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Thread: Shellacking the Inside of the Ukulele

  1. #11
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    I've repaired and restored an aweful lot of antique furniture made from solid timber over the years. Frrom tables to wardrobes. It was almost always sealed on both sides.

    I continue to do this because the old fellows that instructed me in woodworking drummed into me that what you do to one side you do to the other.
    Last edited by Allen; 02-05-2018 at 09:38 AM.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackBearUkes View Post
    Also, I have a shop next to a guy who repairs wooden furniture, old and new and rarely are the undersides of tables finished.
    I'm not a master carpenter, but when I was younger I did pass myself off as a finish carpenter because really, it ain't that hard and it is a hell of lot easter than framing on the body. The one thing I learned is that finishes are expensive and take time so the rule was, "it it don't show, it don't get finished". Makes sense. As for furniture, nobody really looks at the underside of the table, so why finish it? Perhaps this comes more from the frugality of the furniture maker than any conceived notions of how the wood is going to react to the environment?

    Now as to giving the instrument a "sonic boost" (my words), I agree that this is entirely speculative, unproven and maybe even pure hooey, but my intuition (and that is all there is) says that yes, it is going to make the inside of the box more reflective and thus will have an effect. What that effect is, I don't really know. My theory is that it might make things a little brighter and quicker which may or may not be a good thing. We shall see.

  3. #13
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    I would say that about 98% of all the wooden string instruments that I have worked on over the years, that includes guitars, violins, mandolins, etc., both plucked and bowed, none have finish or sealer on the inside. Belief systems are amazing things, but they're only beliefs.

  4. #14
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    In the late 70's there was a bit of a fashion for finishing the inside of classical guitars. I say a bit of a fashion because it really was just a few makers who were doing it - the belief being that it helped volume/projection. I think if you were to do a poll of expensive handmade classical guitars today over 95% of them would not be finished internally and classical guitar makers are a bit obsessive in respect of volume/projection. It's quite possible that a huge swathe of them have overlooked it or it doesn't do what some claim. In fact there's almost certainly much better ways of increasing volume, that is to have mass and stiffness in the back/sides - which is partly what the Smallman concept is.

  5. #15
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    There is no benefit to mentioning the possible benefits of extra vol/projection in sealing the inside of an instrument. It just gives people fodder to dis you. Same goes with the use of Tonerites to break in an instrument.

    As for why furniture makers finished (and by finished I mean simply sealed, not full on french polished) the underside of table tops when no one could see it. It wasn't a cosmetic consideration, it was a engineering principle to help minimize stop buckling, bowing caused by such a large area of wood absorbing/dissipating moisture at a fast rate.

    If you don't believe in the benefits of doing this, I don't really care, but I do it because it makes logical sense.

    As a test, after you put a rosette in a top, seal one side of it and watch it buckle .

  6. #16
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    Exactly what Beua just said.

  7. #17
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    I do not see any possible benefits of added volume by sealing the inside of a uke or guitar. If you have some proof, I would be happy to consider the data and may even change my mind. To say, there may be possible volume increase, and use that as a selling point, is like saying "I believe this to be true, so prove it doesn't". If you can't prove it, why try to sell it.

    There was some discussion years ago by a builder of classical guitars that after he was done building, he would wet his finger, add salt to it and then rub the inside top bracing to help voice the top. He swears it worked wonders. Needless to say, the discussion about this method got very heated with the lutherie community.


    Quote Originally Posted by Beau Hannam Ukuleles View Post
    There is no benefit to mentioning the possible benefits of extra vol/projection in sealing the inside of an instrument. It just gives people fodder to dis you. Same goes with the use of Tonerites to break in an instrument.

    As for why furniture makers finished (and by finished I mean simply sealed, not full on french polished) the underside of table tops when no one could see it. It wasn't a cosmetic consideration, it was a engineering principle to help minimize stop buckling, bowing caused by such a large area of wood absorbing/dissipating moisture at a fast rate.

    If you don't believe in the benefits of doing this, I don't really care, but I do it because it makes logical sense.

    As a test, after you put a rosette in a top, seal one side of it and watch it buckle .

  8. #18
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    I never claimed it added volume or anything other than climate control.

    I do think it logical to say that an inside that has small pores (or no pores like maple) and is smooth reflects better than an inside of a wood with large pores and sanded to 80 grit.

    I don't go the extra step of grain filling the inside before shellacing it but it would seem logical to assume it would add something (perhaps only a computer would be able to hear it, i dont know...but the principle is a logical one)

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackBearUkes View Post
    I do not see any possible benefits of added volume by sealing the inside of a uke or guitar. If you have some proof, I would be happy to consider the data and may even change my mind. To say, there may be possible volume increase, and use that as a selling point, is like saying "I believe this to be true, so prove it doesn't". If you can't prove it, why try to sell it.

    There was some discussion years ago by a builder of classical guitars that after he was done building, he would wet his finger, add salt to it and then rub the inside top bracing to help voice the top. He swears it worked wonders. Needless to say, the discussion about this method got very heated with the lutherie community.
    OK. I hear you. But by saying the old luthiers didn't do it doesn't really answer the question. I do not assert that it adds moisture protection (unproven), increased volume or sustain (unproven) or aesthetics to the instrument, however, what are the downsides? In other words, it might not help, but it certainly don't hurt neither. And just because that nobody did it before is not an argument. What is your experience Doug? Have you tried it?

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by sequoia View Post
    I do not assert that it adds moisture protection (unproven),
    Actually, that's proven. Shellac isn't a great barrier (as good as say poly, etc) but is a barrier, which mitigates moisture to and fro, however small.

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