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Jonathan
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[*] posted on 10-26-2005 at 10:23 AM
My first oud


I have finally decided to take the plunge and make an oud. Let me preface this whole thing by telling you that I am sure that this entire experience is going to be a bit of a challenge--I am not a woodworker, not a luthier. But, I thought I would give it a shot. At first I was not going to post a thread on this, but I figure I am going to need a lot of input, so I decided to start this thread. I anticipate that this is going to take me a long, long time. And, there will certainly be weeks where I will do pretty much nothing.
I am relying heavily on Dr. Oud's book. But, if the oud turns out sub-par, don't blame the book. The book is terrific.
First, here's a pic of the oud I am patterning it after, a 1964 Karibyan.




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[*] posted on 10-26-2005 at 10:29 AM


I made a profile of the above oud in particle board. Not the most durable stuff, I know.



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[*] posted on 10-26-2005 at 10:33 AM


Here's the raw wood. I picked it up from Gilmer Woods (http://www.gilmerwood.com) The first block is flame maple, and the second is a lacewood. I know these are tough to work with, but I really, really love figured wood. If it proves too tough, I will switch to something else.
I had, incidentally, also picked up a small block of bubinga, and a block of purpleheart. They seemed so incredibly dense I didn't even bother to try to cut those two. I will use them somewhere else.
Mike posted a pic of a Kyvelos a while back that used a lacewood, and it seemed beautiful. And, on Dincer's site, his oud has a flame mahogany for some of the ribs, which looks pretty amazing. This maple probably won't look as rich, but I did want a nice contrast between the two ribs.
I think that is a great look.
The problem is that I am going to have to be super accurate fitting the ribs, because there is such a contrast between the two woods that any errors will be easily noted, particularly where they taper down toward the neck and toward the base of the bowl.




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[*] posted on 10-26-2005 at 10:44 AM


And, the maple is incredibly tough to cut. But, here are the ribs. I cut them to 1 1/2 wide, by 1/8th of an inch thick, and 28 to 30 inches long. In the end, I want 21 ribs for the bowl of the oud. I made plenty of extras, but I know that I am going to need them. That lacewood looks incredible. I wonder, though, if I made a mistake with the maple--almost too light in color.
I decided to order some ebony purfling strips to place between the ribs.




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[*] posted on 10-26-2005 at 10:49 AM


Way to go Johnathan! I had very little experience when I made my 1st Karibyan copy (oh yea!) I had made a mountain dulcimer - really a box with strings; and I put a long neck on a mandolin to make a baglama. You're so lucky to have the crew here to help. I was lost at the beginning and confused at the end. It worked, though, and still does. Just take it a step at a time, you can do it!



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[*] posted on 10-26-2005 at 10:55 AM


Jonathan,

Just wanted to wish you luck on this incredible task that you are about to go through. If you don't have certain tools that you might need for your project, there are several places around that I believe would allow you to use their tools for free (for free!?!? whaaaat?) I know...

Various universities would probably be very useful. I've also heard that there are woodshops associated with the museums that are around here, and that they sometimes allow for people to come in at night after everyone's done working and allow you to work on your own thing.

May the greatest of luck be with you. I'm sure that you'll make a very fine instrument. You have great oudmakers here to help whenever you need (It's almost like they're on speed dial!).

Hope to see you soon as well,

TP21




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[*] posted on 10-26-2005 at 11:23 AM


Way to go Jonathan. You are following in your grandfather's footsteps. I have no doubt you'll make a fine oud. It's in the blood! Even if only for your grandfather's memory, you must finish it. My grandfather got me started woodworking, and I put his picture on my label instead of my own. The wood looks fabulous, and the maple will get nice and warm when you wipe on that first coat of Tru-oil. You've chosen a great combo.



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[*] posted on 10-26-2005 at 02:05 PM


Thanks guys. I really appreciate it. I had wanted to get my grandfather's old moulds and use one of them. There is a luthier in Michigan that still has them, along with his tools. Unfortunately, he won't part with them. It would have been nice. But, perhaps all of this is for a reason. Somehow, I am going to pattern my label after his. I am getting way too far ahead of myself, though.
Doc O, me copying a Karibyan is like a little kid with a box of Crayolas saying he is going to copy the Sistine Chapel. We will see.
True Pharaoh, I do have some tools, but not a lot. A half way decent table saw, some chisels, drills, and basic stuff. Not a lot, but hopefully enough to see me through.




