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Technique & Instrument Related to techniques, to the instrument, to the components, to maintenance.

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Old 01-15-2020, 02:01 PM   #1
William McKenzie
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Default Building a chanter humidor

Hello all,

I'm looking for some design help to build a small controlled humidity humidor box/container/case to place my chanters and chanter reeds into. I've read all of the benefits of having chanter reeds stored with humidifying chanter caps over the years and my playing is now getting to a point where this would be a huge benefit. I currently swap back and forth between two chanters that are ABW and they have a delrin chanter split stock installed on each full time (that runs the length of the stock they slide into like a chanter cap with a hole). Hence, I'm looking to put together or build a longer rectangular container that can store the chanters with the stocks as is since current chanter top humidifiers on the market won't fit with this setup.

Any suggestions? I'm a woodworker and can build a box, seems like cedar (?) or some other softwood is good for this application? I'm also just as keen (if not more) to find a Pyrex style container that seals and is clear for me to read out the hygrometer. I'm assuming the ABW will be fine stored full time in a humidor?

I've got an accurate digital hygrometer, I'm going use to use a Boveda pack, and I'd like to potentially have a pocket space for a reed pack for backup reeds.

Thanks!
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Old 01-15-2020, 10:34 PM   #2
SFPIPER
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Default Re: Building a chanter humidor

why go through all the trouble of building a box? maybe an air tight plastic box would be a better course of action?
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Old 01-16-2020, 03:35 AM   #3
OHCalman
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Default Re: Building a chanter humidor

I get the feeling the humidity may be too high for the Blackwood. It should ideally be around 50%, whereas reeds prefer around 85%

Why not create some sort of humidifier that fits the top of the split stock? Plastic would probably be ideal for this, rather than softwoods.
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Old 01-16-2020, 01:53 PM   #4
John Bolt
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Default Re: Building a chanter humidor

Hi all,


14 inches of 2" pvc and 2 caps
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Old 01-16-2020, 02:49 PM   #5
EquusRacer
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Default Re: Building a chanter humidor

Perhaps one thing that may be overlooked is the concept of GRADUAL changes. Example: One of the young ones in the junior band in which I was an instructor had a set of Center pipes from the 1890s, handed down through his family. What an outstanding and stable set! Anyway....

Before he set out for a competition in BC, he was told to put a moist wash cloth in his pipe bag to humidify the pipes. He arrived at a very hot, very dry games. He pulled his pipes out, starting to play and tune, and these ancient, time-tested drones all split wide open. What a tragedy!! Yet it was an illustration at how well pipes generally tolerate extremes, both in temperature and humidity...but not instantly!
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Old 01-19-2020, 06:31 PM   #6
William McKenzie
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Default Re: Building a chanter humidor

Quote:
Originally Posted by SFPIPER View Post
why go through all the trouble of building a box? maybe an air tight plastic box would be a better course of action?
v/r
R
Plastic would but it's been difficult finding anything long enough (18") to fit the chanters and cap without going to something huge like an under the bed container.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Bolt View Post
Hi all,


14 inches of 2" pvc and 2 caps
Thinking about this, however my hygrometer is a larger rectangle and I'd need to get both chanters in as well. Maybe a 4" diameter could work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OHCalman View Post
I get the feeling the humidity may be too high for the Blackwood. It should ideally be around 50%, whereas reeds prefer around 85%

Why not create some sort of humidifier that fits the top of the split stock? Plastic would probably be ideal for this, rather than softwoods.
This is another idea, although I'd like something to simultaneously protect the chanters as well as be sealed like a Tone Temple. Maybe a longer section of large pipe is the way to go with some foam inside.

As for the Blackwood humidity I've done some reading from a couple pipe makers and it seems chanters can handle the humidity and temperature changes much better than ABW drones. I've read this is due to the face that drones are thick and the bores experience very high humidity and want to expand while the outer surfaces are in a cooler, potentially bone dry environment. The differences in strain causes cracks to form. In chanters the walls are sufficiently thin enough to move as one unit and do no absorb much moisture with the much reduced surface area.

Dave Atherton has a good write up on this subject.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EquusRacer View Post
Perhaps one thing that may be overlooked is the concept of GRADUAL changes. Example: One of the young ones in the junior band in which I was an instructor had a set of Center pipes from the 1890s, handed down through his family. What an outstanding and stable set! Anyway....

