Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

If it's not a guitar or a bass guitar discussion, and it's got strings, put it here.

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Steve Sawyer » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:51 pm

After cleaning, WD-40 will help drive off any residual moisture so they don't develop any flash rust. Boeshield T-9 is also a good rust preventative as it contains a bit of wax that leaves a hard film.
==Steve==
User avatar
Steve Sawyer
 
Posts: 650
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:20 pm
Location: Detroit, Michigan

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Caley Hand » Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:32 pm

I realized that these neodymn magnets are super powerful, just by what the sellers are telling you, to get them apart, sliding, not pulling. So I think that matching diameter fender washers should do the trick on the inside, or at least I hope. There will be the thickness of the front or back I am repairing, and the thickness of the cleat. But having holes in the magnets and washers allows me to use the fishing line to guide them into place. I don't have to worry about using a mirror or trying somehow to manuever them through holes with some kind of contraption.

Since the back and sides of the instrument look like they were painted, I think I am going to refinish those areas, and seal/stain an coat with a protectant like Varathane. It won't be original, but hopefully all the dings and gouges can be filled, and the surface smoothed well enough to make things almost look new. At least once I get things sanded down, I will be able to better see what I am facing with that crack on the back.

Now I have to figure out how to remove those last two little feet. Just realised that these little feet are brass cup tacks. Whomever added them, and they definitely are not original, botched the job, as both were severely bent, and also driven into the wood surface, marring things quite badly.

Anyone know of a wood filler that takes stain, and doesn't show that much when stained? They previous owners added quite a few holes, along with those little tacks.
Caley Hand
 
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:32 pm
Location: Twentynine Palms, California

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Bill Raymond » Thu Jul 05, 2018 11:21 pm

Caley, the preferred method of dealing with separated cracks that can't be brought to close is to fill them with wood splints, not glue and sawdust. The cracks are opened a bit with a knife so that they are wider at the surface, narrower at the interior, then a thin piece of matching wood is prepared with a matching taper and inserted and glued into the crack, then trimmed flush with the surface with a chisel.
Bill Raymond
 
Posts: 327
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:37 pm
Location: Red Bluff California

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Caley Hand » Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:58 am

Bill, Thanks so much. That was one of the options I was looking at. Believe it or not, that monster crack seems to be narrowing since I removed the strings. Might be my imagination, but I think I has moved a little.

The problem is that I haven't a clue as to what kind of wood was used on this circo 1930's re-issue Zither. I can only Google what they were made of, and take that as my guide. I then have to hope I can find some of that same kind of wood to get my splinters out of. Of course, I cannot use a hand plane on the front surface of the Zitehr. I would destroy the front graphics. I will have to make sure I am perfect on the insertion of the wood splinter, and then use my carving knife set to carefully remove any excess

Also. as I understand things, the cleats should also be made of the same wood. I remember either reading, or watching a video that said that, Caley Ann
Caley Hand
 
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:32 pm
Location: Twentynine Palms, California

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Chris Reed » Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:00 am

I'll add my voice to Bill's. Don't use glue and sawdust to fill those cracks. Glue and sawdust looks very much darker than the original wood, and also you'd have to sand it down level which would remove the decoration. I've used glue and sawdust on mahogany necks to fill dings, and even there under a dark finish it's still very visible.

I'd start with the cleats. Spruce would be fine, and you can buy spruce panels from a model-making shop already thicknessed to 1/16 or 1/8, so you just have to cut out little diamonds. Ideally you want the grain of the cleat at 90 degrees to the soundboard grain, but that will be difficult once you get away from the sound hole. But a non-90 degree cleat is better than no cleat!

Be careful about forcing any big crack together side to side (forcing it level is fine). Soundboard cracks are usually the wood shrinking due to lower humidity than when it was built, so if you force it together there's a good chance it will crack elsewhere. If medium finger pressure on the sides will close the crack, then go for it. If not, then cleat it leaving the crack open. The soundboard will still work.

And because of the decoration I'd think some time about splints. You'll struggle to match the colour, and the splints will likely look worse running through the soundboard decoration than the cracks do. A cracked but cleated soundboard will still work!

