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afreiki
09-08-2013, 03:48 PM
Yesterday I put my thumb through an almost completed uke with a redwood top. It was .065 in thick, and braced. ??? I also broke the first redwood top I tried to make.

Is redwood just really easy to break? Should it be made thicker? How thick? I love the look, it has beautiful curl.

Anne

Chris_H
09-08-2013, 05:29 PM
maybe the curl was too steep?

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
09-08-2013, 06:44 PM
Redwood is brittle, it snaps and makes a noise that makes a luthier curl into the foetal position and cry for their mumma.... Or is that just me???

afreiki
09-08-2013, 07:02 PM
Redwood is brittle, it snaps and makes a noise that makes a luthier curl into the foetal position and cry for their mumma.... Or is that just me???

Well, I am not fond of losing the time I put into it, but even more I hate to waste the old growth wood. I took the broken top off, and have put a new one on, I went to 0.68 in thick to see if this helped. And I am being very careful where I put my hands as I work on it.

It just looks so beautiful. I have a macassar ebony back and sides, with a creamy wood binding and a sound hold design in the same creamy color, and the fretboard is maple with a purfling edging. If I can just get it finished without breaking anything!
That snap is wretched.

Anne

BlackBearUkes
09-08-2013, 07:10 PM
Anytime there is curl in a wood like Redwood, means the run-out is problematic (as you now know), making the top weak, especially at 065 thickness. It may look cool, but it isn't going to sound any better than a good straight grain top with no run-out, in fact it may sound worse and will certainly not hold up well with time. Depending on the size of the uke you are making, I would suggest a top thickness of .085 to .10, and that is with straight grain wood with no run-out. Redwood can be brittle and splits along the grain line very easily.

Allen
09-08-2013, 10:34 PM
Very easy to break along any grain line. And in my shed, I'd never go to .065" on Red Wood. Even with straight grain. That's just livin' too close the the edge for my liking.

If it's got curl in it, then you really are looking for issues to come back and haunt you in my opinion.

resoman
09-09-2013, 04:44 AM
Redwood is brittle, it snaps and makes a noise that makes a luthier curl into the foetal position and cry for their mumma.... Or is that just me???

It's not just you!!! I love the sound of the redwood but the stuff splits if you look at it wrong.

coolkayaker1
09-09-2013, 05:09 AM
58490

I'm curious, is this what you mean by figured Redwood? This is my baritone. No one is saying anything bad about the uke, and I know it's a function of bracing and thickeness, etc., but I'm just asking if this is--in general--the type of figured redwood that can be split prone? If so, I will use even more care than usual in play and humidified storage. Thanks

saltytri
09-09-2013, 05:28 AM
58490

I'm curious, is this what you mean by figured Redwood? This is my baritone. No one is saying anything bad about the uke, and I know it's a function of bracing and thickeness, etc., but I'm just asking if this is--in general--the type of figured redwood that can be split prone? If so, I will use even more care than usual in play and humidified storage. Thanks

Every piece of wood is different and Mya Moe isn't known for using a bad wood, so I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. Having said that, there is a billet in my burn pile right now that looks exactly like this. I resawed two fairly thick plates off it (.110") They were very flexible and snapped as easily as a potato chip in any direction. The breakage cross grain is actually easier than along the grain. Building an instrument is too much work for me to take a chance with the stuff.

afreiki
09-09-2013, 05:44 AM
Anytime there is curl in a wood like Redwood, means the run-out is problematic (as you now know), making the top weak, especially at 065 thickness. It may look cool, but it isn't going to sound any better than a good straight grain top with no run-out, in fact it may sound worse and will certainly not hold up well with time. Depending on the size of the uke you are making, I would suggest a top thickness of .085 to .10, and that is with straight grain wood with no run-out. Redwood can be brittle and splits along the grain line very easily.

