View Full Version : More UK cold snap woes ...

03-19-2018, 02:11 AM
I went into the workshop this morning to scrape the bindings and sand out the body of my latest baritone only to discover this:


I run a humidity controlled workshop, but this being the UK only controlled in one direction ... i.e. down to 50%. This latest "Mini Beast from the East" has dropped RH to around 35% which is as low as I have ever known it, and is presumably the cause of this effect on the top? The top was braced at 45-50% after the last cold snap had passed.

Question is what to do about it? The top (Engelmann) is already on the thin side, as I was expecting just to finish sand. If I sand it now, then to remove the ripples between the braces will take things thinner than I am comfortable with, though I guess having the braces under the thin parts may help?

Attempts to re-humidify the workshop with wet towels are having little effect (sadly our wallpaper steamer is on permanent loan to the kids) so I have brought the body inside where the washing is draped over the radiators awaiting the re-availability of the clothes line.

Is this problem likely to go away as humidity returns to normal, or is this (like a shrunken fingerboard) likely to be a permanent change?

Grateful for advice!

03-19-2018, 03:57 AM
Hi Paul, I had a similar problem a while back when building my 2nd uke, "telegraphing" the bracing I think they called it when I posted on this forum. I left it alone and eventually it levelled out when the RH normalised, and has remained so since. I've just looked at it now and it's still ok, despite humidity being 39%. I think I would give it a few more days and see what happens. Good luck. Mike.

03-19-2018, 05:00 AM
Hey Paul,
I will chime in as a desert rat who lives where the RH is typically in the teens most of the year. We see single digits at times.

Just wait and let it "normalize" as the RH raises, as it is will happen soon enough. As long as this doesn't happen too quickly, it will be fine. So do not try to rush it.

Since I cannot tell if this is just a braced top or if the box is already closed I will also say that if it is just a top....keep a little weight on it. This can definitely help.

Some may think I am crazy but I think as long as you do not allow gluing/assembly to be done in these times and you help by stickering or weighting the pieces....I feel like slow RH swings to the wood before building helps the wood deal should the instrument ever be subjected to that which it should not. Wood Yoga anyone?

Since I have to humidify to be able to assemble parts and make certain that the RH is stable for at least a few hours (I usually wait a day or so) before I begin, I keep everything stickerd with weights year round.

Anyway, I hope this helps and know that with a little patience it will likely be fine in the end.

All the best!

03-19-2018, 05:45 AM
Thanks for the advice guys. I'll leave it/them (yes, there is another one similarly affected as I have now discovered) in a room which is currently circa 50% RH and await developments! I have a 70% RH nuclear option in the cellar if no progress over the next few days. Slightly annoying as I was hoping to get these baritones finished next week.

Just to confirm, the boxes are now closed. All the wood in these tops spent the last 6 months stickered in the workshop at around 50% before use, including through the previous "Beast from the East" event when RH was again down at 35% for a couple of days. Perhaps I should have taken advantage and braced them then!

Ironically I used to have a humidifier in the room I keep my instruments, but because these events are so unusual in the UK I succumbed to wifely pressure and got rid of it.:(