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Sep 22, 2021 - 10:30:04 AM
2 posts since 9/22/2021

Hey y’all,
I’m curious if anyone has attempted to steam bend a rim using something outside of the normal maple, walnut, beech and been successful, and any insight on pro or cons in regards to the sound. I want to make a Purple Heart rim, or zebra lumber, I have bent the scroll of a f style mandolin with Purple Heart (blow touch in a steel pipe) and it worked, so I think it’s possible. Any thoughts

Sep 22, 2021 - 1:20:22 PM
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YWGbanjo

Canada

200 posts since 9/29/2012

I built a “jatoba jo”. I used jatoba for the outer lamination, integral tone ring, and bottom cap for the 11” rim. The inner laminations were maple. I soaked three 0.1” thick jatoba slats over night, then 60 minutes in the steam box, then wrapped them around the form to dry. The first two slats broke during the wrap. I steamed the third slat for an additional 60 minutes; this one survived the wrap. I paired this rim up with a cherry neck with jatoba fretboard and peg head overlay. Made for a nice banjo. The cherry eventually darkened to match thr jatoba.  The banjo sounds good to me, but I've never heard it played by someone competent.   

Edited by - YWGbanjo on 09/22/2021 13:23:14

Sep 22, 2021 - 1:25:02 PM
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597 posts since 5/22/2021

Hmm, well I think that any hard wood (including some pines), as long as it does not warp or bend when dried, would work out pretty okay. Some other members here have a lot more experience than I do, Maybe @Ken LeVan, banjo builder of PA, would be able to help you out more with your questions?

Russ

Sep 22, 2021 - 2:06:46 PM
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13961 posts since 6/29/2005

Steam bending is unpredictable—assuming  rim slats in the .180"-.260" range ,I have walnut that bends easily and walnut that won't bend at all no matter how long you steam it.  I have no explanation for that—I use the stuff that bends for rims and the stuff that doesn't for necks.

Kiln dried wood is not good.  The grain direction is extremely important.  Any little knot will cause a break or glitch in the bend.

The easiest to bend is ash, followed by beech (bentwood chairs are beech) yellow birch and oak, and I have heard that hickory is easy as well, but have never tried it on banjos. Maple and cherry are mid-range, walnut is a little less predictable. curly maple is difficult because of the grain.  I have had no luck with mahogany except really thin stuff and have heard that many tropical woods are hard to bend.

My advice would be to try a test piece of something before committing a really nice slat to a possible failure.  Block rims work very well with exotics like purpleheart.

Sep 22, 2021 - 3:59:49 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

14613 posts since 8/30/2006
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YWGbanjo I wish you would show photos of your Jatoba rig

How thick would your Purple Heart lams be? How many? 3”?
Sounds like your bending process is safe
I only use dry steam to bend

No bending, but I have recent experience with Purple Heart and Zebra These are fine tone woods
I would love to see a rim with alternating lams


 

Sep 23, 2021 - 12:46:02 AM

2 posts since 9/22/2021

Thank you all for your input, I would love to see pics of the jatoba banjo YWGbanjo . And Ken LeVan what a wealth of knowledge you have! Thank you. I learned a lot in those few paragraphs, Obviously I’ve ran into that issue with walnut, some do and some don’t, and I thought it was something I’m doing wrong.
Helix I wanna do a 3ply, 1/4inch, all purple, I typically stick to one type of wood per rim, when bending, with blocks I’ll switch em up in the layers.

Sep 23, 2021 - 5:05:18 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

14613 posts since 8/30/2006
Online Now

I've been here a few years, I don't think we've ever seen nor heard a Purple Heart rim.


 

Edited by - Helix on 09/23/2021 05:06:04

Sep 23, 2021 - 5:59:57 AM

13961 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Helix

I've been here a few years, I don't think we've ever seen nor heard a Purple Heart rim.


There was a guy last year or the year before who made one, a block rim, and it looked really nice. It's probably in the archive.

