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Thread: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

  1. #1

    Default lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    I posted this in an earlier topic, before I got the back of this old and in need of TLC little guy. It has straight, unscalloped lattice braces above and below the oval soundhole.

    My question is: is that the best sounding solution, or has anyone found better sound from a different style of bracing.

    Thanks! DaveH

  2. #2
    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    Before any of us can make any sensible suggestion we do need to see some pics. In 1915 Lynn & Healy were making other flat-top/back instruments as well as canted-top bowl back mandolins. What do you have?

    Cheers

  3. #3

    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    Here's what I've got. Bad soundboard warp I'm going to try to steam and reshape, and cracks I have to fix. Since I'm going to have to remove the front bracing anyway to do this kind of major work, I thought I might get some additional ideas about other bracing arrangements. The asymmetrical x bracing with lattice around the sound hole that another poster described several years ago sounded interesting.
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  5. #4

    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    And I'm doing this as much to see what kind of things I'm able to fix, as to save this little guy from the dump. If it's impossible, so be it, but it seems to me that with reforming the board with steam and clamps, sealing, maybe cleating the cracks, and rebracing, maybe I can make it live again.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    As a repair and restoration person, I will offer the following suggestions to ensure the structural integrity of the instrument:

    1. Loosen the fingerboard extension between the the soundhole and the neck block. This will help to enable the crack to close.
    2. Move the brace under the fingerboard extension closer to the soundhole and mortise the ends into the neck block.
    3. Whatever you do with the rest of the bracing, something should be done to reinforce the top around the soundhole. There are a couple of ways to do this:

    a] One solution would be to install cleats on the cracks that intersect the soundhole. The cleats can be quite light, perhaps 0.100" or slightly less. They should be tapered to nothing at the edges, and the grain should be perpendicular to the top's grain. It might also be a good idea to install a couple of wafers next to the outer edges of the soundhole. You can look at a Martin guitar to get a better idea of how to approach this.

    b] An alternative solution would be to install a thin rectangular patch that encircles the whole soundhole and butts into the brace below the fingerboard. As above, I would install it with the grain perpendicular to the top grain. Considering the amount of distortion that I see, I might lean towards this approach on this particular instrument.

    I'm not savvy on the tonal effects of x bracing and lattice bracing on flat or cant top mandolins, so I'll leave that discussion to folks like Graham.
    Last edited by rcc56; Nov-17-2022 at 1:01am.

  7. #6
    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    +1 on rcc's suggestion for an "annular ring" around the sound hole. 90-degree grain and I would use a hardwood. I use this on new instruments and well as increasing strength they're louder and more "definite" sounding as a result. As for the braces, I'm a traditionalist there - if you want it to sound like an L&H, then stick with the ladder bracing.

  8. #7

    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    Great suggestions! Thank You!

    I will loosen the fingerboard, make some cleats, and do the hardwood ring after steaming and reshaping. Should the ring be thick like a brace or thin like a cleat? Dave

  9. #8
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    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    Thin. Perhaps 0.100".

  10. #9

    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    Thin. Perhaps 0.100".
    Hmm. I've got some hardwood veneers floating around, I can make them a 4ply glued stack which should work nicely and possibly be stronger than a single sheet.

  11. #10

    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    Tavy, would you try a smaller hardwood brace or stick with tried and true spruce? Dave

  12. #11
    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    Thin. Perhaps 0.100".
    Yup, I use back or sides offcuts.

  13. #12
    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    Quote Originally Posted by DMand View Post
    Tavy, would you try a smaller hardwood brace or stick with tried and true spruce? Dave
    For braces, I stick with spruce, strength to weight ratio is generally better than hardwoods. Round the soundhole you're mostly looking for stiffness, and maybe - dare I say it - a little mass. The idea being to stop that weakened area from flapping about needlessly and just wasting energy.

