Sunday, June 29, 2014

Day 19: Cutting the Keys

Cutting up the keys required a few steps. First, I used the band saw to cut from the back of the keys to the front. Because all of these lines end on the inside of a natural, the cuts stopped there.

Then, I cut from the front.

Mr. Miller's Harpsichord Project E-book 3.1 directed me to draw a line 1/8" above the naturals on all of the sharp blanks; these would determine the length of the sharps. You can see a couple of these in the photo above.  Once I had drawn all of the lines, I used the scroll saw to cut away the sharps.

I cleaned all of the keys up using the band saw once I had freed the sharps from the blank. In the end, I was left with a pile of nifty looking keys ready for a little sanding.

The two things I learned from this exercise were 1) Feed the wood through the band saw at a pretty good clip. Even though I had tuned up the saw before beginning, I was still a little wobbly on the first cuts. When I sped things up a bit, the cuts smoothed out; 2) Trust Mr. Miller. I was hesitant to begin the cuts fearing the arcades (the decorative caps on the ends of the keys) would not be lined up properly, but, wonder of wonders, they were!

While the next step in the book is to cut slots on the back end of the keys and at the balance rail pin holes, I'm going to start working on the African black wood laminates for the naturals and cutting and laminating the sharps with quarter sawn oak. I'm jumping the slots step because I don't have a mortise tool and I still need the remaining balance rail pins, which I've ordered from Hubbard Harpsichords. Because their ordering and fulfillment process is, shall we say, lengthy, it could be weeks before I see the pins and tool.

Until next time...

Friday, June 27, 2014

Day 18: Slicin' and Dicin'

While awaiting the arrival of more balance rail pins, I decided to go ahead and start cutting the keyboard apart. The first step was to use my trusty Riyobi BT3000 table saw/router to trim the guide rail end of the keyboard down so it's 3/16" thick; this required taking 5/16" off of that end using the router.

As you can see, it took a couple of routes for me to complete the cut, which is 3/4" deep because my largest router bit is 5/8" wide (time for a new bit or two?). The completed cut turned out pretty well.

Once that was done, I could begin the harrowing process of cutting the individual keys from the keyboard blank. Mr. Miller describes how this is a tedious and nerve-wracking undertaking. After a quick band saw tune-up, I found it to be a fairly enjoyable process.

The first step is to cut along the lines between the B and C and E and F keys. The reason for this is that the interface between these keys is a straight line from the front to the back of the keyboard (no sharps between them). The other cuts will take considerably more time and effort and include using a scroll saw. The photo below illustrates the first cut between the low E and F keys.

The remaining cuts went smoothly and I'm actually looking forward to getting this thing completely sliced and diced up.

Until next time...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Day 17: A Day Late and 35 Pins Short

I was able to complete the drilling and placement of most balance and back rail pins today. The drilling was relatively easy because I picked up a device that helped me drill each pin hole at 90 degrees - or as close to that as possible. It was nice to look at the keyboard with the holes; it's only a little progress, yet progress nonetheless.

While I was excited to see the pins going into the keyframe, I realized pretty quickly that I would not have enough. I had originally ordered two packs from The Instrument Workshop, yet I received only one. So much for checking my received order for accuracy. Still, though, I'm finding it extremely difficult to be upset with Mr. Bungart or the situation. I will simply order more from Hubbard Harpsichords this coming week. Regardless, here's a shot of the keyframe with all of the back rail and most of the balance rail pins installed:

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Ernest Miller's The Harpsichord Project 3.1 E-book recommends The Instrument Workshop, which is now out of business (at least for the time being). The very cool thing about Mr. Miller's e-Book is that it's all in HTML - whenever he updates the book, he notifies his customers, they download the latest files and the book is magically updated. I must say (after spending the last 20 years in the Web biz) that whoever helped Mr. Miller format the book did an amazing job - download the demo and you'll see what I'm talking about.

My point here is that Mr. Miller has said he will convert the eBook to Hubbard Harpsichords parts and links. I'm sure he will let us know when it's completed and we can download the latest version.

Until I receive additional pins, I'll be in a holding pattern. Fortunately, I'm in the middle of completing an acoustic guitar modeled on the Martin D-18 dreadnought, so I'll have plenty to do over the next couple of weeks. And there are always those pesky jigs to keep me busy, right?

Until next time...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Day 16: Dimples and Tacking

I've slowed things down a bit based on personal issues and the current situation with The Instrument Workshop. When I was able to jump back in for a bit, I decided to use a fairly blunt awl to dimple the points where I will be drilling through the keyboard into the balance and back rails in order to mount 102 pins. The dimples will help me place the drill bit accurately when I am able to get to it.

Once I completed the dimpling, I tacked the keyboard to the keyframe using 1" finish nails. This tacking is important because the keyboard must remain stable while I drill all of the pin holes.

When I went to drill the holes, I realized my 3/32" drill bit was not long enough to make it through the keyboard and into the keyframe 1/2" because I'm using a tool to stabilize my drill in order to make the holes a perfect 90 degrees (you can see it hiding behind the beer in the photo below).

I decided to call it a night, yet I couldn't help but think about it the next day when I realized my drill bit would make it far enough into the keyframe that I could remove the keyboard and complete the drilling. Regardless, it was a good stopping point for the evening because it was getting late and I needed to finish my Portland Brewing Imperial Mac's Ale and smoke my Gandalf pipe before hitting the sack.

