This holiday I decided to build a small, musical instrument for my small, musical niece. After a little time thinking, I decided that a thumb piano would be the perfect choice. Since I build/re-build mostly stringed instruments, I designed this much like a guitar would be constructed.
Pen and paper are always the first tools I take to when the idea leaves my imagination.
A form for the freshly-bent wood to nestle into for an overnight dry out.
One of my favorite tools is the bending iron. The aroma of different woods as they are heated by the steam, the sizzle of water against the heated metal, the moment you can feel the release within the wood as it begins to give over to the curves you’ve dreamed up – it’s all quite lovely.
I cut an endblock out of a scrap of Redwood I had piled up at my shop. Here it is being glued to the bent sides:
I bent some Spruce linings for this project.
Lined and back installed.
Add ebony bearing points, two screw holes and the result is a face.
I purchased several feet of spring steel out of which I cut seven tines to be the tongues for this lamellophone. I rounded the ends and smoothed them over to be comfortable for little thumbs.
The end, the beginning.
I used Padauk, Rosewood, Ebony, Osage Orange, Spruce, and Redwood. I glued it together with Hide Glue. Spring steel and brass screws make up the metal portions. Tung oil to finish.