Monday, November 10, 2014

Project Update: The Next Time Around...

I know it's a little early in the project to be reflecting, yet I've been at it since May, so I figured I'm due. Granted, I don't work on the instrument every day, but I have put in quite a few hours and made some interesting choices that I will definitely change on the next one.

First, I would take the jointing of the keyboard blank more seriously. This blank is the large piece that is the result of gluing together five pieces of poplar and from which I cut all keysticks, both naturals and sharps, using the band saw. The next time around, I will use a jig similar to the one I use to glue up guitar tops and backs; it simultaneously pulls the sides together while applying pressure to the top, creating a nice glue joint and completely flat end product.

Second, I would make darned sure the natural key top laminates were exactly 1/8" (3mm) thick. As I'm gluing them to the keysticks and sanding them, I'm finding some disconcerting variations that could have been avoided simply by remaining attentive to the rip cuts.

Third, in alignment with my second point, I will make adjustments to my table saw so the glue line rip blade works without a hitch. Because my zero-clearance throat plate (the plate through which the blade pokes its ugly head) was a little low, the key top wood dropped down during the cut, resulting in blade marks and uneven cuts, which I had to sand off. I would also not cut the sharps on the band saw because the blade left cut marks that were a pain to sand off - and you know how much I love sanding.

Fourth, I would use the same supplier for all parts I cannot manufacture myself. Now, this one was unavoidable given the fact that Lutz Bugart, owner and operator of The Instrument Workshop, passed away. This forced me to order additional balance and back rail guide pins from Hubbard Harpsichords, resulting in minute differences in pin sizes. This will in no way affect how the instrument plays, it would just be nice to have everything be a uniform size.

Fifth, I will build a custom miter box to accommodate a saw with finer teeth to cut the natural key tops to size. The current miter kit I used is designed for household/building projects, not for cutting fine wood at small tolerances. My miter box will be much smaller and allow me to use one of my nice pull saws to get the finest cut possible.

Finally, I will build the next instrument using metric measurements. Having used only the metric system while earning my BA and MA degrees in anthropology/archaeology, I became quite accustomed to the system and now value the smaller increments that are, frankly, easier to calculate in my noggin when in the throes of working the wood. Base 10 is not a bad thing at all.

Regardless of all of these changes I would make, things are going quite well with the build. I continue to make mistakes nearly every day, but I'm noting them here and filing them away for later reference. I'm also experiencing some great successes; those get filed away, too.

Until next time...

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