycles feels like a good combo to me.


I’m trying to decide what the next project will be when the motorbike print is done. I have at least one relatively easy print in mind that I might knock out quickly. I’d also really like to do a painting this year. I’ve been mulling around ideas for chess boards and pieces, concrete lamps, and most recently napkin holders. Aside from visual art prints I have a goal with Neat & Keen to produce some number of products that feature a striking visual appeal, a build quality that will last generations, and at the best value for the consumer. My overall buying philosophy is that while we should not put too much emphasis on the things we own (and should own fewer things in general), the things we do own should be good things and made to last. I want to make things that fit that bill. So what should I make first?

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