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[*] posted on 10-26-2005 at 06:37 PM


Hey Jonathan,

This is great news. The wood looks really beautiful, great choices. I can't wait to see your progress. You can do this, and believe me, this won't be your last oud. I can tell you are too passionate about this.

Enjoy, and thanks for sharing this with us. It really is great how this site and others have really inspired more people to make ouds. Hopefully I will one day too.

Take care,

mavrothis




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[*] posted on 10-27-2005 at 07:24 AM


Thanks, Mav.
I decided to make a mould for the oud. I was going to go with DocOs mouldless approach, but switched over to the mould idea. Not sure why. I made it out of solid pine--1 inch at the base, and 3/4 inch elsewhere. I probably should have made it out of a high-grade plywood--I think perhaps less chance of warpage with that, should I decide to use this mould again. Oh well.
Only 4 bulkheads. Might have been better with 5. Gotta fix that front bulkhead--the shape is off.

Wasn't too tuff to figure out. I traced that profile onto the pine for the base, and cut off about 1 3/4 inch at the top for the neck block, and about 1/2 inch at the base for the tail block. Then, exact same pattern for the center brace.
This really is a learning process.




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[*] posted on 10-27-2005 at 08:02 AM


The neck block proved tougher than I thought. At first, I was going to use a hardwood, but with all the sanding you have to do, it was impossible. And, too heavy.
Then, I found some old wood in the rafters of my attic that had belonged to a great uncle. Must be at least 20 or 30 years old. Redwood, I guess, but I am not positive. Lightweight. Still, the neckblock was tough, because I had the tendency to round it out too much.
I just screwed it into the mould when I was done--should be easy enough to remove when it is time to separate the bowl from the mould.




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[*] posted on 10-27-2005 at 08:04 AM


Tail block, and the guide lines.



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[*] posted on 10-27-2005 at 08:14 AM


A waste of money, perhaps, but I bought the rib bender from LMI.
I also bought some ebony purfling. No way for me to make that.
1/40th of an inch thick. I still have to figure out how to work with that. Not sure if bending will be difficult or not, yet.
I could have bought some sandwiched purfling (black/white/black), and that might have been better, but I am not going to buy more purfling now that I have this. Also, all of the sandwiched purfling that I could find was synthetic, and I wanted the bowl to be all wood. I guess I could have bought some maple purfling as well, and do the job myself, but it just seemed like it would be too difficult.
This purfling is just so thin, but, when I place it between the rib blanks, you still do notice a difference immediately.
It is so thin, that I did not even have to factor it into my calculations for the rib dimensions. Heck, it is thiner than the pen line I used to mark the mould.
Did my first rib bending last night--just one rib of maple, to try out the machine. I am going to try for the dry approach. Time consuming.




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[*] posted on 10-27-2005 at 08:38 AM


I am planning on cutting the rib blanks to approximately the right shape, bending, and then using a sanding block to make it right. Is this the way to go?
Thanks




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[*] posted on 10-27-2005 at 09:09 AM


Looking good so far, Jonathan. Who are you trying to kid? At this pace you'll be done in no time! Nice bending iron. I'm jealous. You won't be able to bend the purfling on it's own, it needs support since you are bending it across it's short dimension. You could try bending the purfling like Dincer does. (I'm pretty sure that's what he's doing in those pics on his site)Clamp a rib next to a previous rib on the mold, leaving just enough room for the purfling to slip in. Then heat the purfling with a small iron, and use the mould and ribs themselves as the form. You can bend the ribs either before or after you cut. It's easier to cut them to shape before bending, but on the other hand, it's easier to bend them when the ribs are still square. (less chance of twisting) You can sand them to shape after cutting them, but things will go much faster if you plane them to shape, using an inverted bench plane (like a #6 or #7). Then use the sanding board to tweak the fit. That's where the sandpaper really shines. You can press harder on the high spots for a perfect fit. I also make my sanding board somewhat longer than the two sheets of sandpaper. This way I can position the rib so only the section I want to sand is sitting over a corner of the sandpaper, and the rest on the board without the sandpaper, using a light touch and checking the fit often, you can achieve a light-tight fit with no pressure on the rib. That's how I've been fitting ribs lately. I hold the rib up to the next one just enough to close the gap (not really pushing, just holding), then shine a strong flashlight (I use one of those mini-keychain LED lights--the bright white light is perfect) from behind and as you move one hand holding the rib (you can tack it place so it doesn't fall while you adjust your position with a little piece of masking tape at the widest spot)move the flashlight and check all along the rib for light leaks. Ideally, you should see NO light at all. Obviously you can't do this where the blocks are, just have to look closely to make sure the fit is good. It's tricky sometimes to get the tail end to fit well. Don't be tempted to push it over to get it to fit. Instead, start out with more material removed from the center of the rib (with both ends fitting nicely) and slowly sand your way until the whole length fits well, kind of "sneak-up" on a perfect fit. If you go too far and the center fits well but the tail end has a gap, you'll have to remove material from the entire rest of the edge to get the tail end to fit. If you push it over (even a little, like a 1/32") by the time you do this even a couple times, your outline at the face will be narrower. The mould helps prevent this, but you'll know it's happening because the rib won't fit right--it will butt into the mould. I had the opposite problem with this latest oud. I was off a hair in the other direction, so my oud ended up about 1.5cm wider than I planned. But a back with more volume is not a problem in my book. Quite the contrary. It's more aesthetics than anything. Shoot for symmetry.