So I'd (1) press the cracks together by hand and cleat them there, (2) for any big crack, make a splint and roughly dry fit it just to see how it looks. If the splint looks possible, try colour matching and then dry fit again. If you like the final look. make well-fitting splints and glue them in. But note you will have to level the splints with the top of the soundboard, and I can't see how you'd do that without removing the decoration.
Chris Reed
 
Posts: 142
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:26 pm

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Steve Sawyer » Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:27 pm

Chris - could Caley protect the surface with some packing tape to allow leveling the splints? That's what I'd try, starting with a sharp paring chisel, then a scraper, then finally a razorblade-scraper. Packing tape is pretty tough stuff, tools slide nicely against it, and if she spaces them properly a razorblade scraper can be bowed so as to just kiss the top of the splint without hitting the finished surface.
==Steve==
User avatar
Steve Sawyer
 
Posts: 650
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:20 pm
Location: Detroit, Michigan

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Bill Raymond » Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:11 pm

If you put a small mirror in the soundhole you should be able to see the underside of the soundboard, which would be unpainted, and make a guess as to what kind of wood it is. At least you might be able to determine whether it's a softwood species, such as pine, spruce, fir, or a hardwood such as maple, birch or mahogany. I don't believe that it would be necessary to use the exact same species, but something close. I would guess that the soundboard may be a softwood and the back a hardwood. The crossgrain cleats needn't be the same wood, as a spruce or pine would do. I believe some folks glue the cleats in not with the grain perfectly perpendicular to that of the cracked surface, but at a 45deg. angle, so you wouldn't need to be exacting there.
Bill Raymond
 
Posts: 327
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:37 pm
Location: Red Bluff California

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Caley Hand » Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:26 pm

Right now I have to wait until my next payday before I can purchase any wood, magnets, or guitar tuning peg mechanisms. I have to make some kind of surface tightening jig from the guitar tuning peg so that the wire withe the cleat can be tightened.

Since the monster crack is so big, I plan on joining several cleats side by side, then slipping those in under the front monster crack, and tighteing things up with that tuning peg mechanism. I'll have toi use the neodymn magnets to bring the place where that crack is not aligned vertically at the same time, and then glue the remaining cleat once things are dry in the area where the magnets held things stable. After that I will create that wood splinter, and carefully sand it down to just a tad thinner than the face thickness, maybe 1/64 inch less. I can then insert that splinter into the crack, and press down with a flat plate til it is even with the surface. After that, I then have to rely on my painting skills to connect the surface graphic pattern. Hopefully I can do a good enough job to where you have to look hard to see the work. I've done something similar years ago in other art work, and it came out fairly nice.

As for the rear and sides, I am going to sand off the paint so I can see the bare wood. Then I can tackle that crack. I think it will just need cleats every inch or so. Then I can carefully fill all the surface blemishes, and then repaint with the same colour, semi-glossy black,and then add some kind of little feet, but not tacks. The back must be a hardwood, as the person who trthiied to drive the tacks into the wood, just bent them

Once the wood repair is done, I can then restring with new strings, with the exception of the .049, .064 and .085 wound strings. I have not found replacements for those yet. This should be real fun, as I have never tuned an instrment. I have a Korg CA-50 with clip on mike. Hopefully I can figure out just what the notes are, and get them tuned as close as possible. I've read that various music wire and strings are different base on the manufacturing differences, so I do not know how much trouble this will cause.

At least I have a plan. Now I just need a few more tools, and lots of patience.
Caley Hand
 
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:32 pm
Location: Twentynine Palms, California

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Chris Reed » Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:52 am

Steve Sawyer wrote:Chris - could Caley protect the surface with some packing tape to allow leveling the splints? That's what I'd try, starting with a sharp paring chisel, then a scraper, then finally a razorblade-scraper. Packing tape is pretty tough stuff, tools slide nicely against it, and if she spaces them properly a razorblade scraper can be bowed so as to just kiss the top of the splint without hitting the finished surface.


That could work, but my first attempts at scraping were distinctly rough, so she'd have to practice first.

But, the tape will almost certainly pull off the decoration when she removes it, which kind of makes it pointless.
Chris Reed
 
Posts: 142
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:26 pm

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Bill Raymond » Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:46 am

tape the razor blade leaving a narrow gap the width of the splint; that way there's little if any risk of accidentally scraping the finish. I usually grind a flat 90 degree edge on an old razor blade by honing on a whetstone. The little burr left on the blade makrs it just like a miniature cabinet scraper.
Bill Raymond
 
Posts: 327
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:37 pm
Location: Red Bluff California

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Steve Sawyer » Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:35 pm

Bill Raymond wrote:tape the razor blade leaving a narrow gap the width of the splint; that way there's little if any risk of accidentally scraping the finish. I usually grind a flat 90 degree edge on an old razor blade by honing on a whetstone. The little burr left on the blade makrs it just like a miniature cabinet scraper.


That works too, but I've learned to dull the razor where I wrap it with the tape, otherwise the blade eventually cuts through the tape, usually before I realize it, and I'm scraping more than I'd intended.

