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Replacing original nails - on waxless (gasket) blocks - with screws

Gonk

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Hello all,
I'm revalving a box (Borsini LMM CBA) with reeds that were pinned against leather gaskets using 1cm nails. I have saved the nails, and could re-use them, or replace with similar nails. But I'm thinking that screws might be a better option, both for ensuring a tight fit in the original holes, without hammering, and for the sake of future repairs. I'm looking at purchasing 1000 m1.6 10mm pan head machine screws for about 20 USD. I don't see any downsides to this, but I thought I'd inquire first and see if anyone has been this way before. I'm open to all suggestions.
Thanks!screws.jpeg
 
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JIM D.

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If had to remove nails for reed repair many times. I have the cut accordion nails in the shop but in most all cases I was able to replace
the original nails. I've used a simple process that works well -- when the nails , reeds & leather or wax is removed from the reed block
I lay the reed block down on a clean cloth and using an eyedropper apply a drop of water on the nail holes. Wait 15 to 20 min. and
reapply the drops. After a half hour the wood will be swelled and the nails will hold as original. I also add a drop of dishwashing soap
to thin the water. If you are thinking of screws you will have to drill for them as if not you will wind up with splits in the reed block.
 

Gonk

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Jim, thanks for the tip.

I'm curious to know how well that holds when the wood shrinks again, but I guess it must be working well for you!

I continue to be drawn to the screw idea. I hope that by keeping the inner/minor diameter of the screw a shade less than that of the nails, I'll be able to avoid any splits. I'll have to do some experiments on hardwood scraps - it works great in softwood, but that's to be expected.
 
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donn

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Not that I'm in the business or would have any reason to know, but I've never heard of nails working loose.

The water helps relax the wood back toward its original shape, i.e. no hole. Shrinkage happens - like, a board can lose a little off a cross grain dimension and create a gap - but I think in general that process would tighten up a nail more than loosen it. Wetting can sometimes fix a dent when you drop something on a wood floor (usually doesn't work for me, but I'm probably trying to fix dents that are too big to just spring back.) The principle is the same - the expanding wood fibers push each other back into the shape they had before they were compressed.
 
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jozz

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+1 for nails

screws wood :p mean to over-engineer in this application, by default that's bad practice
 

Ventura

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Luciano uses screws on his no-wax imperator's

but his reedblocks are probably engineered with sufficient thickness of wood
to allow that... and this accordion you are working on looks like it has lots
of nails per reedplate which is a different distribution of hold-down force
that his modern screw system

i do agree with you in general that screws would be better, and
nails do work loose under certain conditions (that probably seldom if ever
exist inside an accordion) like drastic changes in humidity or temperature

the idea of drops of water to get the wood back to life and re-shaping
seems ingenious... if this were the 4th time the reeds were removed and reattached
maybe i would worry...

i am imagining that applying the same force to each nail so that there is a
nearly uniform pressure is important... there is a nail setting tool Picture framers use
and i wonder if it would work well for this application ?
 

debra

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I would avoid the reeds pinned on leather approach if it were my choice. My experience is that reed plates fixed using wax gives the most stable tuning. I have tuned accordions with pinned reed plates and then checked them again after a few months and was very disappointed about how much some reeds were detuned already. Never had that with waxed reed plates. I have also now accepted that I will never achieve tuning that is as stable and accurate with my bayan (large reed plates on leather, using hooks) as I get with my accordions (waxed reed plates).
That said, I like the idea of using screws, if you take precautions to avoid splitting the wood (as JimD warned about that). I believe the main reason accordion factories do not use screws often is that it's more work than using nails.
 

Gonk

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Thank you all for the replies and additional details about the wood fiber rejuvenation idea. Lots of options to consider. I like the idea of being able to dial in the pressure with screws. But I'm less excited about that if it requires drilling 600 additional pilot holes. As I see it, in order of my preference:

Option 1. Use screws (M1.4 x 10mm) with the hope of their acting as 'drop in' replacements, re-using the old nail holes, without drilling additional pilot holes.

