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Rod and Denise Nikkel

Drilling through the front lacing on a tree?

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A customer who is not a member here (yet, we're working on him) asked us to ask this question for him.

"When I drill out the tree for the front strings, I have never been able to not drill through the lacing, and I have never had anyone be able to tell me how to not drill through the front lacing. Does anyone here know how to do this?"

Edited by Denise

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Rod and Denise,

Being only an occasional driller until recently (advice of Greg, thanks), I can share what I have seen on some of the repairs. A few (high front jockeys) have had only one hole drilled through the bar, the other string was over the bar edge. Same as you sometimes see on trees with a shallow place below the cantle ear, and only one throught the bar. I have seen others through the very edge on the front that have rotted out. barely caught any wood at all, and the rawhide let go. I haven't seen too many that had been drilled into decent wood where the wood has rotted out that the rest of the saddle wasn't pretty thrashed as well.

I believe I heard (someone check me) on the Dale Harwood DVD that he sometimes drills throught the lacing and has not seen a problem from it. Likewise on repairs, I can't recall one that I had seen that was through the laces that was an issue. Usually if there is a gap, it was there from the start or laced with nylon and not very well at that.

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Howdy;

First off I have to say, in my opinion, if you are building a saddle that will be cowboyed out of and you do not drill the strings, you are NOT building a saddle for a cowboy, send it to the show ring. Screwed in strings will always fail, every repair man has seen it many times. Many, many saddles over the years have had string holes drilled without sacrificing any integrity to the tree. we have all seen many repairs of old saddles where the strings are drilled through the laces a lot of the times, and the tree is still sound. I guess my advise is don't sweat it, drilling the front strings will often go through the laces, it has been done that way for over a hundred years with a very high success rate. I don't mean to sound to harsh with this, I just strongly believe that Drilling is the way to go. From what I under stand rawhide will fail if there is a cut in it, but if there is a hole in it, the hide loses no strength. Please correct me if I am wrong.

ps; when we were building saddle's saddles for Dale there was no concern on his part about drilling though the laces, it is just a fact that if you are drillin sometimes you will go through the laces.

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Dear Rod and Denise on a tree laced with rawhide it should not be an issue because even if a lace is compromised, it is still rigid and basicly folded so it should not continue to pop or slide like a tree laced with nylon would. As for trying to avoid the seams when drilling for the front strings I don't think it could be done on a consistant basis unless most of the tree makers started lacing the trees differently to avoid having a seam in this area. I don't think this is practical either so we live with as is. Greg

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