I've never tried that 90* honing - have to give that a try. Sounds like a good idea - an alternative to just turning an edge on a fresh blade. That hook is very fragile and doesn't last long.
==Steve==
User avatar
Steve Sawyer
 
Posts: 650
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:20 pm
Location: Detroit, Michigan

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Caley Hand » Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:04 pm

I know a lot of you would say I just commited some kind of blasphemy. But I just needed to get the back cleaned up in order to see what I face with that crack. So I sanded and sanded, and etc., taking off the paint, and cleaning up the back as well as I could. You can see the results in the picture. The crack runs the whole length of the back. It looks like a lot of little cleats need to be installed. Since this crack does not seem to have separated, or caused any kind of warping, I think the cleats will be enough.

What kind of glue should I use to give the two sides on that crack some grab with each other? I get all kinds of suggestions from the videos, from various Titebonds, to CA (super glue)

After the gluing is done, and cleats installed, I will fill whatever low spots there are, and do a final sanding. I will then paint it the same black colour.

I also removed the string retention pins in order to get at the bottom. I also plan on sanding all the sides, to clean those up, as well as the cover for the bottom. The bottom also has a couple of cracks I will have to address. But at least I can get at them on the inside without a problem.

The only bad thing is I will be removing the little floral decal on that cover. I am searching the internet for a replacement, or something that is at least close.

So, this restoration will not be a complete original. It will have new paint on the sides and back, that new floral decal, and new strings.

Once I get the cracks on the front done, does anyone have a suggestion for protecting the graphics. Will some kind of clear spray work? Or is there some kind of clear paint on protectant, that will not disturb the graphics? Caley Ann
Attachments
Zither Back Cleaned Up.JPG
Caley Hand
 
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:32 pm
Location: Twentynine Palms, California

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Chris Reed » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:19 am

I'd use hot hide glue for all the cracks and for the cleats. It's actually much easier than the mythology suggests - you'll need to find a baby bottle warmer to heat it, and any clean class jar which fits will do (though empty out the glass jar or the glue will crack flakes of glass off!). A yoghurt pot works too. A cheap artist's paintbrush (small, stiff bristles) is what I use. Frank Ford's site frets.com has useful information about using hide glue.

The big advantages are: (a) pulls close-fitting parts together as it dries, (b) easy clean up with a warm damp cloth, (c) if you get it wrong you can heat with a hairdryer and apply a dribble of moisture and it will release!

Liquid hide glue would work too - easier to use, but takes longer to set, which might suit you better. But it means you can't do what I might, which with hot hide glue is to hold cleats in place wit finger pressure for 10 seconds and then release, no clamping needed.

I'd like to see a picture of the top after you've cleaned it up before I suggest a finish. Clear shellac, wiped on with a paper towel, is easy and non-toxic so long as the alcohol
doesn't make the decoration run!
Chris Reed
 
Posts: 142
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:26 pm

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Caley Hand » Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:14 am

Hi Chris, I have looked around the internet, and found Ron Cook's articles on some of his Zither restorations. In one, he mentions using cotton swabs and alcohol. I had some swabs and Isopropyl Alcohol, so I did a small corner. It actually worked worked quite well. You can see the results in the picture. While his decals were in better shape than mine, the results are pretty good, considering how much junk I removed over two cleanings. The first was just with water, and paper towels. The last was with the swabs alcohol.

As for the hide glue, I would prefer the liquid kind. I do not have a very large house, and just do not have the room to keep accummulating stuff. It's difficult enough storing my stains, paints, and other various liquids, as well as the tools. Caley Ann
Attachments
Zither Front Cleaned.JPG
Caley Hand
 
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:32 pm
Location: Twentynine Palms, California

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Bob Gramann » Mon Jul 09, 2018 12:05 pm

If you don’t plan to use hot hide glue, you might consider fish glue. Liguid hide glue does not have a good reputation for longevity.
User avatar
Bob Gramann
 
Posts: 780
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:08 am
Location: Fredericksburg, VA

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Chris Reed » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:44 pm

Bob Gramann wrote:If you don’t plan to use hot hide glue, you might consider fish glue. Liguid hide glue does not have a good reputation for longevity.


Not sure that's true any more. I've read a few recent tests which say that it works pretty much as well as hot hide glue except for glueing bridges. And also reports of fish glue failing in high humidity. I guess no glue is perfect.

Cayley's repairs won't be much stressed. And more importantly, liquid hide is easier to find than fish - I can't find a fish glue supplier in the UK!

