Build A Wood Xylophone Part 1 of 2

hey guess what we're making today so so I'll admit this this project was it was my plan B I guess the my original hope was that I was gonna build make a drum like a tongue drum but it didn't quite go so well so we're uh rig remaking a xylophone and this was kind of a neat project it was is a big learning curve for me because going into it I didn't know anything about it I had played on I you know I was a percussionist when I was in high school and stuff but I had never built one so I thought to myself you know how difficult can this really be I mean it's a bunch of slats of wood you know in a little box and you hit him with a mallet but yeah let me tell you there was there was a little bit of a learning curve which is why were a little bit late getting this video out so I finally got the the tuning part of it hammered out last night and really that that was the the the the biggest hurdle for me was getting everything in tune and I guess I wanted to get it tuned in in the key of a so that in my weird little mind when when my daughter's playing it she could go under your ABCs at least up to G and I suppose you guys start all over but the starting point was trying to determine what type of wood to use I went went around the shop here picked up some scrap you know some wood that I've got laying around did some testing and this is uh I basically I came up with three different pieces of wood we've got some sappy lis or you know mahogany askim hogni also a piece of key as well as some red birch and we'll see how well the microphone picks us up here but this is the sappy lis you know kind of a nice little tone this is the teak and all of these pieces are the same thickness same width same length so I was trying to get a like-for-like comparison so that was a sippy Lee here's the teak a little bit higher tone and here's the the birch which was you know actually kind of dead dampened too much and in my reading I actually found that surprisingly birch was a wood that was fairly well recommended for for instrument making but I personally like the the tone of the subpoena the best so that's what I went with and you know I was doing my testing here with with this it's a soft rubber mallet well it's it's actually it's a rubber ball a free rubber ball we got in the mail from from Visa MasterCard because you know nothing says professionalism like a rubber ball from MasterCard so once I decided on the wood that I was going to be using and now the biggest the the next biggest hurdle and this is what really hung me up was how to shape the keys so that you get the right tone now to me I was thinking well as long as they're all cut you know different links that should give me the different tones right no well kind of not to a kind of to a point but not really I guess so when you when you're looking at these keys you can see that they're all dished out on the bottom side kind of in the middle and that is really what what gives you the the the biggest factor in the tone of the slat and the the thinner the the section through here actually the lower the tone the thicker you know the higher the tone and once we get to when we get to the part of the project where we're actually tuning the keys it becomes a little bit of a back-and-forth kind of a kind of a thing where you're you're whittling out the middle and if you go just a little bit too far and drop the tone below where you want it and you guys start shaving off the ends too short to shorten it up and it's just kind of a back-and-forth deal until you get it just right so let's look at the the little Hertz and pieces of this and this was just a one scale design laughing I guess there's eight keys starting with a and ending on a but the the box itself is really simple and I will say that let you want it you want to build this box last because you don't need to really know what the shape of your your keys are going to be until they're actually tuned which was another one of my learning curves so when I was looking around on YouTube and looking at different designs and stuff a lot of them kept the you know the the design of the xylophone open they didn't put it inside of an enclosed box at all or you know I guess a sound box and I wanted to make sure that I got some good sound out of this so I I decided to build build it in a box for a couple of reasons one because I wanted to get the resonation out of the out of the keys but also you I'm going to be giving this to you know it to my daughter or to a young child and I wanted the keys themselves to be protected I didn't want the keys overhanging and you know about because I I know what kind of beating is saying is it going to take it it's it's going to get carried and dropped and stepped on and spilled on and in beat with well I don't know what she's gonna end up hitting it with but point being is it it's gonna take some some abuse and I wanted the keys and everything to be protected and also when that when all the keys are in place one of the the you know the distance between everything to be fairly tykes I didn't want her to be able to get her little fingers in here and stuck so I you know I wanted it to be a nice you know fairly tight clean design and and I think it works so we're gonna start by ripping down the lumber for our keys and I've got a nice wide board here so I'm gonna be able to get almost all the keys out of this short little length but roughly you know what you what you need for for stock is I cut these keys to about an inch while about an inch thick I guess instant quarter wide and there's eight keys total and if we were actually were to put all those just you know a single straight line you're gonna need about six feet of length now since I'm able to go side by side here I'm only going to need less than about 20 inches so so we're gonna go ahead and rip this off and then we're gonna start start