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  • Writer's picturePerry

On easy and hard paths

Well, I thought I would start a blog series about making things--amplifiers are what I'm mostly making these days, but really all sorts of things. That's what I love doing and there's so much to talk about. I'll do a proper intro to the series later.

Pieces of maple wood
Cool grain pattern on the visible short-side (left)

I was cutting some wood today for the chassis for the new 2A3 amplifier I am preparing to add to my lineup. I make all of my amps entirely from scratch. I buy flat aluminum sheets and cut the holes on a CNC machine using my own custom layouts, and sand it smooth. I buy lumber, cut, drill, paint, finish, etc. It's the only way to make truly unique and beautiful designs.

As I designed this amp chassis, I decided to use maple for the base & feet. And here's the intent of this post: perhaps a typical person might have said to themself, well I have some maple wood here, and I need a thin slice of it, so I'll just run this board through the table saw and away we go. But that's the easy path, and I looked at the wood grain of the maple and said to myself that I don't want the typical grain pattern for this particular application. Instead, I love the cool pattern on the side of the board. So I went through some rather difficult steps to cut my wood strips at a different orientation just to get that wood grain pattern I wanted. It took way longer (probably because I could elevate my woodcutting skills) and I actually should probably just go find the right type of lumber (quartersawn or certain species, etc.) But in any case, after a little extra time and effort, I had some wood strips that I loved, not ones that were just... meh, ok.

The same story played out with another portion of the base that I had to use a complex jig and router setup to get cut right in a single piece. I could have taken an easier path and just mounted a few blocks of wood. Faster, cheaper, easier maybe. But did that meet my intended design elegance? No. So, the hard path we went.

This is what is fun about making stuff--great stuff. Deciding where to compromise and where not to. And because this business is my hobby, not a job to get a paycheck, I can put in the time, effort and care to do things really freaking awesome, because I'm not trying to make any owners more profit by trimming expenses and pumping out more units. I am the owner and the boss, and if it's not fun and great, I'm not doing it.

I'll bring up this topic again. I've been meaning to talk about patience, one of the most powerful characteristics a maker can have, and beneficial in all sorts of areas of life.

Take care and go make some stuff how you think it should be made.

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