Archive for the ‘Keys’ Category

Black keys 10 thru 13

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

The plot thickens! Things are getting rather crowded down at the end of the row, and it is taking much more head-scratching before cutting. I don’t think I’ve messed anything up so far.


Buttons ten and eleven are done, still designing twelve and thirteen

The clearance between keys ten and eleven is 11/32″ and between eleven and twelve is 5/16″.

No need —or room— for any plugs on these small keys. I’ll have to see what the outside of button thirteen ends up looking like. That will  show, so it may need one. But if I do the straight cut on the inner part of the button near the shaft, then angle outwards like the others, it won’t need one because the slot won’t be exposed.

The next step is angling thirteen’s shaft before cutting twelve’s button to length. Button spacing is getting down close to 1/32″ in this set.


Shafts twelve and thirteen are done and ready for their buttons

Cutting the 45-degree angle on the shafts is done on my scroll saw in two cuts. The angled cut comes out a bit rough, so a bunch of sanding and filing is necessary. It would be easier with my miter saw, but as you can see in the photo, I do not want to also angle the tab for attaching the button. That would be losing a significant amount of gluing surface, and make the button joint weaker. And this way the 90-degree tab cosmetically fills in the slot.


Backs of keys twelve and thirteen, showing slot plug on the right

The black keys are now done! I decided to leave thirteen squared on the outer end, and plug the slot, as seen above.


The last two keys, twelve and thirteen in place

Button number one is squared on its outer end, and so are both the white ones, so I didn’t see the need to angle it like the overlapping keys, and like most hurdy-gurdies seem to do. I can always do that later, if I change my mind.


View showing all the finished keys

Black keys 6 thru 9

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

The last of the “easy” ones! I plugged the slots on the right end of all of these. The offset between buttons five and six was a little practice for the much harder ones at the far end.


Buttons six through nine upside down while epoxy hardens

Note that the outer ends of these four buttons had to exactly align vertically with the outer ends of the top three white buttons. The black buttons are quite a bit shorter than the white. It was necessary to customize the lengths to make sure they aligned with the white ones properly. But what I ended up using was always very close to the stated length. Perhaps 1/32″ more on some of them? I also started to narrow the gap between buttons slightly from the 1/16″ inch specified. They are more like 3/64″ gaps here. I was trying to maximize the length of these smaller buttons to give more playing surface.


Closeup of the offset relationship between keys six and five

Doing these offsets was a challenge, as I wasn’t too sure what the tolerances were. What was the necessary amount of “push clearance” between an activated key and its overlapping neighbor? Enquiring about it, I was told 5/16″ was the goal. Between keys five and six I ended up with almost 3/8″ before key six’s button contacts the shaft of key five.

One of my goals in cutting these overlapping buttons was to remove as little as possible. On the plans, the buttons all have a simple 45-degree cut. Mine are more zig-zaggy, with a straight cut initially to clear the straight part of the adjacent shaft, then an angled cut to clear the angled part of the other shaft. It was hard mentally figuring out how to do these at all, so doing this two-step process actually made it easier for me to understand, even though it made cutting the buttons a little more complicated.

Black keys 1 thru 5

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

I wanted the tops of the black buttons flush with the tops of the shafts. I think that was the intention, but I had to adjust the slot in the button stock to move the bottons up to match the top of the shafts. Also, I had to deepen the slot some to accomodate the width of the tabs on the shafts.

As with the white buttons, I rounded the first end of the button on my router before cutting the button to length with my plastic miter box. These buttons are much shorter than the white ones, so all of the second ends were rounded by hand with a file and sandpaper.


First five black buttons and plug stock for slot ends

Note fifth shaft with offset triangle in above photo. Part of the shaft opposite it had to be angled at 45 degrees to match the triangle.

As on the white buttons, I wanted to “plug” the ends of the slots on some of the buttons. So, I cut up an extra shaft to fit the slot. Cutting the wenge across the strong grain into little plugs was problematic. It would want to splinter.


Using a knife to cut plugs prevented splitting better than sawing

For this reason, I ended up making the plugs a little longer, and only did this on button ends that stood out from the shaft enough to bother. These buttons are under the white ones and therefore it is harder to see an exposed slot, plus the fact that they are black which further disguises a slot from showing. I made sure to put the plugs in so that the grain was angled the same direction as on the button.


Backs of first five buttons showing plugs, and plug stock

I used sanding dust from shaping the buttons to dye the epoxy glue. It is five minute epoxy so usually I only glued two or three buttons at a time.


First three buttons glued on, turned upside down while epoxy hardens

Once I had them on the shaft correctly horizontally to allow for proper spacing, I turned them upside down to harden, so the tops would be flush with the shafts. [The buttons are thicker than the 1/4" shafts by about 3/32", so the extra is on the bottom.]


First five buttons completed, with remaining button stock

You will notice in the photo that the fifth button offsets slightly towards the fourth. Also that it aligns vertically with the end of the fourth white button. Similarly, the ends of the second black and white buttons line up vertically.

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.

The Angelus — completed

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

I left the statue alone while we were out of town for 10 days for the glue to cure, and now it is up on the bookshelf, hopefully out of the reach of the cat!


The homme will probably never get a new hat in my lifetime, or at least not until after I finish my hurdy-gurdy!

Before the trip, I got a new miter box to cut the key buttons to length. My old one’s slot is too worn to give a good vertical cut anymore. So, that’s what will be coming up next.

I’ve also got hundreds of old family slides and photos to scan!