Session 24

July 30

Wrote up the the electric guitar, djembe, and ukulele projects on the Instructable site last night and this morning and posted them to get feedback about the designs from the users of the site.  The laser cut tenor ukulele was chosen to be on the featured part of section, and it had already been viewed 154 times 12 hours after being posted.  Got some feedback about the djembe saying it was an interesting project, and the person expressed interest in the possibility of laser cutting other instruments.  Hopefully more feedback will follow.Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 5.24.27 PM

I still need to add material lists, videos (once I clean them up and shorten them), and more photos to make the process even clearer.

The web links for the Instructables pages are listed here:



Session 23

July 29, 2016

Worked on the bell for the trombone more.  The first bell finished printing and fits nicely on the PVC pipe and plays well.  The bell is ~0.5 cm wide and the size of a trumpet bell.  A larger, thinner (0.3 cm) bell was created that will be close to the size of a trombone bell.  The size had to be slightly reduced due to the printers size constraints (~20 cm wide).

Continued working on the tenor ukulele.  Took clamps off the body and sanded down the edge where the neck will go.  Cut out pieces for the neck and a fret board (which is fairly narrow  compared to some but followed measurements from one drawing of a tenor ukulele).  The neck was glued together in a similar way to the electric guitar, but the fret board was cut out of a width-wise sheet of plywood to make it smoother and to allow for the use of a pre-made fret board in the future if desired.

Mounted neck to body using glue and screws.  The part where it attaches to the body should be sloped slightly to angle the neck towards the back since it is slightly angled towards the front which makes it give a little more easily to the tension in the strings.  The neck and headstock were sanded down to round off corners and get rid of most of the burned wood.

Mounted bridge,  nut,and tuning pegs.  The bridge and nut were made from a hardwood dowel.  The tuning pegs would work better if the headstock was a little thinner since they don’t stick through quite enough.  The nut will need slots for the strings added to hold the strings in a better position.  A paper clip was used to feed the zipties through to hold the bridge in place.   The easiest way to do this is to slip the small loop in the paper clip inside the ukulele and under the other hole so the ziptie can be threaded through it more easily.  Putting a flashlight up against the sound hole makes it easier to see the paper clip to get it in position.  Markings for the position of the bridge should be added to the Inkscape file to allow more easy alignment.

The ukulele has a good sound.  The strings are a little tight together but that will be fixed with grooves in the nut.  The ukulele is not staying in tune.  The string may be slipping at the bridge or tuning pegs (though these pegs are a better design to prevent slipping).  Also the nut and neck may be giving a little under the tension.  This will be played with more in the future to try to fix the problem.

Session 22

Continued working on the bell for the trombone.  It didn’t print properly last night due the filament getting jammed on the reel.  The current bell flares out to approximately the size of a trumpet bell and is about 1/2 cm thick.  It will be worth trying to make this thinner in the future to see how it effects resonance of the bell.

Also worked on getting the ukulele body shaped and glued together.  Cut supports for the top and bottom and smaller supports spread through out to hold the top and bottom on more securely.  The walls were held in place for this by putting them inside the pieces left over from cutting the forms.  This required cutting a small piece off to shorten the boards to get a tight fit.  Clamps were required to pull the sides in under the top and bottom when they were attached.  There is a slight overhang in places that will need to be sanded off once the glue is dry.  Will begin working on the neck and bridge tomorrow.


Session 21

July 27, 2016

We worked on the bell for the plastic trombone today.  First we printed a piece to make sure it would fit over the end of the pipe.  This files was then redesigned to fit over the pipe with a snug piece inside to prevent a sudden change in the inner diameter.  This file has a small flared bell.  It was left to print over night.  The next attempt of the bell will be even larger.


The form for the body of the tenor ukulele dried over night.  String was used to measure the length of the outer edge.  Pieces of baltic birch plywood were cut out and placed to soak in water for a couple of hours before being clamped to the form and left to dry.  There is a small gap at the bottom where the two side pieces should join which will have to be filled when the body is assembled.


Session 20

July 26, 2016

Resource site:

After an excellent trip to Larry Frank decided to come back to create another flute, this time a more traditional one in which is a blown over hole.


