Cigar Box Kalimbas

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Project by Randall Sly posted 04-15-2013 10:45 PM 2890 views 11 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

From December 2009, The “Santa’s Sweat Shop Project”. I’ll post a few of my favorites, and a photo of the whole lot. Re-purposed cigar boxes and an abundance of scrap materials of Oak, Teak, Cedar, Cocobola, Epa, and other miscellaneous bits including some aluminium.

  • Photo 1 – This one was the smallest, ended up appropriately our youngest daughters (5YO in 2009)
  • Photo 2 – with 2 Sound Ports
  • Photo 3 – I think this one went to dad, it was a Grab Bag selection process so we couldn’t choose favorites. This Kalimba also has tremolo ports on the rear.
  • Photo 4 – More or less the entire build, give or take a few that had to be shipped to family not joining us that year.

Cigar boxes are mostly cedar, the Tines or keys are made from tool steel (or for those in a hurry electricians fish tapes of which I destroyed 3 or 4 for this project). They are tuned and easily tune-able to any diatonic variable one may like. We were very pleased that these were so well received and still enjoy visiting family and seeing them proudly displayed 4 years later.

-- I could retire nicely if I could sell my experience for what it cost me.

4 comments so far

View nonickswood's profile


564 posts in 3265 days

#1 posted 04-16-2013 01:42 AM

These are very Cool!!
I’ve been wanting to make something similar.
Already have a small box made up- just can’t seem to find the right steel-
electricians fish tape—You say, I’ll check that out.
Nice work,
Welcome to Ljs!!

-- Nick, Virginia,

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6274 posts in 3287 days

#2 posted 04-16-2013 02:20 AM

Interesting gift very unique.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Randall Sly's profile

Randall Sly

48 posts in 2758 days

#3 posted 04-16-2013 04:06 PM

We have a very musically inclined family, if it makes noise it’s an acceptable gift.

As for the Fish tape I really didn’t want to cut up brand new ones but ultimately did only after asking every electrician I knew if he had a kinked one laying around to donate.

The tines / keys are 3.5 – 4.5 inches. Some cigar shops stack empties at the door, other charge a few dollars (especially for the nicer wooden ones) I made a few from the cardboard boxes but was not impressed with the tonal results.

-- I could retire nicely if I could sell my experience for what it cost me.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3745 days

#4 posted 04-16-2013 04:38 PM

That’s quite a collection abd very nice. Welcome to Lumberjocks.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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