Thursday, February 26, 2015

Day 79: Coat One Completed

I finished the final seven keys of the Tru-Oil first-coaters last night. I must admit, getting the shine off the keys after they've set up for a week was not easy and, as you know, sanding/buffing is not my favorite task, so it wasn't much fun. I took a break every couple of keys and fumbled around on other stuff, so it wasn't unbearable, just not particularly enjoyable.  Gotta take the good with the bad, right?

Regardless of whether I like a task or not, I still love being in the shop; it's where I'm meant to be. At all times.

On a couple of unrelated notes, I sold the Grizzly jointer I picked up a few weeks ago. After thinking about how much I actually use a jointer and talking it over with fellow woodworkers who use the table saw for much of their joining prep work, I decided the good, old Delta was good enough for me. Besides, how could I let all that elbow grease move out the door, right? The Grizzly went to another cool Craigslist dude who actually paid me more than my asking price. Bravo, cool dude!

As you can see in the second photo above, I tore it down and tuned it up before letting it go. The fence needed to be straightened and it needed some general clean up, so there it is.

We also have a visitor to Tortuga Early Instruments Worldwide Headquarters! A Facebook friend and fellow luthier, Darrel Wallen, caught wind of the electric cello side project and was kind enough to loan me an instrument he will be restoring so I could take some measurements and get a better feel for the instrument.

I appreciate Darrel's help with this because I've never owned a cello and only have drawings from which to work. Luthiers are some of the most helpful and generous people in the world and I'm thankful to have a few of them as friends. The instrument will return to its rightful home this coming Saturday. I shall miss it.

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Day 78: Keyboard Progress

I've made a little more progress with "sanding" and smoothing down the naturals. The Tru-Oil hardens to a nice, shiny sheen that I then buff off and finish with #0000 steel wool. The process is tough on my delicate little fingies (the CTS surgery thing), so I've limited my progress to five to seven keys per night. Last night, it was seven - and I'm feeling it today.

In the photo above, you can see the before/during/after progress. The finish left after buffing is very hard and really quite nice. It doesn't surprise me that it's primarily used on gun stocks. Owen Daly recommended two coats and I'm working my way, slowly but surely, through the first application. I only have seven keys with the first coat remaining, which I'm hoping to finish up tonight. The second-coaters are patiently awaiting my attention.

On an unrelated note, someone on Facebook asked last night about the size of my workshop. I was surprised to realize that I really have no idea how big it is; it's a two-car garage that's pretty deep. My first shop was a single-car wonder with three-foot deep shelves on one side and my workbench on the other. Needless to say, I didn't have much room to navigate. My current shop feels cavernous by comparison and I'm so, so grateful to have it. are some photos:

The first photo faces inward and you can see my table saw (as yet unnamed), Big Bertha (the 18" band saw) to the right and my workbench against the wall. The new lathe is hiding on the floor behind Big Bertha. The second faces out. You can catch the new jointer that's still in a state of disrepair - as I repair it. The third photo is a shot of Little Buddy (the 12" band saw) and The Terminator (the drill press). My next improvement(s) is centered on getting the planer, lathe and Ridgid oscillating spindle sander onto stands and getting all of them, as well as Little Buddy and the new jointer onto mobile bases.

As I set the seven keys I sanded up to dry after a coat of Tru-Oil, I was met with a dilemma: Do I choose the hobbit pipe or the wizard pipe to enjoy some Shireweed with a rip of Pusser's?

It was late, so the hobbit pipe won. I hadn't smoked with it in over a year and it was a pleasant experience indeed. Not at all like the wizard pipe, which is like having a second job just to keep it lit. I see more hobbit pipe and Shireweed in my future.

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Day 77: Tru-Oil to the Rescue

I spent last night "sanding" more of the naturals using Scotch-Brite pads and #0000 steel wool. At one point, it occurred to me that I might need to apply more than one coat, so I emailed Owen Daly to ask him how many he goes with. Yep, he applies at least two coats, three if he has time. Oy. Since I can only do four or five keys per night, it's going to take the better part of a month to get the two coats completed, but I'm determined to make it happen.

I must say, the Tru-Oil is really, really good stuff. Thanks again, Owen. I'm going to stick with it until these things are done. Hey, I only have 50 to go, right (not counting the sharps)?

