Archive for the ‘Parts’ Category

Keychest front 3

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Today I did the decorative scroll saw cutting opening up the two circles. The curves came out a bit rough, because I used a heavier blade. I thought a thin blade wouldn’t cut as perpendicular on 3/8″ thick wood when doing the turns. Everything filed pretty smooth and symmetrical, though, with some work with one of my wife’s emery boards cut square on the end. After doing some finer sanding of the flat surfaces, I glued the base to it.


Keychest front and base glued and clamped together

Besides the decorative opening for the chanter strings, you can see the profile with the 1/2″ thick lower part, the slightly scooped out section for the rotation of the lifting cams, and the 3/8″ thick upper part. The top is a little too tall, but will be trimmed and sloped to match the keychest sides after they are glued together.


Original and new parts

I’m happy with how it came out, though it needs a suntan to match the rest of the mahogany! The angle between the front and bottom is a little more than 90 degrees, but I’ll sand that so it’s right.

Another thing I did today was deepen the far hole for the selector shaft, which didn’t quite go halfway through the 1/4″ thick keychest side. I did some chiseling with an X-acto knife at first, and finished sanding the hole deeper by gluing some sandpaper to the end of  a 1/4″ wooden dowel, trimming it to the dowel’s edges when dry, and then swivelling it back and forth in the hole. Now it is a little less than 3/16″ deep.

Keychest front 1

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Original keychest front

I decided to make a new piece for the front of the keybox. I wanted something a little more imaginative than the square cutout for the entrance of the chanter strings. I really didn’t care for the base showing on the front, but I could have lived with that, or veneered over it, except for the square cutout. Also, the upper ends didn’t seem to be flush with the keychest side pieces. I probably just have the height of the keychest measured wrong. The soundboard camber is hard to figure, so I’m erring  on the high side.

The original piece is 3/8″ thick. Mahogany that I could easily get was either 1/4″ or 1/2″, so I got a 1/2″ board. I hope it won’t matter that I made the grain go horizontally, like the sides. Most of mine is 1/2″ thick instead of 3/8″, so that should help hold it together.

I wondered about some design to add to the front for some time, and eventually got the simple idea to duplicate what I did on the head block of the body — inlay some left-over 1 1/2″ wide cocobolo with thin stripes of black-white-black along the edges. It won’t be that visible, so no sense doing anything fancier, plus this will tie in well with other parts of the instrument, such as the knob and soundholes.

First, I had to flatten the left-over cocobolo, which still had ridges down the center of one side, due to my crude way of splitting my 1/4″ board with a table router.


Flattening a center ridge on left over cocobolo pieces

I cut out the mahogany front and bottom pieces on Leonard’s radial arm saw, including double rabbet joints for the bottom piece to fit into, and on the sides, which I thought would be better than a plain butt joint. Then I had to recess the area for the inlay. I used the cone-shaped sheetrock cutting attachment that came with my Dremel tool, making a mini-router.


Ready for gluing in the five inlay pieces

Since the recess ended up a hair wide, I added two slivers of black veneer to give a perfect fit. I used the ebony sawdust in the epoxy trick when gluing these in, which got the front a little messy, but ensured no visible gaps.


Two pieces of front assembly, after gluing in the inlay

Jerry and I drilled 3/4″ diameter holes for the strings with a Forstner bit on his drill press. They came out real slick. The opening will be about the same overall width as the original piece, so I hope they’re okay from a functional standpoint.


Some very smooth holes for string entry

The top and center parts will be opened up with my scroll saw.

I will deal with what I did next to the the back of this piece in another post.

Starting the keychest

Monday, September 27th, 2010

I ordered my kit with the keychest unassembled, which obviously meant more work for me. But I wanted to customize it a little.

Because of this, the keychest sides came needing trimming on three sides. The tops already had their final edge. My first big concern was marking the bottom edge at the correct angle to match what the strings would have coming off the wheel. Secondary to that, but involving the same line, was making the sides the proper height. It is hard to tell what that is supposed to be with the soundboard surface being curved. I tried to err on the high side if anything. More can always be sanded off, if necessary.