I make concert size ukes. Is there consensus about the thickness of the sides and top? I would be happy is 065 was too thin. Anne

Michael Smith
09-09-2013, 07:08 AM
I only feel good about strait grained redwood and .065 is too thin for me. .08 to .085 gives me all the clear tone I want. Also being so soft it ends up getting sanded down a little after binding/purfling. If I were to start at .065 I could get in real trouble quickly and have.

Chris_H
09-09-2013, 07:28 AM
Here is a Redwood/Rosewood I am working on right now. The top is at 0.085" and feels plenty solid still. After it was glued to the body, I brought the braces down to where I thought they seemed right. The top has a coat of shellac on it now, I will remove a little more meat from the top after the bindings are on, but not much. The body has a nice resonant feel to it right now, I think...

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5547/9708928205_4951a92ab8_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/51504257@N02/9708928205/)

Chris_H
09-09-2013, 07:31 AM
I am working on another Redwood top body, it is straight grain Redwood. At 0.090 it felt a little flexi so I put in additional very fine fan braces at the outside, that do not connect to the transverse brace , or lining, in addition to the main 3 braces.

oudin
09-09-2013, 10:11 AM
I leave my rosewood tops thicker than any other wood I use. It is a different wood and I get the huge radiant sound i'm looking for without going thin. Although I do not build with a consistent thickness throughout the soundboard, under the bridge and around the sound hole my rosewood tops (depending on grain lines per inch) approach .10" That being said, my rosewood tops are also stiffer than other tops (as would be expected being thicker) and yet do not sound dead or whatever one might expect from a thick top. If I treated rosewood the way I treat spruce or cedar I would probably poke holes in it as well.

Allen
09-09-2013, 10:15 AM
58490

I'm curious, is this what you mean by figured Redwood? This is my baritone. No one is saying anything bad about the uke, and I know it's a function of bracing and thickeness, etc., but I'm just asking if this is--in general--the type of figured redwood that can be split prone? If so, I will use even more care than usual in play and humidified storage. Thanks

Yes, that is what is called figured red wood. That pattern is caused by the grain fibres undulating up and down along it's length. So you end up with short grain instead of long continuous fibres.

Clients like the look of this type of wood because it's pretty, but from a luthiers standpoint, it is no where near as strong and stable as straight long grain wood will be. You need to compensate for it's weakness in making the top thicker, braced heavier etc.

afreiki
09-09-2013, 04:33 PM
Thank you for all the info. You guys are the best! Anne

hawaii 50
09-09-2013, 04:46 PM
Yes, that is what is called figured red wood. That pattern is caused by the grain fibres undulating up and down along it's length. So you end up with short grain instead of long continuous fibres.

Clients like the look of this type of wood because it's pretty, but from a luthiers standpoint, it is no where near as strong and stable as straight long grain wood will be. You need to compensate for it's weakness in making the top thicker, braced heavier etc.


Thanks Allen
what is that saying.."most people buy with their eyes first"....
I have a Sinker Redwood top uke on order...my luthier told me about the figured redwood not very strong...so we went with straight grained redwood..I say as long the builder lets you know about the problems with the wood things are ok....you can make a good decision...

same with quarter sawn and flat sawn tops and backs...as long as you know the problems with flat sawn...then you can decide...

my 2 cents

Dan Uke
09-09-2013, 05:05 PM
Thanks Allen
what is that saying.."most people buy with their eyes first"....
I have a Sinker Redwood top uke on order...my luthier told me about the figured redwood not very strong...so we went with straight grained redwood..I say as long the builder lets you know about the problems with the wood things are ok....you can make a good decision...

same with quarter sawn and flat sawn tops and backs...as long as you know the problems with flat sawn...then you can decide...

my 2 cents

Me too...I went for the plain stuff. 58553

coolkayaker1
09-09-2013, 05:28 PM
Thank you Allen and Saltyri for your replies. Potato chip--egads! I know that it's a factor of bracing, etc.

