BOX CALL MAINTENANCE and CARE
One of the most important aspects of keeping your box call sounding effective is to perform routine maintenance on it. In the case of your box-call, friction is your friend. The contact surface area where the paddle meets the sideboards (soundboards) is where optimum friction is desired to cause the sideboards to vibrate therefore causing sound to pour from your box call instrument. One thing to keep in mind is never touch this area with your fingers. Your hands have natural oils that are secreted out of your body and touching this area will deposit these oils on that surface. This will inhibit the "friction effect" and cause your call to become less effective in creating the tones of a wild turkey. The area to avoid touching is the top leading edge of the sideboards; the red zone noted on Fig 1. In addition, avoid touching the bottom side of the paddle as well for the same reason, see Fig.2, red area.
The first step in maintaining your box-call for top performance is to occasionally clean the contact surface areas (red areas on Fig.1 and Fig.2) with a Scotch-Brite type scouring pad. This will free any debris on the call and remove the burnishing effect (smoothing) of the wood caused by the rubbing of two woods together. Occasionally, the Scotch-Brite type pads are not aggressive enough to complete the task. Using some 200 to 240 grit sandpaper to "roughen up" the areas noted in red on Fig.1 and Fig. 2, will bring back the "grit" required between the two surfaces to create the turkey sounds desired. On the top edge of the box, make sure you rub length-wise with the sideboard using the Scotch Brite pad or sandpaper on a sanding block. Utilizing the sandpaper on a sanding block will keep you from excessively rounding the edge of the surface. Never sand the sideboards to a point or sharp edge, a flat surface is desired to maximize contact surface area with the paddle.
The next step is to apply some chalk to the bottom side of the paddle. The key to this step is to never use chalk with wax, such as black board chalk. Use pure chalk provided by most call manufacturers. Apply a light coat of chalk to the underside of the paddle and test for effectiveness. Keeping chalk with you while you are in the field, will allow you to occasionally chalk the call from to keep it at its peak effectiveness and mitigate the burnishing effect.
Although unlikely that it will be necessary, tuning your call may be required. Only take this step after the other recommendations have been tried first. Tuning your call may be accomplished by tightening or loosening the screw at the nose of the paddle. This will change the effective angle of the paddle in relationship to the sound box, changing the contact point of the paddle on the soundboard. The goal is to have the paddle meet the soundboards at the apex of the soundboards arc (center of the soundboards) at the start of call sequence and slide towards the rear of the box as the call sequence is completed. When tuning the call and adjusting the screw, turn in ½ turn increments, either clockwise or counter clockwise, and test the call after each ½ turn for desired sound. Keep track of the number of ½ turns you make and the direction you turn in case, you want to put the screw back in the original position set by the call maker.
If your call is sounding a little inadequate this Spring, try these tips from Team Extreme Outdoors to bring your box-call to life and increase your success. Team Extreme Outdoors….re-engineering your hunt!