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Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?

GUEST,Tom 25 Oct 05 - 01:43 PM
GUEST,Bono 25 Oct 05 - 01:52 PM
GUEST,Ole Bull 25 Oct 05 - 02:13 PM
Little Robyn 25 Oct 05 - 02:22 PM
Ebbie 25 Oct 05 - 02:42 PM
Peace 25 Oct 05 - 02:44 PM
GUEST 25 Oct 05 - 03:29 PM
JohnInKansas 25 Oct 05 - 03:49 PM
GUEST 25 Oct 05 - 03:52 PM
GUEST,Tom 25 Oct 05 - 05:54 PM
Ned Ludd 25 Oct 05 - 07:59 PM
Bill D 25 Oct 05 - 08:32 PM
Naemanson 25 Oct 05 - 08:33 PM
Bill D 25 Oct 05 - 08:33 PM
Naemanson 25 Oct 05 - 08:40 PM
Bob Bolton 25 Oct 05 - 10:05 PM
Jon W. 26 Oct 05 - 12:53 PM
The Fooles Troupe 26 Oct 05 - 11:15 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 26 Oct 05 - 11:31 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 26 Oct 05 - 11:35 PM
JohnInKansas 27 Oct 05 - 12:12 AM
The Villan 27 Oct 05 - 04:28 AM
Naemanson 27 Oct 05 - 06:43 AM
GUEST,Chief Chaos 27 Oct 05 - 02:38 PM
tarheel 27 Oct 05 - 02:57 PM
tarheel 27 Oct 05 - 03:04 PM
JohnInKansas 27 Oct 05 - 03:15 PM
Tannywheeler 27 Oct 05 - 07:15 PM
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Subject: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: GUEST,Tom
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 01:43 PM

I've searched on this forum and on the web but I can't seem to find a "how to" on making bones. I know, drink a lot of milk : ) I fiqure it can't be too hard to do but I'm not too brilliant when it comes to woodworking although, I have a woodshop and various woods at my disposal. Any help or links will be much appreciated.
Thanks. Tom


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: GUEST,Bono
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 01:52 PM

acoustic or electric ?


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: GUEST,Ole Bull
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 02:13 PM

I presume you mean bones made from wood. "Most" bones, since their mid 19th century heyday were, generally, made from wood, apparently to replace those from the skeleton.

Percy Danforth's book (check Elderly Music) has measurments. Otherwise, pick up a set and trace them. The easiest way is to rough them out on a bandsaw and then shape and finish on a belt sander.

Many make bones from rib cages. I find them less than satisfactory but servicable in a pinch. I understand that the real "good" skeletal bones are from the shin. These I have not yet attempted to reproduce but I have purchased a set (Lark in the Morning) which I suspect to be such. Either way you should boil them up to remove fatty deposits and that will help them to dry. Sources are the Butcher or a local Slaughterhouse.

Also check www.rythmmbones.com


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: Little Robyn
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 02:22 PM

A friend made his bones from cows ribs - see your local butcher.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: Ebbie
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 02:42 PM

A friend of mine made his from moose rib.


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: Peace
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 02:44 PM

A friend of mine made his with a 45 calibre.


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 03:29 PM

I know an interior decorator who simply used two offcuts of tile of about the right length and width. Sounded no worse than any other set.


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 03:49 PM

One "expert player," claimed by some (I believe including himself) to be the greatest living player, says that his favorite "bones" are made from genuine bufallo rib bones. If that's what you want, start with one bufallo, and ...

Brief descriptions are included in Making and Playing Musical Instruments, Jack Botermans, Herman Dewit, and Hans Goddefroy, ©1989 Uitgeverij Trendbook International, English Translation ©1989 Trendbook Internation/P.G. Ruys Beheer BV, distributed in the US by University of Washington Press.

(A very long citation for a fairly small but interesting book, 120 pages, about $20 US.)

The examples shown are of a variety of shapes, but none of the traditional "rib bone" style. The authors here use the generic term "clap sticks" and show them in the general category of "idiophones" (note: the missing "t" in the spelling is correct).