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[*] posted on 10-27-2005 at 10:40 AM


Jonathan

First I am glad you chose to use classical mold.
Few Questions:
Did you raise your mould about 1.5 cmm at the end block?. It is important that you should do so. When you have your outline in plane. Have a half of it turn 180 degrees on a line raised 1.5 cm at the end and zero at the front.
Are you planning to use sand paper ? Use a long wood plane held in a vise like Jameel suggests. Check them on a painted glass for their straitness at the edges while they were curved.
Did you bend your ribs before you try to cut-in shape? Do so. Just imagine that you are going to have a slice of melon!!
Jameel's suggestion working with pufling between ribs is correct. It takes a couple trials but you can do it. Use news paper as you use hot little iron travelling along the joint which has hot hide glue. Never use sentetic glues where you think later you may want to open for some reason: like repaires. Also I beleive hide glue cures much britle and harder than all others which is good to transfer the vibration and also works like wood and with the wood when the instrument subject to a different humid conditions.
If you don't want your oud finaly end up being 1.5 cmm wider than your mould do what I do. After you determined and cut the length of the purfling, sand 10 or 15 times (depending your purflings thickness) 15-20 cm of both ends with a medium send paper on a little sending block. You do that too Jameel. Hadi Usta told me to do so and it works.
Best regards Guys
Dincer




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[*] posted on 10-27-2005 at 12:43 PM


Thanks, gentlemen. I am taking your advice. Rib bending is proving much more difficult than I expected, but it is probably just because I am being a bit too cautious. I was worried about the maple, but the lacewood is somehow more difficult to bend.
As far as the purfling goes, I am going to try your approach, Dincer. I will use the flat top of that bending iron for the job. The purfling is unbelievably thin, though (one fourtieth of an inch!). Still, with 21 ribs, that does add up to a half an inch. I will heed your advice.
I have a few days off that I am devoting to this, but I am sure that my pace will slow down significantly in November.
Dincer-- I raised the line 1 inch in the back. Close enough to 1.5 cm, hopefully. I just looked at other ouds and tried to estimate the proper amount.




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[*] posted on 10-27-2005 at 02:51 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by Jameel.... I also make my sanding board somewhat longer than the two sheets of sandpaper. This way I can position the rib so only the section I want to sand is sitting over a corner of the sandpaper, and the rest on the board without the sandpaper, using a light touch and checking the fit often, . .... It's tricky sometimes to get the tail end to fit well. Don't be tempted to push it over to get it to fit. ... If you push it over (even a little, like a 1/32") by the time you do this even a couple times, your outline at the face will be narrower. ...Shoot for symmetry.

I'll have to try some new things - it seems like you guys are developing more and better (maybe) ways to git-r-done. When I'm fitting ribs on the sanding table, I just hold the rib lightly with one hand and push on the edge opposite the high spot to dial in the fit. I dunno about running over the edge of the sandpaper, I guess I'll have to give it a try. Another result of pushing the rib end over and twisting it is that the shape of the perimeter will flatten out at the tail making the shape more triangular than roundy. Symmetry - hmmm. I had an interesting conversation with John Gilmer of Gilmer Wood Company. He has traveled the world many times searching for rare and exotic woods and since much of his clientele are instrument makers, he has visited many museums over the years. He has noticed that the old masters didn't pay as much attention to symmetry as we modern folk. For instance the master guitar makers in Spain rarely used molds and consequently their guitars are kinda lopsided, but their sound is difficult to match today with all the sophisticated tools and techniques we have (I still want a scroll saw, though). The Hamza Usta is not symettrical either, although I don't know if it was originally so or if it happened in later repairs ( of which i'm sure there were many). I think we are conditioned so much by our machine-made perfectly symmetrical surroundings that lop sided things seem somehow wrong, even if very few things are symmetrical in nature. It doesn't make a rose less beautiful, though, does it?