I believe this may be the thread:

https://www.banjohangout.org/archive/337318

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 09/23/2021 06:08:27

Sep 23, 2021 - 9:30:18 AM

13961 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by kysenburg

Hey y’all,
I’m curious if anyone has attempted to steam bend a rim using something outside of the normal maple, walnut, beech and been successful, and any insight on pro or cons in regards to the sound. I want to make a Purple Heart rim, or zebra lumber, I have bent the scroll of a f style mandolin with Purple Heart (blow touch in a steel pipe) and it worked, so I think it’s possible. Any thoughts


How thick was the wood?

Sep 23, 2021 - 6:46:59 PM
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YWGbanjo

Canada

200 posts since 9/29/2012

Here’s a photo of my Manitoba jatoba ‘jo.


 

Sep 24, 2021 - 5:18:49 AM

13961 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by YWGbanjo

Here’s a photo of my Manitoba jatoba ‘jo.


That's very nice—good job!  can you give details of number of plies and thickness, kind of glue?

I'm imagining the jatoba came from flooring—how on earth did you get such nice straight-grain pieces?  I once considered using it for fingerboards but Lowe's and Lumber Liquidators would never let me pick and choose pieces—I would have had to buy entire bundles with only one or two usable pieces.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 09/24/2021 05:19:51

Sep 24, 2021 - 7:19:34 PM

YWGbanjo

Canada

200 posts since 9/29/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan
quote:
Originally posted by YWGbanjo

Here’s a photo of my Manitoba jatoba ‘jo.


That's very nice—good job!  can you give details of number of plies and thickness, kind of glue?

I'm imagining the jatoba came from flooring—how on earth did you get such nice straight-grain pieces?  I once considered using it for fingerboards but Lowe's and Lumber Liquidators would never let me pick and choose pieces—I would have had to buy entire bundles with only one or two usable pieces.


Thanks Ken!  The outer ply (jatoba) is approx 0.1" thick.  The inner four plies are maple, approx 1/8" thick.  The integral jatoba tone ring is approx 1/2" in height, and of an eight segment block design.  I used Titebond 1 for the glueup.  The jatoba is from Windsor Plywood; the only specialty hardwood retailer in Winnipeg.  They usually have 4/4 kiln dried in stock.  I re-sawed the jatoba rim plies and fretboard blank with my bandsaw, then planed the cut pieces with the Safe-T-Planer.  This all went well.  The jatoba is hard and somewhat brittle.  I didn't even try running it across my jointer; I'm pretty sure chipout would be a problem.  No issues with slotting the jatoba fretboard, although I think removing frets would pull up chips.  The jatoba is somewhat porous.  Tru Oil was my finish of choice for the rim.  I sanded in the first few coats to fill the grain, then proceeded per usual.  I usually knock down the gloss of the final coat, but this one looked good glossy.   I left the fretboard unfinished.

Sep 25, 2021 - 5:54:24 AM
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13961 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by YWGbanjo
quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan
quote:
Originally posted by YWGbanjo

Here’s a photo of my Manitoba jatoba ‘jo.


That's very nice—good job!  can you give details of number of plies and thickness, kind of glue?

I'm imagining the jatoba came from flooring—how on earth did you get such nice straight-grain pieces?  I once considered using it for fingerboards but Lowe's and Lumber Liquidators would never let me pick and choose pieces—I would have had to buy entire bundles with only one or two usable pieces.


Thanks Ken!  The outer ply (jatoba) is approx 0.1" thick.  The inner four plies are maple, approx 1/8" thick.  The integral jatoba tone ring is approx 1/2" in height, and of an eight segment block design.  I used Titebond 1 for the glueup.  The jatoba is from Windsor Plywood; the only specialty hardwood retailer in Winnipeg.  They usually have 4/4 kiln dried in stock.  I re-sawed the jatoba rim plies and fretboard blank with my bandsaw, then planed the cut pieces with the Safe-T-Planer.  This all went well.  The jatoba is hard and somewhat brittle.  I didn't even try running it across my jointer; I'm pretty sure chipout would be a problem.  No issues with slotting the jatoba fretboard, although I think removing frets would pull up chips.  The jatoba is somewhat porous.  Tru Oil was my finish of choice for the rim.  I sanded in the first few coats to fill the grain, then proceeded per usual.  I usually knock down the gloss of the final coat, but this one looked good glossy.   I left the fretboard unfinished.


