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    1. Top | #1
      cfagyal is offline
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      TTD Member Country: United States

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      Journey of a new blade maker

      So I’ve been an equipment junkie for quite a while now, and while perusing the forums back in October I came across GinjaNinja’s post about his blade making journey and I contacted him about possibly having him make a blade for me. Through that process and dozens of emails back and forth I started to get very intrigued about making my own blades.

      Fast forward a few months, and after extensive research into woods (all woods, not just the common ones used by butterfly etc), I purchased numerous veneers and a few core materials from a variety of sources and started experimenting. As a very analytical person I was very curious about trying combinations I hadn’t ever seen, and seeing how different woods combine to make a blade...how slightly different hardnesses and elasticities effect the bounce of a blade. I even tried some very bizarre combos just to see what would happen. Unfortunately the first template I made, I screwed up and accidentally didn’t turn off “to scale” when I printed it, so I ended up with my first three blades that I routed being about 8mm too small edge to edge....woops! Lessons learned!

      I did all this without having any equipment to do the actual work...my friend is a woodworker by profession and has a nice shop in his basement that he let me use...however time and my impatience led me to buy my own router table, router, dust collection, router bits, etc.. that leads me to where I am now....with my first finished blade.

      This blade was constructed as a 5 ply wood blade. The materials used were Makore (with a nice fiddleback grain), longleaf pine (a southern yellow pine...soft, but not very elastic), and then a 3.6mm kiri core positioned at 90 degrees. The handle is Birdseye maple...not too fancy yet on the handle, as I didn’t have a lot of material yet for handles. The blade is 5.96mm thick and weighs 90.7g

      Attached are a few pics...

      Click image for larger version. 

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      Last edited by cfagyal; 1 Week Ago at 11:48 PM.

    2. The Following 13 Users Like cfagyal's Post:

      Atas Newton (1 Week Ago),bobpuls (1 Week Ago),Garrison (1 Week Ago),genrel001 (1 Week Ago),GinjaNinja (1 Week Ago),Jirrex (1 Week Ago),Lee91 (1 Week Ago),OhWell (1 Week Ago),RidTheKid (1 Week Ago),shinshiro (1 Week Ago),Simas (1 Week Ago),Suga D (1 Week Ago),TTHopeful (1 Week Ago)

    3. Top | #2
      bobpuls is online now
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      Senior TTD Member Country: Slovak Republic

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      Welcome...nice job done...

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    5. Top | #3
      chintanmashroo is offline
      says ZX1 with MXP is a speed
      monster
       
      Established TTD Member Country: India

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      Nice work, I liked it
      Keep going

    6. Top | #4
      GinjaNinja is offline
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      Great blade Chris - be careful, blade making can become addictive!

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    8. Top | #5
      Simas is online now
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      Established TTD Member Country: Europe

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      Quote Originally Posted by cfagyal View Post

      As a very analytical person I was very curious about trying combinations I hadn’t ever seen, and seeing how different woods combine to make a blade...how slightly different hardnesses and elasticities effect the bounce of a blade. I even tried some very bizarre combos just to see what would happen.
      And don't spare any details about your research findings!!!

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      bobpuls (1 Week Ago)

    10. Top | #6
      cfagyal is offline
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      TTD Member Country: United States

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      Quote Originally Posted by Simas View Post
      And don't spare any details about your research findings!!!
      ill definitely share. I’ll be testing the blade with some friends today and will post what we think.

    11. Top | #7
      UpSideDownCarl is offline
      says I like to hit the heavy
      topspin. :)
       
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      What are the dimensions of the blade face?

      How about the thickness? You say the core is 3.6mm. How thick is the whole blade? How thick are the Makore and Longleaf Pine plies?

      The handle: was it a choice to make it straight-square? Have you played with handles that shape before? It looks like you sealed the handle. Is that right? I know GinjaNinja and I have talked about that subject. I used to seal my handles and at a certain point I realized I like how the handle feels much better when the wood is exposed even though it does not look as pretty. I actually get a lot more control on those tiny adjustments in grip that you make without consciously realizing it when the wood is bare because you have better contact between hand and wood so your grip can be more relaxed.

      I also notice that, when I leave the wood exposed on the handle, over the course of months, the wood actually gets wear patterns that conform more to my hand and how I hold the racket. That happens considerably less when the wood is sealed. Even when the layer of sealant is quite thin.

      Anyway, it is really personal choice. But since this is your show, I figured I would give you more of a platform to talk about the choices you have made as you start your journey as a blade maker.

