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Remove nails/pins from violin fingerboard


Theghostis
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I was given an old, unlabeled, violin that would like to use to start learning how to do some repairs. Someone put small pins/nails (maybe sewing pins?) into the fingerboard to serve as finger placement markers, and I am looking for tips on how to remove these pins, then fill in the holes if the fingerboard still looks usable (it does have wear). I removed the fingerboard, which was not attached very solidly, and the nails do not go all the way through. Does anyone have any tips on how to remove the nails and what to use to fill in the holes?

I can get more, better photos of the instrument this evening. 

fingerboard nails.png

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I'm a lousy player and can't tell one note from another unless I look at a tuner so the pins look helpful to me.

I've  been in a 17 year experiment to determine if someone with poor hearing, no sense of pitch, and no musical ability at all can make a good violin or viola.  

Fortunately the instruments only have to look good. 

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On 8/27/2018 at 11:40 PM, Theghostis said:

 

 - snip -

 Does anyone have any tips on how to remove the nails and what to use to fill in the holes.

 - snip -

Hi Theghostis - I would...

i) use a block of hardwood and make an "anvil" with a 42mm radius groove lengthwise along the top and clamp it to the base of a drill press. The lowest line of the groove to be under the drill.

ii) chuck a 1,5mm drill and drill a hole into the "anvil"

iii) Draw a line across the block through the hole so that you know where the hole is when the f/b is in the groove

iv) transfer the pin positions to the underside of the f/b (this activity  is good soul-food!)

iii) centre a fingerboard pin over the hole in the anvil and drill a 3mm hole in from the back of the fingerboard. (take great care to feel for first contact with the pin) - repeat, repeat, repeat....

iv) replace the 3mm drill with a 1.5mm pin that you  have ground the last 4mm down to about 0.6mm dia.. (I would use either a needle roller or a "pull-pin" from a pop-rivet - both are very hard). Now press out the pin forwards to the top of the fingerboard - just enough so that you can pull it out further using pliers. 

v) use spray adhesive and glue a piece of 400 grit wet-and-dry to the 42mm radius groove in the "anvil" and sand the fingerboard smooth and to "scoop" - carefully collect the sanding dust,

vi) mix up a paste of epoxy resin and ebony dust and fill the holes from the underside. (first wet the sides of the hole with epoxy resin and then push through the paste)

vii) after the resin has cured, remove the excess and sand smooth.

viii) burnish the surface with a smooth "something" - I use a piece of tumbled agate.

Good luck - edi

 

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2 hours ago, Borisravel said:

Hi !

To fix cracks or holes on ebnoy, you can use cyanoacrilate glue with ebony powder.

Hi Borisravel - I recommended to use epoxy resin due to its longer working time. In this case the small diameter hole could be ~ 5mm long - it would take longer than the setting time of the cyanoacrylate resin to work the glue/ebony paste into the hole.

As to just replacing the fingerboard - when one isn't earning a living from repairing violins, one has more freedom to spend ones time as one wishes.

cheers edi

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3 hours ago, Borisravel said:

Hi Edi.

To increase working time of cyanoacrilate glue, it's easy: store it in the fridge. Glue become very liquid and take a few seconds more before to harden.

Hi Borisravel - As I write there are 3 varieties of Cyanoacrylate in my fridge. My experience is that any increase in working time due to it being colder is negligible - I still seem to get stuck to things :-)

I agree with you about using it for crack repair - the fingerboard on my cello and the tip of my cello bow have both been repaired with CA - they are "tests in progress"

For filling those holes in the fingerboard I would still choose to use an epoxy resin/ebony dust mixture. The time to fill a hole will be measured in minutes rather than seconds.

Cheers edi

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You are overthinking such simple task guys. The violin is not Strad needing special attention. I would just grab my flush cutting pliers that I use for fretwire trimming or my fret pullers (both ground so the edge can cut right at the surface) and mercilessly dig with the tip of the cutters into the ebony and slowly pull the pins (perhaps heating the pins with tip of soldering iron first till they're hot). I'd guess I would be able to pull most of them clean and I woud try not to lose the chipped pieces of ebony and push them in place immediately apply drop of CA glue and dash of ebony dust on tip of knife and massage/ press it hard into the wound. I would go one after one and those pins that wouldn't go out I would try to heat a bit more (till smoke) and perhaps chip a bit of ebony away (but so it will still hold in place hanging on one end) with tip of knife to expose the pin and pull. If you are carefull you'll have most of the ebony back in place and holes filled. After planing most of the damage will go away with shavings anyway. Looks like 30 minute job (pulling and filling) if everything goes right.

I work on mandolins and guitars and there's lots of such stuff being done on their boards .

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33 minutes ago, HoGo said:

You are overthinking such simple task guys. - snip -

Hi HoGo - you're right - I plead guilty.

 When training my young engineers/technicians I used to impress on them that when faced with an apparently insurmountable problem, it often helped to "invert" the problem.

Your comment above triggered such a response...

I suspect that the quickest, easiest and least damaging solution is just to press the pins in another 1.5mm and fill in the punch holes using CA/ebony dust.

cheers edi

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1 hour ago, HoGo said:

You are overthinking such simple task guys. The violin is not Strad needing special attention. I would just grab my flush cutting pliers that I use for fretwire trimming or my fret pullers (both ground so the edge can cut right at the surface) and mercilessly dig with the tip of the cutters into the ebony and slowly pull the pins (perhaps heating the pins with tip of soldering iron first till they're hot). I'd guess I would be able to pull most of them clean and I woud try not to lose the chipped pieces of ebony and push them in place immediately apply drop of CA glue and dash of ebony dust on tip of knife and massage/ press it hard into the wound. I would go one after one and those pins that wouldn't go out I would try to heat a bit more (till smoke) and perhaps chip a bit of ebony away (but so it will still hold in place hanging on one end) with tip of knife to expose the pin and pull. If you are carefull you'll have most of the ebony back in place and holes filled. After planing most of the damage will go away with shavings anyway. Looks like 30 minute job (pulling and filling) if everything goes right.

I work on mandolins and guitars and there's lots of such stuff being done on their boards .

I agree completely.

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