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Amusing Carpentry Capers

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I didn’t think Colin used the mahogany in reed pans, though he may have. He has an interesting laminate he has used for reed pans for instruments exported to the US. with it’s variable climate. Not sure the wood he used, but it looked a bit like Spanish mahogany ( like you find in old cigar boxes). Still sounded great. A number of older large concertinas had mahogany action pans, I presume for the greater stability across such a wide piece of wood. The big hassle with “vintage” pre ban materials, including ivory is proof, which except in rare cases doesn’t exist unless you are the original owner. A pipe maker friend of mine had a modest amount of pre ban ivory he used for fittings. None of that matters now. You would be hard pressed to use even mastodon ivory even though it is legal. If you can document your purchase, it might be a good idea. Your concertinas are well below the weight limit though so traveling with them should be ok. Black lacquered hand rests are not likely to draw attention in any case.

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The Small Dipper Cotswold that I ordered new from Colin and received around 2000 had, as Dana suspected, a Cuban Mahogany action pan and raised action board. Even this pan had opposing double tapered dovetail joints of sycamore or similar material for additional stability and they were finished on their outer surface with some kind of lacquer or varnish. The Reed pans appeared to be sycamore or a very similar looking wood. The whole thing was very stable throughout the year to humidity changes. The only time there was any observable change was one of the years when the Noel Hill August class was held at Pete Gibbons' home and we were forced by lack of space to practice outside in the very humid New York heat, and my reed pans swelled up - choking a couple of reeds. But with a return the following week to more hospitable conditions in western North Carolina, the Dipper returned to its happy self.


In a similar case of re-claimed materials, I purchased from Jürgen Suttner an Ab/Eb with ends and sides made from ebony salvaged, so I was told, from the door of an old church in Germany. While CITIES would not be friendly to such a move these days, it was quite special to receive that instrument back in the day. Nevertheless, I think folks like Jake and Jürgen are to be applauded for keeping rare stocks of wood from going to waste - even it if it means the resulting instruments can never leave home.


Ross Schlabach

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Hey Ross, I remember that instrument very well. It was a lovely one. I’ve missed seeing you at the NE NHICS. Sorry I never had the chance to hear your Ab/Eb. I finally made an A/E after Mark Bickford’s Jeffries, and love it. If you still have family in Alexandria, Becky and I are only a half hour away on the beltway in Kensington, MD. ( non rush hour time)

Very Best Wishes!


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