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...


  1. Your bandsaw looks more like a scroll saw. What kind are you using and how many inches is the throat?

    1. Oh I see, the scroll saw was just for the inside cuts there. Can you tell me the throat on the band saw though?

    2. Joey: The band saw is an older 12" (throat) Delta. Because the keys are broken down along the straight lines between the E/F and B/C lines, a larger throat is not necessary.