After reading an article about the humble pick, the history, various materials used, shapes, etc, and the predicted affect on tone, I decided to use a piano key top I’d found on the ground near the site of a piano demolition many years ago, and give it a whirl. The piece in question was of course too narrow to make the most common shape, but lent itself to making two teardrop shaped picks on the theme of the fender 358. A bit of shaping, sanding and polishing later, one is done. Photographed next to a common fender pick for scale. Sounds pretty good, bringing out a bit of a sharp bite at the start of a note compared to plastic, it’s also more sensitive, requiring less effort than a fender medium, and far less than a fender thin.
Anyone else made their own?
I still respectfully submit that a dense hardwood works. Square it up, large piece against the fence. a zero clearance insert does help, sometimes the thin piece wants to slip under a regular insert, and pulling it out near the blade is not an option. Anyone ever try bocote? comes from mexico, they still cut it down the same way. two mules going back and forth with a long chainsaw blade flat. very dense. Will not accept a oil based finish, won't dry. (ask me how I know) .Brian, my off color remark was because I believed Bruce's ivory is real Sorry, it was late. Here's a piece of zebra wood i cut thin, for a shim. Not for picks, just had this photo.
Argh! It is real ivory.
I know Bocote. Pretty, self oiling if I remember right. Like cocobolo, Sand to 1000 and polish with dry cotton wheel. I used to do gun grips and knives, as well as precision small boxes. I’ve used lots of exotics. If I still had a table saw, I’d make a sliding insert with its own fence that only had a blade kerf slot.
had to reply to the bocote. very dense, and beautiful, because the pretty pieces are sapwood, creating the outstanding grain. "self oiling" because of the sap. although the sap is as hard as a rock as well. make great gun grips and knives. my brother gifted me a large piece he picked up in Washington, Dc. i cut a fretboard. there was a scratch, have one of those stew mac flat sanders, after a half our of off and on sanding, the scratch was still there. then i decided to cut plugs from the same wood for fret markers, and cross the grain. talk about smoke. then put a poly finish on, like i said, wouldn't dry, sap repelling the oil. Used it for my special tuning macing invention, the bocote was hard enough to drill and tap. If anyone finds some, use it. one pic, gotta take a good one of the fretboard.
About 20 years ago, when I was doing little dovetail top pill boxes, a few jewelry boxes, etc, my dad picked up a box of exotic end cuts from a local dealer (they sell online now, at astronomical prices). They were cheap then, considers too small for cabinet makers to buy. I had bocote and Purple Heart, cocobolo, bubinga, etc etc. a box as big as a case of liquor for like $30. I kept a brand new cotton buffing wheel for the stuff like bocote and Purple Heart and cocobolo. The wheel would warm the piece and bring the oil up, and if sanded to 1000 first, shined like French polish.
Nice. You were making dovetail boxes?! Dovetails are something I haven't tried, just to me seem like a Chinese puzzle. Just can't get it in my mind how the pieces fit together. Especially without one of those speciality jigs, which I don't understand either, unless I had one in my hand. Purple Heart is another "as hard as rock" wood. I used it the full length of one of my necks for static reinforcement. Martin used a steel T shaped piece for static reinforcement until around 1976, and still now sometimes. Do you use truss rods?
I did the dovetails using a tapered dovetail cutter and the Sherline milling machine. Done right, the fit is amazing. I’ve done “bar of soap” looking pill boxes that for all the world look like a rounded off block of wood. I’ve handed them to people and they don’t understand that it’s a box, until I slide the lid open with my thumb. Did a Purple Heart jewelry box sanded to 2000 grit and waxed with butchers bowling alley wax, that was literally a mirror finish like metal. It was fun.
yup, much easier than cutting them with scissors.