Making and Playing Bagpipes
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crack in african blackwood

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Post  Nicolas Tue Jan 25, 2011 7:05 pm

Hi !

Last week, I bought a superb set of Ray Sloan smallpipes in A . The ex-owner and I check the instrument together, no cracks, perfect state. He use to keep it in a room with controlled humidity. Then, back home two days later, I noticed a slit (1 1/2" long) on the sliding part of the low drone, from the ferrule. I think it caused by the lack of moisture (very cold in Quebec these days so lot of electric heating).

My questions:
- is there a way to repair *and stop the cracking
- What do you do to keep the same level of moisture in your instruments ?

* You have to know that Sloan put a brass sleeve in the bore of the sliding part, so the crack does'nt allow the air to get out

Nicolas

Posts : 15
Join date : 2010-11-28

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Post  Yuri Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:13 pm

I'll wait for people with more experience in this mattar than me o get their 5 cent's worth in, before going into my own ideas.
But to start with, if you have electric heating, in winter Quebec, put down a pot of water by the heater. Or, if it's central heating, you can in most places buy a sort of hanging pot thingy that you hang onto the element, and keep topping up with water. It's a good idea to have if you have any kind of musical instruments in the house, not just bagpipes.
I'll get back to the issue later.
Yuri
Yuri

Posts : 76
Join date : 2010-11-25
Location : New Zealand

http://www.wood-n-bone.co.nz

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Post  MichaelLoos Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:50 am

A few potted plants will do more good for the humidity than a pot of water can, preferably tropical big-leafed foliage plants will do. And - get a hygrometer!
It is well possible that the crack wasn't caused by lack of moisture but by change of temperature which caused the brass lining to expand, this happens fairly often. You will never know for certain...
As for repair, small cracks in blackwood can be easily fixed using thin superglue (which will run into the crack by capillary action) and very fine emery paper/steel wool. The sanding dust together with the superglue will fill the crack and make it nearly invisible.
MichaelLoos
MichaelLoos

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Post  Yuri Thu Jan 27, 2011 1:00 am

I'd say, with blackwood, superglue+blackwood dust will make the crack totally invisible.
Now, as to what I was going to say about the subject. In my opinion, having wood and metal in the same situation is asking for trouble. Thing is, metal has a very different ratio of expansion/shrinkage from wood. I, frankly speaking, never understood the 19th century habit of having brass sleeves inserted into wooden (or ivory!) whistles and bagpipes. (No doubt other instruments as well, like flutes, to name one.) When you have a drastic change of temperature and/or moisture, metal of any kind will react to this very differently from wood. The result is that when you have a metal ring snugly encircling a wooden joint, you will end up with either a very loose joint indeed, or else the metal sleeve crushing the wood underneath, depending on which direction the weather is swinging. If the metal is on the inside, like in flute joints, the effect is still the same, just substitute the metal ring blowing up the encircling wooden sleeve, instead of the above. So, in my books, metal + wood are not on. (Having said all this, I myself use metal+wood, but very sparingly, and in only very small amounts. You can, you know, if you know what you are doing, and why.)
Back to the problem. You cannot change, of course, how the pipe is constructed. The superglue+wooddust is as good as it ever gets, try doing that. ( Mind you, with more pale woods you would have to accept a visible dark line where the glueing is done, but not with blackwood.) Other than that, try not to get the pipes under too dry conditions. Blackwood is a very stable wood, so mostly it should not give any problems, if you do not put it under undue strain. Just make sure it is not ebony, which looks very much the same, but has quite different properties. Ebony is far more likely to react to changes in temperature/moisture. It is hard to tell the difference for a non-woodworker, but as a rule of thumb, blackwood has very fine grain, whereas ebony has a far more open porous grain.
Yuri
Yuri

Posts : 76
Join date : 2010-11-25
Location : New Zealand

http://www.wood-n-bone.co.nz

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Post  Nicolas Thu Jan 27, 2011 5:59 am

Thank you guys, I think I'll have to buy my first ABW log ! Any glue in particular you recommand me ?

Haaaa winter and bagpipes....not good friends at all....

Nicolas

Posts : 15
Join date : 2010-11-28

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Post  MichaelLoos Thu Jan 27, 2011 7:02 am

Any thin, fluid cyanoacrylate glue will do the job (maybe not the very cheapest...).
No need to buy an ABW log - the dust from lightly sanding over the crack with the glue will suffice to fill it.
MichaelLoos
MichaelLoos

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