For simplicity, dimensions of 150 mm long by 40 mm wide by 7 mm thick straight flat wooden pieces are suggested. (5.9" x 1.5" x 0.28"). The authors suggest a flat taper on the "striking end" so that the ends "mate" when you strike them, and also that you should "harden this end in an open flame. This makes the clap sticks sound much louder."

The dimensions given are approximately what I recall for the "fancy" pair of claves I bought about 25 years ago. Unfortunately I don't recall where they were hidden to keep them away from "curious (noisy) children.

The "traditional" shape is approximately elliptical for the cross section, with a pretty much uniform longitudinal curve so that the convex sides come together "flat" against each other at about 0.5 inch from the striking end when the first two fingers are between the sticks at 0.5 to 1+ inches from the "grip" end.

Best results appear to be obtained with fairly dense woods. Hard (physically) woods and a hard finish give best sound. I don't know if the "flame hardening" method is commonly used by those who sell them, but it would be a possible way of getting the hard striking surface desired.

The general instrument category is "idiophone." Again note the questionable(?) omission of the "t" in the spelling.

A generic term "clappers" or "clap sticks" may find useful info at one of the "home made instrument" sites.

"Claves" is sort of the fancy term. "Bones" is also used.

If you want to try the "real thing" you'll probably want larger bones than are found in a typical "rib roast" in my local markets, so you'll need to consult the butcher. Most reliable sources I've consulted advise that you DO NOT BOIL THE MEAT OFF bones you want to use for most instrument uses. Boiling permanently softens the bones, apparently by leaching some of the calcium out of them. My own limited experimenting confirms this.

A recommended practice is simply to trim off as much raw meat as possible, and then leave them on an ant hill for a year or so. Even with this method, a damp location or excessive exposure to "desert level" sunlight may cause some softening.

Be aware that most sawing, grinding, or sanding of even well cured bone often produces aromas suggesting a major gastric accident.

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 03:52 PM

Now hear de word of the Lord....


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: GUEST,Tom
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 05:54 PM

I forgot to mention I was thinking of the wooden kind. Thanks all and thanks to JohnInKansas for the measurements and descriptions. I think I'll try to find a good photo of a pair and try my hand at it. Tom


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: Ned Ludd
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 07:59 PM

Some of the wooden ones I've seen had a scarf joint about halfway along to help get a good curve when shaping them. It should be just as easy to steam and bend them though.


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 08:32 PM

I would just shape them on a bandsaw and then on a belt sander (preferably a stationary one)....you can make very fine adjustments this way.

I have a number of unusual hardwoods that ought to be interesting. Maybe I'll try some one of these days.


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: Naemanson
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 08:33 PM

I have only been satisfied with bones I make myself. I have a very nice set I made from maple and a larger set I made from yellow birch. There is no set size, there are no definitive guidelines except the the curve has to be wide enough for your fingers at the top and they have to meet towards the bottom. My maple set is 6 3/4 inches long and 1 inch wide. They meet at about 4 1/2 inches. The are about 3/16 inch thick. These are the bones I used when recording with Castlebay.

The yellow birch set are 7 1/2 inches long and 1 inch wide. They are 1/4 inch thick. These meet at about the 5 1/2 inch spot.

The yellow birch are louder, have a crisper sound, and are pitched lower but they are also slower. I can get faster runs using the other set.

I cut these on a bandsaw, cutting the curve into them. On my last run home I made a new set, also of maple, but I wanted to experiment with bending them into the correct curve. The experiment was inconclusive. I brought them home with me to keep trying. Maple is a very dense wood and it takes more steaming than I was able to do in a crowded kitchen.

I had a problem, early on, with the bones sliding through my fingers. I solved that by cutting a curve into the side of the bones to match the crotch where my two fingers meet. It works quite well.


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 08:33 PM

Ned...you can't really steam the very dense woods)


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: Naemanson
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 08:40 PM

I was moderately successful steaming the maple. I was not happy with the resultant curve.

By the way, I have half a set of ebony bones. I'd like to find or make another to complete it. Until then I am elegible to work for the Canadian hocky leagues. I have a zen-bone-eh?