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Day 76: Buffing out the Naturals

Now that the naturals have had plenty of time to dry, I've started the process of buffing them out using Heavy Duty Scotch-Brite pads and #0000 steel wool. I'm using the pads because the initial removal of the Tru-Oil takes some work that results in a gooey, icky mess that develops into a dull finish that I then buff into a beautiful satin sheen.

I should have taken a photo of the intermediate, sticky part of the process, but it's pretty underwhelming. As you can see in the photo above, the one on the left is the dried Tru-Oil and the other is the final buffed out product. Owen was right, the Tru-Oil is perfect for the naturals.

In an unrelated matter, I was looking at the new jointer and noticed the fence was off by about one centimeter from left to right. I also noticed the previous owner had started to wire brush some of the rusted parts and probably decided it just wasn't worth the trouble. Hey, he listed it for $75 on Craigslist, right? So, I'll pick up where he left off and get them brushed up and repainted black. When I'm done with it, it will be shiny and new - just like Madonna.

It also needs new knives and the knife wheel could stand a good wire brushing. This mini-project suits me because I will need to use the jointer soon for the case parts and I can only sand four or five keys per night due to my Carpal Tunnel Syndrome surgery issue. My hands just hurt too much to sand more than that every night.

I also got the new Ridgid oscillating spindle sander and the lathe cleaned up and oiled where necessary. The next mini-project will be to either add a large outfeed/assembly table to the table saw or start adding mobile bases to the 12" Delta band saw, jointer and drill press, as well as adding stands to the Ridgid sander, the lathe and the 12" planer, all of which will also need mobile bases.

No rest for the wicked.

Until next time...

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Project Update: Look What Just Showed Up

New tools and machines keep showing up at Tortuga Early Instruments Worldwide Headquarters. Yesterday, I walked into the shop and what might I see? Why, a Ridgid oscillating spindle sander sitting there looking back at me. Sure, a couple of its parts were missing (quickly ordered from and it's a little dusty, but it works great. The dude who sold it to me knocked $25 off his asking price of $125 so I could order the missing 1 1/2" and 2" rubber spindles it so badly needed. Another good guy meetup via Craigslist.

The beauty of this sander is that it not only bobs vertically while the spindles roll the sandpaper horizontally, it can switch from an edge sander (the configuration in the photo above) to a single spindle in an array of sizes - 1/2", 3/4", 1", 1 1/2" and 2" in a jiffy and the bed pointing at you in the photo can tilt up to 45 degrees. This will be helpful when sanding intricate parts for the harpsichord, as well as other instruments such as the electric cello I may or may not be building for my youngest son's upcoming birthday or the Baroque guitar that will be started soon after the cello is completed.

That was yesterday. Today, I stepped across the threshold into my sacred space only to discover a 40"/14" wood lathe sitting on the workbench! It's a monster that came into the shop for only $50. It needs some cleaning and TLC, but a lathe is a very simple machine and will be easy to restore to good health. This one is a 4-speeder and the measurements above are the maximum length and width of items it can turn. While I'm not an overly enthusiastic woodturning kinda guy, I'm going to have to be eventually, especially when I need to make harpsichord stand and bench legs, cello and guitar pegs, etc.

It does need a stand, but so does the Ridgid. I'll put both of them on wheels to make them more accessible over time. And I need to do the same for the new jointer.

This concludes our tool acquisition program at Tortuga Early Instruments for some time to come. I was just saying to Owen Daly the other day that all I need to complete the shop buildout are a Ridgid oscillating spindle sander and a wood lathe and, voila!, here they are within a couple of days. I guess I should be more careful moving forward about what I put out to the Universe.

Until next time...

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Day 75: Finishing the Tests and Preparing the Naturals

The tests of the Tru-Oil on key 51 and my friend's walking stick were nothing short of a complete success.  The finished key 51 next to a key not yet oiled and the buffed out stick are below (the oiled key is on the right in the first photo).

Hey, I never said the walking stick was an elegant project (I call it The Hammer). I knocked it out for my pal about three years ago when he needed it in a hurry. He likes it because he leans on it quite a bit when using it and the handle is wide enough that it doesn't hurt his hand. I also made him a bird feeder out of cedar, but we won't go there. I'm not sure the photo of the keys really portrays how awesome the finished key looks with the Tru-Oil applied; it's pretty great.

