Good Progress

Today we ripped 25 keys in a little more than 3 hours in the garage.  Whew! It is hard to imagine how someone would build a marimba with hand tools.  We have all but 11 keys of the 61 key marimba now cut.  We put a small space heater in the garage in an attempt to convert Antarctica into only Minnesota. Meanwhile, we spent a bit more time double checking dimensions and laying out the keys, so our time in the garage would be more efficient.

Triple-checking calculations and measurements

Last checks before cutting the bars


Preparing to cut with the chop saw


Table saw from mars…


Paul and I have a healthy respect for the table saw. Each time, before I turn it on, I say “Clear!” and Paul responds “yes”.  Its spinning blade is frightening.  I push the boards through, and Paul uses a small stick to keep the pieces flat and then pull them the last bit.

Some pictures from our improved key-shaping process used earlier this week:

Tracing the shape for the arch


Marking the arch we will cut slightly smaller than the previous key


Using the router to cut the arch


Shaping the arch with the belt sander

Shaping the bar (stop action via the flash)

This project is enormous.  I don’t think Paul or I fully appreciated the scale of our undertaking.  We have shape-tuned (to within 1 whole note) 12 keys.  Each takes 30 minutes.  That leaves about 25 hours of shaping plus 2 more hours of cutting the remaining 11 keys. It will probably take another 30 minutes per bar to do final sanding, oiling, and drilling of the hole, and another 30 minutes per bar to final tune each — or roughly 90 more hours.  Even with 5 hrs on each weekend and 2 hours during the week, it will take us 3 more months.  Complicating this, are 2 business trips to Japan and 1 trip to China in the next few months.  Yikes. If we really work hard, maybe we can have something ready to play by the end of May….


One thought on “Good Progress

  1. What scary, painstaking work you two have begun! It does look like you are making terrific progress. The making of the keys has to be the most exact. We can’t wait to see the whole thing.


Comments are closed.