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A good test of nerves. . .
© Frank Ford, 8/18/02; Photos by FF
|Up until the early 'teens, Gibson mandolin necks were laminated with a center strip of 1/8" thick dyed wood. Unfortunately, the dyeing process quickly resulted in a serious degradation of the structure of that lamination. With time, the black lamination achieves the structural integrity of a charcoal briquette. What looks like a simple regluing turns out to be a bit more nasty, as the black layer continues to crumble.The fingerboard and dovetail joint tend to keep the neck together, but the peghead is vulnerable to breaking open.|
|Later, Gibson switched to using a solid piece for the peghead, and running the black line as a shallow decorative inlay so this damage would not occur. So, we're left with a population of thousands of instruments, mostly mandolins, with a potential problem. If we simply reglue the lamination, chances are it will break free and surprise us later on. I think it's a good idea to add some rigid stiffening reinforcement so the peghead can't flex.|
|First, a bit of new glue to hold things together.|
|I clamped the peghead against a flat plate in the front to align the halves, and from the sides to close the joint.|
|First checking the grain direction so as not to make a big mess of things, I positioned the peghead over a hole in my bench, and drove a tapered violin peg into the hole, neatly splitting a nice section off the side.|
|Over at the drill press, I drilled a 1/4" hole right through the entire peghead, starting in one tuner hole and punching right through to the tuner hole on the opposite side.|
|I sanded a 1/4" dowel just a bit to make it fit the hole neatly, and tapped it all the way in with a load of Titebond glue.|
|After I trimmed the end of the dowel where it entered the hole, I was ready to reglue the piece I had broken from the peghead.|
|Here again, I used flat plates on the front and back sides, along with the edge, so the broken piece would be realigned perfectly.|
|This instrument's finish was a bit rough overall, so I decided not to do too much touchup on the peghead, for fear of making it look out of place. Instead, I added just enough shellac by French polishing to fill the hairline crack left when I reglued my broken side piece.|
|Even if you zoom in for a really close inspection, you can hardly see my intentional crack after a few swipes with the French polishing pad.|
|And, now that the job is done, there's still a bit of evidence of the original crack, and most of the original scars and dings are show on the surface of the peghead. That 1/4" dowel adds a lot of strength to the peghead, so there's no chance of it coming apart again. Another perfectly good reinforcement would be to use a wide spline at the end of the peghead, but it would be a more visible repair. As with so many other repair options, it's a judgment call.|
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