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Exluthier

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Having received this morning from a UK supplier an order of one ‘3mm mortise chisel’ for a specific use, I was not altogether surprised to read on the packaging that it was a ‘1/8th (3mm) chisel’. I had gone through the various offerings available, and had excluded the several other nominally sized ones, in favour of a product which referred only to 3mm, rather than to both imperial and metric dimensions.

I am disinclined to have to buy a new hand-tool only to have to then grind it to the size I need*, so I turned to a well-known Berlin-based hand tools specialist company, only to find the UK not represented on their shipping destinations list. I have seen the huge increases in shipping costs from the EU as a result of Brexit, but have not seen—until today—the UK excluded as a shipping destination. Their (more or less immediate) response to my subsequent email was ‘ [...] the only way to avoid a number of problems is to temporarily suspend shipments to the UK’. How long this state of affairs will last is not stated.



* The reason the tolerances are so important is that I’m working with carbon fibre (which I’ve never even seen before, let alone had to work with) inlaid into Ebony, and I don’t have the extraction kit, etc. to be able to work the carbon fibre safely.
 

Jacob

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..... I turned to a well-known Berlin-based hand tools specialist company, only to find the UK not represented on their shipping destinations list. I have seen the huge increases in shipping costs from the EU as a result of Brexit, but have not seen—until today—the UK excluded as a shipping destination. Their (more or less immediate) response to my subsequent email was ‘ [...] the only way to avoid a number of problems is to temporarily suspend shipments to the UK’. How long this state of affairs will last is not stated.
......
No problem it's working both ways; many UK businesses large and small are closing their EU export side, for similar reasons.
That should teach those foreign johnnies a thing or two!
Others have moved lock stock and barrel to Europe.
It's all in the oven ready deal.
 
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Argus

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How critical are the sizes?

I'm saying that because if it's a one-off extraction job in the ebony, then I have an ancient chisel that is nominal 3 mm - in reality it is measuring exactly 2.82 at the cutting tip going to 3.2mm wide one inch up the blade. It can certainly loose a tiny fraction on the sides to give you a minuscule under your 3 mm if you need it.

I've never used that stuff either - are you putting it in or digging it out?
 
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TheTiddles

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Does anyone know what tolerance a 3mm chisel is supposed to be? I mean technically it’s 2.50 to 3.49 mm which is a bit of a barn door...

Personally I’d router carbon fibre and cut the corners in with a file

Aidan
 

Exluthier

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How critical are the sizes?

I'm saying that because if it's a one-off extraction job in the ebony, then I have an ancient chisel that is nominal 3 mm - in reality it is measuring exactly 2.82 at the cutting tip going to 3.2mm wide one inch up the blade. It can certainly loose a tiny fraction on the sides to give you a minuscule under your 3 mm if you need it.

I've never used that stuff either - are you putting it in or digging it out?
I would love to have your ancient chisel, please, and I'd be only too happy to pay what you ask, plus postage. It's most kind of you; I hadn't expected that!

I think I would have to message you (is it called DM-ing? I'm not fully au fait with these things) and I shall find out how to do that, today.

I've been volunteered by a music charity to help provide access to an instrument for someone with a locomotor disability. What I'm doing is a two stage process, which involves 'fretting' a small cello; cutting a 3mm groove across the ebony fingerboard of a 3/4 size cello (just as guitar frets are set into a fingerboard) so that, as the first stage, I can slide 3mm half-round carbon fibre strip into the groove. The 1.5mm radius will provide enough of a 'fret' to help the player locate their finger in the correct place. The carbon fibre strip has to be what I think engineers refer to as an interference fit; it has to stay well in place, with only minimal (and reversible) adhesive, so that it can be replaced (in time) with flat carbon fibre or ebony strip, once the player has achieved correct location of the finger(s). The quite acute radius of the cello fingerboard is an issue, of course, hence the requirement for adhesive. The final result should be a fingerboard surface as even as the original ebony, without having to chuck away a large piece of ebony and begin again.

I've worked with plenty of ebony before (and have the asthma to prove it) but I hadn't even seen carbon fibre until it arrived only yesterday. Model aircraft makers use it, evidently, and various suppliers of the stuff have been very helpful. I didn't know the stuff could be bent, or even worked; I've only heard of it as stiffening in the necks of modern guitars, etc.
 

Exluthier

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Does anyone know what tolerance a 3mm chisel is supposed to be? I mean technically it’s 2.50 to 3.49 mm which is a bit of a barn door...

