Interesting that Bill and I and probably David all make jacks in pretty
much the same way. Each person will evolve slightly different versions of
the same thing.
Bill mentions the only two jigs - jigs properly speaking - which he uses,
and that's pretty much the same for me. I have a very poorly-made
(mid-1970s) Rockwell table saw, which I've gotten so used to it's not worth
the trouble to buy a good one. This I use, much as Bill describes, to make
the slots in the jacks, using only a depth (and forward travel) stop.
Really complicated: a piece of wood clamped to the fence! I *do* happen to
have a nice custom-made slotting blade which was made for another purpose
(Italian box guide slots) which is a nice size for the purpose.
I happen to have a nice Makita cut-off saw I use to whack off the ends of
the blanks, a minor difference from Bill's procedure.
I used to mill the blanks larger than final dimensions by a much greater
margin than I now do, and spend hours planing the final sizing on a bench
plane jig (nothing more than a block of wood with an appropriate-depth slot
to rest the work piece in.) I still do this, but mill the blanks only
fractionally over thickness and width.
I have a jig, much like Bill's I suspect, for drilling the axle holes, and
this, again like Bill's, allows me to adjust the height of the axle. I use
what are called "sequin pins" purchased at a fabric store for axles. They
are short dressmaker's pins (about 12mm long) around .5mm in diameter,
brass plated with very polished stainless steel. Drilling at .020" (about
.52mm) makes a snug fit. This jig is not complicated, but must be solid
enough to stay put once it's set up on the drill press.
My jig for drilling bristle holes also has a stop against which the bottom
of the jack slot is pushed. This jig was for me the object of some fairly
painful trial and error over the years. It is now - finally - reliable. But
I found it a challenge.
Also a challenge was one other jig - that for putting quill mortises into
Other than that it's all pretty much hand work with the aid of some holders.
Still - it sounds easy now that one has made billions of the things. Expect
the first time around to be a challenge.
There is at least one other list member who is at this very moment setting
up to make his first big run of jacks. He will read this post, and perhaps
you could start an off-List dialog.
Owen Daly Early Keyboard Instruments
557 Statesman St. NE
Salem, OR 97301
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