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Sound Post in the Microwave Oven?


FoxMitchell
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I'm about to venture into the wonderful world of making a sound post from scratch, for learning purposes (and don't worry I have a violin for experimentation so nothing of value will be lost if I screw up), and I remember once hearing/reading somewhere that you can put the wood for the sound post in a microwave oven for a few seconds before carving it because... I don't remember, to make sure it was completely dry? To make it harder? Has anybody heard of that and/or used that trick?

I got the basics down I think: Make sure it's the right size, right angle, grain facing the right direction, completely dry wood, sharpest of tools. Anything else a novice should know about it?

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15 minutes ago, FrankNichols said:

I expect Strad had to find a way around that requirement, since from what I read, his Microwave was in the shop that day.

I heard his wife didn't like him using it for his 'projects', complaining it would burn it out or give bad taste to the food afterwards.  ;)

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The microwave  is certainly  very useful  for  adjusting  posts. Fifteen  or twenty  seconds will shrink a tight post and make it easier to move, and if you're  lucky make it just the right  length without  further  ado. Likewise, ten minutes in a conventional  oven, gas mark 4, will tighten a fiddle around  the  post nicely.

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1 hour ago, Conor Russell said:

The microwave  is certainly  very useful  for  adjusting  posts. Fifteen  or twenty  seconds will shrink a tight post and make it easier to move, and if you're  lucky make it just the right  length without  further  ado. Likewise, ten minutes in a conventional  oven, gas mark 4, will tighten a fiddle around  the  post nicely.

Well Connor!

It would certainly appear that you are in a CHEERIE mood this afternoon.

What are you on?

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Well it's done! ...in a culinary sense too, I guess?  ;)    I put the wood in the microwave for 30 seconds to see what happened. It made it warm and some moisture evidently came out of it as it left a tiny bit of condensation on a cold surface I put it on. 30 more seconds, same thing. I decided to quit while I was ahead, though. My tester was reading 7% moisture before microwaving (which I consider ideal) and then 6.5% after microwaving.

So I made my first soundpost! Weeee~! Everything went without a hitch!   :D

Yes, I marked on the back plate where the old soundpost was, just in case I had to put it back in there. And the results, I didn't notice any difference at all, which I guess means I at least didn't screw up anything! ...but also means no secret recipe for a microwave-enhanced super-soundpost! Back to the drawing board!

 

20170513_030036_soundpost.jpg

20170513_030749_soundpost.jpg

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I would definitely NOT recommend to do anything like this. You can force the wood to dry and it will work also. But a few days afterwards it will regain its original moisture content and dimensions. If in the mean time you fitted the sound post it will increase the pressure on the plates and could cause them, in the worst case scenario, to crack. The worst thing that could happen, if you use wood that is not seasoned, is that after some time the sound post is a bit shorter than before in which case you just make a new one.

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9 hours ago, Barnes Ziegler said:

I would definitely NOT recommend to do anything like this. You can force the wood to dry and it will work also. But a few days afterwards it will regain its original moisture content and dimensions. If in the mean time you fitted the sound post it will increase the pressure on the plates and could cause them, in the worst case scenario, to crack. The worst thing that could happen, if you use wood that is not seasoned, is that after some time the sound post is a bit shorter than before in which case you just make a new one.

The amount a piece of wood will shrink lengthwise, called longitudinal shrinkage, is so small—typically about 0.1% to 0.2%—that it is usually inconsequential.  

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I don't understand why you would want to do this, if the sound post is close enough that you might shrink it in the microwave, why not just shorten it in a conventional manner shaving, sanding, carving, or whatever, why shrink it some unpredictable amount in a manner that has some unknown affect on the wood?

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9 minutes ago, FrankNichols said:

I don't understand why you would want to do this, if the sound post is close enough that you might shrink it in the microwave, why not just shorten it in a conventional manner shaving, sanding, carving, or whatever, why shrink it some unpredictable amount in a manner that has some unknown affect on the wood?

I did not put the soundpost in the microwave, I put the chunk of spruce I carved it from in the microwave, which was already many years dry. As for why, curiosity! Like I said, I heard some things about the procedure, and wanted to see what would really happen.

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It's a common way to "cheat-dry" wood used f.x. on wood bowl turning. After a rough turning, its microwaved just so that it does not need another 6months to dry.Then fine turned. Soundpostwise I'm with Barnes on this thou. I would NOT put anything force-dried in a violin. What you want is to have the post and the instrument season in the same enviroment before installation. If you check in a couple of days, chances are your post is much tighter fit than when you put it in.

 

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On 5/13/2017 at 1:34 PM, davidwchandler said:

The amount a piece of wood will shrink lengthwise, called longitudinal shrinkage, is so small—typically about 0.1% to 0.2%—that it is usually inconsequential.  

Agreed.  Even with the extreme drying I do, the longitudinal changes in spruce are not measurable most of the time (0.1% or less).

So I don't think soundpost fit would be bothered much by moisture changes in the post.  Heating up wood might make it easier to cut; I don't know, I never tried it.  But it sure does get easier to bend.  I think that only applies while it's still hot, though.

 

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