Personally I’d router carbon fibre and cut the corners in with a file

Aidan
I guess I'm not very well informed about tolerances; I assumed that the stage of technology is such today that 3mm meant 3 mm, or something closer than 2.50.

I don't have a router, as such (not an electric one, anyway, and not a hand one small enough) and setting up something to rout a 1mm groove across a radiused cello neck would require all sorts of holding jigs, which I don't have the scope to set up, unfortunately.
 

Dr Al

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Having received this morning from a UK supplier an order of one ‘3mm mortise chisel’ for a specific use, I was not altogether surprised to read on the packaging that it was a ‘1/8th (3mm) chisel’. I had gone through the various offerings available, and had excluded the several other nominally sized ones, in favour of a product which referred only to 3mm, rather than to both imperial and metric dimensions.

I am disinclined to have to buy a new hand-tool only to have to then grind it to the size I need*, so I turned to a well-known Berlin-based hand tools specialist company, only to find the UK not represented on their shipping destinations list. I have seen the huge increases in shipping costs from the EU as a result of Brexit, but have not seen—until today—the UK excluded as a shipping destination. Their (more or less immediate) response to my subsequent email was ‘ [...] the only way to avoid a number of problems is to temporarily suspend shipments to the UK’. How long this state of affairs will last is not stated.



* The reason the tolerances are so important is that I’m working with carbon fibre (which I’ve never even seen before, let alone had to work with) inlaid into Ebony, and I don’t have the extraction kit, etc. to be able to work the carbon fibre safely.
I can't help in a useful way by actually answering your question about EU sources, but I have one of these chisels and it's definitely marked up as 3 mm rather than 1/8" (the fact the range is all in metric is one of the things that tempted me to buy them and I've been really impressed by them). Most of the chisels in that range are bevel edged, but they stop bevelling them at the smaller sizes, so it seems to me that the 3 mm would be functionally equivalent to a mortice chisel. The actual mortice chisels only go down to 4 mm.

I've just measured mine with some digital calipers as a sanity check and it's bang on 3.00 mm, which is better than I was expecting to be honest!
 

Argus

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@Exluthier

No problem.

You'll have to PM to me your details (straightforward message that comes to my account here).

The chisel I have is very old and pre-war, probably the Boer War, and it is a bevel-edge profile. It is a 1/8 inch chisel but in metric the tip is 2.82 going to about 3.2 about 1 inch up and increases to 3.5 about 2 1/2 inches up. If it helps you I'll send it on, though I reply on the Post Office collecting from me - I live miles from anything. I got it in a junk shop decades ago and used it for ultra-slim dovetail pin-holes. I haven't used it for a very long time.

I don't make the sort of thing that you do, but if the result of a flat depth is important, I would consider using a well sharpened float that is a little under the 3mm. This is easily made with a piece of flat steel the correct width. Excavate with a chisel then level everything with the float.....
 

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I'm guessing you will make two saw cuts 3mm apart and then remove the waste in between. How will you ensure these are at 90 degrees to the neck alignment? You have the fretboard taper plus the fretboard radius to cope with, and I can't immediately see how you'll manage this without making a jig of some kind. When I cut fret slots I do that with the board flat and untapered, and then make the taper and any radius afterwards. If you have a cunning plan I'd love to know it so it can be in my inventory in case I need to do something related.
 

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I don't make the sort of thing that you do, but if the result of a flat depth is important, I would consider using a well sharpened float that is a little under the 3mm. This is easily made with a piece of flat steel the correct width. Excavate with a chisel then level everything with the float.....
I'd make the chisel into a temporary router by cutting a mortice in a block and then wedging the chisel so it protrudes 1.5mm. I flatten the bottom of saddle slots this way.
 

JohnCee

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Dictum are still shipping to the UK, and my first post-Brexit order a couple of weeks ago arrived within 3 days,
 

JohnPW

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Dictum are still shipping to the UK, and my first post-Brexit order a couple of weeks ago arrived within 3 days,
Did you pay German or UK VAT?

I understand the arrangement is different for consignments of under and over £135.
 

Exluthier

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@Exluthier

No problem.

You'll have to PM to me your details (straightforward message that comes to my account here).

The chisel I have is very old and pre-war, probably the Boer War, and it is a bevel-edge profile. It is a 1/8 inch chisel but in metric the tip is 2.82 going to about 3.2 about 1 inch up and increases to 3.5 about 2 1/2 inches up. If it helps you I'll send it on, though I reply on the Post Office collecting from me - I live miles from anything. I got it in a junk shop decades ago and used it for ultra-slim dovetail pin-holes. I haven't used it for a very long time.

