Punch stick

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Punch stick

Postby mikey » 19 Apr 2008, 22:02

Can anybody tell me the best wood for making a Punch stick and also i need a relatively cheap booth ( most booths I have found advertised have been £600 or more ).
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Postby johnstoate » 19 Apr 2008, 22:26

I suppose that the simple answer is, 'You get what you pay for' - That is the 'ball park' figure for a basic booth. As for the stick, - anything You like, as long as it makes a good 'noise', beyond that, pay what you like . Birch ply is the best you can get - lovely 'thwack!' - The rest is history, But you knew that already??
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Postby Tony James » 20 Apr 2008, 01:21

I've said this before somewhere here but it's worth repeating. As John says, birch ply is best if you can get hold of it. Generally, it comes in very big sheets and costs a fortune. However, because the plies are so very thin and (glued cross grain as all ply is) there are so many plies to a given thickness, the result is great strength with thinness.

Which means you can cut strips for slapsticks without concern about the outer grain.

But, if you use d-i-y store three ply - and that's what's generally available to most people, then you have to be very careful. It's a much less strong material because the inner ply is thick and the two outer plies thinner.

You need to ensure the outer plies have the grain running across the timber which means the inner ply will have the grain running along the length of the stick. That works. Occasionally fragments of outer ply will spall but it's nothing normally to bother about.

But have it the other way - grain running across the inner ply and after a while the inner ply will break across the grain. The outer plies, being thinner, will break too and then a lump of stick breaks off.
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Postby Chris » 20 Apr 2008, 20:41

Of course you don't need to use plywood. I never have. A couple of strips of hardwood make a better sound I reckon - and can be very strong. I remember as kids there was a craze for going to the sawmill and cadging a couple of offcuts from which to fashion a set of minstrel "bones" which we played much like a another generation played the spoons.

Percy Press (the first) used a bamboo slapstick.
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slapstick

Postby prof,fumbles » 30 Apr 2008, 17:24

I use a 12 inch piece of dowel [approx]. For example ¾ inch. About half way along the length drill a hole [about 3/8 inch] and then, using a bandsaw, cut two slots down to the hole, thus removing a 1/8 inch slice [or thereabouts]. Round off both ends and you have a neat and efficient slapstick. You need to play around with the measurements a bit to get the best results. It may or may not work for you, but it's worth a try.
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Postby Tony James » 30 Apr 2008, 19:30

My original was made by Fred Tickner and he used pine and it was shaped ever so slightly like a wishbone. Pine I think, grain running along the length and it lasted well with light use but as the work increased it began to split along the grain.

That's when I switched to ply and discovered, in the absence of birch ply, that common diy ply available here relies on the centre core ply for it's strength and the grain of that that needs to run along the length.

I've never tried hardwood but will when I get an opportunity.

As for dowelling, I am wondering quite what the advantage is. Visual? More like a rod?

Doesn't that make for handling uncertainty? How would you know by feel alone if the stick was being correctly offered to the head?

With a flat stick this is obvious. You can feel the thing and hit correctly. Flat side to the head and the slap follows. But with a round you'd have to look and adjust to prevent hitting with the split.

Again, with a flat it holds well. I would have thought a round would have held less well.
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Postby Chris » 30 Apr 2008, 20:30

The big problem with a round slapstick, and the reason most are made flat, is the very real danger of it rolling off the playboard.
Also dowel cut this way does not have the flexibility of a wooden lath or plywood strip.
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Slapstick

Postby prof,fumbles » 02 May 2008, 16:00

Tony & Chris. Both very good points. Indeed my first slapstick was dowel and I still have that one stuck in my memory banks. It did twist and also rolled so I started to use square section using the same construction method, but my poor old brain still chimes out "dowel"when I think of slapstick. Apologies.
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Postby Nick Jackson » 18 May 2008, 23:38

My slapsticks are also dowel, around 3/4" thick by 16-18" long. They're split from both ends so it doesn't matter which end you pick up. They don't roll off the playboard as there's no point where Punch puts them down. (They are, of course, confiscated – first by Jim Crow and later by the policeman – and swallowed by the croc.)
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Postby Tony James » 19 May 2008, 03:21

Nick. That's interesting. It was only when Chris mentioned putting the stick down that I realised that hadn't occurred to me because I never put it down either.

But coming back to the point I made earlier. When I pick up my flat stick (also double ended) I know without looking that the the stick will pick up correctly to hit the back of the head. How do you manage?

Surely a round stick is liable to be picked up with the split not lined up to slap the head. Don't you sometimes have to jiggle/twist it to line it up? Or do you have to look to ensure it is correct?
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Postby lesclarke » 21 May 2008, 11:01

Martin van der Grinten just emailed me some dramatic close up photos of a very recent Jason Codman show at Llandudno, they show 2 Punhh figures, apparently one had a problem so was switched mid-show.
On one photo it looks like Jason also uses a dowel slapstick, it looks like it is single-ended.
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