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  15. #13
    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    Dave,

    You have to remember that the main role of the braces on a flat-top mandolin such as this is to stop the soundboard caving in. Ladder bracing works as well as anything to resist the down-bearing of the bridge, but does very little of counteract the other forces on the instrument, the compression on the tailpiece from string tension and that same tension wanting to rotate the neck up and cause the deformation around the soundhole. An x or lattice bracing will be of little improvement. My suggestion would be to remove the existing soundboard braces, glue and cleat the soundboard cracks, flatten out the area around the soundhole (which will probably involve pulling the neck back a bit) and reinforce as Tavy suggests. Then replace the ladder bracing with new spruce braces and maybe add in a couple of rods of bars between the tailblock to the neck block on either side of the soundhole which would sit underneath the ladder bracing through the middle of the body. A couple of lengths of carbon fibre tube such as broken arrow shafts or similar tubing from flying model aircraft suppliers will add lots of longitudinal stiffness to the structure.

    The mandolin probably dates from after 1922 or so according the Washburn bible, rather than 1915.

    Cheers

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  17. #14

    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    Thank you Graham. I was thinking about carbon fiber. Now I have to source it.

  18. #15

    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    And…just ordered some 3mm carbon fiber rods on Amazon.

  19. #16
    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    Quote Originally Posted by DMand View Post
    And…just ordered some 3mm carbon fiber rods on Amazon.
    I have used CF tubes around 1/4" in diameter. A visit to a local archery shop or club (if one is near) would probably get you a couple of broken arrow shafts for very little money. 3mm might be a little flimsy as they will be under a degree of compression.

    And I missed crediting Rcc56 for the soundhole strengthening ring. My apologies, sir.

  20. #17

    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    Graham. I’m in Chicago, Illinois. I’m thinking the local archery shop is not so local

  21. #18

    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    Quote Originally Posted by DMand View Post
    Graham. I’m in Chicago, Illinois. I’m thinking the local archery shop is not so local
    There is lots of archery in Illinois. One of the biggest archery tournaments in the Midwest is being held in Peoria in about 3 weeks. I am sure there are archery shops in the Chicago area a swell as clubs.

  22. #19

    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post
    There is lots of archery in Illinois. One of the biggest archery tournaments in the Midwest is being held in Peoria in about 3 weeks. I am sure there are archery shops in the Chicago area a swell as clubs.
    That's the thing Peoria is hours away from Chicago. I have no doubt rural downstate Illinois has them. I'd be surprised to find any near the city of Chicago. Anyone walking around Chicago looking like Hawkeye in the Avengers would be rather quickly interviewed by our local constabulary. It's just not a "thing" here.

    Anyway, just ordered some 8mm carbon fiber square rods that should do the trick.

  23. #20
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    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

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    This is a very similar Regal made, 'Stahl' labeled mando, on which I made similar, extensive repairs several years ago. First I repaired the considerable distortion around the soundhole(working through the soundhole). I removed the original, failed cross brace in front of the soundhole, then added flat spruce reinforcing patches on either side of the soundhole, plus small finger braces on top of the patches. Also, a new, somewhat strudier cross brace. My photo shows the soundhole area patches and new braces, in that area.

    Several months after these repairs, two of the flat-sawn main ladder braces cracked across the grain. Because this is a family heirloom, still being played, the cost to remove the back and replace the main braces was approved(hence this photo, after removing the back and one of the ladder braces: the soundhole repair and reinforcement was done through the soundhole).

    This mando sounded very good to my ear, and prompted me to search for something similar of my own, an S.S. Stewart copy of a Martin B.