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[*] posted on 10-27-2005 at 06:46 PM


Great conversation. Dincer, great tips, thank you very much. I'm going to try hide glue on my next back. I love the stuff, even if you do have to work fast. Jonathan, keep at it. I love this thread already.



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[*] posted on 10-27-2005 at 07:21 PM


Rib bending. I have tried it wet, dry, and spritzed. No difference, so I will stick with dry.
I have the feeling that these ribs are too thick, though. Right now, sanded, they are 1/8 of an inch. I know I am shooting for 2-3 mm at the end of the game, but I thought that that would be accomplished by sanding down the bowl at the very end. Any thoughts? Should I thin out these blanks a bit more before bending?
I still haven't cut them, and am getting used to the bending iron.




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[*] posted on 10-28-2005 at 08:46 AM


Quote:
Originally posted by Jonathan...I have the feeling that these ribs are too thick, though. Right now, sanded, they are 1/8 of an inch. I know I am shooting for 2-3 mm at the end of the game, but I thought that that would be accomplished by sanding down the bowl at the very end. Any thoughts? Should I thin out these blanks a bit more before bending?...

I wouldn't thin them just yet, especially on your first bowel (belly, back, whatever). You will find that as you glue the edges together there may be some slight offset and the extra thickness will save a redo. If you do find some offset later you might be able to re-glue that area. You will need to get creative with some clamping cleats, but it is possible and preferable to re-fitting a rib in between some others. To get a smooth round shape you will need the thickness anyway. When it's done you should scrape the inside first, and just so that the glue joints are flush. Then you can rasp, sand and/or scrape the outer surface. I put my fingers opposite the spot where I'm sanding and when I just begin to feel something, it's done. I use a soft rubber pad to smooth things out a little more than bare hand held sandpaper. I suggest using parchment paper to reinforce the glue joints. The surface on both sides of the glue joint is primed with Hide glue first. Glue is then rubbed into a strip under a lamp to keep it warm and retard the gel time. Apply the glue infused strip over the joint and rub it down with a hot damp pad. Remove the excess glue on the edges before it sets. After all the joints are covered, seal the parchment with shellac.




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[*] posted on 10-28-2005 at 09:50 AM


Thanks! Believe it or not, it is not the maple, but the lacewood that is causing me all of the problems. Next oud, I am going with mahogany, or at least something that bends a bit easier than this stuff.
Slow going, but I am getting there.




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[*] posted on 10-28-2005 at 01:58 PM


Good going Jonathan. It looks like you're on a great start already.

Quote:
Then you can rasp, sand and/or scrape the outer surface. I put my fingers opposite the spot where I'm sanding and when I just begin to feel something, it's done.


How much sanding does it take to go from say 5 mm to about 2.5 on the bowl? Will this make the bowl even? I guess you have to be very careful if you're using rasps, Doc.
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[*] posted on 10-28-2005 at 03:09 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by Peyman...How much sanding does it take to go from say 5 mm to about 2.5 on the bowl? Will this make the bowl even? I guess you have to be very careful if you're using rasps, Doc.

The inside is scraped flush first with a curved scraper. A rasp can be used for the rough work to knock down the edges that overlap on the outside. The back is then sanded smooth with 80-100 grit Garnet paper. How long it takes depends entirely on how hard the wood is. Scratches are removed with 120-150 grit, then I leave it and complete the rest of the oud before finish sanding with finer grit, and the finer you go the smoother the finish will be. I usually don't bother going past 220 grit, but Jameel's finish looks so smooth...




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[*] posted on 10-28-2005 at 06:28 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by Jameel...I'm going to try hide glue on my next back. I love the stuff, even if you do have to work fast. ..

There are some tricks to using hide glue, like preheating the wood joint lengthens the gel time, and if you misscalculate, a little warm water will soften the glue and you can rebond with the same glue in the joint (if enough).

It doesn't take much to get a good glue pot working. All you need is a baby bottle warmer or a fondue pot and some baby food jars. These are cheap and easy to find. You just need to get in the habit of keeping the pot water warm, and mix a little at a time. Once you've applied enough glue, take the jar out of the water and it won't overcook. You can reheat it for a week if needed. Old glue is bad glue, so after it's a week old, toss it. The mix is important but simple: equal weight of water and glue granuales. Here's a scale I made that does the job-




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