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MMD > Archives > December 2002 > 2002.12.23 > 05Prev  Next

Building John Smith Busker Organ Pipes
By Jean Nimal

-- non-subscriber, please reply to sender and MMD --

Hello!  I am building the J. SMITH busker organ and I have a few
ideas that might interest someone about building pipes.  I learnt
a lot myself through MMD Archives -- Thank you !

    Tricks and tips about John Smith busker organ pipes

1.  Building pipes

One of the most interesting things in the way John Smith builds the
pipes of his busker organ is that he uses a scale which doesn't
constantly need painfully difficult measurements.  But one difficult
task remains : how to cut perfectly parallel sides for the four main
parts of a pipe.  (The bottom and inside partitions are cut out of one
of these parts).

Here is a method which doesn't need measurements, which is quick, safe
and with very little preparation.

 - Preparation

Take a board, 10 to 20 cm wide, as long as the longest pipe (about
60 cm).  Add a side along the board, glued or nailed.  This side
overlaps the board by about 1 cm.  That's all !

 - Cutting the sides

Find a bit of balsa sheet, 1 mm thick.  Using the paper scale, mark
this sheet to the internal (or external) width.  Cut the sheet square
on the mark (about 10 mm), then cut along this small rectangle in two
parts which will make your cutting guides .

Take the sheet of balsa for pipes, put it on the board against the
side.  Put the guides at each end of the board and lay the rule.
Firmly applied, you can run your scalpel along it.

Of course, both opposite sides of pipes are prepared in only one cut,
as the only important precision needed is to get them the same width.
The 60 cm board allows this for all the front pipes (the longest is
31 cm), but not for the bass pipes.

2.  The pipes appearance

The front of J. Smith pipes shows the gluing line of sides.  It is
hardly visible with balsa wood, but unaesthetic with other sorts of
wood.  Of course you can apply a veneer on balsa, but why not make a
long upper lip which covers the whole front of pipe -- it gives the
traditional aspect with a nice look.  This cover will be glued and
side-sanded after tuning!  While tuning, use rubber bands only near
the lip to be sure it is firmly applied against the aperture.

3.  Hard balsa

You can find different qualities of balsa at the web site of French
provider Heima:  They sell three
grades of balsa wood: (1) a very light one, "Colibri", (2) a standard
grade, "Class A", and (3) a "Naval" grade (for ship models), which is
a little heavier, harder (but still easy to work) and much cheaper than
other grades!

Merry Christmas!

Jean Nimal

 [ Merci, Jean!  Please tell us more about the organ, as your work
 [ progresses.  -- Robbie

(Message sent Mon 23 Dec 2002, 13:28:40 GMT, from time zone GMT+0100.)

Key Words in Subject:  Building, Busker, John, Organ, Pipes, Smith

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