dampness of the north - problem for building

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dampness of the north - problem for building

Postby Julian » Sat Nov 27, 2010 9:27 pm

Hi, I'm a newbie builder & I live in Cumbria. What do other people in the North do to combat the damp atmosphere in the autumn/winter months?

Thanks

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Postby John Kelly » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:14 am

Hi Julian,
I find a good whisky can work wonders in keeping the damp out, and I live in Argyll, which does have its fair share of damp in the winter!
Seriously, Many builders store their timber in a heated cabinet and they vary from custom-made ones to having a small tube heater in a storage cupboard with plenty of air circulating around the wood. This is a lot cheaper than trying to keep a workshop at the right levels over the winter. The thing is to try to keep a consistent level of humidity - once built the instrument will be subject to variations in temperature and humidity throughout its life, and we are probably better off over here than is other parts of the world where humidity variations are much greater.
I never keep a lot of wood at any time as I build only on a one-off basis, and my regular supplier stores his material carefully. My finished instruments are around 6 years old now and so far I have had no problems and they are in areas from Cornwall to Northern Ireland and seem to be doing fine according to their owners.
Hope this is of help.
Last edited by John Kelly on Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
JK Mandolins - handcrafted in Argyll, Scotland
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Postby Julian » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:05 am

Thanks for the reply John. I've been storing everything in the house in a room with the central heating turned down low. I suppose what worries me is things like fixing bracing bars onto the soundboard/back whilst there's a lot of moisture in the air. Not to worry, there's a lot to be getting on with :) (like making a bending iron)

Talking of bracing bars, just seen on your website that you are using a cross pattern. Have you tried different ones? If so do they infulence the sound to any great extent? (I was planning to put mine staight across with a small 45 degree one.
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Postby John Kelly » Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:20 pm

Hi Julian, I replied yesterday but seem somehow not to have actually sent the reply! Blame the snow, age or whatever.

For bending iron I had a friend who has a blacksmithing business make me a couple of devices which consist of 9 or 10 inch lengths of steel pipe, one 4 inch diameter and the other 2 inches. He welded on a blanking plate at one end of each pipe and put a 1 inch steel bar into the centre of each at right angles so that I have a stem which is held in the vise. The pipes are heated by gas blow torch which is placed on the bench and directed into the pipe - hence the blanking plate at one end! This is easily controllable for temperature and I used them on my first few instruments until I acquired the electrically-heated one I have now, the one in the catalogues and quite expensive! Its advantages are that it has varied profiles and is fume-free in action - the gas-powered pipes can generate fumes when you are working up close to the pipe while doing the bending.

Your ideas for bracing sound almost like ladder bracing with added brace, but a wee drawing of what you envisage would be useful. I have really only used cross bracing on the 17/18 instruments I have made so far, so cannot compare it to other systems from personal experience; I have been using lighter bracing and doing more with scalloping and tapering, and the octave I have just finished has mahogany braces and sounds rather good. It is a case of matching the bracing to the actual soundboard and this varies depending on final thickness, grain closeness and other factors. I have not so far found that one soundboard is completely like another, though the wood of choice is sitka spruce.

As a fairly new maker myself I am very keen to gather info/experiences from anyone else, so please keep in touch. (i will now try to post this message this time!)
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