Next was marking the vertical sides so the keys would end up the right distance from the bridge. The distance from the wheel opening in the soundboard to where the head block meets the curved part of the body seemed to be 1/16″ longer on mine than on the plans. I wanted the keybox to join the peghead right in line with this corner where the headblock meets the curve of the body. So, I marked the keychest sides to be 13 1/16″ long. The end cuts are perpendicular to the bottom edge. As you can see from the following photo, the bottom cut is at an angle from the existing edges, which would take some very careful cutting. And both pieces have to be cut identically. 


Stacked keychest sides marked for trimming

All this of course meant a trip to Jerry’s backyard shop! With all his experience, patience and wonderful tools, we were able to make these critical cuts.


Keychest sides cut to shape, showing inside surfaces

The big question is, did I mark them right in the first place? We shall see at some point further along in this odyssey.

Headblock, plan B

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

I decided I needed something thicker than veneer, and I have a bunch of different 1/4″ thick hardwoods. I’ve been narrowing that selection down, and planning how I was going to do it with limited tools.

Since the knob is cocobolo, I chose to have that wood represented on both ends of the instrument.

I cranked up my table-mounted router for the first time in years to smooth the rough outer edge of the 12″ board. Then I cut a 1 1/2″ width off on my scroll saw, using my versatile metal ruler as a fence. It made a pretty smooth, straight cut. [You do what you have to, without a table saw and other proper tools.]


Cutting off cocobolo strip on scroll saw, using metal ruler as a fence

I didn’t want to cut a recess to inlay the whole 1/4″-thick piece, so I tried splitting it with my router with a bit that cuts a 1/16″-wide notch. It would only cut 5/8″ into the wood, so running it along both edges left a 5/16″ section in the middle that I had to cut through with a hand miter saw. A tricky couple of steps that had a satisfactory result.


Cutting narrow notches in the sides to split the thickness

It was surprising how much lighter and more colorful the wood was on the inside. The piece is now over 1/16″ thick. No worries about sanding through, this time. I suppose sanding the dark outside will make it lighter, too, only to darken again over time.


Outside and inside of sliced cocobolo piece, with cocobolo knob

I didn’t want to do anything to alter the hurdy-gurdy until I saw how these various “will it work?” steps came out. So far, so good.

All present and accounted for

Monday, April 19th, 2010

I received a few odds and ends today which were previously missing in action. As far as I can tell, this should complete the parts inventory: a small Owner’s Manual, a brass pin for lifting the trompette string, some maple triangles to offset some of the top key buttons, and a thin piece of cork which I think goes under the head end of the key chest. [I ordered maple sticks for the top row, instead of the standard wenge for both.]


Out of this world pegs

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

My viola-size Planetary Pegs arrived today from Hurdy Gurdy Crafters! They are very classy-looking black metal geared tuners which resemble traditional ebony friction pegs. They will look great on a hand-carved head. This is a set of three left-hand threaded and three right-hand threaded pegs. They were special ordered from Brian Burns and include a sheet of instructions.


Latest arrivals

I also got a replacement small brace, as the one provided with the kit had some incorrect pieces. So, I’m ready to move ahead with the braces. I epoxied together the five pieces of the longest one last night. It needs a lot more work before it is done, such as imbedding dowels into the corners, adding curvature to the top and bottom, and sanding.



Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

This thing sure has a lot of pieces! I think I have finally made it through the inventory checklist and know what most of them are.


Inventorying the parts: This must be the bearing adjustment tool.

[Scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey, in case you were wondering.]

I went to Home Depot last night and got some Titebond wood glue, some epoxy, and several clamps for gluing in the braces and the kerfing. They didn’t have any epoxy for wood with a longer setup time. 

I will next be cutting the angles for the ends of the braces to match the curve of the body, and then assembling them with the center dowel and side supports.