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Thread: Case repair

  1. #1
    Registered User Happy gnome's Avatar
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    Default Case repair

    Hi everyone,

    I've kept this case repair post separate to my instrument repair post to keep things less complicated for everyone. I hope that's ok.

    As mentioned in my previous post, I inherited a Banjo-Mandolin, which came with this case
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    The case is still functional - it's chipboard, lined inside and out with cloth. Blue inside and some kind of shellaced black canvas material on the outside. The chipboard sections are both glued and sewn together.

    You can see from the photos that some of the stitching is coming away, and a lot of the glue is failing. I peeled back the inner fabric to reveal the original blue underneath, and have bought some new faux fur in a blue to match.
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    As a printmaker I have some experience making book bindings and covered boxes (though everything I have made has been much smaller than this). I am confident of my ability to reline the case with fabric, but I wonder whether I should add an additional lining, between the chipboard and the cloth? I was thinking thin foam, but there is so little room to move inside the case as it is I don't think that's a viable option. My next thought was to shallac (or glue) gauze over the entire inner surface and then glue the faux fur over the top of that. It wouldn't make much difference if you dropped the case, but would help hold all the seams together through general wear and tear. Has anyone else tried something similar?

    Where I do feel uncertain how to proceed is with the recovering or repair of the outer cloth covering. Much of the trimming I will replace wholesale (i.e. the inch or so which runs around the lid and which you can see coming away in the pics), but on the top of the case is a beautiful stamp of my great grandfather's initials. Ideally I would like to keep this while still repairing or replacing the cloth along the hinged edge. I had two thoughts, and wanted to see what others thought.

    My first thought was to try to cut back the torn edges, find a similar cloth, cut a piece to cover the exposed chipboard and glue in while feathering the edges of each to make the seam 'invisible'. This idea occured to me because, as a printmaker, I know this is possible with heavy papers. It works because the fibers of the papers are long, and so feathering and gluing essentially re-meshes the fibres to create a single sheet. Has anyone tried this with a fabric case repair before?

    My second idea was to recover the back side of the case and extend the cloth over the top, then over lap the old worn fabric of the top, hiding the join under the sewn seam.
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    Any advice from people who have performed these kinds of repairs before would be greatly appreciated.

    All the best,

    John

  2. #2
    Registered User Loudloar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case repair

    John, Congratulations on having a nice family heirloom. Some of the better quality prewar chipboard cases had leather edging sewn on. You could apply some strips of black leather which are wide enough so the seams will be into solid chipboard. This should hold things together nicely but retain an original style appearance.

    Steve

  3. #3
    Registered User lenf12's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case repair

    Hi John,

    Is the case original to the mando-banjo? I ask because it doesn't look like it would provide much protection and therefore not justify all of the restoration work you are contemplating. If it were mine, I would try to find a new(er), much more protective case and be done with it. Unless of course, the case has some intrinsic value to you beyond it's questionable protective value.

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

  4. #4
    Café habitué Paul Hostetter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case repair

    I think Steve's advice is good—it's basically about preserving an original case. It's not important that it be a super-protective case, after all. Your bookbinding experience will help you with the broken seams. Some good fresh leather and one of these tools should get them sorted out.

    .
    ph

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  5. #5
    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case repair

    Paul,
    Thanks for the illustration. I wondered how one would hand sew the case.
    Cabin Fever String Band, National Pike Pickers

  6. #6
    Mandolin Botherer Richard Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case repair

    I try to restore these old cases as well where they are original to the instrument and can be saved and tend to use leather edging as Steve recommended for this sort of job.
    Gary Nava 2-point
    National RM-1
    Di Mauro Model 10 "Muguet"
    Fairbanks-Vega 1922 Whyte Laydie short-scale tenor banjo
    Dobro round-neck guitar

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  7. #7
    Registered User Happy gnome's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case repair

    Thanks for the advice Steve - I'll have a look tomorrow for some suitable edging. Is black leather typical?

