Author Topic: toneboards  (Read 6693 times)

Offline Rick Howard

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toneboards
« on: April 25, 2012, 12:13:16 AM »
Yeah another toneboard question!

I have been making my own open reed howler and distress boards.  I feel like I am doing good.  I am getting some decent calls made.  I am having a couple issues though which is costing me time and a bunch of delrin.

This is my process.  First I drill the air channel the size and depth I want.  Then I drill the exhaust end the size and depth I desire.  Then I cut the length on the band saw.  Then I use the best sander to get the arch.  Then I use the scroll saw with a fine blade to cut a small slot for the reed to be inserted.  I then use a file to smooth it out a bit.  Then I cut a reed and start testing it.  Once I have the same I finish sand and polish the board.  After that I test it again and I might fine tune the reed a little at this point.       

First issue: Even though I am using a press, drilling through the center of a 5/8" piece of delrin is a challenge.  I think I might buy a cheap router and table just for this.  I will still have to drill the exhaust end but that is a hidden part of the call so I am not so concerned if that is slightly off center.  How are most folks making their air channel?

Second trouble:   Getting the reed cut evenly and then fitting well and snugly  .I have a bunch of latex tube here so I cut my own bands from that to hold the reed.  I forgot what size the latex band is but it is strong.  I am going to try to castrating bands tomorrow.  I am hoping I might find some that are not green.  Black or grey would be nicer to me.  I am not sure what the tractor supply store carries but whatever they have is what I will get tomorrow.  I am using scissors to cut the reed.  Not sure that is the best tool.  Maybe and exacto knife?  I saw they sell a stencil cutter at the craft store.  Not sure how it works but looks like it would be good to small detail cutting.  Maybe one of those might be easier?

I know like anything else the more you do it the better and faster you will get.  Any tips you guys think might make my process better would be much appreciated.       

Also I see some folks use prefab boards.  Although I like making my own boards and will continue to do so.  I like being able to voice them the way I want them to sound and when I finish a call I know it was all of me that went into it.  For me it feels more complete this way.   I figured it will be convenient to buy a few.  A few months ago I bought a few from Yellerdog calls and will try a few other places too.  This got me thinking....  Do most guys make their own or buy them?    If you have or are buying them.... Where are you buying from?  Who's do you like best and why?  I know there is a lot of personal preference in toneboards.  Obviously sound is a big deal but what about function, looks, ease of use, etc.   I thought this might be an interesting conversation.

   
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Offline Lonehowl

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Re: toneboards
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2012, 01:19:26 AM »
Sounds like your making progress. It takes a lot of wasted material to get good at making toneboards.
Mark
« Last Edit: April 25, 2012, 01:26:36 AM by Lonehowl »

Offline Braz

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Re: toneboards
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2012, 01:54:12 AM »
I buy mine. My hearing is so bad I just hve too much trouble trying to tune one myself. So I get them from Al at eh THO store. thear are great sounding and folks love them. I"ve not had one dissatified customer since I've beenusing them.
Braz
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Offline Brad Robinson at Brushbuster Game Calls

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Re: toneboards
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2012, 10:09:05 AM »
Drilling. i took some advice from wade at web foot and bought a starter bit. A drastic improvement.
I have bought boards from both Al and yellerdog and both sound awesome.
 I like making my own for the "It's my call thing" but if i am pinched for time i just grab manufactured board out of my gut box and ship it. I am starting some new lines that will offer calls at a less expensive price that will come with manufactured guts. My fancier more custom calls will come with my own boards.
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Offline Al_at_THO Game Calls

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Re: toneboards
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2012, 11:21:52 AM »
Quote
  First I drill the air channel the size and depth I want.  Then I drill the exhaust end the size and depth I desire.

No need to drill out the exhaust on an open reed tone board.  Just drill the air channel right through.   There isn't enough material in the back end of the tone board to affect back pressure.   

Once you get drilled through, you can use a wooden dowel with a lengthwise slot cut in it and a piece of sand paper stuck in that slot to clean up the end of the tone board air channel, and round off the edges if you want.    This will also open it up some, but again, it is not necessary.

