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mark_ivan

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Posts: 8
Reply with quote  #1 
Hi

Does anyone here know what is commonly used as a finish on the outside of wooden dayan shells during manufacture?

Stain, paint, shellac, other?

I am reheading three tabla shells.
All three were slightly 'out of round' and my local supplier of skins strongly suggested I address this before we select heads from his stock.

The deviation from round was not huge, with the diameter varying by 1/8" around the top of the shell, so I used a wood rasp and sandpaper to reduce the wide points and try to retain the overall taper and shape of the shells.

Now I have round tops, but sizeable patches which are bare wood, and would like to put a new coat of finish on the entire outer surface of the shell to clean up the aesthetics before putting the new heads on.

So, anybody have any idea what is used by tabla makers?

Any suitable substitutes available in North America?

I can think something up, but wanted to see if anyone here had knowledge in this area before proceeding 'blind'.

Thanks,
Mark

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Tablatastic

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Posts: 43
Reply with quote  #2 
HI Mark,

Just saw this post as I had posted something similar to this a while back. I have not got round to doing this but from my knowledge, you are probably may need to sand the whole shell with very fine grain sandpaper to first show the natural wood.

Ideally you want to use Wood stain for Oak wood / Rose Wood and then either use a varnish or polish. I have been told by a local craftsman at a tabla shop in London to use polish as it gives it a nice finish.

I suggest reading the post below as you live in the US, someone from the US posted a a detailed method to me when I asked the same question.

http://forums.chandrakantha.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11970&p=73459&hilit=varnish+dayan#p73459

Hope it helps and good luck with it Mark.

Kind regards.
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mark_ivan

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Posts: 8
Reply with quote  #3 
Hi

Thanks for the link.

Here are my thoughts:
- sandpaper is indiscriminating as a finish remover, it doesn't know what is finish and what is wood, so in the end you are likely to take off more wood than you care to. Also, it is hard to get finish out of dents and grooves in the wood without getting rid of more wood (and time) than you intend. In my limited experience refinishing furniture, and despite varying degrees of noxious fumes, chemical strippers are the way to go.

- the surface of the shell should not be made glass smooth, as some texture will help the gat grip instead of sliding back to a position of lower tension. I'll bet I could get the shells looking gorgeous with tung oil and cabinet wax, but they might not then function well for their intended purpose.

- not sure what is meant by 'polish' but if this is a wax polish, then I have concerns about it's durabilty under abrasion from hyde straps and wooden gat, and it's 'tack' to minimize slippage

In the end, I guess I was hoping to see if anyone had insights into what tablamakers use in India.
Natural shellac with some kind of pigment dissolved in it?

In the absence of other input, I am leaning towards using a chemical stripper to get rid of existing finish (steel wool and turpentine to get rid of the stripper), then either shellac, or tung old and cabinet wax.

If this doesn't work, or make sense, for some reason, i am hoping someone will share their thoughts.

Varathane or similar products just seem 'wrong' to put on this traditional handcrafted instrument that is otherwise likely unchanged from those made 100 years ago.
(alternatively, I could paint it a nice blue and put synthetic straps on it)

Thanks again for the info you sent.

Mark
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Tablatastic

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Posts: 43
Reply with quote  #4 
Hi Mark,

No worries, its good to hear about different approaches to this. I have not yet done this my self and kind of putting this off on one of my dayans as it is a big job and due to work and time constraints unable to work on it. But good to know your opinion on this as I could only give you info from what I have been told and advised.

I hope it goes well and good luck with the Restoration process. Be good to see the end result some time.


Kind regards.
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david

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Posts: 528
Reply with quote  #5 
India uses a mixture of shellac, french polish, and pigment. The actual pigment varies from one region to another. Hyderabadi makers tend toward a deep purple/black pigment. I do not know what pigment was used on this shell.

Peace

David Courtney
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Lars

Senior Member
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Posts: 1,452
Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "mark_ivan"
Hi

Thanks for the link.

