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Bee Propolis Varnish

Discussion in 'Birchbarks, Dugouts and Indigenous Craft' started by Splinter, Apr 28, 2006.

  1. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Guitar tops (usually of spruce) are usually the problem and most vulnerable to splitting. Back and sides (best wood for that is rosewood, now uncommonly used) seldom are as vulnerable. Prime tonewoods are quartersawed, book matched and old growth. Spruce top of course must be braced as it carries the bridge and force of string tension.

    So your view is that varnishing the underside of the spruce top would not significantly improve its resistance to shrinkage?
  2. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    still way off topic

    The soundboard of virtually all pianos is spruce, solid, not laminated, and is quite thin -- in the neighborhood of 3/8 inch, although the thickness of the soundboard of a good piano will not be uniform, being tapered at the edges. It is not usual to finish either side of a piano soundboard, and it is not uncommon for a soundboard to crack because of variation in humidity.

    The pinblock of many pianos (the part that holds the tuning pins) is commonly made of hard maple, is quite thick and heavy, and may be constructed of fairly thick laminated layers. On a modern piano, the pinblock and soundboard are fit into a cast iron frame, which takes the major structural strains created by string tension. The strings are stretched from the pins in the pinblock across the soundboard to the metal frame, passing over a bridge set on the soundboard.

    The wooden case of a piano may be made of almost anything. For a Steinway grand, the curved part of the case is made of thin laminations of maple formed and glued around a large form or jig. The completed case is given a decorative/protective finish -- a lamination of fine wood, a stain/varnish finish, or very commonly, a highly polished black lacquer.

    On an electric guitar, a solid body serves very little acoustic purpose, so the materials, shape, and method of finish can be, and are, varied almost without limit.

    On a very good acoustic guitar, the top is almost always thin solid lumber (most commonly spruce, but sometimes cedar, redwood, maple, or ...), structurally braced inside, and the sides and back are also solid, thin lumber, with the back also braced. Laminated backs and sides are fairly common on good, but less expensive acoustic guitars, and laminated tops, with some few exceptions, are found only on inexpensive instruments. Laminated tops are more durable than solid tops, but almost always do not sound as good.

    I'm not sure what this has to do with canoes and canoe finishing -- except that canoes, like musical instruments, are sophisticated structures that can be built and finished many ways, with many different results.
  3. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Oh not much. But there are bunch of savants on the Board and I’ve wanted to pose the question for some time . . . Plus its 94 here and I’m nursing a bum knee, so.

    And my guitars are swelling up like pumpkins.

    Hey, we’ve got bees and eating shellac going on too.
  4. Dan Fera

    Dan Fera Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Not only do I believe that sealing both sides of the plates does nothing to prevent cracking, I'll also say that the bracing itself, no matter how well it may support the instrument structurally, does virtually nothing to prevent cracks, even when it crosses the grain at 90º.

    I have seen hundreds of old guitars that have multiple cracks right through "X" or the lateral bracing. I no longer add the little cross-grained cleats that are supposed to prevent a glued crack from re-opening. After repairing a number of old German flat-backed upright basses and seeing cracks traverse a well glued, 3" wide X 1/2" thick back brace, I have no further faith in cleats. Too bad, they are fun to install and are a stylistic "signature" for a competent repairer.

    Bottom line is that wood will do what it wants to do in response to changes in relative humidity. If you constrain it in the manner of a wooden instrument, eventually it will shrink enough to crack.

    The relationship to boats? Well... is there more to say about propolis? :D
  5. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Bee Keeping

    There is an introductory bee keeping class later today in the next town over. I mentioned it to my wife thinking it might take flight like a bumble bee, but I guess I don't need another hobby..."but Honey I could get my varnish for free!"

    Interesting thread, guitars and all. Thanks.
  6. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Well, Dan, you’re pretty convincing and I shall wonder no more.

    I agree about the cleats. My old Martin has a few and they’ve made no difference. I do think there’s a common core to preserving old canoes and old instruments, and it’s a respect for wood and craftsmanship. There’s something magical about taking a tree and making it into a violin, isn’t there?
  7. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    Fitz, forget the bees and take up an instrument - or at least clogging, so we can go with Mike Cav next year. All this talk of cracking got me to thinking I'd better check, havent played in about 18 years and it'd been a while since I checked. A
    member in another forum I frequent has a signature that always says "this thread is useless without pictures" and since this thread has taken on a life of its own, here it is. Vaguely canoe related anyways.;)
    Oh, and I know it needs a polish but at least I cleaned off the rosin.

    Attached Files:

  8. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    Nice wanigan. What's that thing in front of it? :D
  9. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Would that be one of those really little canoes built by a fella named Rushton in upstate NY?
  10. Dan Fera

    Dan Fera Curious about Wooden Canoes


    Removed the ROSIN? That's what gives it tone. :p

    Looks like it was well taken care of, even has a Dampit inside. You're supposed to fill it with distilled water every 15 years aren't you? ;)

    Let me guess... Made by Jokn Juzek in the early 60s? Looks like one, anyway.

    OK, time to start practicing for the Assembly. :cool:
  11. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.