    Len, I'm not sure if it's original to the instrument, but it's the case that came with the instrument when I inherited it. Sentimental value is enough for me to try a repair job - as Paul says, it's not all that important that it's a super protective case, and to be honest, it has served well for this long! At the moment the instrument isn't even playable, so this case won't be going on long trips any time soon.

    I'll keep you all updated for those interested.

    Thanks again for the help,

    John

  8. #8
    Registered User Loudloar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case repair

    John,

    In addition to the stitching tool Paul suggested, you can use a marking wheel to lay out even stitches and make the job look pro-quality.

    Steve

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  10. #9
    Registered User Happy gnome's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case repair

    I thought I'd post some update pics of the case repair, for those interested.

    I've spent a few evenings working at it - first of all I took down detailed notes about dimensions and method of construction (and took lots of photos!). So far my memory has sufficed to put it back together, but you can never be too careful.

    Once I was sure I knew how it was put together I took all the stitching out, tore the inner and outer fabric off (both pretty well just crumbled away) and sanded all the old glue off the chipboard.

    I bought some nice sturdy bookcloth from a bookbinder friend, matching the case colour and texture as close as I could. Once I'd sanded down the chipboard I gave it a good clean so there was no dust and then glued the bookcloth over it.

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    I used pegs to clamp the edges to get a good bond.

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    Once the seperate pieces were covered I decided to reasseble the case. Originally each piece had the blue inner lining glued on before the case was assembled, but I have a reason for doing it slightly differently, which will become apparent when I start relining the case.

    I decided to use the original stitching holes, as it meant I could really easily hand sew the case together. Adding leather binding became too confusing, as I had to make holes in the leather to line up with the original holes, or create new holes altogether.

    As I've kept the original cloth on the top of the case I needed to find a way of hiding the join between old and new cloth. Leather binding would have done the job, but I decided to hide the new cloth under the feathered edge of the old. I don't have a pic of it yet, but it worked a treat.

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    I've also been cleaning and polishing all the latches and split rivets, which will go back on once the case has been lacquered.

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    So far so good! It's been a big job so far, but it's also been the most rewarding project I've undertaken for awhile. It's great to see the case looking and feeling sturdy and clean.

  11. #10
    Registered User Happy gnome's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case repair

    Apologies for the thread resurrection, but as I just finished the case repair I thought it might be a good idea to add some updated photos for others looking for similar information in the future.

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    The inside walls originally had some board covering the split rivets which attach the handle to the case, so I cut some new board to match and glued it in.

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    The little compartment inside needed to be replaced too, so I cut some strips of board to the same dimensions and covered them in blue fabric, checking to make sure it would fit comfortably in the case.

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    I wanted to add to the case's structural integrity, so I glued some strips of cheesecloth around all the internal edging...

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    ...and then glued some scrap felt (really dense, sturdy felt) down over the cheesecloth. This was because the instrument had slowly worn through the old case lining, and I wanted to provide a soft but sturdy support to avoid this happening in future.

    More cheesecloth over the felt gave a better bonding surface between the felt and the blue lining fabric...


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    And, having glued the internal compartment back in and re-installed the latches, it's finished!

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  13. #11
    Mandolin Botherer Richard Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case repair

    Fine job... well done!
    Gary Nava 2-point
    National RM-1
    Di Mauro Model 10 "Muguet"
    Fairbanks-Vega 1922 Whyte Laydie short-scale tenor banjo
    Dobro round-neck guitar

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  14. #12
    Registered User Cary Fagan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case repair

    Nice job. Being an amateur bookbinder, I have also used bookcloth to repair a case, although not so elaborately. It matched quite well.
    Cary Fagan

  15. #13
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case repair

    Wow, strong work! It looks fabulous, restoration of family heirlooms makes the inner man happy! Good for you.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    Nos Mos Nunquam Astrum

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