Here are my thoughts:
- sandpaper is indiscriminating as a finish remover, it doesn't know what is finish and what is wood, so in the end you are likely to take off more wood than you care to. Also, it is hard to get finish out of dents and grooves in the wood without getting rid of more wood (and time) than you intend. In my limited experience refinishing furniture, and despite varying degrees of noxious fumes, chemical strippers are the way to go.

- the surface of the shell should not be made glass smooth, as some texture will help the gat grip instead of sliding back to a position of lower tension. I'll bet I could get the shells looking gorgeous with tung oil and cabinet wax, but they might not then function well for their intended purpose.

- not sure what is meant by 'polish' but if this is a wax polish, then I have concerns about it's durabilty under abrasion from hyde straps and wooden gat, and it's 'tack' to minimize slippage

In the end, I guess I was hoping to see if anyone had insights into what tablamakers use in India.
Natural shellac with some kind of pigment dissolved in it?

In the absence of other input, I am leaning towards using a chemical stripper to get rid of existing finish (steel wool and turpentine to get rid of the stripper), then either shellac, or tung old and cabinet wax.

If this doesn't work, or make sense, for some reason, i am hoping someone will share their thoughts.

Varathane or similar products just seem 'wrong' to put on this traditional handcrafted instrument that is otherwise likely unchanged from those made 100 years ago.
(alternatively, I could paint it a nice blue and put synthetic straps on it)

Thanks again for the info you sent.

Mark
You should probably sand it to remove the shellac that's there. If you want to shellac it get some at Home Depot, pre-mixed. It's called Zinsser Bullseye Shellac and comes in a can and you can brush it on for a dayan shell. It comes in orange or blonde. Around 5 coats of orange will give you the color that's there now probably and brushing it will not make it too smooth. French polishing is a technique using a cotton pad and is what I use on sitars but not needed for your project since you'll have marks on it right from the first tuning. If you want the dark color you can order the black shellac flakes from shellac.net which will give you that purple hue or you can get Behlen furniture powders but either method requires making your own shellac. If you want to do that try and get pure grain alcohol as it's not toxic to work with, if you use the canned pre-mixed Zinsser stuff they use denatured alcohol which is not good for you so do it in a well ventilated area or it can cause health problems, screws up your heart, etc. Easy to do for a dayan, have fun!

Lars

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mark_ivan

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Posts: 8
Reply with quote  #7 
This is great, and the direction I was hoping to find.

I'm pretty sure I have a bag of raw orange shellac flakes and a couple different powdered pigments left over from previous projects (the benefits of being a hoarder),
I think this is definitely the re-finishing route I will pursue.

Although not necessary, I might review the steps for french polishing.
I've read about it but never tried it, and might apply a bit of this technique on the shell to see how it changes the look after brushing on a few coats of shellac.
Also, this is a more forgiving first experiment than a table top or other piece of furniture.

Still plan to try a chemical stripper first before resorting to sanding, as it would seem to save a LOT of time and gets everything down to the bare wood even in the groves and existing dents in the shell.

Will post some pictures of the progress, though things may go slow over the next month or so with all the seasonal interruptions to important, high priority projects like this.

Thanks to all for the feedback!!

Cheers,
Mark
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VNO Design

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Posts: 166
Reply with quote  #8 
Hi Mark,

I've been refinishing Tablas for a couple months now as part of the TransTabla system. I've been sanding smooth on a lathe and then refinishing with just natural Danish oil. The results are spectacular and unlike before I'm able to preserve this finish due to the workings of the mechanism to tune, avoiding hammer strikes.

Hope these cell phone pics do some justice, but they really have to be seen in person.

https://www.dropbox.com/sc/0elzj6ibmhwkoee/6c5tcpqIut

Best of luck to you!

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Main Site: http://www.transtabla.us
http://www.instagram.com/transtablas/
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