Martin Preshaw Uilleann Pipemaker

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Martin's Workshop (New Nov. 2011)

Building the New Workshop

Martin Preshaw
Teach an Phiobaire
Formil Road
Mullanmeen Under
Co. Fermanagh
BT93 1DR

Martin Preshaw Pipemaking Workshop 2011: One Year On

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Who could believe that it is just over a year since the new workshop was finished and the machinery moved in. Where does the time go? This year has saw little making and a lot of re-organising. There were many aspects of the pipe making process which I was very unhappy with. My measurements, notes and “menus” were on A4 sheets scattered everywhere but where I needed them to be. There were a total of four sets of pipes made this year, as well a number of chanters. Sets were made in D, C#, C and B. This was a conscious decision as the first call of duty was to establish a workshop journal entering my measurements, approaches, tools employed etc. for each and every operation of every set. This required a lot of discipline as it is always in the nature of the maker to get the product finished and playing and worry about the “homework” later. The exercise has been very beneficial and I believe that my pipe making and instruments can only improve as a result.

Tooling was also a major issue. Drills, cutters, mills, slot cutters, lay in duplicate and triplicate all over the old shop. A more organised approach was demanded. Again, slowly and methodically as each operation of the making process was carried out the tools and materials were listed in the journal but a holder was also made-up to hold all the necessary bits and bobs for any given operation. This has been a huge coup. For example, if making a main stock, I can lift a holder containing every item of tooling needed to make it. Some of the various holders can be viewed on the shelf above the Myford Super 7. There remains, however, one section of tooling that requires attention. There are many, many, many long series drills, home-made and shop bought as well as reamers that need to be “housed”. They cross over from pitch-to-pitch and so far I haven’t been able to hit on a satisfactory storage solution. They live in the drawers for the time being, out-of-sight, out-of-mind. The store-room has now been shelved and it holds most of my timber supplies and all the spare sundry items required for the job.

There have been two new machine purchases, a Myford Mill/Drill with an R8 Spindle and a belt-disc sander. I first saw the latter machine in the most honourable Mr. David Quinn’s workshop a few years ago and thought it was an extravagance. Having owned my own for the best part of a year I am now amazed how I was ever able to make pipes without one! This little boy is so useful for so many operations, making the flats on composite drone reeds, squaring off the plate on bass bars prior to assembly, sharpening tools and many more, a real boon. The Myford Mill Drill is superb. Until I got this machine, and a word or two of advice from David, I did not realise just how difficult I was making some of the processes for myself. The preparatory work for attaching the bass bar to the main stock, key ways on the instruments, reamer making, (or part-finishing), achieving accurate tapers for the rolled sliders can all be carried out on this machine. As an Irish medium teacher by trade, engineering does not come easy but I am looking forward to all the possibilities this addition which will present as the machine and I age with one another.

It has been a year of organising, re-adjustment, re-learning and honing my skill base. The photos are a snap-shot of this forward journey, I hope you enjoy them.

Martin Preshaw
November 2011

The workshop build was assisted by the Rural Development Programme
administered by the Cookstown and Fermanagh SWARD offices.