Question: is redwood split-resistance affected by finish? I once owned a sinker redwood Pereira that was pore-filled, high gloss. My Mya Moe is Tru-oil. For future reference, does it matter to prevent splitting? Is it a factor, like thickness and bracing?

Separate but similar question: I have a pal ordering a custom uke, and I have heard and seen videos about rosewood body ()sides and back) being very split prone. Somewhere I recall someone (a luthier) saying that of all the back and side commonly used woods, rosewood is the most split prone. Is that true?

Thank you.

David Newton
09-09-2013, 05:32 PM
It looks too thin to me, from here.
Since you have committed to using that wood at that thickness, the best that you can do now is to soak it thru and thru with shellac. I think shellac is better than anything, except maybe CA glue, at soaking thru and really sealing the wood together.

Dan Uke
09-09-2013, 05:33 PM
Thank you Allen and Saltyri for your replies. Potato chip--egads! I know that it's a factor of bracing, etc.

Question: is redwood split-resistance affected by finish? I once owned a sinker redwood Pereira that was pore-filled, high gloss. My Mya Moe is Tru-oil. For future reference, does it matter to prevent splitting? Is it a factor, like thickness and bracing?

Separate but similar question: I have a pal ordering a custom uke, and I have heard and seen videos about rosewood body ()sides and back) being very split prone. Somewhere I recall someone (a luthier) saying that of all the back and side commonly used woods, rosewood is the most split prone. Is that true?

Thank you.

I've read that BR and Cocobolo (part of the rosewood family) split often so it's better to get quartersawn. However, they look quite plain so people get flatsawn in BR but probably more so do to the difficulty in getting it quartersawn. I'm not a luthier but doing lots of reading...of course, hard to distinguish what is true. :p

saltytri
09-09-2013, 05:38 PM
It looks too thin to me, from here.
Since you have committed to using that wood at that thickness, the best that you can do now is to soak it thru and thru with shellac. I think shellac is better than anything, except maybe CA glue, at soaking thru and really sealing the wood together.

or try Smith CPES

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-09-2013, 06:00 PM
or try Smith CPES

You can do that but just know that you no longer have a wood top. It's some kind of composite.

saltytri
09-09-2013, 06:01 PM
True enough, Chuck. You also don't have the structural integrity of continuous wood fibers.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-09-2013, 06:04 PM
Thanks Allen
what is that saying.."most people buy with their eyes first"....
I have a Sinker Redwood top uke on order...my luthier told me about the figured redwood not very strong...so we went with straight grained redwood..I say as long the builder lets you know about the problems with the wood things are ok....you can make a good decision...

same with quarter sawn and flat sawn tops and backs...as long as you know the problems with flat sawn...then you can decide...

my 2 cents

I think building an instrument knowing that there is a possibility of failure at some point is irresponsible whether the customer is made aware of it or not.

Dan Uke
09-09-2013, 07:19 PM
I think building an instrument knowing that there is a possibility of failure at some point is irresponsible whether the customer is made aware of it or not.

Isn't that the reason you buy new so you can have the Lifetime Warranty? hehehe

hawaii 50
09-09-2013, 09:32 PM
I think building an instrument knowing that there is a possibility of failure at some point is irresponsible whether the customer is made aware of it or not.



I agree with you Chuck..i know what you are saying...
I would aways go with what the builder recommends...I am just guessing

afreiki
09-10-2013, 07:06 AM
As much as I love the look, that was my last curly redwood top, I do believe. Live and learn.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-10-2013, 07:28 AM
Some years ago I built a curly redwood archtop uke. I don't know how many hours it took to carve the top but it was a lot. After the uke was strung up the bridge tore right off, taking a good portion of the top with it.
I've said it before, pretty wood doesn't necessarily make a good uke.

equina
09-10-2013, 10:15 AM
I have a question: I have a straight-grained redwood top, no curls. I saw this thread and measured the thickness of the soundhole, which came up to be ~0.06". Does this mean my top is going to split one day? My climate is about 80% humidity and I've been keeping the uke in a hard case.