Option 2. Rejuvenate the wood fibers with water+surfactant drops (possibly with a syringe) and put the original nails back in.

Option 3. Remove the original leather gaskets and use wax, shimming the gaps where necessary. (Probably this would create many gaps, as the gasket material is doubled at the bottom in some places to position the reeds higher.)
 

JIM D.

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Unless a customer Insists on replacing the reed block leather gasket, I always recommend waxing.
The reasoning is that parts & labor are a less expensive and waxed reeds will produce a greater presence and seal more efficiently .
The procedure consists of removing the nails, reeds & remove the leather gasket. Once the reeds & gasket are removed clean the
reed block & as in a previous post swell the nail holes. Apply a skim coat of reed wax to the cleaned reed block, set the reeds in place
with the nails and complete waxing them in. If done properly the finished procedure will last easily for half a century.
I should mention that the reeds might need shims - in this case I cut strips of veneer wood as needed.
 
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Dingo40

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Great clip, Jozz: thanks for sharing!πŸ™‚πŸ‘
"double nailing them AND screwing them...." and waxing!
Nothing like being thorough!πŸ˜„
Good demo of technique with the waxing spoon πŸ™‚πŸ‘
 
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debra

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Great clip, Jozz: thanks for sharing!πŸ™‚πŸ‘
"double nailing them AND screwing them...." and waxing!
Nothing like being thorough!πŸ˜„
Good demo of technique with the waxing spoon πŸ™‚πŸ‘
It looks like they are putting in screws without pre-drilling holes, and this is done on the thin walls between the reeds. Definitely not a good idea!
 

nagant27

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I love watching her wax those reeds in. She makes it seem so easy. Great skill!
 

Dingo40

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Driving screws in, without pre-drilling, is hazardous, as anyone can verify by examining the timber around the screws securing their timber decking, especially around any batten/board ends, where damage by splitting of the wood may commonly be found!πŸ™‚
(IMO, this is sloppy workmanship, but the tradespeople generally don't charge extra for the splitting !πŸ˜„)
 
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debra

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I love watching her wax those reeds in. She makes it seem so easy. Great skill!
What we see in this video is actually not too hard: she is waxing reeds in on bass blocks, which have the reeds spaced reasonably far apart (about 5mm space between them). The real waxing challenge is waxing reeds when the space between reed plates is half a millimeter... (meaning the space is about 1/4 of what is needed to drive a small screw through the opening).
 

Gonk

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Yes. I have a special spoon for those (e.g. Liliputs/Preciosas). It is made from very thin metal. Still a tricky business.
 

debra

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Yes. I have a special spoon for those (e.g. Liliputs/Preciosas). It is made from very thin metal. Still a tricky business.
That should help! But even then it's hard because the wax may harden too fast (touching the reed plates on both sides) before reaching the wood... The trick I learned is to alternate placing a reed plate and waxing, so that you first poor a bit of wax against the first reed plate to ensure it goes all the way down, and then you slide the second reed plate in place, pressing against the wax. (After that you just re-melt the wax with a soldering iron with sharp tip, clean up any mess, and after that you add the valve...
Luckily not many accordions give you so little room. Typically you get at least about 1mm. (I have only one, the Hohner Artiste X S, that has reed plates that have been made narrower already, and then give you at most 0,5mm room for wax.)
 

nagant27

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I do agree that bass reeds have a lot of space and is easier. But still the time it takes her and absolutely no mess, not even a drip is impressive.
I put painters tape on the edges of the blocks and usually even put the leathers on after I finish the wax in.(inside ones I put on right away obviously) I always have drips sone where. It’s a hobby for me so I’m in no rush but it can be tough to not make a mess.
 

nagant27

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Good idea Paul about alternating every other. I’m gonna try that!
 

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