Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Day 151: A Steamy Situation

When we last spoke, I was preparing the steam bending setup in anticipation of getting the bridges bent with the most efficiency and effectiveness possible. I settled on using 1/4" poplar dowel for the material platform(s) in the pipe. You can see me marking the pipe for drilling and inserting the dowel pieces in the photos below.

In hindsight, I probably should have not cut them up before inserting them into the pipe. Trying to find the hole on the other side of the pipe with a shortened piece was a bit of a chore, but not a deal-breaker. Once I got them inserted, I filled the Earlex Steam Generator with water and plugged it in.

As you can see, I decided to simply tape a cotton towel to the open end of the pipe. I decided early on to not build a pipe bomb because, well, that would be bad, so a towel on the end it is. This allowed sufficient steam to escape while condensing it for collection in a strategically positioned bowl.

I also managed to jam the candy thermometer I use for the hot hide glue setup into one of the dowel holes. As you can see in the photo below, it quickly came up to temp (water boils at 212F/100C - can't get much higher than that when using steam). My luthier friend, Mark Roberts of Mark Roberts Guitars and Ukuleles, made the point that I should have inserted it as far from the steam generator as possible. Noted for next time.

Once it came up to temp, I inserted a piece of beech I had used during one of my previous abortive lower register attempts and left it for roughly 50 minutes based on the fact that the piece was only 1/2" thick. Well, I'm not so happy to report that the result was an epic fail. I clearly needed to leave it in longer. Much longer. Like, I'm now thinking a couple of hours. When I pulled the piece, it looked completely unfazed. Perhaps the "one hour per inch" rule applies to length (but I doubt it)? One thing we can all count on is that I'll keep testing and eventually land upon what works. And there's always YouTube and my wonderful Facebook builder friends.

On a tangentially-related note, the gallon of high tack fish glue came in from Norland Products. I'll be picking up smaller (8 oz. or so) containers at a local art supply store and filling a couple to keep in the shop refrigerator and then freezing the rest. It is, after all, a protein and should be treated as such. If you want to try the tacky, fishy stuff, let me know and I'll see about getting some to you - I now have enough for many years to come.

Until next time...

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