Allen
09-10-2013, 10:28 AM
Splitting along the grain is a concern for the builder while they are building. One small knock or flex in the wrong place and redwood will split. After braced and part of the instrument, splitting along the grain (assuming straight grain) is pretty much similar to other species given that thickness etc. were taken into account based on size of instrument, stiffness of wood etc.

Your finish choice is not going to affect wether or not it will split on you down the road.

Newportlocal
09-10-2013, 10:36 AM
I think building an instrument knowing that there is a possibility of failure at some point is irresponsible whether the customer is made aware of it or not.

Agree 100%

Newportlocal
09-10-2013, 10:37 AM
Some years ago I built a curly redwood archtop uke. I don't know how many hours it took to carve the top but it was a lot. After the uke was strung up the bridge tore right off, taking a good portion of the top with it.
I've said it before, pretty wood doesn't necessarily make a good uke.

That doesn't sound like a good day, but I guess in the long run it is chocked up to a learning experience. Sorry that happened to you.

aaronckeim
09-10-2013, 04:49 PM
here is a redwood top I am working on. I think Char gave it to me from thickness sanding and polishing at about .080. I do my best to not sand much more while cleaning up binding. We have done a bunch of redwood tops like this and the old straight grain stuff as well. They both sound good, but the straight grain stuff is easier to work with, for sure!!!!58574

equina
09-10-2013, 07:27 PM
Splitting along the grain is a concern for the builder while they are building. One small knock or flex in the wrong place and redwood will split. After braced and part of the instrument, splitting along the grain (assuming straight grain) is pretty much similar to other species given that thickness etc. were taken into account based on size of instrument, stiffness of wood etc.

Your finish choice is not going to affect wether or not it will split on you down the road.

Thanks, Allen, for your clarification. You've set my mind somewhat at ease.

Michael Smith
09-11-2013, 05:55 AM
With cedar, redwood and doug fir tops I run the bridge patch all the way out to and tuck under the kerfing. I make the normal shaped patch then taper it to 1/4" and sand those ends down to pretty much as thin as I can get them, maybe a 64th or less even. I have not noticed a difference in sound and this 1/4 inch strip even paper thin adds a great deal of strength to the area where the bridge patch normally ends. I have had this area split with douglas fir when one of my ukuleles took a small hit. There can be a real beauty in the wabi-sabi of a lovingly battered instrument but for me I don't feel good about building instruments that are too delicate and won't use anything but a lacquer finish on these soft wood tops.

saltytri
09-19-2013, 05:59 AM
You can do that but just know that you no longer have a wood top. It's some kind of composite.


And, worse yet, the CPES doesn't seem to add much, if any strength. This piqued my curiosity so I did a test panel. A piece of redwood that has the same appearance as the top posted by coolkayaker1 was saturated with CPES and allowed to cure for three days. The treated piece broke as readily as an untreated piece. With the grain and across the grain, there is very little resistance to snapping. Maybe the treated piece broke more like a tortilla chip than potato chip. :)

Of course, a uke top doesn't ordinarily get bent as far or with even the minimal force that it took to snap my sample pieces. I've seen many redwood tops on ukes and guitars with similar figure and the wood I tested isn't extreme at all in comparison to other figured woods that seem to be used regularly and successfully. So, here's a question for the experts: it it acceptable to use figured woods that we know will break more easily than straight grained woods, the justification being that 1) they are attractive and 2)the demands placed on such woods are below the threshold at which they will fail in service?

