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Advice on Joint Hemping

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  • Advice on Joint Hemping

    I’m having a bit of trouble getting my joints nice and tight.

    After a lot of trial and error I am fairly happy with my hemping technique. The hemp is wound nice and even around the chanter and blowpipe joint etc.

    My problem is I can’t seem to get a tight fit. I will basically hemp the chanter/blowpipe joint as much as it will take i.e. any more hemp and they wouldn’t fit in the stock. Initially it’s a tight squeeze and when I take them out and put back in they are loose again. I have to wet them every time before I play and even then it’s still a wee bit loose. To the point my chanter will rotate when I play, not a huge amount but enough to affect my playing.

    Any advice on achieving a tight joint would be appreciated.

    it’s yellow waxed hemp I’m using but tried the black stuff and still get same issue

  • #2
    Make sure you’re keeping plenty of tension on the hemp the whole time you’re wrapping.

    Maybe try natural white hemp instead of yellow or black? It’s a little bit thicker than the other two and could help make the right size. Or you could use sewing thread to make up the difference since it’s so much thinner than hemp.
    You don't have fun by winning. You win by having fun.

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    • #3
      Basically when you are finishing a joint you don't put a full layer of hemp on. When you have a full contact but loose sliding fit, just a few turns of hemp will make a big difference.

      I second the advice to keep tension on the hemp as high as you can, especially on the first few layers. Another helpful trick is to 'roll' it: get a stout piece of flat wood and roll the tenon being hemped between the wood and a hard surface (kitchen worktops are generally ideal) to compress it, which means you have to do much less touching up later on.
      http://www.callingthetune.co.uk
      -- Formerly known as CalumII

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      • #4
        For years I have used plain no-taste dental floss for the blow stick and chanter. While winding, every dozen turns or so I put the end being "hemped" on the edge of a counter as Calum suggests and roll it back and forth with a small block of wood. This flattens and packs the wrapping evenly. When it fits snugly, I rub a wee bit of wax on with my finger. It never rots, never sticks, never swells, and never shrinks. And I've gone ten years and more without redoing it, though once in a while adding a few turns - I guess to compensate for wear.

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        • #5
          Make sure you're in a state where consuming a hemp joint is legal, and don't operate a motor vehicle.

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          • #6
            You could try using a little hand tool called a Hemp Compressor which can tightly compress and smooth out hemp until you get the right fit. I also removes lumps and bumps as you go and is good for quick hemp edits, this saves using a block of wood on a hard surface as well. I'm seriously dismal at hemping so it has saved me loads of embarrassment at my bad hemping attempts.
            My bagpipes are haunted

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            • #7
              Put some on, put it in a few times to compress it, repeat ad nauseam. Then add a couple more wraps two weeks later cause it compressed some more.
              My Piping Blog (recordings, articles, reviews, etc.) - Homepage - Pekaar's Tune Encyclopedia - Convert BMW to ABC

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Kittykat View Post
                You could try using a little hand tool called a Hemp Compressor which can tightly compress and smooth out hemp until you get the right fit.
                I've done a bit of looking around trying to find this tool without success. Can you please post a source for it?

                Support your local reedmaker!

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                • #9
                  Lots of good advice above. My added $0.02 in addition to the above, is to insert the tenon in the stock/drone top when it is getting close to hemped-enough and turn it in the stock a few times. Remove it, add a few more turns and repeat until it's snug but not tight enough to risk splitting the stock. As Patrick suggested, it's not uncommon to have to add a few turns a week or two later as well.

                  Good luck,
                  Kevin

                  P.S. the above works best on a hot day. If your pipes and hemp are cold, the wax and hemp don't mold to the shape of the stock as easily.
                  Last edited by Kevin; 01-25-2023, 11:43 AM.

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                  • #10
                    The Pipe Major Emeritus of Extreme Distinction (multiple World Championships) who we are lucky enough to have as instructor requires unwaxed yellow hemp with rosin as a base and BEE's wax only. Not sure if you are trying these new fangled pre-waxed, dental floss, black waxed or paraffin waxed but they are Verbotten in our band. More work, but once it's right its very durable
                    Loud is Easy, Soft is Hard

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                    • #11
                      Beeswax or bust, prewaxed with paraffin is the worst! Last thing you want is a rock hard, incompressible mass.
                      My Piping Blog (recordings, articles, reviews, etc.) - Homepage - Pekaar's Tune Encyclopedia - Convert BMW to ABC

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                      • #12
                        In addition to other good suggestions, you might want to get a set of calipers and verify that the stocks in question are indeed round. I have run across stocks that are slightly oval in shape, either from wear or warping. Caused all kinds of hemp joint issues until we figured it out.
                        Michigan Scottish Pipes and Drums
                        www.michiganscottish.org

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Pablopicasso420 View Post
                          The Pipe Major Emeritus . . . . requires unwaxed yellow hemp with rosin as a base and BEE's wax only.
                          I find this curious. Beeswax is quite sticky compared to paraffin wax. Personally, I'd take paraffin to coat tuning pins instead of beeswax since I'd want them to slide more easily. Unless it was beeswax for the intermediate layers than something slippery on the final layer.

                          There are lots of ways to do tuning pins, but I wrote an article about it years ago:
                          piping, bagpipes, bagpipe, tips, beginner, how to, tuning pins, hemp, hemping


                          The worst is going to tune up a band before a performance and finding that you can't move a drone top up or down since the hemping is turning on itself! "Drone plug!"

                          Andrew
                          Andrew T. Lenz, Jr. BDF Moderator
                          BagpipeJourney.com - Reference for Bagpipers

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                          • #14
                            Thanks all for the responses, very helpful. Managed to sort myself using your advice and avoid shelling out 20 to get someone else to hemp them!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by djm07 View Post
                              Thanks all for the responses, very helpful. Managed to sort myself using your advice and avoid shelling out 20 to get someone else to hemp them!
                              ... pretty soon you'll be the shell-or...
                              ...instead of the shell-ee
                              ​​​​

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