Don't bother putting in the maple wrestplank, for the simple reason that
you will always have at the back of your mind that crack and that glue
joint. And I have the feeling it will be nearly impossible to avoid
putting a 4' tuning pin or two on the glue line. This time, hunt down a
slab of quartered white oak, and make sure it is free of checks. Walnut
even works nicely as a pinblock, though it is perhaps less authentic
than white oak. Don't use maple, plain and simple. If you can find
steamed pear and holly, certainly you can find quartered white oak.
As for jacks, I understand your inclination to use wood jacks. Steamed
pearwood, even plain pearwood, is good, and authentic. Beech is also
nice, as is walnut. Apple makes lovely jacks (apple jack, anyone?), as
do several other woods. The primary consideration in the choice is
dimensional stability and the ability of the wood structure to accept
minute machining. Holly makes dandy tongues, as long as you have a
choice bit of wood. Holly's ability to be punch-morticed neatly for the
plectrum is one of its desirable characteristics.
I could go into a long disertation on the making of jacks, but I suggest
that you carefully consider your decision. There are perhaps two
approaches to making jacks: one at a time, or a production run. In the
first instance, it will be impossible to attain any meaningful degree of
consistency for the number of jacks you require, and it will take longer
than forever to arrive at that point. In the second instance, you will
need to construct jigs and fixtures to reliably and consistently produce
identical parts. (This is when you discover that a tongue takes twice as
long to manufacture as a jack body.) And, in order to arrive at, say,
189 good jacks, you will need to manufacture, assemble and test at least
260 or so. If this is your first run at making jacks, think in terms of
weeks, not hours. You may wish to consider buying someone's wood jacks
instead. Hubbard's book THREE CENTURIES OF HARPSICHORD MAKING provides
pretty decent illustrations of jacks, and several widely available
instrument catalogues provide good photographs. It is not hard to
extrapolate sufficient information from these drawings to come up with
Leather-covered registers are lovely, silent, and do take real care in
making. It makes sense to use leather-covered registers if you also are
using tapered jacks. The idea is that the jack is held precisely in
position at the moment of plucking, then rides more freely as it
ascends. Keep in mind that wood registers, if equally well-made, can be
very nearly as silent as leather.
IWS wrestpins are excellent. They have the right amount of taper, and
the right amount of texture. I used them exclusively until I decided to
make my own pins; my pins are not necessarily better, they just _look_
Brian Whaley wrote:
> The large piece of maple I purchased for the wrestplank had a split in
> it. I bought some extra because the end of the board was visibly
> split, but the split continued inside where I couldn't see it until I
> got it home and cut off the end. So, I ripped the plank narrow to
> remove the split and glued a piece on one side to restore it to 8"
> wide. The piece added is 1-5/8" wide.<snip> Should I buy
> another plank?
> Has anyone seen the Instrument Workshop's wrestpins? I'm considering
> using them, but don't want to buy them without seeing them.
> I'm seriously considering making my own wooden jacks and guides rather
> than using the plastic jacks that came with the kit. I know that
> traditionally the jacks were pear with holly tongues. I have found a
> local source for holly and steamed pear. Will steamed pear work?
> What other woods are recommended for the bodies? Also, according to
> Hubbard's book, Taskin's guides were covered in leather then punched
> for the jacks to ride upon. Does anyone do this? Where do I find
> detailed drawings of the jacks?
> Thanks for your answers.
> Brian Whaley
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