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Thread: How do I make hand guards?

  1. How do I make hand guards?

    I am looking to make my own leather handguards due to the high price of retail guards.

    I have heard that the leather causes tarnish, so you should put another sort of cloth under it. I also know that many people have used another cloth, but still had their instruments tarnish.

    What material is recommended/best to go under the leather?

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Hi and welcome to Dave Werden's forum.

    I use LSCO guards myself which incorporates three parts to each guard. The leather outside, a layer of thin plastic under that and the part that comes in contact with the horn is similar to Velour. It's not felt as felt can cause tarnish.

    You might find some information from LSCO site itself but not sure.
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  3. #3
    I made my own for a long time. Leather can indeed cause tarnish, so when I used leather I put a backing of cotton flannel on it, using a spray fabric adhesive. I never had a problem with tarnish on my silver-plated horns.

    I also used upholstery fabric (like leatherette) that came with its own cotton backing. This worked well, but the leatherette tended to crack after a while.

    A student bought some similar upholstery fabric that came with a nylon tricot backing. That was awful! It caused the robust silver plating to wear badly.

    Here is a photo of my original set, on an old Besson New Standard from the mid-1970's. I used one on the lower bell to protect it from metal buttons and another on the 3rd valve tube to prevent wear & tear.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
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  4. Just today I went to a local craft store and picked up " Crafty Cuts' " crushed velvet. It's made of 100% polyester. Do you know if this would work, or would it cause tarnishing?

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by EuphoniumMatt View Post
    Just today I went to a local craft store and picked up " Crafty Cuts' " crushed velvet. It's made of 100% polyester. Do you know if this would work, or would it cause tarnishing?
    I'd be nervous about it. Nylon tricot (mention above) feel soft and cushy on the fingers. It was often used as a liner in shoes for that reason. But it was able to wear through quality silver plating in a couple months.

    Micro fiber is often used to clean plastic lenses, and it is also a synthetic material. So it's possible your crushed velvet would be OK. Keep in mind that the fabric does simply rest gently on the horn. If you have it as a grip, as my photo shows (barely), there is pressure and friction. Even on the bell piece there could be some pressure/friction when it is in the case. Picture the amount of vibration the case endures as it rides in a vehicle.

    If you want to try that fabric, I'd start by rubbing vigorously on some shiny metal (ideally brass or something as soft) for a while and look for signs of abrasion. If it looks good, I MIGHT try it on the horn, taking it off regularly to examine the surface beneath the guard.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
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  6. You mentioned using cotton flannel, this is what you would most recommend? (So I could go to the store and buy some cotton fabric to back the leather).
    Or would it be best to simply buy some because they come with the 3 layer system to help prevent moisture?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by EuphoniumMatt View Post
    You mentioned using cotton flannel, this is what you would most recommend? (So I could go to the store and buy some cotton fabric to back the leather).
    Or would it be best to simply buy some because they come with the 3 layer system to help prevent moisture?
    I would suggest the pre-made guards. The moisture barrier is a nice addition. My own body chemistry is such that sweat was never much of an issue, so the fact that my home-made guards did well for me is not a universal guarantee of success. Plus it would save you trying to fine the right amount of quality leather, sewing on Velcro, etc.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
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  8. #8
    *deleted, my mistake, I just realised it's guard and not hand strap*
    Last edited by ChristianeSparkle; 01-19-2020 at 09:37 PM.
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  9. Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    I'd be nervous about it. Nylon tricot (mention above) feel soft and cushy on the fingers. It was often used as a liner in shoes for that reason. But it was able to wear through quality silver plating in a couple months.

    Micro fiber is often used to clean plastic lenses, and it is also a synthetic material. So it's possible your crushed velvet would be OK. Keep in mind that the fabric does simply rest gently on the horn. If you have it as a grip, as my photo shows (barely), there is pressure and friction. Even on the bell piece there could be some pressure/friction when it is in the case. Picture the amount of vibration the case endures as it rides in a vehicle.

    If you want to try that fabric, I'd start by rubbing vigorously on some shiny metal (ideally brass or something as soft) for a while and look for signs of abrasion. If it looks good, I MIGHT try it on the horn, taking it off regularly to examine the surface beneath the guard.
    Sorry, I am asking so many questions, I am a rather young player and really can't afford the pre-made guards. From what I understand, you said MicroFiber would be okay. Is this true? I could just buy some microfiber cleaning clothes and use that?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by EuphoniumMatt View Post
    Sorry, I am asking so many questions, I am a rather young player and really can't afford the pre-made guards. From what I understand, you said MicroFiber would be okay. Is this true? I could just buy some microfiber cleaning clothes and use that?
    I understand why you're asking so many questions, but I don't have "solid" answers. I have my own experience and that of a student. Then we have the experience of a few other forum members.

    I was not recommending micro fiber. I'm just saying that not all synthetics have the same characteristics. Gently rubbing a mf cloth on plastic glasses is not the same as having mf backing on a leather guard that is pressing hard on the silver underneath it. Also, I have no idea if mf would do as well with moisture or with the glue that I used myself on cotton.

    For me, leather, fabric glue, and cotton flannel worked. We also know at least one commercial product that works.

    Let's complicate this even more by saying the leather I used I bought from Tandy Leather about 45 years ago. I assume leather is produced the same today as it was then, but I don't know that for sure. There are chemicals used in the tanning process that might come into play. Personally I would not think that is going to be a problem, but consider this a disclaimer!

    An option you have is to wipe the horn with a soft cloth after each playing, and once a week wipe it with a damp cloth and then dry with a soft cloth. Also, use a product like Hagerty silver polish with a tarnish inhibitor. That should keep your horn nice until you can afford to buy some proven commercial guards.

    Somewhat-related story. In the 1970's I designed and made portable metronomes that ran on batteries. There was a need then, because the choices were a plug-in product (requiring a convenient outlet wherever you practice) or the wind-up type (which have to be perfectly level to tick evenly). My design was small and light. And I could make them with a tempo up to 250 or more if someone really, really liked to subdivide. They were popular among my band colleagues and worked very well. Their main drawback was that I had to hand-calibrate each one and mark the face plate with tempi. The best I could do was label 10 bpm increments, like 40, 50, 60, etc. So you had to guess a little where 72 was, for example. But then Seiko came out with their portable metronome, which had all the advantages of mine (except the high-tempo option), was a little smaller, and had standard tempo markings. So I stopped making them because the need was gone. And I bought my own Seiko, although I used both for a while, depending on what I was practicing. The point of this ramble is that there was no way I could compete with Seiko's design. I would also not choose to build my own gig bag, even if I had an industrial sewing machine at my disposal. Making your own guards is fine if you like to tinker and understand the risks.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
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