Chris_H
09-19-2013, 06:14 AM
I have some nice curly Redwood that is stiffer, and stronger than some other Redwood I have that has tight straight grain. I think it is going to come down to the individual piece when you really look at it. Kind of like choosing any piece of wood for a 'critical' purpose.

hawaii 50
09-19-2013, 06:39 AM
for me If I am spending a good amount of money on a custom uke(where I can pick the type of wood used) I am always going to go with the judgement of the Luthier...

the top wood could be the nicest piece ever cut...but if he tells me the grain is too weak I am going to listen to him...as his name on the label not mine...showing off a nice uke with a crack in the top not what I am looking for

IMO if it is too weak there are no arguments...

quiltingshirley
12-28-2013, 08:21 AM
If sinker redwood is a more brittle wood, should it be kept in a case with a humidifier? I have an older one I bought used and only recently with the hots and colds we've been having at the beach, I've noticed a crack along the grain line. I've had it out all the time on a stand. Usually we stay in the high 40s for humidity.

mzuch
12-28-2013, 12:23 PM
should it be kept in a case with a humidifier?

Yes, put it in a case with a Damp-It or other humidifier. A hygrometer would also be a smart investment.

quiltingshirley
12-28-2013, 01:30 PM
Yes, put it in a case with a Damp-It or other humidifier. A hygrometer would also be a smart investment.

Thanks. I put 4 Pez dispensers with the wet floral foam in it's carbon case(really snug fitting case that it came with) with it last night and today the split is hard to find. I'm now a true believer of a humidifier -- a real one should work even better.

BlackBearUkes
12-28-2013, 08:18 PM
Thanks. I put 4 Pez dispensers with the wet floral foam in it's carbon case(really snug fitting case that it came with) with it last night and today the split is hard to find. I'm now a true believer of a humidifier -- a real one should work even better.

You may not see it as well as you did, but the crack is still there no matter how much you humidify and if left the way it is, it could get worse over time. Get the crack repaired by a good luthier who has done the kind of work.

mikelz777
12-29-2013, 05:23 AM
Is this discussion of redwood being brittle and easily cracking and splitting describing its characteristics when working and building with this wood? Would it also be true of redwood in the finished product? Is redwood notably more fragile, delicate or more temperamental than sound boards made out of other woods? I've had my eye on a sinker redwood topped uke but reading through this thread has me wondering if I'm going to have the feeling of walking on eggshells and worrying every time I pick it up. I'm gentle with instruments but I think everyone's instruments get an unexpected knock now and again and I'd hate to think that any little knock will cause a crack or split that will need repair.

BlackBearUkes
12-29-2013, 07:08 AM
Is this discussion of redwood being brittle and easily cracking and splitting describing its characteristics when working and building with this wood? Would it also be true of redwood in the finished product? Is redwood notably more fragile, delicate or more temperamental than sound boards made out of other woods? I've had my eye on a sinker redwood topped uke but reading through this thread has me wondering if I'm going to have the feeling of walking on eggshells and worrying every time I pick it up. I'm gentle with instruments but I think everyone's instruments get an unexpected knock now and again and I'd hate to think that any little knock will cause a crack or split that will need repair.

Most wood tops of Spruce, Cedar or Redwood get more brittle with age. This sinker Redwood is a bit more fragile IMO because of its history, especially if it has any kind of figure it in. Runout in figured wood is problematic in woods like Koa, Maple, etc. In Redwood it could be a recipe for disaster.

If the Redwood toppd uke has a bound edge, that would be better for longevity.

Newportlocal
12-29-2013, 07:49 AM
To anyone reading this thread. My 2 cents. I have a Compass Rose sinker redwood top with cocobolo body. I have a carbon fiber binding. It does have a gloss finish. I don't humidify my uke. I do live near the beach. I don't have even the slightest worry about the redwood top. I have absolutely no regret on my wood choices, and it is a definite keeper that has the tone I was looking for. I am not in any way walking on eggshells. I trust that my ukulele was designed and built well.

Here is a baby photo of the top before I received it.
http://i1077.photobucket.com/albums/w466/Deckhand1/image-41.jpg (http://s1077.photobucket.com/user/Deckhand1/media/image-41.jpg.html)