 
Quote
Then I cut the length on the band saw.  Then I use the best sander to get the arch.

A belt sander will ruin more tone boards than it will make.  Once you get it cut flat, take a file to the very end of the tone board and file the ark in.   Don't try to get it perfect, you just want to remove material to get it close to arking downward.



Now here is the trick.   Go to Walmart and by the cheapest rubber car mat you can find.   It should be rubber, not plastic. 

Take it home, and cut it up so that you have a "sanding pad" about 3/4" wide and about 2 inches long. 



 That car mat will last you  for years.   Start with 120 grit sand paper and sand the rest of your ark in with the sanding pad.    Remember, that any flat surface will sand a flat spot.   The rubber will bend and allow you to form a nice smooth ark. 



 I go from 120 to 220 to 320 and finish with 400 on plastic and delrin, then buff a bit.

 
Quote
Then I use the scroll saw with a fine blade to cut a small slot for the reed to be inserted.

I do the same thing.

Quote
First issue: Even though I am using a press, drilling through the center of a 5/8" piece of delrin is a challenge.

Don't force it.  Drill in 1/4 inch, back out clean the bit, go in 1/2 inch, back out and clean the bit.   Back out and clean the bit twice as much as you think you should.  Also, drill as slow as you can.  Keeping a clean hole and drilling slow are the keys to a straight hole.

A router will work, and I use one for some of my boards, but you need a jig of some sort and you really have to be careful or you're going to hurt.   

Again, forget about opening up the exhaust.  It doesn't matter.

Quote
Second trouble:   Getting the reed cut evenly and then fitting well and snugly 

Cutting reeds is an art form.  I refuse to do it anymore and generally use the reeds for deer grunt calls.  They are about the right width, and all you have to do is cut the end.   

As for holding the reed on, you do not want to have it so tight it bends the material.  Castration bands work well of 5/8 inch boards.   So do O rings.   You can use two of them to hold the reed in place. 

The real trick in making open reed tone boards is the reed itself.   

PAY ATTENTION -

This tip is going to save you YEARS of trouble tuning open reed calls.   It aint mine, but it is my modification.

Years ago, I spent an evening on the phone with an old coyote calling god from South Dakota.  He knew his stuff.  He gave me a tip, that over time, I modified, and I am going to pass it on to you.   

First, it is a rare thing to get a piece of plastic, acrylic, or even delrin to form a perfect ark.   And having a perfect ark is the key to no pitch breaks, and a good sounding call.  The way most guys make tone boards, causes mylar and duralar reeds to try and conform to the tone board.   If it isn't a perfect ark, it will break and sound bad.  The tip I got that night was to "lift" the reed off the tone board just a bit, by placing a small piece of mylar under the reed at the point where they castration band holds it on so that the reed can bend naturally.  Both Mylar and Duralar have a "memory" and want to ark smoothly.   By lifting them off the tone board a bit, you allow them to do just that.  They are not forced to follow the tone board, and therefore, the reed plays a nice even pitch unless you have some really really bad flat spots in your board.   

This works well, but keeping that piece of mylar in there was a problem. 

My modification was to cut the reed about 3/4 inch longer than you need, and then you take the very end of the reed, and bend about 1/2 inch under itself.  Like this



Then insert it in your tone board, so that the bent under part lifts the reed just slightly off the board.   If it is too tight a fit, tap the bend with a small hammer and it will flatten it out.

Trust me, this is the tip of a lifetime when it comes to open reed calls.   

Always trim your reed to where it sits RIGHT at the VERY END of the tone channel.   The closer you get, the better the call will sound.

Dog earing the reed at the end will vary the sound.  The more the angle, the higher pitch you will get.

Round over one side of the tone channel by just passing a piece of sand paper on your rubber sanding block over it.  Just a bit.  This will increase rasp.  Doing both sides will give more rasp, but you can over do it too.

