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From A.E. James Vancouver B.C.

Interesting article in COMMON STOCK

June 1998 by Malcolm McLaren, with which I have no argument except for one small  detail i.e. the aperture hole in the brass strip.

I have tried a single hole in my square-tube reeds and though it is much easier to make than is a slot, it was judged to be not as efficient.

On a different tack; I have made good use of Malcolm’s December 1991 article on piano wire D-bits for the boring of chanters and drones, but have yet to achieve a dead straight 5.32" dia. bore. Of ten pieces of Pear, Plum and Maple woods, two suffered considerable wandering while all the others were out of true by at least 1/8"  Perhaps my woods are not so easily worked as is the African Blackwood that Malcolm  used, but I would welcome ideas from anyone  as to how I may overcome this “wander lust”.

One is presently incubating...... [
see page 4 in this issue - Ed


For readers who are amateur pipe-makers for the fun of it and do not wish to lay out large sums of money for pieces of exotic lumber, ordinary fruit woods such as Pear, Plum and Cherry make excellent instruments and can be obtained freely or cheaply from people who maintain parks, orchards and properties etc.

The wood should be in logs about 16" long by diameters of 6" up to whatever can be handled, reasonably clear of branches and twigs and stored under water as soon as possible after cutting from the tree to prevent drying out and splitting.

After longitudinally sawing/splitting and turning into billets of about 2" diameter, the wood can be very effectively “seasoned” by being immersed for about three months in a 50/50 solution of water and polyethylene glycol 1000 or 1450. A couple of weeks in open air will then dry the wood well enough to be worked.

The solution can be used over and over again and will last a long time, though some water will be lost by evaporation. It is a chemical, however, and should be used wisely and stored safely.

A Highland chanter that I made over two years ago from green Pear wood that a neighbour had cut from a back-yard tree, and on which I first used P.E.G.1000, shows no sign of deterioration or distor- tion, despite its shell being only 1/16" thick at the lower end. Some twenty other bits and pieces made from treated green wood are similarly free from cracks and twists.