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Peg staining

by Pablo D. A. Gonzalez


Maybe you get bored about your oud looking, and thought about changing some of its look. There is no need to be an expert to make some easy changes like staining the pegs. In my oud, they were not so good looking ones, just the bare wood with no other nice characteristics.

I was learnt by a professional luthier how to do that. He told me that there are two ways in order to stain the pegs. I will tell you the easiest way, and in the end of the article I will mention the other one.

First of all, you should get some easy materials:

  a small bottle of Chinese ink (a 15 ml one is enough). I used "pearled" ink, which conferes some more bright, but you can use anyone.
  a drawing pencil
  a couple of  # 600 sandpapers
  a 50 x 75 cm (approx.) telgopore sheet
  some cotton gauzes
  a marker
  disposable latex gloves (like surgery ones) are recommended, in order to avoid getting your hands extremely dirty at finishing

Fist, take the marker and draw a simple rectangle in the telgopore sheet, representing the pegbox and the peg holes. Be generous with the size. Draw also the nut, to avoid confusions about the correct peg placing (as you know, pegs are not exactly identical, and if you change their places you could have some tuning problems). Put a toothpick in each "hole" to keep the further painted pegs.

Take the pegs off from the pegbox, and place them in the draw respecting the position as mentioned, holding them through their stringholes into the toothpicks. Sandpaper them slightly, just to remove any varnish or so. Clean them with the gauze. Then, paint them with a coat of ink (not so slight nor not so gross), let dry into the toothpicks, and sandpaper again. You surely will note that bare wood reappears in some places, but it is normal in the first or second coat. Just clean the rests and repeat the procedure. Be sure the pegs are completely dry before putting the next coat.

Put three or four coats on the pegs on this way. Then, you must put the last coat like applying shellac, it is, take the gauze soaked up with the ink, and pass it gently by the pegs, painting them. So, you will get a soft finishing, and they will shine when polishing with the bare gauze for the last time.

I could put the pegs again in the pegbox with no caliber problems, and I didn't note any change regarding its action. They look very nice indeed, and I will put photos here soon.

The second (hardest) way to do that: the procedure is the same, but using "natural" ink, that should be made with a soap spoon of tanin (obtained commercially, or from some woods like quebracho in my country), the same quantity of ferrum sulphate, both mixed in a glass of water. This is the ink, also deep black one. Hmmm... better try with Chinese ink.

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