Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Project Update: Glue Line Rip Blade Heaven

I'm still awaiting the arrival of the additional balance rail pins and a key mortise punch to complete the keyframe/keyboard setup. While I circle the airport (no, not the drain), I am jumping around a bit with the intent of completing the project in a more timely manner.

One task I can complete while waiting is to cut the African black wood natural key veneers. The keys on a harpsichord are historically different than those we are accustomed to seeing on a piano these days. The natural keys are generally a dark wood and the sharps are a lighter material, though the keys of the instrument that motivated me to start this project are like a contemporary piano with white naturals and black sharps. Modern builders use either organic materials (wood and bone) or synthetics intended to mimic the organic stuff for the surface of keys (i.e., veneers). Here's an example of a traditional harpsichord keyboard.

Photo courtesy of Ernest Miller's The Harpsichord Project E-book 3.1.

A veneer is a thin strip or piece of wood that overlays a different underlying material. In the case of this project, the keyboard naturals and sharps are all made of poplar, a light, flexible wood that I've enjoyed working with. Rather than purchase pre-cut key veneers, or covers, at great expense from Hubbard Harpsichords or Zuckerman Harpsichords, I will be manufacturing these myself from stock purchased at Gilmer Wood Co. (African black wood) and, well, Home Depot (quarter sawn red oak).

In order to get the best cut possible for all of the covers, I will be using a Glue Line Rip blade from Freud Tools, my manufacturer of choice for table saw and compound mitre saw blades. The purpose of this blade is to rip wood so that it's ready for glue-up straight from the table saw. Cutting these extremely thin veneers will take a little planning and a lot of patience, but I'm up for the challenge. Here's a shot of the new blade I purchased on Amazon.com from a guy in Seattle.

As I always say, I'm ready, Freddy!  Until then...

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