Based on how things looked after 24 hours of drying, wiping down with a shop towel and sanding up with #0000 steel wool, I decided to go ahead and prepare all of the naturals for an application of the Tru-Oil. I wanted to keep the oil away from the poplar and the white oak arcades, so I developed what I call the Green Diaper for each one.

Yeah, my wife rolled her eyes, too. Once I got all of the naturals all diapered up, I went ahead and coated them with Tru-Oil and left them on racks to dry. Given the fact it's Valentine's Day weekend, I probably won't get back to them until Sunday because, you know, wife.

Until next time...

Friday, February 13, 2015

Day 74: Epic Battle #2: Tru-Oil vs. Salad Bowl Finish

I spent a little time yesterday in Woodcrafters in NE Portland looking at finishes for the keys. They shelve an amazing and completely confusing array there of finishing products that run the spectrum from oils to varnishes to lacquers to general finishes that is a bit mind-boggling. This is not a good thing because Owen Daly had recommended Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish and, frankly, at this stage of the game, I should be listening to everything he takes the time and effort to tell me. Instead, I chose to consider my options.

While fumbling my way around the finishes aisle at Woodcrafters, I started talking with a couple of dudes - one works there and I should know his name by now because I've chatted with him at least a dozen times and the other was John Hauser, a general contractor here in the Portland area. I had two issues they helped me with: 1) A general finish for the naturals and 2) a stain and finish for the sharps (remember, they're quarter sawn oak).

John highly recommended General Finishes' Salad Bowl Finish and I believed him when he said it would leave a highly durable, non-toxic finish that would last for years, yet I had Owen's recommendation in the back of my mind all the time. Fortunately, they sell Tru-Oil at Woodcrafters, so I decided to stick with my ostensible mentor's advice and went with the Tru-Oil. No disrespect for John's experience or advice was intended. When I arrived home, I went ahead and applied a layer of Tru-Oil to key 51 and set it aside to dry.

The first key above is without, the bottom with, and you can see how shiny the application left the key. Tonight, I will wipe it down with a towel and buff it with #0000 steel wool, which Owen tells me will leave a nice sheen that will last for many years, even under the abuse of my own marginally-talented fingers.

As for my second issue, choosing a stain, John Hauser recommended I go with an oil-based General Finishes stain for the quarter sawn oak anywhere on the instrument. This left me with yet another quandary - which color? Since I'm artistically challenged in this area, I've asked for my wife's help in choosing the stain. We'll visit Woodcrafters this weekend where she will point me in the right direction. Again.

As a further test of the Tru-Oil, I scraped and sanded a walking stick I had made for a buddy about three years ago before applying a layer of the Tru-Oil. The stick was a special order that included a "man-sized handle." Because he leans on it quite a bit, the larger, flatter handle is more comfortable for him. The woods are African mystery wood, padauk, and white oak, all from Woodcrafters scrap bins.

The real test will be tonight when I rub both the stick and key down with a towel and then burnish them with #0000 steel wool.

Speaking of burnish, I though I'd talk a bit about card scrapers. In the photo below, I've got the scraper set up in a vise to file and then burnish it using a fine file and a burnisher designed specifically for that task.

These scrapers have been used for a very long time by woodworkers who want a smooth-as-glass finish to their work. The process of resharpening a scraper involves using a file to remove any burr left (there shouldn't be much, which is why you needed to sharpen it in the first place) and adding one back using the burnishing tool. The burr left on the edge give the card a nice bite into the wood you're working on without removing too much per scrape. I love these darned things.

The next project steps will be to rub down the test stick and test key to see what kind of finish I can get out of the Tru-Oil. After that, it's staining the sharp key tops and arcades and getting some sort of finish on them, as well.

Until next time...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Day 73: Keyboard Work and Safety Concerns

I completed the final "finish sanding" of the keys last night using a Scotch-Brite pad because, dammit, I think they do a fine job as finish sanders/buffers. I would hazard a guess that they are akin to using a 1000-grit sandpaper, though I have no real evidence to support this. Regardless, I think they did a pretty good job on the keys.

The next step is to use several coats of a thinned oil, such as tung oil finish, followed by a coat of polyurethane to complete them. Owen Daly has recommended I use Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil Gunstock Finish Liquid to do the same. I had a hard time discovering what, exactly, this finish is made from, but I was able to find "linseed oil" in one of the specifications I found online. Given what I've seen of Owen's work, I may just trust him on this one.