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 25 Oct 05 - 10:05 PM

G'day Tom,

I've made about a hundred sets, over the years, experimenting with various woods - starting with Lignum Vitae, which was a favourite with many vaudeville performers here in Australia. I've found that the really tough Australian hardwoods (many heavier ... and a damned sight harder and tougher than Lignum Vitae!) are too hard ... giving a very sharp sound ... and a sharp shock wave to the fingers.

After all that, my favourites are two surviving sets of those my Dad made in the 1960s/70s from (Australian) Brush Box. They are around 180 mm (~ 7¼") long, 32 mm (~ 1¼") wide and 8 mm (~ 5/16") thick. They were band-sawed, with about 10 mm of curve, from a large block (freehand!) by Dad ... and I need a vernier gauge to measure any variations!

They have a much flatter cross-section that the Percy Danforth pattern and give a rather deeper, more satisfying, "clonk" that I prefer to the "click" of the Danforth examples I have.

You won't get a non-Australian timber with the density and toughness of Brush Box ... but softer timbers like oak give a nice sound and action in these dimensions - and Rock (Sugar~) Maple is nice ... and tough!

(Brett ... but it doesn't like being steam bent! Ebony is very traditional in European sets ... but hard to come by.)

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: Jon W.
Date: 26 Oct 05 - 12:53 PM

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is laminating them from thinner pieces. This might be overkill but if you used three layers - say maple, ebony, maple - to laminate 1/4" thick bones you could probably make the curve without steaming.


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 26 Oct 05 - 11:15 PM

One trick for steaming wood that I have seen mentioned, but suspect that it is an arcane art (for I have never done it), and you may have failures without some experimentation, is to use a microwave - this heats the moisture _inside_ the wood, rather than by conduction from outside.


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 26 Oct 05 - 11:31 PM

There is NOTHING like the reverberation from human remains.

Perhaps, it is something lying hidden within our human genes.

But brings, a ching, a cling, a ding, gling-a-gling

From that resonance ringing through the remains of a real human-being.

sincerely
Gargoyle

There are hundreds of sources available...in the past India was the best. Beggers die daily on the streets - the carcus is sold - it is sealed for two years in a 50 gallon drum and the maggots/beatles/worms do their magic...water is added....the sun,H20,bacteria work their magic....the bones are then washed in acetone, bleached for purification, and sold as a lot....or connected and rendered into a a "full skeleton" - The "real ones" show signs of arthritius in the early 30's....they are FASCINATING....when accompanied by a specialist.....otherwise, they are just a pile of bones.

Personally, I can do just fine with two bottles of wine, and a resonant set of spoons grabbed from the table next to the bass player.


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 26 Oct 05 - 11:35 PM

Good Lord help us....but TroopingFools you chose your title well.

HOW in the blazes of the good Lord je-us can you attribute an arcane art with the microwave???

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 27 Oct 05 - 12:12 AM

The normal method for bending woods is using heat. You need a temperature about like what you get on the "cotton" heat with an ordinary "steam iron." The usual hand-forming method is to slightly moisten the wood, and then press it against a heated surface until the steam penetrates sufficiently that the wood "gives" and bends against the heated mandrel. The necessary mandrel temperature for easy forming of thin wood sections is high enough to "scorch" or even to char the surface where the wood makes contact if you hold the wood in one place too long and let it dry out, but with care you can do quite intricate bends if you proceed gently.

Since the heat normally is applied at the inside (concave) surface where you're making the curve, but it's the material deeper within (or on the convex side) that has to stretch (in tension) to let the wood bend, it's very difficult to get sufficient penetration of the heat to bend thick pieces without burning the surface that's against the heater. While I have "successfully" bent pieces over 3/8 inch thick, they were "somewhat thinner" after I sanded off the charcoal on the inside of the bend.

If you want to do the setup, you can make a "tool" with the curve you want, load the part to be bent so that it's clamped to the shape of the tool, and then heat the whole widget in hope that the wood will be "relaxed" to the shape intended. I've done a few pieces with crude forms of this kind, but getting a really accurate bend in this way requires more elaborate "tooling" than I've felt compelled to build. This is the method most likely to work with "microwave heating," and in fact that's the way some of the "big guys" do it.

For the typical hand-worker, you can't "preheat" the part to temperatures high enough to get it out of the oven and get it bent before it cools off to the point where it just breaks instead of bending (if it didn't already burn in the oven/microwave).

