It’s been a good and bad few weeks for this project; I’ll start with what went well. I was successful in making 20 keys to be used in the final deliverable, which turned out be be a very time consuming process. I wanted to avoid using a router to give them a handmade appearance, which turned out to be a time intensive decision. Each key had to be cut to size then then each corner hand sanded on a belt sander.
Afterwards, I stained the wood a red mahogany color and then applied 4-5 (I don’t even remember) coats of a glaze type finish to make them shiny and polished looking. They turned out great, but it took a really long time, all things considered. I may have to make more of them too (depending on what tune I choose), so we’ll see if I’m even done with that. Still, they turned out largely how I imagined, so I’d call that a success.
I also spent a lot of time attempting to cut the mounting curves out of the base board, and this was a failure. I spent an entire afternoon on the laser cutter trying to just run the same shape over and over again to eventually cut through. After about an eighth of an inch, the laser stopped cutting. My hunch is that when the laser needs to cut deeper into the wood, it becomes less focused on it’s way down, preventing it from cutting all the way through my 1/2″ plywood. Afterwards, I was left with severe burns in my wood in the correct design, though not a workable piece.
I then tried to instead cut it with a dremmel and cutoff wheel, although tat wasn’t working either just because of the size of the tool. In the end, I abandoned this design and looked elsewhere.
I’ve decided to make an octagon out of conduit, and plan to mount the keys to that with just conduit brackets. The conduit is cut, but because it is galvanized I can’t weld it, I’ll need to just use J.B. Weld. I also have some burnished brown metallic paint I found that I’ll use at the end to fit this new piece into the aesthetic.
This aesthetic remains old jazz style clubs and guitars. This aesthetic in my mind has aspects of organic design (natural woods, subdued curves and natural imagery), but also some of art deco (gold mixed with dark colors, somewhat wealthy in appearance). I’ve shown two pictures below, the first that is very obviously catered to more the art deco, wealthy aesthetic (less traditional, though still relevant) and the second a little more classically organic design, highlighting the natural wood.
The keys came out so clean! It is unfortunate you are having troubles with the laser cutter. Is the 1/2″ plywood a necessity? I believe I’ve seen people cut with 1/4″ just fine, but it will certainly leave burn marks on the edges of the wood. If you trust your hand skills, you could make an attempt at the jigsaw. Especially since you already have guidelines to follow.
How are you planning to pluck the strings? I keep imagining something like that looks like a spool with replaceable pegs/picks. I saw a lot of interesting concepts for music boxes at a past design expo, but this one is unique by comparison. Many music boxes I’ve seen use a xylophone concept, while you’ve taken the guitar approach. That will make yours sound very distinct. Definitely use that your advantage aesthetically – both physically and musically!