Until next time...

Monday, June 9, 2014

Project Update: New Parts Received and Installed

The roller holder for the table saw and the guide bearing for the band saw arrived over the weekend. I've been a bit under the weather this past week, yet I was able to install both. The new roller holder has provided me with a rock-solid rip fence for the table saw and the new guide bearing has squelched the screaming from the band saw. Both very, very good things.

The next steps will be working on drilling the holes for the balance and back rail pins. Until then...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Project Update: A Sad Day, Indeed

Remember the post in which I discussed "The Instrument Workshop Guy"? Well, his name is Lutz Bungart and he is owner of The Instrument Workshop. Sadly, Ernie Miller of the Harpsichord Project notified the many customers of his excellent The Harpsichord Project E-book 3.1 that Mr. Bungart is not expected to survive what has been diagnosed as a terminal illness. With this news, The Instrument Workshop is no longer taking or fulfilling orders at this time.

Jack Peters, a fellow harpsichord builder and personal friend of Mr. Bungart, has offered to help Mrs. Bungart inventory and prepare the company for sale, potentially to Mr. Peters. I'm hopeful Mrs. Bungart and Mr. Peters can come to some sort of arrangement to the benefit of all.

This will impact the Molnar Opus 1 Harpsichord Project, but that's trivial compared to what Mr. and Mrs. Bungart are experiencing. My thoughts are with them through this challenging period of their lives and they will both remain in my prayers for a very, very long time.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Day 15: Keyboard and Keyframe Ready for Pins

In the photo below, the keyboard balances atop the completed keyframe. The next step is to tack the keyboard to the keyframe and drill all of the holes for the balance and back rails. Once they are drilled, I will start with the keyframe by mounting all of the pins, papers, and felts.

Then, I will begin the grueling process of cutting the keys apart and finishing the balance rail holes with a key mortise punch from The Instrument Workshop (have yet to order it - it's #8081 on the linked page), as well as cutting and preparing the back rail slots on each of the keys.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Day 14: Dado Cuts and Keyframe Glue-up

I installed the stacking dado blade set on the table saw and gave it a whirl. As you can see, it creates a fairly wide cut - much wider than if I used my all-purpose blade to make the cut again and again and again and... You get the idea. I had never before used a dado blade, but I must say the cut came out pretty clean. I had to do a little brush up with a wood chisel, but it was minor. Here's a photo of my nasty new creature ready to chew up whatever I throw at it.

Once I used this blade set to cut the final dados into the keyframe side pieces, I was finally ready to glue it up. The gluing went remarkably well and I'm excited about starting the next step: cutting the balance and back rail and keyboard pin holes. Until then, we get to hurry up and watch glue dry...

BTW, you can see the zero clearance cut I made before the glue-up.

Project Update: New Purchases, Old Stuff

As I progress through this project, it becomes apparent from time to time that I need a new piece, part or tool. In my case, "new" is relative because I always do my best to purchase quality used tools from Craigslist, eBay, online sites or local dealers. I'm still waiting on the Roller Holder for the table saw fence (online parts site) and the guide bearing for the band saw (eBay); they should be here later this week.

In preparing to cut the dados and rabbets for the keyframe, I came to the conclusion that using a table saw dado blade would be the best approach because a router would take longer and be harder to control for accurate edge cuts and a band saw might result in a wobbly cut, which is unacceptable. So, I purchased a stacking dado blade set from a guy on Craigslist for $25. Along with this, I dug out my dado throat plate, a necessary accessory if I want to use the wider (thicker?) dado blade.

While looking for the dado plate, I came across a zero clearance plate I had purchased a while ago. This plate requires me to install with the regular blade recessed, turning the saw on, and cranking the elevation handle while the blade cuts into the throat plate. The reason I want this plate installed is that the harpsichord cuts are tighter and of higher visibility than some of the other work I've done. When using the regular throat plate, it provides insufficient support to the wood, which results in "tear out," a condition that is unsightly because it mars the wood. When cutting the zero clearance plate, I will clamp a piece of plywood over the plate while raising the blade to prevent tear out on the plastic plate, as well.

While searching for the dado set on Craigslist, I ran across an affordable 16" band saw. Delta tools are my favorites, so this one fit the bill. The trouble is, it is missing the blade guide setup necessary to use it as a saw - the former owner was using it as a sander! I purchased this base setup for $100 and it will cost me less than $100 to complete the blade guide. When completed, this saw will provide a 16" cut throat, rather than the 12" on my current beloved Delta band saw; it will also allow me to cut my own boards from larger pieces of lumber, including veneers and soundboards, saving me hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars over the long haul.

Finally, I took a lunch break from the Day Job and walked down to Gilmore Wood Co. to see if they had anything I could use for the keyboard naturals. Of course, I was initially shown their $200/bd. ft. African Ebony, which was not exactly in my budget. After careful consideration, I settled on African Blackwood from a bargain barrel that is of high quality, just awkwardly shaped and typically suitable only for wood turners (which I am not). I will be cutting this wood down using the table and band saws and they will work perfectly fine for the keys. I paid $6 per stick and even got one of them for $1.

Now, it's time to stop buying stuff and get the keyframe and keyboard completed!