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Timber for new ends


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I have a 34 key Jones Anglo for restoration (Thanks Theo).

The ends are beyond repair so I'll make new, but what do I make them from?

I have solid walnut and some antique mahogany, walnut and mahogany veneers, also some constructional oak veneer.

I was planning on making some laminated blanks, but I'm now wondering if I should use solid. Thickness is 3.2mm, though I'd imagine anything up to 4mm would be fine (though more effort to fret).

I'll fret them by hand whatever I use.

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I laminate mine because I believe they are less likely to crack than a solid board. Usually I use a sycamore core board about 3-3.5mm thick with commercial (0.6mm) veneer on both sides, with the veneer grain running at 90º to the core board. If the face veneer is a burl, I use a cheaper straight grain veneer for the back. The glue I use is West System epoxy with a small amount of filler; this avoids injecting any water into the board that will cause it to warp as it dries out. I clamp them in either a vacuum bag or a heated heavy duty steel press. I prefer the press because they come out a bit flatter and the heat cures the glue faster, but the vacuum bag is useful for making raised ends.

 

For restoring an existing instrument, if you change the thickness from the original it may cause you problems with the action and button height.

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Posted (edited)

Like Alex, I also use a laminate of sycamore core and commercial veneer both sides. 

 

If I'm making ebonised ends I use pear veneer, otherwise the fine veneer (burl, amboyna) on the outside and pear veneer inside.  Veneers are oriented 90 degrees to the grain of the core.  I may have to adjust the thickness of the core so the overall final thickness of the end plate is the same as the original.

 

I've used a variety of glue, including cascamine (toxic though so care needs to be taken when cutting), hide glue and epoxy.  I prefer the epoxy.

 

I use a nipping press to press the laminates, or a vacuum press for raised ends.  I have used the nipping press for raised ends having made a former first.

 

For cutting the fretwork I initially used a power fretsaw - that proved more trouble than its worth, since there is a tendency for the saw to run away on a cut.  Moving the blade and retensioning it before each cut was also a right pain in *.  Nowadays I use a hand fretsaw which employs a cam for quick, easy and consistent removal and resetting of the blade between cuts.

 

I have in my resto pile a 'tina with solid rosewood ends.  The ends are cracked, but probably salvageable by filling the cracks, but solid ends might crack with time and prevailing conditions.  A laminate is preferred because it is stronger and less likely to crack (and I have seen both cracked ends and ends that were so powder-like that it was only the years of accumulated muck that was holding them together).

 

Edited by SteveS
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Laminated is definitely the way to go.  I found a veneer supplier that does the usual .6mm veneers and also a structural veneer which is 1.5mm thick that I used for the core with 2 veneers on either side.   All walnut in the ones I've made and then ebonised with iron acetate.  If I was going for ebonised finish again I would use pear for it's smoother texture.   I used Titebond cold press adhesive and clamped in a nipping press.  I had the ends laser cut by Bill Crossland.

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7 minutes ago, Theo said:

Laminated is definitely the way to go.  I found a veneer supplier that does the usual .6mm veneers and also a structural veneer which is 1.5mm thick that I used for the core with 2 veneers on either side.   All walnut in the ones I've made and then ebonised with iron acetate.  If I was going for ebonised finish again I would use pear for it's smoother texture.   I used Titebond cold press adhesive and clamped in a nipping press.  I had the ends laser cut by Bill Crossland.

 

When I want a plain black veneer I buy dyed tulipwood:

https://www.thewoodveneerhub.co.uk/collections/coloured-wood-veneer/products/black-tulipwood-coloured-wood-veneer

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Laminate it is then.

Constructional veneer of 1.5mm oak then walnut at 90° followed by walnut same orientation as the core.

I don't have lots of glues around now I don't run a joinery workshop any more, but I always have good quality PVA (and weaker stuff for Hohner bellows tape). There are plenty of bits of birch ply and loads of extra deep cramps so I'll just glue and clamp it.

I'm missing a couple of buttons too.

I presume if I turn them up from brass rod they will not look out of place in a month or two.

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Posted (edited)

Not sure about oak core, I'd prefer something softer and with less grain if cutting by fretsaw.  Walnut is nice, or sycamore as mentioned by others. 

Edited by Theo
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3 hours ago, alex_holden said:

And I see they have a black constructional veneer "coming soon" which would mean a nice solid black through the cut edges.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Theo said:

Not sure about oak core, I'd prefer something softer and with less grain if cutting by fretsaw.  Walnut is nice, or sycamore as mentioned by others. 

I could just use 7 leaves of walnut veneer?

I've got piles of the stuff.

Edited by Squeaky Pete
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6 minutes ago, Don Taylor said:

How do you make the blanks for new raised ends?

 

There's more than one way to do it. My method is to make a solid core board with a raised area on it, then veneer it on both sides. I started with a moderately thick core board and used a CNC router to thin it down around the raised area. If you don't have a CNC router, an alternative method would be to start with a thin core board and glue on a second piece cut out in the shape of the raise.

 

There are photos of the process in this article:

https://www.holdenconcertinas.com/?p=1718

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How do you make the blanks for new raised ends?

 

I've done this by making a male and female mould to the dimensions of the area of the raised portion - circular for one instrument and a sort of ellipsoid for another - then making a laminated board from multiple layers of veneer using a Cascamite epoxy as recommended by Steve Dickinson (other glues/epoxies are available!).

 

Here' a picture of the moulds with the right hand end as (more or less) finished

 

Alex West959297294_RHSendfrettedanddrilled.thumb.jpeg.4378d00a8800dce8e953cdc0c93223d4.jpeg959297294_RHSendfrettedanddrilled.thumb.jpeg.4378d00a8800dce8e953cdc0c93223d4.jpeg276355564_Raisedendmoulds.thumb.jpeg.a0378f3897fa9d8f52f7251cce228d17.jpeg

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31 minutes ago, Alex West said:

blanks for new raised ends

Alexes:

 

Thanks, for this.  From my experience with wooden boats I thought that you might have steam bent the wood to a mold.  Maybe that would work, but your techniques look a little easier with less risk of being scalded.

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Like Alex West, I've also used male & female blanks in my nipping press.

 

Here's a picture of my press....(it weighs a ton)

 

Capture.JPG.1f7630a79530c6b6eda9c220666a0498.JPG

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...and mine's a similar press.  with the thin veneers, the dampness of the epoxy and the relatively small amount of curvature being created, the plywood bends easily and takes the form with no trouble.

 

Alex West

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