      Good luck. I would love to hear how the blade feels.
      Last edited by UpSideDownCarl; 1 Week Ago at 02:25 PM.
      Spin Everything.

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    13. Top | #8
      cfagyal is offline
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      TTD Member Country: United States

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      Forehand Rubber Stiga Mantra H
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      Quote Originally Posted by UpSideDownCarl View Post
      What are the dimensions of the blade face?

      How about the thickness? You say the core is 3.6mm. How thick is the whole blade? How thick are the Makore and Longleaf Pine plies?
      I mentioned above the total thickness is 5.96mm. The Makore plies are 0.5mm thick and the Longleaf Pine is 0.62mm thick. The template I used for the blade is from Ross Leidy's site, http://rossleidy.com/blades/shapes/index.html, it is compact-2.

      Quote Originally Posted by UpSideDownCarl View Post
      The handle: was it a choice to make it straight-square? Have you played with handles that shape before? It looks like you sealed the handle. Is that right? I know GinjaNinja and I have talked about that subject. I used to seal my handles and at a certain point I realized I like how the handle feels much better when the wood is exposed even though it does not look as pretty. I actually get a lot more control on those tiny adjustments in grip that you make without consciously realizing it when the wood is bare because you have better contact between hand and wood so your grip can be more relaxed.
      The handle shape is squared off, more than i'd like i've discovered, but I didn't figure out my mistake in routing the handle shape until after i'd glued it on Future handles will have a more rounded edge (Routed likely with a 5/16" or a 3/8" roundover bit vs a 5/32" roundover bit that I used for this handle. It is lightly sealed with a polyurethane sealer, and then sanded with a 320 grit piece of sandpaper. It has a very nice woody feel. I could of course not do any sealing of the handle per request of anyone I would make a blade for, as you have said, its definitely a personal preference.

      I have a second blade in progress that I need to finish the handles for and glue them on...that will likely happen in the next few days and i'll post pictures of course. It is a totally different construction:

      Mahogany (Beautiful ribbon stripe pattern) 0.6mm - Primavera 0.6mm, Western Red Cedar (Cut from AA graded tonewood. Extremely fine straight grain structure) 4.33mm

      Handle will be a straight handle (I play with straight handles), made with bubinga, and the edges have been rounded with a 3/8" roundoverbit, giving a more typical rounded edge.

      Total thickness: 6.73mm. Estimated weight w/handles: 89.5-90.5g
      Last edited by cfagyal; 1 Week Ago at 04:26 PM.

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    15. Top | #9
      UpSideDownCarl is offline
      says I like to hit the heavy
      topspin. :)
       
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      Quote Originally Posted by cfagyal View Post
      I mentioned above the total thickness is 5.96mm. The Makore plies are 0.5mm thick and the Longleaf Pine is 0.62mm thick. The template I used for the blade is from Ross Leidy's site, http://rossleidy.com/blades/shapes/index.html, it is compact-2.
      Funny. I must have missed it. After reading I was scanning through for it. It won't be the last time I miss a detail or a number.

      Quote Originally Posted by cfagyal View Post
      The handle shape is squared off, more than i'd like i've discovered, but I didn't figure out my mistake in routing the handle shape until after i'd glued it on Future handles will have a more rounded edge (Routed likely with a 5/16" or a 3/8" roundover bit vs a 5/16" roundover bit that I used for this handle.
      I am sure the process of learning to make blades is one where, over time you find what works and what things you really like. Having the openness to experiment is a good thing.

      Quote Originally Posted by cfagyal View Post
      It is lightly sealed with a polyurethane sealer, and then sanded with a 320 grit piece of sandpaper. It has a very nice woody feel. I could of course not do any sealing of the handle per request of anyone I would make a blade for, as you have said, its definitely a personal preference.
      Yep. Definitely personal preference. At one point I wanted all my handles sealed. And I liked how it kept them looking nicer. At some point I realized something in the feel in my hand that I liked better about the wood fully exposed.

      I know there are also people who like putting a grip on their handles and everyone is different. So, just checking if I was seeing the handle properly since it is a photo.

      Quote Originally Posted by cfagyal View Post
      I have a second blade in progress that I need to finish the handles for and glue them on...that will likely happen in the next few days and i'll post pictures of course. It is a totally different construction:

      Mahogany (Beautiful ribbon stripe pattern) 0.6mm - Primavera 0.6mm, Western Red Cedar (Cut from AA graded tonewood. Extremely fine straight grain structure) 4.33mm

      Handle will be a straight handle (I play with straight handles), made with bubinga, and the edges have been rounded with a 3/8" roundoverbit, giving a more typical rounded edge.