ripping out the keys so out of these strips we're gonna be cutting a total of eight pieces and these range in size from seven and a half inches on the smallest one all the way up to ten and a quarter and I'll include the the actual dimensions for each piece on the on the templates that you can download off our website so now that these pieces are roughly cut to the length I'm going to come in with a straight edge I want to square all the scroll the sides up and we're gonna trim off do the final trimming on one end just so that you know it's just a nice continuous angle running down I've gone ahead and marked the tops of each of these pieces and next thing we're going to do is we're going to round over the two top edges on each piece and do that I'm gonna be using a quarter inch roundover bit on my my makeshift portable router table so what these keys just kind of roughly cut out let's uh without doing anything to him let's just kind of see how they sound so far not in tune yeah not even close and I guess for my taste still a little too they're they're too high you know I I don't want a clanky or a classy sounding xylophone in my house that's gonna be being beat on by a two-year-old so I want to lower that tone and make it a little bit more mellow a little bit more you know usually a little easier to manage yes so one thing that I learned when I was coming at when I was doing my research on this is that there's I need to these bars there's two points that are called nodal points and really I guess in a nutshell what those are is when you're looking at a piece of wood when you when you strike it the whole the whole key itself vibrates now there are two areas on each end of a of a key that when it's flexing they were they remain relatively stationary you know all the vibration is happening in the center and then on the ends that's where you want to be mounting these keys because that's gonna dampen the the sound the least now it to find these nodal points there's a little formula that you can follow it has I guess something to do with 22.5 and I I'll be perfectly honest my attention span was not there I didn't feel like figuring it out and I so I thought well you know how accurate can that really be because that's gonna change depending on the density of the wood that you're using so I kind of thought well really the easiest way to find this out is going to be to actually tap that you know hold a piece of wood and tap on it holding in different positions to see what's gonna give me the best resonation or the best sound so to do that I guess I'm gonna have to tell you guys that the easiest way is to embrace your inner hippie I think at some point in time at least before the days of TSA getting heavily involved in the airport security we've all seen these guys and huddled up in the corners of the airports kind of banging their drum and nodding their head well as embarrassing as it may sound that that's kind of what you need to do in order to find these nodal points at least that's what worked for me so I'm gonna give you a quick little example here now I've already marked where the the where that point is on this piece and on the tappets you can kind of see hopefully the michael pick it up but hopefully you can hear that a little bit of a ringing afterwards now if you hold it too low it's very muffled it doesn't ring and now I'm holding it above that spot yeah it's even worse so come back down to the sweet spot we've got some pretty decent sound so the the nodal points on these keys I had said that we're gonna be mounting these roughly coming in two inches from each edge and that's actually going to be roughly where that sweet spot is going to be so that being said now that we've kind of heard how these sound rough let's let's take everything over the bandsaw and we're gonna start cutting out the bottom sides of these keys to lower the tone and also to tune them the first key that I'm gonna tune is gonna be the the low one you know that's gonna be my starting point and just to kind of get a quick reference here this is how it sounds now I want to bring that way down oh I'm gonna come in if you look on here I made my two marks but generally I'm going to come in probably another half inch and make a make a mark kind of about like so and I'm going to start by taking off about a quarter of an inch on the bottom and just kind of wait in see how it sounds if it's still too high I'll shave off some more if it's too lo well then I guess I'm that's gonna be my starting point so that was our first piece and let's see the difference of meeting the tone definitely dropped it but I still think I want to bring it down a little bit further so I'm gonna come up I'm gonna take probably another I'll probably not a quarter inch and see what difference that makes all right that's much better so we're next thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna actually download well I already did but I'm a download it's called a I think it's called a chromatic scale or a chromatic tuner it's just an app that I downloaded off of my free no for my cell phone it's save us free so I'm gonna use that to make sure that I have a I guess a a true note for this bottom point and then we'll start working with the rest of the scale so just to give me a rough starting point as far as where to cut for this next piece I laid the two up together and traced out now I don't think I'm actually gonna have to cut to this line so I'm gonna on my first couple cuts I'm gonna be well shy of this line just in case because once you start to get close close to the tune or to the key I guess yet it takes very very little shaving to actually bring it down so once we get somewhat close then we're just gonna creep up to it very carefully so how does this sound here's all right here's the first key that we cut I think it's still too high I think we need to shave a little