Airplanes

Flying things are extremely cool in just about any form. I have a recreational pilot's license, though I haven't flown in a while. I am very interested in research projects that allow me and my students to make things that fly. If you have ideas, please let me know.

Archery

A while ago, I was involved in medieval archery. no compound bows, graphite arrows or stabilizers in this game. It is all simple bows (longbows are preferred) and wooden arrows with four feathers. The bottom picture shows that period crossbows are also sometimes used. Don't try this at home kids!

Bows are fascinating because they are mechanically elegant. They are simple to describe, but the resulting dynamics is subtle and complex. Stay tuned for more information on bow dynamics.

Guitar Building

People who make stringed instruments are called lutiers. I'm pretty much self taught using books, video tapes, and kind advice from people who actually knew what they were doing. I started out with solid body electric instruments. These are great from beginners because they are pretty much sticks with strings. As long as the neck is lined up and the frets and bridge are in the right places, they mostly work.

After a couple marginal electric instruments, I graduated to acoustic guitars. Like the beginning luthiers, I went through the stage of making funky guitars. My favorite is a small (22" scale length) instrument with 8 string and unusual body shape. For good measure, I used clear sugar pine from a shipping pallet for the back and soundboard. It sounded pretty good and was fun to play. It now has a good home with a friend who iss a real musician.

Eventually, I settled on archtops. I learned the basics from Bob Benedetto's book and his set of tapes. There are many good archtop makers working now, but my humble opinion is that Bob's the Man! I've modified his designs and settled on a 25.5" scale length with a 17" body width. They generally souund pretty good and are getting better all the time.

I had the pleasure of meeting Bob and his wife, Cindy, at the 2005 NAMM convention in Indianapolis. As I understand it, Cindy has been quite involved in the business part of the operation. They are very nice people who have been married for 30 years. They definitely appear to be living happily every after.

Bob Benedetto's Website