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It happens. . .
A Broken Peghead Scroll
© Frank Ford,9/8/01; Photos by FF, 5/01
It's an injury that's unique to the classic Gibson "scroll" peghead. The grain direction at the narrowest point of the peghead scroll is the most unfavorable possible, and virtually no maker does anything to reinforce this vulnerable area. Curiously, in the years before the F-5 was introduced in 1923, they made all their mandolin necks of mahogany, and Gibson did try to prevent this kind of damage with a maple insert strategically placed before the front and back veneers were glued on:
While this insert didn't solve the problem completely, it was a big help. I suppose it was thought unnecessary to add this kind of reinforcement to a maple neck because maple is somewhat stronger across the grain.
So, that leaves me to add a suitably strong internal support after the fact. . .
|This mandolin was dropped only a foot or two while it was in its hardshell case. The peghead bumped against the case sidewall, and the scroll took the blow, cracking off neatly.|
|A difficult piece to align with clamps, the scroll is easy to hold by hand in exact position. I chose cyanoacrylate for that very reason - I could hold it for a few minutes while it set enough to keep the scroll in perfect alignment. A couple of hours later, the cyanoacrylate bond was strong enough for me to proceed with the repair. Now, I could probably have called the job done, but I suspect that the glue joint would not be a strong as the rest of the wood. Even if it were, I'd still want to reinforce it against future damage. After all, I'll still be doing some finish touchup, so I might as well work with an eye to the future.|
|I covered the face of the peghead with a piece of wide masking tape to avoid any unnecessary scratches as I worked.|
|Some big fender washers and deck screws held the peghead firmly to my work board.|
|I screwed the work board to the front of my bench, aligning the peghead so I'd be able to work on the scroll at the angle I wanted.|
|Then I set up my bridge router mill so that it hung over the edge of the bench.|
|I took a few successively deeper cuts until I had routed almost through the thin "neck" of the scroll.|
|A few strokes with my little chisel squared up the end of the cut.|
|I clamped in a maple spline, this time using hide glue for rigidity and strength.|
|Here you can see the size of the spline. It goes deep into the main section of the peghead, and almost all the way down to the opening of the scroll. It would take a mighty heavy blow to break the scroll now!|
|A bit of hand trimming.|
|And, the requisite sanding experience, with a block to avoid changing any original contours|
|Most "F" style mandolins have a shaded sunburst finish that's darkest right here at the end of the peghead. That helps a lot when it comes time to touch up the finish to disguise this kind of repair. A bit of dark brown stain did the job nicely.|
After staining, it's necessary to scrape the binding clean before adding new lacquer.
|I usually spray lacquer to touch up larger areas, but this time the affected area was so small I was able to "drop fill" the crack on the font and back, and simply brush lacquer on the edge of the peghead.|
|After final finish leveling and polishing, this mandolin was ready to rejoin the band.|
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