Before he set out for a competition in BC, he was told to put a moist wash cloth in his pipe bag to humidify the pipes. He arrived at a very hot, very dry games. He pulled his pipes out, starting to play and tune, and these ancient, time-tested drones all split wide open. What a tragedy!! Yet it was an illustration at how well pipes generally tolerate extremes, both in temperature and humidity...but not instantly!
Good points for sure. I still don't understand why people do this?? It's such a well known/documented basics 101 not to go from a cold, dry parade to a hot, humid bar for example or a hot summer car into an air conditioned competition. Who knows.
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Old 01-24-2020, 12:21 PM   #7
Dan Bell
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Default Re: Building a chanter humidor

I think that people are taking the chanter reed humidity issue to extremes without fully understanding the dynamics and variables involved.

When we start playing, at least two important things change. We start moving large volumes of air through our reeds, usually at higher temperatures and higher humidity levels than ambient. The reeds both warm up and absorb some moisture. How much moisture depends on a bunch of variables (such as our moisture-control systems, the ambient temperature, etc). In general, cane reeds don't function well outside of a certain humidity range. A very dry reed will be sharp on the top hand, somewhat unstable, and likely to squeak. We all know what happens with very wet ones.

Under all but the very oddest of circumstances, there IS going to be a difference between PLAYING conditions and STORAGE conditions. High-level soloists have already worked out what their optimal playing conditions are (that's how they can get their sound so consistently), and a big part of a Pipe Major's job is to figure out how to optimize conditions for their band's sound. The PM of a grade 1 band has picked reeds and bags, and carries out the band's warm-up in such a way as to deliver the band to the line when the sound is at its peak.

Optimal STORAGE conditions (to preserve the reed's condition and longevity) may well be different. Remember our high school physics: as temperature drops, relative humidity INCREASES. If we store our reeds too wet, they rot (or, at the least, degrade faster). If we dry them out too much, we risk having a long and unpleasant blow-in as they come back up to optimal PLAYING moisture content. I think the various devices on the market can be used to help with this, but I see a lot of pipers using them without much thought to WHY or HOW to get the most out of them.
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Old 01-24-2020, 01:36 PM   #8
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Default Re: Building a chanter humidor

Certainly a moldy, rotting reed will not last long. However, I've found the humidifying products, like Tone Protector and Piper's Pal, in fact extend the lives of what are now expensive reeds (remembering what reeds cost 40 years ago!!). I beleive that a constant cycle of dry, wet, dry, wet, etc. wears a reed out much faster. Worse, I know of a band where the pipers are told to pull their reeds and dip them in hydrogen peroxide after playing. Yikes!!!
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Old 02-08-2020, 01:40 AM   #9
William McKenzie
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Default Re: Building a chanter humidor

Quote:
Originally Posted by EquusRacer View Post
Certainly a moldy, rotting reed will not last long. However, I've found the humidifying products, like Tone Protector and Piper's Pal, in fact extend the lives of what are now expensive reeds (remembering what reeds cost 40 years ago!!). I beleive that a constant cycle of dry, wet, dry, wet, etc. wears a reed out much faster.
I tend to believe this also.

This is a bit of a double post since I also posted in the Tone Protector thread about this but for my chanter humidor this is so far what I have ended up with:




The food storage bin is a 'half size long' (20.75" x 6.25" x 4"), half size of a hotel pan the long way, and very sturdy. The elevated grate is intended to keep lettuce and leafy greens off any dripping water or juices and this works perfectly for my needs. The whole setup, including Boveda packs and accurate hygrometer, was $63. $48 without the hygrometer.

I love this because for essentially the price of a single Tone Protector I got protection for my ABW chanters, extra space for humidifying spare reeds alongside, the ability to store up to 4 chanters (2 side by side, 4 with foam dividers), and 3 Boveda packs that should last a good long while. I can leave the bin in my case and pull a chanter out or pull the bin itself out onto a countertop and my chanters have a place to rest while I try reeds and not roll around.

I think most are going to be unimpressed by it but I think it's great. I just need to be cognizant of the air flow so it stays sanitary.
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Old 02-08-2020, 08:42 AM   #10
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Default Re: Building a chanter humidor

Great idea!
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