Saturday, September 6, 2014

Day 38: Redrilling for Fun and Profit

After receiving a second email from Mr. Miller, author of the eBook most excellent, in which he told me the naturals should be loose enough at the balance rail pin hole that the keys actually tip forward, I noticed that only one of the keys did this. I then examined one of the balance rail pin holes and decided I needed to redrill all of the keys using my drill press for two reasons: 1) The holes were rather tight on the balance rail pins and didn't have enough play in them on the top sides where I slotted them using the mortise punch tool and 2) some of them appeared to not have been drilled at a perfect 90-degree angle by yours truly.

So, I pulled out my trusty drill press and went to work. Notice that I'm drilling from the bottom side of the key; this allows for a more accurate cut.

I chose a 1/8" drill bit, which is just slightly larger than the one I used for the original holes. This not only caused the naturals to tip forward, it evened them up a bit , as you can see in the photo below. I think I did a pretty lousy job of drilling them the first time around using my nifty drill guide. A hole that is not at a perfect 90-degree angle will actually tip the key to one side or the other, resulting in a keyboard that looks like a jumbled mess.

Along with this, a couple of them are a little too close to each other. When this is the case, Mr. Miller recommends two fixes. The first involves simply bending the guide rail pin at the end of the key in the same direction of the key to which it is too close. This fix is only good for 1/64"-1/32". In the event this doesn't work, he recommends using a heat gun to soften the wood at the balance rail pin hole and bend it by hand.

Wood bending is a common practice, so the heat gun suggestion is not as drastic as it might seem. A good example of this is the sides of a guitar. When I bend them, I first soak them in water overnight and then use a heat source to steam the water in the wood, which softens the natural resins, making the wood nice and pliable. If you can maintain the bend position as the wood dries, it will stay in that position.

In the case of the keys, the bends will be so slight there is no need for soaking or the use of a form or jig. I'll just perform this by hand and, again, the tolerances are so small that it should work fine.

The next step is to create a sanding block to do some finish sanding (320-grit sandpaper) on all of the sharps and get them glued to their respective keys, which will look something like the photo below.

Until next time...


  1. Alas poor Yorik, you've become a shop weight.

    1. NOTE: I've since purchased an older Rockwell drill press with an 18" throat. Yorik is pleased.

    2. And, yes, I did know him well...