Before I could get the keyboard into the shape you see above, I needed to first notch and round key 46. I had sliced off the top head a while back because it was a mess. Once the hide glue dried, I went to work.

I actually enjoyed the process. I found much more satisfaction in completing a nicely notched and rounded key using files and a rounded scraper than if I had used a router.

On a couple of unrelated notes, a new machine has mysteriously shown up at Tortuga Early Instruments Worldwide Headquarters.

I paid a Craigslist dude $75 for this beauty - it's a 6" Grizzly jointer with a nearly 4' long bed. This is significantly longer than the bed on the Delta, which will help me joint the longer pieces for the case and soundboard of the instrument. I'll be selling the Delta via Craigslist and will be sad to see it go (especially after all of the elbow grease I put into it).

During a break from the day job, I visited Woodcrafters with the intent of looking at finish oils and polyurethanes. What I left with was another matter entirely. I picked up two flat push boards for the new jointer. If you've ever used a jointer, you know it can be an exhilarating (i.e., frightening beyond description) experience without push boards.

I also decided to go ahead and purchase the new gravity heel setup for my Micro Jig Grr-ripper, a fancy-shmancy push board that I use on the table saw quite often.

As you can see, it allows me to lower a piece of plastic down to the table saw table level that pushes the piece of wood I'm running from behind while also pushing down on top of it. You saw a similar heel on the rip fence jig I made a couple of weeks ago. It's just a good idea all around. The photo below is the Grr-ripper with all of its accessories intact.

Yes, guys can accessorize, too.

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Project Update: Seasoned Builders and the Nature of Debate

As I've mentioned in previous posts, my Facebook project page and personal posts about the instrument receive some much-needed and valued attention from time to time. In those posts, I sounded as if I were taking offense or were harmed in some way by the comments from the Seasoned Builders and Players, a group of true master harpsichord builders and players from around the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I enjoy the posts immensely and can think of no better way to not only learn the craft, but to get back to my real roots that lie in the scholarship surrounding the original intent of composers and harpsichord and organ builders of the past.

When I was actively teaching at the university, I frequently delivered a lecture on the differences between debate, discussion and dialogue. Don't worry, I'm not going to lecture you, but I will point out some of the characteristics of each and leave you, the most capable reader, to draw your own conclusions about the comments I receive on an almost daily basis.

Debate is an approach that requires diametric opposition. Debate calls for winners and losers that often asks a judge to determine which is which and who is who. In the forum of the Interwebs, we are, more often than not, left to our own devices to judge the opinions of others based upon our own biases and prejudices. Most of the time, we agree to disagree and leave it at that, though, in our minds, we are usually the winner.

Discussion is a more generous form of communication in which all parties share information with the goal of reaching a consensus. Using this approach, topics can be explored fully with all parties contributing in ways that promote their viewpoints and opinions ultimately resulting in a dominant view winning the day. Yes, even in discussion we judge the opinions of others and, again, ours is usually the right one.

Dialogue involves a commitment by all parties to seek connection in ways that do not necessarily result in the domination of one viewpoint over another. In dialogue, it's okay to not be correct. It's also okay to consider it a dialectic in which the outcome(s) can be something quite different from what all parties expected. Dialogue requires careful, deep listening, not just hearing long enough for the other party to finish their thought. On the Interwebs, this can be accomplished in the form of repeating in comments what you think the other person is saying as a means of clarifying points to arrive at that depth of understanding so necessary for dialogue to be successful.

Lest you think I'm going to accuse the Seasoned Builders and Players of engaging only in debate, think again, dear friend! Granted, much debate ensues, especially when a neophyte such as myself interjects some point of building just learned from another builder or, more often, some hair-brained scheme I've devised in the dark hours of night between sleep and staring at the ceiling. No, the Seasoned Builders and Players also respectfully discuss and, on occasion, dialogue about all things harpsichord. And it's fantastic!

Even when passive (or outright!) aggression within the context of debate over something I've posted wins the day, if I'm still able to glean one small morsel of experience and truth from the comments, I win. In fact, whenever they comment on one of my posts or in one of the few harpsichord-related forums on Facebook, I win.

I win, I win, I win!

So, Seasoned Builders and Players, tonight I shall raise a glass to you all and toast to your learned comments and continued good health. Thank you all so much; you make my life better. Cheers, my friends!

Until next time...

