Experimental Wood Block

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Blog entry by Dave Rutan posted 11-02-2015 05:49 PM 1578 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

(This is not posted as a project because I felt it was just an experiment, I’m not completely happy with the result and I didn’t put finish on it.)

The pile of wooden blocks that I got as cast offs from the pre-school at my church has been living in a box on my floor. It’s been tasking me. Today I decided to give a try of creating a musical wood block from a block of wood.
I simply chucked a 3/8 inch bit in my drill press and set the depth and a fence as a guide. The slot on each side is offset from the other. I made one slot about 1/2 inch shorter (along the length of the block) than the one on the opposite side of the block.
Then I used a rasp to sort of widen the outer edges of the slots to maybe deflect the sound outwards. Using the drill press as a ‘ghetto router’ leaves some uneven edges which would have to be smoothed either with lots of sanding or maybe some chisel work. I sanded mine a bit. The other thing I don’t so much like about this method is the series of points in the bottom of the slots from the Forstner bit.
The block sounds OK and had two different tones, but I’m not ecstatic with the quality of the result. If I bought a really long (2inch) straight bit for my router I could get a better result. I’m not sure if my router could even handle that.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

6 comments so far

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1392 posts in 3172 days

#1 posted 11-02-2015 07:12 PM

Interesting project. Have read somewhere that there are supposed to be “tone woods” that has a great sound to them. Not sure beech is one of them (at least it looks like that in the pictures). Might be worth looking into..
Looking forward to see the end result!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View kiefer's profile


5852 posts in 4126 days

#2 posted 11-02-2015 08:21 PM

Try a piece of spruce it may surprise you and also cut off a slice and reattach it after cutting the opening .
A thin piece of wood housed in the chamber may also help bring the sound out the front .


-- Kiefer

View Woodknack's profile


13593 posts in 3839 days

#3 posted 11-03-2015 12:07 AM

Padauk would be an excellent choice, it’s used for xylophone keys.

-- Rick M,

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

2022 posts in 3647 days

#4 posted 11-03-2015 12:19 AM

Here’s a shot of the block with a few coats of boiled linseed oil. My wife says the kids will love it despite it not being 100 percent up to snuff. I’m not at all sure what building blocks are made of, but it has a fairly good sound to it.

Point of interest: I brought in some fore-arm sized limb pieces that I had outside. I banged a few pairs of like wood together out of curiosity. The elm and walnut sort of thudded, but the maple rang pretty good. I would have expected the walnut to sound good as well. Maybe it’s too fresh.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View Woodknack's profile


13593 posts in 3839 days

#5 posted 11-03-2015 06:54 AM

Walnut is probably too soft. For percussion instrument you want hard woods, harder the better generally.

-- Rick M,

View robscastle's profile


8554 posts in 3663 days

#6 posted 11-03-2015 09:42 AM

What? I cannot hear anything

-- Regards Rob

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