I don't make the sort of thing that you do, but if the result of a flat depth is important, I would consider using a well sharpened float that is a little under the 3mm. This is easily made with a piece of flat steel the correct width. Excavate with a chisel then level everything with the float.....
I do have a couple of floats (I made a couple of planes a few years ago) but nothing that small; I'll look out something to make one with, thanks.
 

JohnCee

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Did you pay German or UK VAT?

I understand the arrangement is different for consignments of under and over £135.
It was under £100 and I paid no VAT at all. I was expecting a bill for UK VAT on import, but no.
As a violin maker/restorer I buy most of my materials/accessories from Germany, so the unpredictability of this situation is a real PITA.
 

Exluthier

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I'm guessing you will make two saw cuts 3mm apart and then remove the waste in between. How will you ensure these are at 90 degrees to the neck alignment? You have the fretboard taper plus the fretboard radius to cope with, and I can't immediately see how you'll manage this without making a jig of some kind. When I cut fret slots I do that with the board flat and untapered, and then make the taper and any radius afterwards. If you have a cunning plan I'd love to know it so it can be in my inventory in case I need to do something related.
Most of my work has been on un-fretted instruments, on instruments with tied frets (lutes, viols) or on some instruments (citterns) where frets were wedged in place with variably-sized (ebony, usually) fillets as spacers, so that they could be replaced with smaller / larger spacers in order to play in differing temperaments.

For the odd copies of late nineteenth century classical neapolitan / roman mandolins that were in demand a couple of dozen years ago, I used historically accurate plain brass strip for frets, rather than modern tanged fretwire, and simply drilled up the blades of gents saws to allow me to fit a depth stop at the correct depth. With an accurate depth-stop, there is no problem with the radius; the cut will be the same depth throughout, and because the groove is going to be quite shallow, and the frets very few (only five, as the player isn't able to play outside first / second positions) the narrow carbon fibre 'frets' will be at right angles to the surface of the fingerboard.
 

JohnPW

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Adding permanant frets to a cello seems dubious to me.

I guessed it's going to be played at at rudimentry level. Nylon string frets would work (like on a viol), I would have thought, especially if the left hand stays in one position.

There's also a temporary stick on fretboard available:
 
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JohnPW

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It was under £100 and I paid no VAT at all. I was expecting a bill for UK VAT on import, but no.
As a violin maker/restorer I buy most of my materials/accessories from Germany, so the unpredictability of this situation is a real PITA.
I suspect you paid VAT to Dictum on orders of under £135. Then Dictum is suppose to send it to the UK govt.

On orders of over £135, it's the same arrangement as with non-EU countries (eg USA, Japan etc), you pay VAT to the UK govt when the item enters the UK.
 

JohnCee

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I suspect you paid VAT to Dictum on orders of under £135. Then Dictum is suppose to send it to the UK govt.
I didn't, though. Dictum quote both prices (with/without VAT) and I definitely paid the non-VAT price. I was just relieved that the order arrived without any hassle, TBH. Saving the VAT was merely a surprise bonus. Probably a loophole/oversight that will soon be rectified.
 

Exluthier

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Adding permanant frets to a cello seems dubious to me.

I had thought it's going to be played at at rudimentry level. Nylon string frets would work (like on a viol), I would have thought, especially if the left hand stays in one position.

There's also a temporary stick on fretboard available:
You’re absolutely right about adding (semi- in this case) permanent frets to a cello; the fact that the bridge responds to string pressure (in either direction) by pulling the instrument out of tune is a huge issue, meaning checking the bridge angle before and after playing, every time. Having said that, I’ve lost count of the numbers of professional violinists (for instance) whose instruments were often a millimetre or two away from a very loud and shocking collapse for exactly that bridge-movement reason.

However, this young player’s fine locomotor function also simply cannot deal with the kind of tied-on frets one would find on a division viol; this was my first suggestion, but there is no question of a grasp light enough to pass over even a single winding of fret-gut; the ataxic nature of the player’s normal movement simply won’t permit it, and—more importantly—it’s a cello that this person wishes to play, and not a viol. Stick-on fretboards are another issue; they are a temporary solution and can doubtless be used (though I’ve never know a professional string teacher who uses them) but they effectively define inability, which is an issue in the instance in question. The adaptation to this instrument will need to be in place for far longer than the space of time over which one would use a stick-on fingerboard sheet.
 
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