Monday, February 9, 2015

Day 72: A Visit with Owen Daly

I was privileged this past week to visit Owen Daly, Maker of Early Keyboard Instruments, in his shop at Daly Harpsichords in Salem, Oregon. He was a gracious host who generously shared with me several tips and tricks. For example, he schooled me on the use of hot hide glue, something I will be taking quite seriously moving forward. The explanation he gave for using it on fine stringed instruments is that it creates a sonorous interface that does not deaden the tone of an instrument as, say, Titebond III, a glue that essentially dries into hardened plastic.

He also said it would be more effective to mix my own based upon my needs and that this method is better than Titebond's hide glue. I'm sold. The photos below illustrate Owen giving me this lesson.

Along with this, he advocates for a builder to be intimately acquainted with the repertoire that is unique to each instrument he builds. He had just finished up a beautiful Zell (German) copy that sounded awesome when he played it. In fact, I had never before heard a harpsichord with such tonal depth and clarity.

He also had a French instrument hanging around that displayed its own unique tonal qualities when he played for me.

On the construction side of things, he helped me with an example of how to notch and round a key in less than a minute. Amazing. I was on the right track, I just wasn't using a chisel during the process. His way is, of course, much easier than what I had been doing. Lesson learned. I also very much appreciated talking tools and wood acquisition and just poking around his shop; it looked just as I imagined a master builder's shop would.

We then met up at a lecture and performance of D'Anglebert's music at Reed College the following day. It was great to watch Owen in his natural environment - a master among masters.

Thank you, Owen. It was a pleasure and an honor visiting with you in your shop. I hope we have many more fruitful discussions in the future.

In my own shop, I continued to sand away at the keys before the first application of tung oil. I decided to go ahead and smooth the naturals using 400-grit sandpaper and then a Scotch-Brite pad and just the sandpaper for the sharps; oak is a hardwood, but it's less hard than the blackwood and tended to take on a green hue from the Scotch-Brite pad, which I stopped uaing as soon as I noticed what was happening.

I also decided to replace the top head on key 46, a natural. It looked pretty horrible as I cleaned up the other keys, so I sliced it off and cut and mounted a new head using the Titebond hide glue. It will be a little while before I can purchase the glue pot and supplies for the hot hide glue. Until then, it's Titebond to the rescue.

Until next time...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Day 71: An Epic Battle - Scotch-Brite vs. Brillo Pads

As I've worked with the African Blackwood on this project, as well as others, I've taken to using Scotch-Brite pads for the final "sanding" step. I've found the pads leave a finer finish on the wood than, say, 400-grit sandpaper. At the end of the day, the pads are just another rough surface used to smooth one that is already pretty smooth. I went ahead after scraping all of the keys the night before and used the Scotch-Brite pads as preparation for several upcoming tung oil applications. You can see my preliminary results in the before and after photos below.

Granted, the difference between the two keys is slight, yet it's there. The plan is to finish up this preparatory sanding and apply a coat of tung oil, let it dry overnight, sand all of the keys with a Scotch-Brite pad and repeat and possibly add a coat or two of satin polyurethane. Mr. Miller in his eBook Most Excellent uses 400-grit sandpaper, oil, 0000 steel wool and oil twice, and then applies a final coat of satin polyurethane - two, if needed. In my case, I will also need to dye the sharp key tops and the arcades to give them a nice, rich Craftsman caramel color before applying any kind of finish to them.

When I posted the photos above to the Facebook project page, I received a flurry of comments from the Seasoned Builders, most of which included reasons why I shouldn't use the Scotch-Brite pads. In fact, one of them suggested I use Brillo Pads intended for "just such a purpose" as finish sanding. So, I looked up Brillo pads and, wonder of wonders, they're advertised as "steel wool soap pads," while the only soap included with Scotch-Brite pads is that which you add yourself.

This latest exchange left me pondering the interactions I've had with most master luthiers up to this point - heck, with most veteran woodworkers up to this point; they've been interesting because, in the absence of more complete information about me, the assumption is that I don't know what the hell I'm doing. This, combined with a general curmudgeonly attitude amongst that group has left me wondering about what their real motivations are when they offer their helpful suggestions in ways that call out my general incompetence.