      Total thickness: 6.73mm. Estimated weight w/handles: 89.5-90.5g
      It will be interesting to hear how they play. I am looking forward to the development of this thread and your blade making endeavors.

    16. Top | #10
      cfagyal is offline
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      TTD Member Country: United States

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      So I got a chance to play with the blade today at lunch and a friend played with it as well. We are both in the USATT !500-1700 range currently. Blade currently has Stiga Mantra M on the FH and an old barely used sheet of Adidas Tenzone Ultra SF on teh backhand (the only backhand rubber i had available not currently on a blade)

      Some observations:

      Serve/Receive game: Very controllable. Short serves and short push receives felt very easy. Friend remarked that he felt he could control the receive game better than any blade he's used previously.

      Mid-table game, loop/counterloop: Controllable with a fast top-end. When you used proper technique and put your body into it on a loop, there was significant speed there. I felt confident counter-looping with it as well. Being a 5 ply wood blade, you could really feel the ball on the blade as you rolled over the top of the ball on softer spin-oriented loops. The feeling was superb there, and I was able to hit some very precise soft spinny loops for winners.

      Further away from the table: I had a few opportunities to counter loop away from the table. I don't think this is likely where an all-wood blade in the OFF-/OFF category will generally shine. I was able to counter loop from this distance, but they were not fast enough to win points generally.

      Blade tested at 1383 Hz for those familiar with the frequency tests that have been done on blades to equate frequency to speed (http://www.ttbla.de/) which puts it at the bottom end of the OFF range, and that is how the blade feels to me.

      I intend to carefully use a roundover bit tonight and try to round off the handle a bit more, as both of us felt it was deficient with the current handle...it was just too square.
      Last edited by cfagyal; 1 Week Ago at 06:38 PM.

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    18. Top | #11
      cfagyal is offline
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      The second blade I mentioned above is nearly finished. The sealant is drying....it’s turned out very nice. The top layer mahogany has a really gorgeous pattern to it that really shines with sealant, and the bubinga handle I think compliments it nicely.



      Handle and plies:
      Click image for larger version. 

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      Blade:
      Click image for larger version. 

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      Last edited by cfagyal; 1 Week Ago at 12:38 AM.

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    20. Top | #12
      OhWell is online now
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      Quote Originally Posted by cfagyal View Post
      This blade was constructed as a 5 ply wood blade. The materials used were Makore (with a nice fiddleback grain), longleaf pine (a southern yellow pine...soft, but not very elastic), and then a 3.6mm kiri core positioned at 90 degrees. The handle is Birdseye maple...not too fancy yet on the handle, as I didn’t have a lot of material yet for handles. The blade is 5.96mm thick and weighs 90.7g
      Nice stuff! Looking forward to hearing more about your experiments.

      What is the orientation of each veneer? Is it 0 and 0 for the outer and middle, and 90 for the core? (0/180 degrees = parallel with the handle.) Or 0 outer, 90 middle, and 0 core? (From the description it sounds like 0-0-90, which AFAIK is not very common, but quite interesting. e.g. TTgearlab claims that the Tibhar Lebesson uses that structure too, see pic below from their site.)


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    22. Top | #13
      cfagyal is offline
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      Oh Well: it’s actually 0-90-90. When I cut my kiri cores they ended up being cut such that all of the cores for my kiri blades til I get new stock will be 0-90-90.

      i apologize for not mentioning that fact. The new blade with the western red cedar core is 0-90-0 as shown above.

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    24. Top | #14
      GinjaNinja is offline
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      Quote Originally Posted by cfagyal View Post
      The second blade I mentioned above is nearly finished. The sealant is drying....it’s turned out very nice. The top layer mahogany has a really gorgeous pattern to it that really shines with sealant, and the bubinga handle I think compliments it nicely.


      Handle and plies:
      Click image for larger version. 

Name:	32A3AFB4-C13A-4AC8-9421-29EFB41DC5A8.jpg 
Views:	49 
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ID:	15159

      Blade:
      Click image for larger version. 

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      Nice blade, good work. What was the final weight and thickness?

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    26. Top | #15
      cfagyal is offline
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      Final thickness: 6.63mm.
      Wwight: 90.71g after doing some more fine tuning on the handle.

      It’s not perfect but I’m working on it. Every blade is a new learning experience, figuring out the perfect position for the router bit, especially on the handles, to get the shape I want.

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