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Thread: Choice of wood for ribs?

  1. #1

    Default Choice of wood for ribs?

    I have a big leaf back and a big leaf neck, and I have cut and prepared sides from each. The wood from the neck has nice straight grain but relatively little figure and very prominent medullary rays. The sides cut from the back have irregular grain not at all parallel to the sides but more noticeable figure. The ribs are all finished with a card scraper.

    Any suggestions for which to choose? I prefer the straighter grained wood but would love others’ thoughts. In the photo below, the wider rib is from the back, and the rib in the lower part of the photo is from the neck.

    Thank you.

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Choice of wood for ribs?

    Choose aesthetically. For one thing, you'll probably break or damage the set you want to use unless you have a lot of experience. For another, as long as they're 1.5mm or thicker, you have plenty of structure to work with regardless of the grain direction. Bending is somewhat complicated by runout, but it's curly maple. Always going to be an issue. Work with what you've got.

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Choice of wood for ribs?

    Both will look nice under a finish.

  5. #4
    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Ardnadam, Argyll, Scotland

    Default Re: Choice of wood for ribs?

    Either set is lovely, and Marty's advice re probable breakage is very apposite. When I have bent maple I use a thin nickel plate (from my railway modelling past) which I wrap around the rib while bending, making a sandwich of bending iron, maple and nickel sheet. This helps a bit with reducing the chance of breakage and I found it gave me a smoother curve.
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

  6. #5
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003

    Default Re: Choice of wood for ribs?

    I strongly favor the lower one in the picture; the narrower one.

    -It has plenty of figure that will show up under a finish, the grain runs straight through the piece, and it is exactly "quartered" (vertical grain).
    From my experience of making things out of wood for over 40 years, that will look like a better structural piece to my eye. In fact, the structural difference would be insignificant, but looking better structurally translates to "better" to my eye.

    -Maple tends to be easier to bend when it is exactly 'quartered' or exactly 'flat'. When the annual rings angle through the wood it has more tendency to twist when bent, so I think the piece I prefer would probably bend more easily than the other.

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  8. #6

    Default Re: Choice of wood for ribs?

    Best. Forum. Anywhere.

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