bit more off but let's check our handy dandy key finder and see what that says yeah that's actually saying that the this the second key that we cut out was a closer to like a G so we skipped b c d e and f huh yeah I'd say it's a little high so we're gonna shave somewhere off well this is how much I initial I cut off and I stayed away from the line probably well it wavers a bit but probably on average about 1/8 of an inch so I think what I'm gonna do is probably split this difference one more time and test it again see how it sounds and survey says hey that sounds pretty close where's our little thingy saying it's bouncing around a bit but it's coming up is like a C a height you know a C give or take so we're very close the safe thing to do I'm this but at this point would be to actually come in and sand this off but I'm going to try my luck and just basically lightly shave I'm not going to cut anything per se it's just gonna I'm just gonna run it along the blade and just shave some off one or two passes test it again one or two passes again and test it and just creep it up to where it needs to be all right so I've shaved a little bit more off and that's pretty close that's very close so to look at how much I cut off here on the second piece this was the you can kind of see that the line that I had originally drawn and actually I ended up cutting right we're almost right to the line at least in the middle parts I stayed away a little bit on the edges but the the middle I went right to the line so I'll do the same thing I'll use this piece to transfer over to the third key that we're gonna cut and we'll just keep working through the keys too high all right I think we got the third key dialed in just do a quick little test it's pretty close so now we're going to start on the fourth one and I'm just gonna repeat the same process I'm going to use the the third cut out to can't trace around for this fourth as we're just a rough template okay see how number four goes so it's a solid D sounds good to me so same process we'll just keep working up we're almost halfway through oh we are halfway through so let's hopefully our luck carries through I got a little over-ambitious on this on this fifth key it's really close it it's just a little little bit low it's supposed to be an e but it's actually a D sharp so I guess that could be close enough but if I'm gonna do it I'm gonna do this right so I'm gonna bring this bring this piece over the bandsaw or over to the table saw and I'm really gonna shave off less than 1/32 off of each end because all we're looking to do is just bring this up just a hair and I don't want to change the profile you know my angles for the sides because then I'm gonna have to trim the rest of these this is where it gets putt see if you over if you shave too much off then you've gotta actually shorten it well if you shorten one piece then you've got a shorten all the others if you want to keep that same clean profile along your side nice so I'm try and shave off is you know just enough to raise it up but hopefully it won't be enough where you'll actually notice that it's short compared to the rest so keep your fingers crossed all right I shaved it and you can't tell from the profile that I really touched anything so good enough so we're gonna keep going on with that with the last three now I have noticed that the shorter these pieces get the more finicky they are you know meaning that just I mean hair amounts will make a big difference so this is where I got hung up yesterday so I'm gonna really take my time and I I'm a actually just sand these once I get them close rather than use them on the bandsaw but we'll see I've got a Packer game to catch in three hours so I'll let me get this buttoned up before then if I if possible I wasn't even recording alright ready yep sounds pretty good to me trace out the last one one more to go after that hopefully we'll hopefully we'll get her for a shot hey hey hey what do you say mr.

Peanut sound good yeah that was pretty cool I like it when things work out they well they rarely do it if he honest at least not not on the first shot but that that's good so when we were when I was over there tuning them I the box that I built yesterday for the for my what was the prototype now if we were all doing this for the first time we wouldn't have this so what what I used my very first time through was basically two sticks and just lay him down works just fine so we got lucky these all of chemo our first time through we didn't have to come in and do any shaving or trimming and going back and forth we were able to just dish out the Middle's and everything worked just fine which best case scenario so now that we've got everything tuned and we have our shape already set now we're just going to come in and build this build the the box for it to the sound box and to do that I'm just going to measure the width the width across the top the width across the bottom add on probably in a half inch total so it'll give me an extra quarter inch on the front and backs and then space these out so they're a quarter inch apart and then measure the top to bottom and at that point it's just a simple box so two stringers were the key sit on and then our actual sound box so we'll get started on that I built this one out of out of birch just because that's what I had laying around now what I found when I was researching all this is that the sound box if you decide to do it like this the material you use really doesn't make much of a difference I mean you could even if you wanted to you could make it out of plywood but I you know I I happen to have birch and this was going to be one of my Christmas presents so I wanted it I wanted to look fairly nice so I'm gonna build building the other one out of birch as well just again because that's what I've got you

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