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Old 09-08-2019, 01:13 PM
MagicEyes is offline
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Woodworkers—I need help!


I’m building a harp (from a kit—if you’re interested, check out harpkit.com for harps and other nifty DIY musical instruments). I goofed, and I sanded through the top layer of the soundboard. It’s birch, so it’s very pale wood. The next layer down is darker, so now there’s a dark patch on the soundboard. Is there any good way to fix this? I thought about painting something over it, but my painting skills are not good, and it might end up worse than it is now.

One more small question—I need to fill in some screw holes with little wooden plugs. The plugs are a tiny bit too big. It’s going to be hard to sand down either the plus or the holes. Does anyone have any other ideas?
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Old 09-08-2019, 01:34 PM
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About filling screw holes...

Get some wire clippers and a sharp chisel and appropriate sized dowel stock.
Use a pencil sharpener to put a point on a piece of dowel, then stuff the tip in the hole with some glue, and clip it off with the wire cutters just above the water line.

Once the glue is dry, it is possible to trim the remaining bit flush with the wood if you hold the flat side of the chisel blade completely flat against the surface and work the end of the chisel in a slicing motion across the peg.
At that point you can lightly sand in the direction of the grain using a sanding block to prevent you sanding a divot.

ETA: Practice this trick on scrap first!

Last edited by minor7flat5; 09-08-2019 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 09-08-2019, 03:09 PM
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It sounds like the soundboard is veneered and you've sanded through the veneer. Technically this is what's known as an "oh shit" situation. It's one of those mistakes that is really not easily repairable. I doubt you're going to be able to achieve a good looking repair, but here are some ideas:

https://www.woodmagazine.com/woodwor...e=step_by_step
https://www.woodworkersjournal.com/r...sanded-veneer/
https://www.finewoodworking.com/foru...ough-my-veneer
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Old 09-08-2019, 03:21 PM
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You could try to find a piece of veneer that you like the look of, and cover the entire panel. This will have some small effect on the tone. Alternatively (my favorite idea) complete the kit and find a local artist to cover the soundboard with a scene or a design - this will instantly boost your project out of the "kit" category.

Forget power sanding - wrap your paper around a wood or hard rubber block.
And what Minor says - practice everything you possibly can on scrap. And get that chisel sharp.

Dan
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Old 09-08-2019, 03:30 PM
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Maybe stain the rest of the instrument so it matches?
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Old 09-08-2019, 03:56 PM
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That website mentions that they are generous with replacement parts. Have you tried contacting them about this?
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Old 09-08-2019, 07:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markn+ View Post
It sounds like the soundboard is veneered and you've sanded through the veneer. Technically this is what's known as an "oh shit" situation. It's one of those mistakes that is really not easily repairable. I doubt you're going to be able to achieve a good looking repair, but here are some ideas:

https://www.woodmagazine.com/woodwor...e=step_by_step
https://www.woodworkersjournal.com/r...sanded-veneer/
https://www.finewoodworking.com/foru...ough-my-veneer

The colored pencil trick looks promising. It might be easier to match the color that way. I’ll test it on a piece of scrap wood first.
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Old 09-08-2019, 07:55 PM
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Thanks to everybody for the helpful information. I can’t replace the soundboard or add another layer if veneer. The soundboard is glued and nailed to the body of the harp, and wood strips are glued around the edges.

Dyeing the soundboard is a good option. I have thought about dyeing the whole harp—purple, or maybe green—but natural cherry is nice, too.
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Old 09-08-2019, 09:53 PM
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You might try covering the area with a veneer inlay. There are thousands of patterns you can choose from.
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Old 09-09-2019, 03:00 AM
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What about sanding the rest of it down to that same layer?
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:25 AM
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You could leave the dark patch and make up some outrageous story about how it got there. You know, it got grazed by a micrometeorite or a homicidal maniac attacked you but missed and his knife hit your harp. Something like that.
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Old 09-10-2019, 03:50 PM
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Are the screw-hole covering plugs just dowels? If so, and if you have enough material, you can just chuck a dowel into a drill press, set it to low speed, and use medium grit sandpaper to slowly reduce the diameter of the dowel until it fits properly.

If you don't have a drill press, I imagine you could rig something up with a hand drill that would get the job done, although more awkwardly.

I think the whole veneer problem has been very adequately covered by others.
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rough Draft View Post
Are the screw-hole covering plugs just dowels? If so, and if you have enough material, you can just chuck a dowel into a drill press, set it to low speed, and use medium grit sandpaper to slowly reduce the diameter of the dowel until it fits properly.

If you don't have a drill press, I imagine you could rig something up with a hand drill that would get the job done, although more awkwardly.

I think the whole veneer problem has been very adequately covered by others.


The plugs are pre-cut, so I don’t have much to work with. I can’t use a generic dowel, because it wouldn’t match. I’m going to try to sand those little suckers down, and if that doesn’t go well, it might work to glue them to another dowel so I have something to hold on to.
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:26 AM
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Another question: I’m finishing the harp with a wipe-on polyurethane. The can I have is a little old. Does it go bad, and should I buy a new can instead of using the old one?
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Old 09-12-2019, 03:38 PM
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How old? I've used wipe on poly for a few guitars and it works well. If it is too thick you can thin it with paint thinner, as many thin coats are better than a few thick ones. If it's more than a few years old I'd go buy a new one. I would also have a look at a few luthier's forums for ideas as guitar manufacture runs into a lot of the same problems. frets.com or Stewart Macdonald's tutorials are good places to start.
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