Thanks!—That's exactly the way I would do it with maple inner plies.  I never thought to look for Jatoba at a hardwood supply—I'll give that a try.

If you could get a nice 1/8" slat with a Saf-T-Planer, that's a very good testimonial for those.  I have never attempted to go that thin—good for you!

Did you have any problems making fret slots in the fingerboard?   have always wanted to try jatoba for that, it's such a nice color.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 09/25/2021 05:55:32

Sep 25, 2021 - 6:20:03 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

14613 posts since 8/30/2006
Online Now

Caution" respirator recommended. My mentor gave himself permanent damage for his asthma using a SAFE-T-Planer on Jatoba.

I bought an open box of Jatoba flooring from Lumber Liquidators for $8.97 about 12 years ago. I've made many neck stripes and fingerboards from it. It gives me a beautiful RED fingerboard option.

I also bought 3 Orange Jatoba fingerboards from Zach Hoyt.

It's a good sustainable S. American partner.

Sep 26, 2021 - 5:24:39 AM

YWGbanjo

Canada

200 posts since 9/29/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan
quote:
Originally posted by YWGbanjo
quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan
quote:
Originally posted by YWGbanjo

Here’s a photo of my Manitoba jatoba ‘jo.


That's very nice—good job!  can you give details of number of plies and thickness, kind of glue?

I'm imagining the jatoba came from flooring—how on earth did you get such nice straight-grain pieces?  I once considered using it for fingerboards but Lowe's and Lumber Liquidators would never let me pick and choose pieces—I would have had to buy entire bundles with only one or two usable pieces.


Thanks Ken!  The outer ply (jatoba) is approx 0.1" thick.  The inner four plies are maple, approx 1/8" thick.  The integral jatoba tone ring is approx 1/2" in height, and of an eight segment block design.  I used Titebond 1 for the glueup.  The jatoba is from Windsor Plywood; the only specialty hardwood retailer in Winnipeg.  They usually have 4/4 kiln dried in stock.  I re-sawed the jatoba rim plies and fretboard blank with my bandsaw, then planed the cut pieces with the Safe-T-Planer.  This all went well.  The jatoba is hard and somewhat brittle.  I didn't even try running it across my jointer; I'm pretty sure chipout would be a problem.  No issues with slotting the jatoba fretboard, although I think removing frets would pull up chips.  The jatoba is somewhat porous.  Tru Oil was my finish of choice for the rim.  I sanded in the first few coats to fill the grain, then proceeded per usual.  I usually knock down the gloss of the final coat, but this one looked good glossy.   I left the fretboard unfinished.


Thanks!—That's exactly the way I would do it with maple inner plies.  I never thought to look for Jatoba at a hardwood supply—I'll give that a try.

If you could get a nice 1/8" slat with a Saf-T-Planer, that's a very good testimonial for those.  I have never attempted to go that thin—good for you!

Did you have any problems making fret slots in the fingerboard?   have always wanted to try jatoba for that, it's such a nice color.


No problem at all cutting the fret slots.
       
 

Sep 26, 2021 - 6:19:08 AM
Players Union Member

wizofos

USA

6146 posts since 8/19/2012

This link give me some encouragement. Like Larry I picked up a box of Jatoba flooring from LL for $15 and thought I could use it. I wanted to use it for fretboards and dark stripes as well as a possible Helix rim but have not found time and hard to get the finish off. Bottom is also grooved and I am not happy about running it though my planer. I may get a chance to do something this winter as I have been thinking about building a long neck and have a dulcimer that I want to finish.
No problem with dust since I do all my cutting in the garage with an open over head door and a box fan exhausting the dust.

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