Cayley, if you buy glue in a bottle it usually has a code on it which says when it was bottled. Get the shop to translate it for you and don't buy old glue.
Chris Reed
 
Posts: 142
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:26 pm

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Caley Hand » Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:41 pm

Chris, If there is a code, then it should be decipherable online. As it is, I am not sure if I will tackle another instrument restoration. If I do, I can always get more glue. I just purchase 4 ounces, and would have gotten less, if I could have.

I did some more cleanup. Where the music wire retention pins (cannot remember name of pins) are embedded in the foot of the Zither, there was a lot of some kind of glue, and also lots of tool marks. Not sure who got ahold of this instrument, but they did a job on it. I removed the paint, as well as I could, and at the same time got rid of the whatever buildup gunk was there, and also smoothed the surfaces.

I've decided not to touch the remaining sides paint, What I will do is seal what I have cleaned, fill any other dings with wood filler, and then paint with a glossy black like is on this instrument. I am basically following Ron Cook's writeup on how he recovered two of his Zithers. Ron's results with gluing and filling the cracks seem to be holding up. Not sure he used cleats inside though. Here's one of his restorations http://www.roncookstudios.com/assets/sh ... ir-log.pdf

On one of them, it had a worse front crack than is on mine. All he did was apply glue between the crack sides, being careful not to get any on the decorations, then set it aside to dry. Then he filled the crack with a filler. After that, he touched up the crack with the main colour. After that, the artistic part of joining the decorations with similar paint was done. I doubt I have the skill he does, but hope it won't show too much. I also plan on putting in a full length of the monster crack before doing the glue thing, and filler/art work. The cleat should stop the crack from widening.

The other cracks can get away with cleats every few inches. I purchased enough spruce to allow me to cut that long cleat, and still have the grain at 90 degrees to cracks. Caley Ann
Caley Hand
 
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:32 pm
Location: Twentynine Palms, California

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Daryl Kosinski » Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:49 pm

Here is a source of music wire.

https://www.mcmaster.com/#music-wire/=1dnk4g1

Look at the 1080 alloy
Daryl Kosinski
 
Posts: 105
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2013 11:14 am
Location: Fultonville, NY

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Caley Hand » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:14 pm

Gentlemen, I think this restoration is going to be a complete flop, and basically a failure. Why? I now know, based on a conversation with a gentleman who knew a little about instruments that this Zither fell into the hands of someone who knew absolutely nothing about care or repair.

The biggest, and most glaring problem, which I didn't have enough knowledge to recognise, was the fact that whomever tried to stabilise the cracks was a total......I'll leave you to fill in the word. It seems that I did not look far enough inside to see just what they had done. They used epoxy, and possibly super glue, and just about any block of wood they could find that would fit, and glued this across the cracks. And I don't mean just a little on either side, but from one side of the instrument to the other. They did this for both the monster crack and the crack on the back. And, in the process, they used another block atop one of the big ones to join the front sound board to the rear with that array of blocks. The gentleman I talked to said it probably would be more trouble than it is worth to try to fix this, and that I should just use the Zither to create my own instrument. He said repairing this one might make it look nicer, but that the sound is not going to be anywhere near what a properly repaired one would be.

Anyway, I will not give up on this restoration, but it will be purely cosmetic. I can try to restring the old strings, and add the five missing ones, and just play with it. At least I gain experience, and a little knowledge in the process.

Sigh!! Glad this was only a $55 mistake. If I had purchased one I was looking at, it was nearer $200, though it probably was not worth the money asked, unless it was actually from the late 1800's Caley Ann
Caley Hand
 
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:32 pm
Location: Twentynine Palms, California

Re: Repair of Zither (Harp Mandolin) ??????

Postby Caley Hand » Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:11 pm

OK, Based on what I learned, if I were to just build a copy of this Zither, where do I get the wood for it.

What do I use for the front and back soundboards? I have looked, but there do not seem to be any sheets of about 3/16 inch thickness (whats on my Zither), that are at least 15x24 inches. I have found hardwood ply, but I am not sure that ply is something you would use for soundboards. Based on what has been mentioned here, Spruce seems to be the choice.

If anyone has some links to wood sources, that do not break the bank, I would love to explore those. The sides are 1.25 inches wide , and I am guessing 1/2 inch thick to hold those pins in place. and I would need about 6 board feet. From what I have read, Maple seems to be one of the big choices. Caley Ann
Caley Hand
 
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:32 pm
Location: Twentynine Palms, California

PreviousNext

Return to Other Stringed Instruments

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Louis Patterson and 4 guests

Your purchase from these sites helps support the MIMForum, but only if you start at the links below!!!
Amazon music     Amazon books     Amazon tools     Rockler tools     Office Depot    

The MIMF is a member-supported forum, please consider supporting us with a donation, thanks!
 • Book store • Tool store • Links •