Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Day 136: Slotting and Exploring

After last week's attempt(s) at getting the upper register slots cut, I was able to actually get them completed this week! Naturally, the steps were the same - drill the relief cuts, line out the cuts, etc. The only difference this time is I used one of my little knives to scribe the cut lines using the register I had already cut. The initial step was to replace my thin-kerf, combo blade with Owen's monster.

I'm showing this photo because it illustrates how the retaining ring/washer gets hung up on the blade collet every single time I take it off and, yes, put it back on. Someone at Grizzly, okay, someone in China, owes me an explanation about this. Holy cow, how frustrating.

Once I got the lines scribed, I ran another down the length, which gave me axes on which to punch the divets for drilling.

Then, more drilling and cutting.

And...voila! I screwed up three of the cuts, so I plugged them and recut them. They're now ready for me to "close the comb," which I'll be doing this week.

On a couple of unrelated notes, I attended a Western Early Keyboard Association (WEKA) performance event that featured Dr. Mark Brombaugh, brother of renowned organ builder, John Brombaugh, who is located in Eugene, Oregon (a couple of hours south of Tortuga Early Instruments Worldwide Headquarters). Dr. Brombaugh's "Road to Hamburg" was excellent and I enjoyed his commentary very much.

He performed on two instruments from Reed College's collection - a French double and an Italian single after Grimaldi by Owen Daly of Owen Daly Early Keyboard Instruments. It was a good day.

I also discovered Portland Parks and Recreation Community Music Center has been holding out on me - they not only have a 1970s plywood instrument in their main auditorium, they have a lovely Flemish single kit instrument from Zuckerman Harpsichords International hiding downstairs.

Yes, that's me lying underneath, checking out materials and Zuckerman's building philosophy. It's a wonderful instrument that badly needs some TLC and replacement of those pesky plastic jacks. Maybe this is something I can volunteer to do for them once I get the jack making thing under my belt. I'll tune it up for them in the near future and clean out some of the bugs and dust on the soundboard, as well. I look forward to my next visit to the little fella.

Until next time...

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Day 135: Upper Register Jig Fun

After spending a little time with Owen Daly of Daly Early Keyboard Instruments, it became clear to me that I would need another jig to cut the upper register slots (the holes through which the jacks extend up and then down to pluck the strings when keys are pressed). Owen had mentioned in an offhand way that all I really needed was a box joint jig. As you know, any utterance of Owen's is a pearl of wisdom to me, so I embarked on a lengthy and mostly fruitless box joint jig building project.

I assembled the parts and pieces I thought I would need, encouraged all the while by Mr. Miller's CAD drawing from his eBook Most Excellent. In the drawings, the slots appear to be spaced at perfect intervals just under 1/2" from center to center. So, I proceeded to make a jig that would cut perfect slots at that interval.

I used an MDF board covered with Formica from Home Depot, bought some 1/4"-20 bolts and nuts and mounted the thing to my Incra miter gauge. In the end, I could cut perfectly spaced slots. And by "perfect," I mean they were freaking Mary Poppins.

The trouble is, my key ends are not spaced at perfect intervals. In fact, they're not even close. I checked. So, I then picked up the story stick idea recommended to me by no less than Mr. Miller, Michael Peter Johnson (on Facebook) and Owen (in person). The idea behind a story stick is that you cut a thin stick and mark it up where you would like to cut something. In this case, the register blank became the story stick and I marked the centers of each key on it.

I then drew a line the length of the stick/blank 3/16" from one of the edges. This gave me a reference point for punching the starts for drilling the holes that intrude on the slot lines. These holes end up being semi-circles that give the jack some relief space after the pluck - it swings out as it makes its way past the string when it comes to rest after the key release. I'll illustrate and explain more about this in a later post. I used my nifty spring-loaded punch and put holes along the reference line about 1/16" away from the right slot line (if the bass end of the register is on your left). Yeah, I eyeballed them and they turned out to be just right for the most part (I may have to clean a couple of them up later).

Once all of the holes were drilled, I slotted the heck out of both registers - yes, there are two (more on this later, as well). I went to town using the table saw blade loaned to me by Owen.

And everything came out just about right.

I just need to bevel the undersides at 10 degrees (more about this later, too), glue up the combs (with the thin strips you see in the photo above), and cut them to length. The next step will be to create the lower registers, which should not take as much time as this adventure - 20/20 hingsight and all that.

On a tangentially-related note, before I embarked on the slotting fun, I thought, "Boy, it's been a while since I've cleaned out the table saw cabinet." In reality, I hadn't cleaned it out since purchasing the saw, which has been a good while. What I found when I opened it up gave me cause for alarm.

This just reinforced the fact that I need to adhere to my regular shop maintenance schedule. In my defense, I usually shut things down during the winter holiday season and clean everything up. Now that this is done, though, I may not end up shutting down this year. The good news: I ended up with a clean saw cabinet.

Along with this, I decided to clean up the scrap pile that's prevented me from walking all the way around the assembly table for quite some time now. I have an amazing ability to ignore such things. The upcoming open house on December 3 is largely what prompted me to take this action. Oh, yeah, we're having an open house from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 3. I wanted to hold it to show anyone interested what the inside of the case looks like before I glue on the soundboard and obscure everything. You're invited - check out the Molnar Opus 1 Harpsichord Project Facebook page for details.

As I was saying, I decided to clean up this mess:

It was creating a situation in which I didn't ever feel like venturing out into the shop. Cluttered shop, cluttered mind. I pulled all of this crap out into the front of the shop, canning a lot of the little, useless pieces.

Apparently, there was a wall behind all of it. Who knew?

Then, I hopped over to Home Depot and purchased one of the shelves to match those I purchased for all of the walnut. This little shelf will hold up to 2,000 pounds, which ain't bad. Now, I can get around the assembly table and I don't feel an impending sense of chaos when I hit the shop (the election season notwithstanding). It's good to be organized. Now, if I can just stay that way.

Until next time...