    Hey Dan,
    I figure the dampit is whats saved it year in and year out in homes with nice hot, dry natural gas furnaces. Never really new the maker, it was bought at Geo Heinl's in Toronto, lets see, about 26 years ago. I remember the day my father brough it home. I always figured it was older than it was but apparently it was made to look 'aged'. I could send some detail shots if you think you could identify it, would like to know its story. Couldnt resist the rosewood cheekpiece, plaid for years on the black plastic one. Usually removed the rosin to hide my all-over-the-map bowing technique:eek:
    Was classically trained but turned to fiddling later on. What I'd really like to do now, to be honest, is learn the Uilleann pipes. But with 7years learning, 7years practicing and 7years playing I'd better get on it. Never could baby my hands the way teachers tell you to, what with ice fishing without gloves and restoring canoes.....
  12. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Preservation Polish

    By the way, on a previous cross over thread here, someone discussed the drawbacks of silicon commonly found in instrument polishes. Preservation Polish made by Stew-Mac was recommended and I got some. Awesome stuff. Took stuff off my Martin I never knew was there.
  13. Dan Fera

    Dan Fera Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Dampits could practically put me out of business they work so great. Still, check the seems very carefully for openings. 18 years is a long time, best to address them now before they get worse. Actually an easy fix for a guy with enough tools to restore a canoe. Just use high grade hot glue (not the bottled hide glue).

    No label inside, eh? Does it look like one was removed (different color rectangular patch on inside bass f-hole)? Send photos if you want, always fun to play the guessing game.

    Only joking about the rosin removal. The stuff is nasty to try to remove after it accumulates. Many a fine country fiddle I've passed on because I didn't want to be up to my ears in xylene (removes rosin without damaging finish) when the word was out in the field that it was a suspected carcinogen. :eek:

    Yeah, hand care is something I've never got onto, either. Martial arts, wood splitting, outdoor activities, carving, now boats. The carpal tunnel has gotten progressively worse and I hardly play at all. I heard a story about the great French violinist Zino Francescotti, how he almost gave up the violin when he was warned about the risk mountain climbing posed to his gifted hands. His decision to give up climbing instead was his loss and our gain. ;)

    Hey, as far as thread hijacks... I don't want to be rude and take over splinter's (or anyone's) thread. Is there a protocol for discussing non-canoe related topics here? This stuff certainly seems relevant to many canoeists and the instrument boards are, oh, so boring and predictable (10,000 "experts" like myself answering 10 questions :rolleyes: ). Seems conversations here should be able to mirror real life at times and mutate into other interesting stuff.
  14. OP

    Splinter Wood Girl #1186

    Two places to hijack threads

    One is a forum with a header called: "Miscellaneous". The other one is called the 2008 Annual Assembly in Peterborough, Ontario. You guys comin' or wut?
  15. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Thanks for the segue re Assembly, Splinter.
    We have close to 100 pre-registered, and I expect the number will jump once folks receive the June issue of Wooden Canoe, which has the Assembly insert (Program and various other useful tidbits).
    It also helps that summer has arrived. It's HOT out!
  16. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    or wut

    Peterborough will be day trips for me, planning on sneaking in once or twice.
    Too many boats to see and people to meet not to make it. Wont be any music though, so out of practice it'd sound like I was beating a baby with a cat:eek:
  17. Dan Fera

    Dan Fera Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Gee, Dorothy, that's a long way from Kansas, isn't it?

    I dropped in for the first time last year at Keuka Lake. I was only there for a few hours but got to talk to lots of enthusiasts. Looks like a lot of fun, hope I'll be able to make it.
  18. beaver

    beaver Birchbark CanoeingBuilder

    Could it be that this entire thread is under the incorrect heading?:confused: :confused: Birchbarks, Dugouts and Primitive Craft
  19. Larry Meyer

    Larry Meyer Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Fiddle fixing?

    Since so many fiddle fixers showed up here, thought I’d post this question here. I’ve a fiddle needing fixing. Not great fiddle, post-war German low-end student model, but decent sound. My brother-in-law bought it in 70s for like 30 bucks used. My daughter got it when she started learning fiddle, now its her second fiddle, but she busted it when she picked it up without the case closed and it fell on the floor.

    Now it has two problems and I’m wondering if I can fix them. One problem is that the sides have separated a bit where they meet at the end block by the tail rest. Second is more serious: the top is cracked from end to end.

    I know Stew Mac sells fiddle tops, so I could get one, take off the old top and put on a new one. That doable?

    4-5 years ago, the peg head cracked off, which I fixed by gluing narrow shims (of mahogany) across the break on both sides.
  20. Dan Fera

    Dan Fera Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Happens all the time.

    You're right, the second one is more serious... but certainly fixable. I've repaired hundreds like it.

    No, not doable at all. Definitely the wrong way to go about it. It'll never fit properly, just trust me. Even if it was a perfect fit there would be tons of work involved in prepping and varnishing and for lots of other reasons.... well, just no way.

    This thread seems to be annoying others in its drift. I'm not a frequent contributor so I don't want to appear rude. Best to e-mail me photos and I will talk at length then if you want.


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