The characteristics are very similar to the PVC native american flute…with the 45 degree angles to split the air stream

The blown over flutes are much easier to create.  The closed/open effect took some time to create, but the addition of a lip plate had a considerable effect on the tone.  Removing the lip plate served as a more beneficial means for flutes.

Tone holes were randomly placed because of using scraps from the NA Flutes.  Tone hole placement is important, but tone hole size seems to have more important consequences.

Also continued work on getting 3-D printed plastic bell.   One of the printed bells was placed in the casting sand to be ready for a future casting with pewter.  The pewter bars we also cut down to fit into the melter.


Started working on a form for making a tenor ukulele.  Cut out the 1/2″ plywood shape multiple times to get a thick form to clamp wood to to create the sides of the body.

Recorded video using alto saxophone mouthpiece on brass pieces from shop including a trumpet bell and trombone bell.  Also placed the alto saxophone mouthpiece on the trumpet to compare the sound created versus the sound created with a trumpet mouthpiece.

Session 19

July 25

Today Mr. Ford and I took a couple of saxophones over to the instrument repair shop run by Larry Frank and his assistant P.J.  They were generous with their time and showed us how to completely strip down an old alto saxophone, remove dents, and fully clean it.  We then learned how to reenforce and recork the neck piece, square off the tone holes, and the basics of putting on new pads.  The actually installation of the new pads will be done by the shop since it requires experience to correctly seat the new pads.

The shop was also very generous and gave us parts from old instruments along with some new work and glue to use for creating our own instruments and for demonstrating the parts to students.


After returning to school we also worked to get the 3D printer unclogged so we could start printing a small bell for our foundry work.




Session 18

July 22

Yesterday Mr. Clarke and I were determined to discover the making of the Native american flutes out of wood.  We used multiple techniques from drilling to laser cutting.  We continued the work today trying different shapes for the sound hole edge to see which option works best.

Creating an angle between 30 and 45 degrees from the inside towards the outside made it easier to get the air stream to blow across the sound hole edge.  Trying to mimic the recorder with the angle going from the outside in requires the air stream to come along the upper inner edge of the pipe which requires more work especially since the wooden tubes we created did not have a clean symmetrical shape for the hollowed out region.  Widening the internal channel did seem to improve the tone some, but more work is necessary to determine how much effect it had.

Session 17

July 21, 2016

We worked on the Native American Flute more. The original flutes were done with PVC so we tried to switch over to wood.  A variety of techniques of creating a suitable tube from a solid cylinder of wood were tried.  Drilling down the middle can be used to create tubes up to about 12″ long, but longer drill bits are necessary to create a full sized flute.  The wood had a tendency to shatter in the center as the final part of the cut was completed.

We considered using a router to create a groove after cutting the wood in half, but the hope is to come up with a process that students can complete themselves with the equipment available in the Idea Lab.  Cutting all the way through the dowel with the laser cutter caused too much scorching to have a useable piece so instead the laser cutter was used to etch a line to follow on the band saw.  The two halves were then placed in the laser cutter to etch a groove down the middle.  The cutter was set to higher power in the center and lower power towards the edge to create a groove varying depth.  A sanding bit on the Dremel was then used to clean up the groove.  Before glueing the halves back together we will add the “sound hole” and fingering holes.

Session 16

July 20, 2016

Glue day for PVC trombone

All though the bell is not completed yet for the PVC trombone I went ahead and glued the majority of the instrument together and started to get the instrument ready for presentation.  Going to attempt to 3D print a mouthpiece receiver for use with a standard trombone mouthpiece.

Native American Flutes are going to be finished this week for presentation as well.

Looking at possibility of Casting next week in the mornings.  Considering Work on a Bells/Bars to be shaved and created with different materials in order to understand the workings of each.

Session 15

July 18, 2016

Continued research of flute tone holes led me to discover the website

The calculator here is much easier to understand and follow so will be experimenting with this site to continue work on making the flutes.

Mr. Clarke and I went through and took a PVC Native American Flute and drilled holes for tone, and then added a Clarinet mouthpiece to the end.  We expanded holes slowly from the top (closest to mouthpiece) to the bottom (at the “foot” of the instrument).  We discovered the size of the hole, almost over the placement of the whole, had a greater effect on creating a Half Step difference between each tone hole.

Basically, we discovered the BASIC working of the woodwind instruments using a reed.