Maintaining Your Kaval

Replacing the Lapping

The lapping is the thread which is wrapped around the tenon to make a seal with the socket. After a while, this thread may wear out and need to be replaced. Here are illustrated instructions. The photographs were made with a large tube and clothesline to show the detail of how the thread is tied. On your kaval, of course, you will use much smaller thread.

I recommend you use embroidery floss. Size 30 works well. It should be all cotton. Get it at a fabric store.

After applying the thread, you will wax it. I recommend pure bee's wax. It is available in many hardware stores, candle shops, and furniture refinishing stores.

Removing the Old Lapping
Remove the old lapping by carefully cutting a few threads with a sharp knife, and unwrapping it.

Tie a Simple Knot
First, tie a simple overhand knot around the kaval. Leave one end about 25 cm long (10 inches) so you can make the loop and pull it all together to finish. If your kaval has a small channel that holds the thread, start in this channel. If your kaval has several grooves cut in the tenon, start in the topmost groove.

Tie a Simple Knot

Make a Big Loop
Make a loop in the thread. The loop should be long enough to go past the end of the tenon and come back, with plenty left over so you can get a good grip on it with your fingers later, when we pull the knot together.

Make a Big Loop

Wrap Layers of Thread
Wrap thread from the ball or spool around the tenon and the loop. Start working towards the tenon end. You can make additional layers by wrapping back and forth. They don't have to be perfectly even, but smoother is better. You can test to see if you have enough by carefully folding the loop into the inside of the kaval, and putting the kaval together just a little ways. It shouldn't be too tight, but too loose doesn't do the job, either.

Wrap Layers of Thread

Put the Thread Through the Loop
When you have enough thickness of thread, you can cut the thread off the ball. Leave at least 25 cm of thread so you can finish tying it. Put the new end of thread through the loop.

Thread Through the Loop

Pull the New End Under
Pull on the old free end to pull the new end under the layers of thread. Do this carefully. It helps to be pulling gently on the new end while it goes under.

Pulling the New End Under 

Trim the Ends
Carefully cut the new ends close to the wrapped section. It's OK to have a small length of thread; you can just smooth it down into the rest and cover it with wax.


Apply Wax
Rub bee's wax liberally all over the thread and work it in with your fingers. This should make a smooth gasket.

If the Fit Isn't Right
If you have too little lapping, you can add another complete layer. Just start at the beginning and tie a knot on top of the old lapping, and follow the procedure. If you have too much, it is sometimes easier to start over. Measure how much thread you used, and keep that in mind as a guide for the next attempt.

If you have questions, . Good luck!

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