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  25. #21

    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    Quote Originally Posted by Graham McDonald View Post
    Dave,

    You have to remember that the main role of the braces on a flat-top mandolin such as this is to stop the soundboard caving in. Ladder bracing works as well as anything to resist the down-bearing of the bridge, but does very little of counteract the other forces on the instrument, the compression on the tailpiece from string tension and that same tension wanting to rotate the neck up and cause the deformation around the soundhole. An x or lattice bracing will be of little improvement. My suggestion would be to remove the existing soundboard braces, glue and cleat the soundboard cracks, flatten out the area around the soundhole (which will probably involve pulling the neck back a bit) and reinforce as Tavy suggests. Then replace the ladder bracing with new spruce braces and maybe add in a couple of rods of bars between the tailblock to the neck block on either side of the soundhole which would sit underneath the ladder bracing through the middle of the body. A couple of lengths of carbon fibre tube such as broken arrow shafts or similar tubing from flying model aircraft suppliers will add lots of longitudinal stiffness to the structure.

    The mandolin probably dates from after 1922 or so according the Washburn bible, rather than 1915.

    Cheers
    Excellent structural suggestion. Bowl backs also seem to collapse longitudinally, and also have ladder bracing. I think that the soundboard itself, once it warps even a little, loses the primary role of supporting the string tension, and then things go bad very quickly. A neck block to tail block brace should be helpful, and if not touching the other braces, not affect the sound at all. For installation in something that still has it’s top attached, not simple, but I’m working on concepts for ways to put one in. Not certain about machining or threading CF rods or tubes if necessary, but I think any heavier solutions, like metal, also could work. The object is demountable and adjustable, providing anchor points at neck and tail just below the plane of the top braces.
    Let us all know if you pursue anything like this!

  26. #22

    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    By all means "save this from the dump!" I have restored several of these mandolins (great instruments!) and they respond well to all of the suggestions above, particularly re-enforcing the sound hole. I used "popsicle braces" around the sound hole to strengthen the area. I also re-use the original braces after removing loose braces, cleaning and prepping.

    More often than not, top warpage is removed when loose braces are -re-glued. Good luck, this should be a fine mando when it's completed!

  27. #23

    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ginridge View Post
    By all means "save this from the dump!" I have restored several of these mandolins (great instruments!) and they respond well to all of the suggestions above, particularly re-enforcing the sound hole. I used "popsicle braces" around the sound hole to strengthen the area. I also re-use the original braces after removing loose braces, cleaning and prepping.

    More often than not, top warpage is removed when loose braces are -re-glued. Good luck, this should be a fine mando when it's completed!
    It's being saved as we speak. I'm steaming and clamping the soundboard each day to flatten and de-warp it. When I'm satisfied it's flat, I'm going to experiment with bracing, maybe carbon fiber 1x3mm floating braces and a ring of CF around the oval hole. Or maybe carbon fiber tow thread, notched into a thin spruce brace. Will keep you posted and happy Thanksgiving! Dave

  28. #24

    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    Ooh, I'm not sure if this is entirely relevant, though I hope it is helpful: Mr. Wildwood fixed up my model 2427 a couple of years ago; mostly neck work, but some crack stabilizing too. I don't believe he did anything with the braces, but I could be wrong. I can't quite make it out in your photos; what model are you working on? I will say mine has similar warpage around the sound hole, though not nearly so drastic.

  29. #25

    Default Re: lattice or x brace reconstruction on oval hole 1915 Washburn?

    Quote Originally Posted by StringMeAlong View Post
    Ooh, I'm not sure if this is entirely relevant, though I hope it is helpful: Mr. Wildwood fixed up my model 2427 a couple of years ago; mostly neck work, but some crack stabilizing too. I don't believe he did anything with the braces, but I could be wrong. I can't quite make it out in your photos; what model are you working on? I will say mine has similar warpage around the sound hole, though not nearly so drastic.
    Not sure of the model. So far, Ive steamed the cracks and gotten the top straight, and put a piece of carbon fiber sheet around the oval hole, wrapping up to the top of the tail block, gluing it rigid with CF epoxy.

    Im going to put a 3mm x 1mm CF strip or small spruce brace across the bridge area, maybe a couple of small braces from the tail block to the bridge brace. Maybe a couple of small CF rods from top of the sound board to the bridge brace. Probably put a few cleats on the soundboard cracks. Well see. Keep yall posted. Dave

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