Saturday, April 7, 2007

Repair Day

Today is repair day at the shack. I spent the morning cleaning, organizing and filing, and the rest of the afternoon fixing instruments. The first repair was a guitar that had a scarf crack. A scarf crack is when the peghead cracks away from the neck at an angle. It is a fairly common sight with shipping damage, or if an instrument has been been dropped or fallen forward off an instrument stand. I completely detached the peghead from the neck, then used epoxy to reattach it. I have some touch-up work to do, but it should be ready in another day.

The next job was a soundpost crack in a fiddle. I had to remove the top, then mark off the position where the soundpost patch would go. The crack had already been glued by a previous owner; but without a patch, this type of crack will not stay repaired tightly. I made the patch, used a gouge to thin out the top where the patch would go, then sanded everything down. I use carbon paper to make sure everything is fitting tightly. After the patch has been fitted to the top, I apply a small amount of hide glue to both surfaces and wipe it back off again. This seals the wood and keeps the glue from just soaking into the wood and not really adhering the two surfaces together. (This is also a very useful technique when bushing the pegholes.) After the initial glue dried, then I applied the regular coating of hide glue and clamped the patch to the inside top of fiddle. I have some sanding pads that are kind of like giant erasers that I use to help clamp curved surfaces like this. I put the pad on top of the patch, then a small piece of wood on top of the pad, then I clamp the whole thing down. The wood presses the pad evenly across the curved surface of the fiddle top and this makes for a very good clamping aid.

My next job will be installing Perfection Pegs on a customer's fiddle. Perfection Pegs are distributed by St. Louis Music and made by the Knilling Company. (You can view information on them at These are a pretty neat innovation because they make tuning much easier and the pegs don't slip. What's really cool about them is that they don't require much alteration, if any, to the peghead of the fiddle, and the regular friction pegs can be reinstalled to the instrument at any time. No screw holes!! No bushings!!

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