In one common "industrial strength" method, which allows bending very thick wooden parts, the wooden parts are heated to 300 - 500 F (140 - 260 C) in gaseous ammonia at something in the neighborhood of at least 250 psi. Pulled out of the ammonia after a few hours the parts are quite flexible and can be formed to shape using fairly moderate force/pressure. The flexibility is not due to them remaining hot. It's due to the penetration of the ammonia into the wood so that it softens the lignen in the wood. They must be "clamped to shape" while the ammonia diffuses out of the wood and evaporates, at which time they return to a good "hard" bent shape. Unfortunately, aside from smelling rather bad, ammonia is toxic, corrosive, and at the temperatures and pressures required, is flammable and can be explosive if you get a leak. NOT RECOMMENDED for home use.

For a typical home or small shop craftsman, with the woods most commonly bent, I'd suggest that anything over about 1/4 inch (about 7 mm) in thickness should be the upper limit of what you'll find pleasant to try to work with. With a lot of extra care and a bit more sophisticated heating tools than I've felt were worth building for my own use, you might go to about twice that.

Woods commonly used in (bent) instrument sides, etc., usually are "bendable," although some are much easier than others. Some woods simply don't like being treated that way, and will resist almost any methods you're likely to be able to apply.

My recommendation would be that it's not really practical to bend "bones" of common dimensions, unless you just happen to have that prized piece of "special" wood that's just not thick enough to cut to shape. Then, as a last resort... ... ...

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: The Villan
Date: 27 Oct 05 - 04:28 AM

Dance to Tom Paines bones
Dance to Tom Paines bones


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: Naemanson
Date: 27 Oct 05 - 06:43 AM

Last month my father showed me a an older book on shaping wood. In the chapter on steam bending they had a picture of a 2"X4"X8' oak timber that had been steam bent into a coil spring.


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: GUEST,Chief Chaos
Date: 27 Oct 05 - 02:38 PM

Doin' it the hard way:

Wire strips of steel,cut a quarter inch below the length you want, below a buoy or float that is anchored fast to the sea floor. Connect the positive and negative leads from a set of batteries (direct current works better than alternating - by the way, be careful not to shock yourself) to the strips and wait. Within minutes you will see bubbles coming off the strips. Limestone in the sea water will accrete on the strips. Sand them smooth. Eureka - Stone Bones!

Don't believe me? Check this out!

http://globalcoral.org/Electric%20Reefs.htm


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: tarheel
Date: 27 Oct 05 - 02:57 PM

Guest Tom...contact this guy! not only does he make great dulcimers,etc., he also makes great pairs of bones from wood,from the Whitetop mtn.,Virginia area!!!
tell him Chuck Hemrick, referred him to you!

Fine Handcrafted Musical Instruments
Walter Messick, Craftsman
290 Bakers Branch Lane
Mouth Of Wilson, Virginia 24363
276-388-3202
or Toll Free
1-888-388-3202
Fax: 276-388-2989


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: tarheel
Date: 27 Oct 05 - 03:04 PM

Guest Tom...here is walter messicks website...there arte photos of his crafts (including the bones)!!!
good luck!
http://www.cabincreekmusic.com/

tarheel


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 27 Oct 05 - 03:15 PM

Naemanson -

Some of the guys who make things like roof arches for churches do still bend wood sections up to about 30" thick, although most laminate thinner stuff - 2 to 3 inch plies.

Unfortunately, my garage - and I suspect yours - just doesn't have enough room for the tooling needed.

Anyone who wants to do a bit of trial and error can probably work up to 1/4 inch thick and have fun. With a bit more concentration, 3/8 inch thick can be done at home with a pretty "casual" setup. Beyond 3/8 inch, with most wood, you're into industrial strength - or you're really a fanatic about proving a point.

I have "straightened" a 2x4 on a couple of occasions, but it's a different sort of thing than making an instrument.

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: How can I make my own set of Bones?
From: Tannywheeler
Date: 27 Oct 05 - 07:15 PM

Hubby does this. Stick around--I'll try to get him to look at this thread, after he gets home from work.       Tw


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