Some guys will have you believe that making tone boards is a science, or alchemy, or magic. or some other weird stuff.  Bull.   Every tone board that I sell in my shop is made from a flat blank, and I NEVER use a jig.  I just file the ark in, then I sand it and eyeball it, and put a reed in just like I showed you above.  I then blow it and see how it sounds.  Every now and then, I will make an adjustment, but 99% of the time, the tone board is ready to hunt.   

By the way, bending your reed like this helps prevent spit lock up as well.   

Now, finally, I want to stress that this is for Open Reed DISTRESS tone boards.   Howler boards, are a different ball game completely.   While you can use an open reed distress board for a howler, the boards are really different.  Longer, not as arched, and the reed is thicker.  Usually a .014 reed as opposed to a .010 for a distress. 

Hope that helps some...

Al @ THO Game Calls



« Last Edit: April 25, 2012, 12:48:54 PM by Al_at_THO Game Calls »

Offline Brad Robinson at Brushbuster Game Calls

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Re: toneboards
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2012, 12:08:51 PM »
Wow Al!! Awesome bit of information :thanks:
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Offline Rick Howard

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Re: toneboards
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2012, 03:16:02 PM »
 :bow: 

Thank you Al.

My drill press only has a 2 3/8" travel.  This works fine for drilling my distress boards but as you said the howler board is much longer so I have to flip it over to get a hole all the way trough.  I learned quick to drill slow.  I melted my first piece of delrin so bad it stuck to the bit.  I will pick up one of those starter bits.  I have found that using the brad point drill bits makes it a little easier to get strated on center. 

That is an great idea about the reed.  I have been trying to cut a bridge in my toneboards (makes life even tougher) I resorted to cutting the slot for the reed just slightly higher from the face of the toneboard. Although Easier than the bridge it is not a time saver.  Your method will work much better!  Thank you again.  Much obliged sir.   
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Offline Al_at_THO Game Calls

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Re: toneboards
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2012, 04:23:42 PM »
Cutting the slot to hold the reed high will end up putting downward pressure on the reed and cause it to "lock up" at the back end.  When forced downward, it can't flex naturally.   

Cutting it on a downward angel to the rear is much better.   

One of the old "tricks" with many commercial calls that come with built in pitch breaks is to bend the reed upward, even putting a crease in it.  This accomplishes the same thing as lifting the reed off the tone board with the mylar underneath, though it only works for a short while.

You can order started bits from littlemachineshop.com   they are like 5 or 6 bucks for two or three of them in a kit.

Al @ THO Game Calls

Offline BigB

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Re: toneboards
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2012, 06:50:00 PM »

Al has lined you up with some really good info. Here is how I do my toneboards:
http://www.thogamecalls.com/PDF%20Tutorials/OpenReedToneboards.pdf

I buy my Mylar in sheets from RiverMallard. And use a paper slicer (chopping cutter arm type) to cut it into strips, then into reed blanks. Final reed shape gets cut with scissors.

Brian
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Offline Al_at_THO Game Calls

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Re: toneboards
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2012, 09:04:30 AM »
A long time ago, I used to make them the same way.  My 1" belt sander worked great for this too.   For some reason or the other, I just got away from using the belt sander.   

Thank you for posting that up Mark.   

AL @ THO Game Calls

Offline Nelson Woodworks

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Re: toneboards
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2012, 10:21:08 AM »
This clears up a lot of the trouble I've been having. I've only been able to get a few to sound right and this should set things right. Thank you all for taking the time to share this info.  :thanks:

Dan
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Offline Lonehowl

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Re: toneboards
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2012, 11:55:56 AM »
There is a way to make a toneboard that was posted a few years ago over on PM from a 14 year old kid who was a heck of a machinist. It invloves cutting out the toneboard using a milling machine and a rotary table. I have this setup, and it works great. It makes a fantastic toneboard that will sing from the word go.
Bad part is it doesnt fit my style of board really, so I chose not to use it anymore. But anyways, for a guy that has a milling machine of some kind its a great way to go.
Mark
« Last Edit: April 26, 2012, 03:50:51 PM by Lonehowl »

Offline VECtor Calls

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Re: toneboards
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2016, 10:20:24 AM »
Dug from the depths by B Hoover for the Save Box! Thank you for finding it!
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