I believe none of them intend to come across as curmudgeonly; they are generally good dudes (I haven't met a female seasoned builder, yet) who offer their expertise and advice freely and without reservation. Yet they do, sometimes, come across as rather opinionated and a bit gruff, as if there exists a right way, a wrong way, and their way and I'm doing it the wrong way. In my most humble opinion, if I've found a way to do something that works and resonates with me, then it's something to be lauded and encouraged, is it not? Lee Garrett's encouragement to complete the keyboard comes immediately to mind here.

Perhaps this is the professorial aspect of my personality that brings me to these conclusions. In my book, there is always room for creativity and innovation. Doing things in new and different ways does not mean they are wrong, it just means they are new and different. If the end result is acceptable or, God forbid, as stunning as if I had used someone else's method(s), what's the diff, right?

On an unrelated note, some good news: Steven Baker, a violinist, violin maker, recorder maker, and tool maker, has purchased the Instrument Workshop from Mr. Bungart's widow, Martha. This means the parts referenced in Mr. Miller's eBook Most Excellent will be available again starting some time in March. I wish Mr. Baker all the success in the world - now, where are my parts...?

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Day 70: Scraping the Keys into Submission

Fair warning: The photos of the keyboard I'm about to post look exactly like the photos of the keyboard from the Day 68 post. But they're not; they're fundamentally different because I used my handy cabinet scrapers to give them a nice sheen so that all of the keys are completed, including keys 20 and 51.

Speaking of cabinet scrapers (also called card scrapers), they have been used for ages by craftsmen of all kinds. The concept is simple. Take a sturdy piece of medium gauge metal - rigid, yet flexible - and put a fine edge on all of its sides. In fact, give those edges a bit of a burr that really bites into the wood as you scrape it. Then, use it to give your project a nice gloss right before putting a finish on it.


I purchased the set above off of eBay; they're made by Crown and are extremely high quality pieces. The piece with the handle is a burnisher used to give them the burr. In the future, I may end up making my own, especially if I need one with an oddly-shaped edge. Until then, I'm happy to purchase them online. Today, I can get two of the rectangular scrapers for $12.99 with free shipping on eBay. This is definitely a case where I have to ask myself how much time and effort I want to put into creating a tool that can show up on my doorstep ready for use.

I used the scrapers on each key last night to trim them flat and, on the naturals, to clean up the rounded edges, which ended up making them all more uniform in appearance. Using the scrapers was suggested by one of the Seasoned Builders on the Facebook project page and I may not have used them without the suggestion because Mr. Miller in his eBook Most Excellent recommends using sandpapers of increasingly high grits. You can see the end results below.

I have one more step remaining that involves one of my secret finishing weapons: Scotch-Brite pads. I'm pretty confident the Seasoned Builders would think I'm crazy using them, but I've found they provide just the right amount of polish to finished pieces. Once I've used them, I'll dye the sharp tops and apply at least two layers of tung oil to all of the keys. The final step will be using paper spacers to level the keys (more on this later). Once that is completed, I can call the keyboard done.

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Day 69: Finishing up Keys 20 and 51

Once I had the sharp key tops glued up, I could return my attention to the two remaining keys that needed to be notched and rounded: 20 and 51. It was a pretty quick session to get them completed and I'm happy with the results. It seems I get better at the freehand work the more I do it. Imagine that.

This past week, I've been able to bring 17 new people into the Facebook project page fold. Many of these are professional builders with decades of experience. Now, this can be a blessing and a curse. But mostly a blessing. As you can imagine, they have their own ways of doing things over the years and I have mine largely based on Mr. Miller's eBook Most Excellent.

A couple of the observations/questions/comments I received regarded my style choice for the instrument. Once that was cleared up, they offered two suggestions I am taking to heart: 1) Use a cabinet scraper to finish the keys; this will leave an incredibly smooth finish (more on this later) and 2) Use tung oil as the final finish on the keys; using something like lacquer would eventually rub off and look just horrible.

Overall, I'm honored to have these people take an interest in my little project; their suggestions are invaluable to a neophyte like myself. I value every one of them and hope they continue to interact on the project page.

On an unrelated note, I'd like to point out that tools, clamps, jigs and other sundry items that help me complete the instrument are showing up with increasing regularity. I'm amazed at how things I had not considered in many, many years can suddenly become an integral part of the build process. One such item is the lowly clothespin, a small clamp that works when a larger one would amount to overkill. The photo below is presented in honor of Donald Lengacher.

Until next time...