Monday, August 11, 2014

Day 30: Cutting the Sharps

I began the process of cutting the sharps last night. The first step was to find enough poplar from which I would eventually cut the 21 keys. I settled on two pieces that, combined, would allow me to produce the 21 plus quite a few extras. The second step was to install the glue line rip blade on the table saw, set it to 10 degrees and rip both pieces of poplar down one side. This cut represents the front of each key.

I set the blade back to 90 degrees and cut both pieces to 2 3/4" in width. I then set the blade back to 10 degrees and took a precise measurement of one of the C# keys using my digital caliper. It turns out the width of each key is just a hair over 1/2". At this point, I cross-cut one of the boards and discarded that first piece because one side was at 90 degrees with the other at 10 degrees.

I then flipped the board over and cut the first sharp key. As you can see in the photo below, I used a piece of scrap wood behind the board to prevent "tear out," something that is easily prevented with such a scrap piece. This often happens when you cut or drill a piece of wood without another piece behind it.

I will cut all of the keys to 1/2" in width, which means a few of them will overhang some of the keys on each side. Mr. Miller assures me this will not be noticeable in the final instrument. The photo below is the first key I cut from one of the prepared boards.

One down, 20 to go.

Until next time...


  1. A suggestion on the anti-tear out piece. A block thicker than the blade height allows one to position it against the fence and not be cut away when cutting out each sharp. It also provides support on both sides of the blade throughout the entire cut.

  2. Since this post, I've built a crosscut sled that works quite nicely on pieces like this. Thank you for the suggestion!