ArticlesMaking Melodicas

3D Printing a Melodica (12) – making melodica keys

Once I knew that this melodica was airtight, and working well, I can finally get to my favourite bit – making it look nice!

Ivory ‘white’ keys

I started with building the little piano style keys. I already had some ivory pieces salvaged from an old piano.

melodica key and piano ivory

It was time to cut them to size. Of course, I needed a new machine just for this purpose, and found a lovely miniature table saw (Proxxon KS 115). Once trimmed to size, I used PVA glueto attach them to the surface of the 3D printed key bases. I left them overnight with some strong mini clamps.

melodica key with ivory clamps

Once the glue had dried, I trimmed off any excess material with sandpaper, and also sanded the surface of the keys to make sure that they were all level.

sanding a melodica key with ivory

Finally, I painted the sides white, with Revell acrylic paint, and waxed the ivory with Renaissance Wax.

Wooden ‘black’ keys

Next it was time to make the ‘black keys’. I acquired some new little machines for this, all of them mini modelmakers tools. For each key top, I started by cutting off a small piece of Zebra wood, with my new mini scroll saw (Proxxon Scroll Saw DS 115/E).

zebrawood block

I sanded each block into a basic rectangular shape with a mini orbital sander (Proxxon Disc Sander TG 125/E). As well as using glue, I thought they would be more secure with a simple tongue and groove mechanism. As I had already built a tongue (raised section) into the design of the base, I just had to make a groove in the wood for it to click into. So I put it in a vice, and used a Proxxon micro router to create a slot.

Now that I could fit the two parts together, it was easy to see where I had to remove material from the key top. I used the sander again, to create the final shape, constantly checking it with the 3D base, to make sure it was a good fit. When satisfied with the shape, I used super glueto join them together, and then oiled the wood with pure tung oil.

zebrawood melodica black key

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2 Comments

  1. Daren, I am absolutely in aw of your melodica making skills. Did you resolve your tuning issues with a custom made reed plate? or did I miss that chapter. Buy the way if your tung oil finish tends to fade a little after playing it, try a boiled linseed and bees wax mix, hand rubbed is a beautiful finish with a great feel to the touch. Also when will the order forms be up on the site 🙂
    Melodica-Me

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