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How to make thin rods?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Suburban, Jul 29, 2005.


  1. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    I just hate the thought of mixing wood and plastics in my instruments. Just out of spite, probably - I don't mind composite instruments at all! But to put plastic, or any pearlish material for that matter, for side fret markers... The thought makes me shiver!

    Now, I have already thought about the other two obvious solutions: finding a decent shrink or use metal. But, for colour coordination, if nothing else, I'd prefer wood. (it would be hard to colour coordinate a shrink, not to mention the work to make her/him/it fit the side of the fingerboard... :confused: )

    Does anybody have a useful idea on how to make wooden rods, about 2.5mm (.1") diameter and at least 5mm long (could be 25 or 100mm long or more if you prefer)?

    Or know of a place to buy - preferably, not mandatory, in Europe?
     
  2. I'm pretty sure that it could be done on a lathe. My buddy Nate turned some maple down for markers on some ebony knobs. IIRC, the maple looked to be at around the 2mm diameter. It was done on a metal lathe with an automatic feed though... I don't know about doing this on a wood lathe. He just turned a bunch of short pieces, for obvious reasons.
     
  3. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    If your fretboard is fairly dark, and you can therefore use light colored wood for markers, you could buy the smallest size dowel available (in the US, commonly 1/8", maple or birch). Chuck up a short length in a drill press, or just a drill clamped in a vise, and turn the dowel between two hard sanding blocks te reduce the diameter. It may turn out fuzzy, but that won't matter once it's in the hole.
     
  4. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    1/8", actually. I thought about buying some dowel, but I decided I liked the colour match you get from using dots out of the same block as was used elsewhere.

    The only tricky bit was getting the grain oriented so it wouldn't just snap off during the last few cuts. It also helped to do only enough for one or two dots at a time (around 1/2" of homemade dowel). I had to screw up a few pieces before I figured that out, but I was only working with small cut-offs, so it didn't hurt me much.

    -Nate
     
  5. ArtisFallen

    ArtisFallen

    Jul 21, 2004
    I like this Wooden dowl idea. in my bass my fret markers are actually solder that i melted into the holes and sanded flush. it comes out real nice surprisingly
     
  6. look in your local hobby store.. (where they sell model trains and stuff) they usually have wooden rods at different diameters, I think from about 1 to 3mm
    -cheers
     
  7. Zetora

    Zetora

    Aug 16, 2004
    England
    You know I hadn't even considered fret markers, nor what I would use, and wood sounds such a good idea, thanks for the thread its more food for thought on my bass project (which hasn't started yet unfortunately).

    I think a nice wood would look good for fret markers, not that common either I think.

    Zetora
     
  8. Interesting!
     
  9. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    I've tried this before but didn't get good results. I tried making maple position markers in a rosewood fretboard. Whenever I tried to do the final sanding the rosewood dust got all over the maple dots and made them look nasty and dirty. How do you guys avoid this?
     
  10. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    I put the maple dots into ebony and had no problems whatsoever. I used CA to glue the dots in and it soaked through the maple entirely, so there wasn't anywhere for ebony dust to get trapped. It worked like a charm.

    -Nate
     
  11. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    Thanks, I'll keep that in mind for my next project.
     
  12. Make a dowel cutter that shaves by forcing a larger dowel through a smaller hole. Get a small place of tool steel - you could even use a thread gauge or something similar. Then whittle down a piece of wood to where it's just larger than the 1/8" hole. Then just force it throught the hole in the steel plate. It should swage down to 1/8" with no problem.

    Or force a piece of wood backwards through a leather die punch.
     
  13. Rodent

    Rodent Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Regenerate Guitar Works
    One could even visit a welding supply company and purchase a length of tig welding rod - stainless or aluminum - and then epoxy or superglue it in place. The rods come in various sizes, and should be real easy to trim to length. All you'd need is a matching diameter drill and to locate your marker holes accordingly.

    I like the idea of a stainless rod, but I think aluminum would be easier to keep polished smooth.

    R
     
  14. ArtisFallen

    ArtisFallen

    Jul 21, 2004
    totally. if you do the solder technique you gotta go "high flux" which in asthetic terms means: really shiny :hyper:
     
  15. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Cute idea! Should work well on a really dark board.

    Thanks for the tip. Can you continue to tip (since you're in Sweden) on some store that would have dark wood rods? I have found light coloured (at d=3+), but never dark ones.

    Hah! Didn't think of the 'pure force' approach! I had thoughts about stripping a thread gauge from its threads and rotate the rod blank through it, but never just forcing it through. Hmm...

    This seems, sort of, the easy way out (unless GL above comes up with a great tip on a hobby store). Just to make a 'tuning fork' with the right gauge, dress it with good ol' 80 grit and turn on....


    Thanks, friends, I really appreciate the response! :) :bassist:
     
  16. How about some of these useful household items...

    toothpicks
    shishkebob skewers
    knitting needles
    Cuticle sticks for manicures
    Paper lollipop sticks (very dense paper that can be dyed and hardened with CA)
    Rattan balloon sticks
    Rattan in general
    Bamboo strips

    Any of these hit the spot?
     
  17. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    I would guess that a properly sized dowel, cut into centimeter long lengths and soaked in a thimble of wood stain for a few days, would do just fine. You could even do different colors for the 12th and 24th frets.
     
  18. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    You should check out brass, it looks great, especially in rosewood.

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=162992
     
  19. well I have only seen lightcolored rods aswell but at a thinner diameter a store in central stockholm have got them called "Wenzels Hobby" I think its birch rods.. as said you can always dye them
     
  20. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Formerly the owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
    The thing about dowels is the end grain. If you use a light colored wood dowel on an ebony or rosewood fingerboard you're going to get some dark colored dust in the end grain of the dowel when you sand it flush that you may not be able to remove. It is a small area, but still.