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Iroko and its suitability for comb material

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TC Slim
Jul 04, 2009 11:57 AM GMT

A friend of mine has just told me he has a piece if Iroko (African Teak) and I am wondering if anyone knows whether it would be a good wood for a comb?

Any information would be grateful!

regards Tc

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Comments (3)

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Jul 04, 2009 1:24 PM GMT
Kingley Replied:

TC I wouldn't use Iroko!

It is indeed a very dense womb and would make great comb material apart from the fact that it's toxic! It's made even worse when sanding it as the dust is an extreme irritant.

I rememebr using it during a handmade furniture course I did years ago and that was one of the things about it that the instructor informed us of as some of the guys wanted to make child's toys out of it.

Jul 04, 2009 8:02 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

Not all woods are gonna be good for combs, and Kingley points out one of the reasons, plus there are allergy issues, how hard the wood is, etc. Some woods that are too hard, like cocabolo, is far too hard, won't take sealant, and have a tendency because of its hardness, to be too brittle for use. So far, the best woods I've seen for comb materials have been pearwood, peachwood, marfim imperial, and maple.

Jul 05, 2009 3:06 AM GMT
Randy S Replied:

It could be sealed with isophthalic polyesther resin and I guarantee it would NEVER wear off.

Ditto for ANY would. I have sealed combs with this for some time now and have a guarantee from the manufacturer as to its safety. It meets food sevice industry standards. You can seal dishware with it. The one drawback is cost. Over $60.00 a quart.That doesnt include cost of reducer, catalyst. It cant be brushed on. It has to be sprayed with an airbrush, conventional Binks type gun or HVLP. You have to work SUPER fast also. If it sets up, kiss your spray rig goodbye. Its also as hard as hell, making it pefect for lapping.Wont gum up your sandpaper or foul slurry pumps using rotary lapping tables.

Oily woods can be stripped of the surface oils using d-limonene (tech grade) force dryed and sealed. I have had great luck using these steps. I have sealed cocobolo,tigerwood, purpleheart, marblewood ,mesquite, teak(very oily) and ironwood with this stuff and it rules.

The biggest issue with these woods is how many endmills do you want to buy? I can cut hundreds of Corian combs with standard uncoated endmills(m2 tool steel) but only maybe a dozen when cutting ironwood, cocobolo or limoncillo. The heat created is unreal. I even invested in a exair coldgun ($$$$) to keep the heat down. It keeps the cutter cool , but does nothing to keep the smoke down which is horrible! Not a far cry from mace. The smoke burns the hell out of your eyes and lungs. Even with a resirator. Short answer, YES. It can be done but it wont be cheap. The benefits though are a visually stunning end product. In reply to Bobs response to brittleness, this is very true. You will need to use sharp solid micro carbide endmills to spot your bolt holes. Just spot the holes. dont try drill all the way through the combs. Then change to standard drill bits ALWAYS using a backing material under the comb. Dymondwood is notorious for blowing out, shattering on the backside. And always retract your drill bit 1/3rd the depth of its diameter to clear chips. This is more important with small drill sizes which are found when working with harps. I say, GO FOR IT!! You will have a unique harp after the smoke clears and something you can be proud of.

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