Archive for June, 2011

Two white key buttons offset

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

As mentioned, the last two buttons on the top row offset their shafts, requiring the 9th button to be cut off at a bevelled angle so that it doesn’t hit the 10th shaft when depressed. The 10th button offsets the most, but there is no 11th for it to run into, so no angling of that button is necessary. However, the 10th’s shaft has to be angled as much as possible to keep from having to whittle too much off the 9th’s button.


Rough angling of the tenth shaft to allow work on button spacing

The plans show angled buttons cut off at 45-degrees completely from top to bottom. This of course shows from the front and especially the top. However, the angling is only necessary where the adjacent shaft is, not the entire height of the button.


Last two shafts angled and buttons glued on; no angled button is evident

So, for the sake of a challenge, and aiming for consistent-looking buttons, I only cut an angled notch into the back of the button where the adjacent shaft would hit it.


The invisible notch from above, showing maximum deflection

This makes the notch almost hidden, allowing the button to look pretty much like the others, instead of chopped off so much. The notch is of course wider than the thickness of the shaft, to prevent any binding.


Maximum deflection of buttons nine and ten as seen from the front

There are two questions at this point:

1) Is there enough “push clearance” between the engaged 9th key and the unused 10th key? Right now I have a little over 1/4″ but less than 5/16″. I could have made the notch deeper, but then it would have started to show more from the front as it would have been cutting into the rounded side of the button more. Instead of making it deeper than necessary, I decided to wait and see how it works. I can always deepen it later.

2) Do these two keys with the offset triangles glued on the sides of the shafts allow for enough depression to properly engage the strings? The offset triangles supplied are much bigger than the ones shown on the plans. It may be that they do not allow enough depression to play correctly, in which case I will have to file off the end of the triangle closest to the keychest to allow for more travel.


Button ten all the way out and button nine all the way in

Of the two, I think the latter problem is more likely.

Now, on to the black buttons. There are more of them, they are closer together, four of them overlap, and at three points they have to align with the ends of the white buttons.

Eight white key buttons glued

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

The 5th button is flush with the shaft on the high side, so that is the first one to glue on, working down to the first. They are supposed to have 1/16″ spacing, so I used some balsa wood that thick. To keep the buttons straight, I put my 6″ steel rule on top of the black shafts, and the white buttons fit snugly above it.


Gluing first five buttons using spacer and ruler

Next were the 6th through the 8th. On the plans, the 8th button overlaps the shaft of the 9th, requiring angling that side of the button, but I was fortunate that mine just misses it.


First eight buttons in place

The last two on the top row offset their shafts, requiring some careful beveling. The provided offset triangles have been glued on previously.


The eighth just misses the ninth; shafts nine and ten before angling

White key button slots

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

For cosmetic reasons, I didn’t want the ends of the buttons to show the continuous slot along the backs for inserting the shaft tabs. I was originally wanting to do something about the outer ends of just the first and last buttons. However, I decided with the 1/16″ gap between buttons, and the 1/4″ rounding I added to the edges buttons, the slots were going to show on all the keys.


Button showing slot, top; making “plug” strips from scrap, bottom

I had a 7/8″ scrap piece left over from the buttons, which I used to cut some 1/8″-wide “plug” strips to glue in the ends to make them look straight, instead of slotted.


Adjusting “plug” strips to fit in slot

They are about ready to glue on, except for the angling of the button and/or shaft on the last three. I need to see where the first seven end up, before I know exactly how to do those.


Back side of buttons showing “plugs” added to the ends

This modification was a fair amount of work, but will look more pleasing.

Holes in keyshafts threaded

Monday, June 13th, 2011

I wanted to have the holes for the tangent screws threaded before gluing on the key buttons, so I did that Monday night. But first I needed a “T” handle to put on the square end of the tap to turn it with. I used a scrap of mahogany, drilling a hole and squaring it enough with an X-acto knife for the tap to fit in. The tap was provided by Hurdy Gurdy Crafters, along with the drill bit.


Makeshift handle for threading holes in keyshafts with tap

I tried to do it slowly and carefuly so the holes remained as straight as possible. So, they’re all done, both blacks and whites. I realize I didn’t cover the adventure of drilling the holes in the keyshafts to begin with. I had some problems with that, so I need to cover it sometime.


Close-up showing threaded holes in keyshafts

White key buttons cut

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

Progress! The white button stock is cut to the lengths of the 10 buttons. The router bit I got for $5.50 and free shipping arrived today. Here is the major difference between it and the old bit I had, which had no bearing and only two cutting edges.


Old and new 1/4" roundover bits

The slot “straighteners” I epoxied to my old aluminum miter box didn’t hold, so I had to resort to the plastic one. It is holding up good enough, though already the slot is starting to angle/widen at the bottom, not making the greatest vertical cut. The nice thing about the Midwest miter box are the cam-like clamping pins that hold the pice being cut in place.


Cutting buttons to length

I always rounded the end of the button stock in the router before cutting off the next button. That way I could take advantage of the length of the stock to hold it securely. The longer buttons I rounded off the other end after they were cut to length, but that started to get riskier and riskier for them and their holder [me] as the length of the buttons decreased. The last two I did this on, the tops of the buttons got gouged sightly because they rocked a little as they were pushed through the blade. I will round the second side of the last three buttons by hand. They all need improving by filing and sanding.


Cut buttons with most of the initial rounding of the edges

The lengths seemed to come out good. The plans called for the first two buttons to be the same length, but I decided to make the first one longer than the second by the same amount that the third one was shorter.

Miter box repair & roundover bit

Friday, June 10th, 2011

It’s been a hard couple months. Okay… where was I on the hurdy-gurdy? …cutting the buttons?

A couple weeks ago I bought a new aluminum miter box, but the slots were too wide to hold a straight cut. My old X-acto one originally had narrower slots. I took it back – Revell, I think? The only other one I could find was a Midwest one that is plastic. Hope it holds up. Another idea was to epoxy something along the worn out slots in the old one to hold the saw straight again. I tried that last night, using old X-acto blades.


Re-narrowing worn out miter box slot with worn out X-acto blades

I would like to round the vertical-cut edges of the buttons to match the top and bottom edges. So, I wanted to use a router bit if possible, instead of trying to do it by hand and keep it uniform. I have a 1/4″ roundover bit over 20 years old, but I tried it last weekend and it is too dull. The trip to the hardware store was unproductive because what I needed is sold as part of an expensive set. When  all else fails, look on eBay! The seller shipped this yesterday, so I am waiting for it.


eBay router bit I ordered for rounding the button edges

I hope this cuts well. The whole idea may not work out, anyway. Maybe some edges can be done on the router, if the bit is any good, and some will have to be done by hand.