Building the Marimba - page one

Jeffrey La Favre -

Photo below: 20 foot long aluminum tubes for fabricating resonators. Dropped off by semitruck.

African Padouk wood was used to fabricate bars. On right below is a rough cut board as obtained from the supplier. The rough cut boards were thickness planed and then cut into strips of the required width. A milled bar blank can be seen on the left in the photo below.

The grain of the wood should be straight along the length for a quality bar. In the photo below, the top piece does not have straight grain (the grain curves down from left to right). An acceptable bar can be fabricated from curved grain, but only if the curve in the grain is at the bar ends, not between the nodes. The grain between the nodes should be parallel to the bar edge, as in the bottom bar blank below.

The end grain is not as critical as the grain along the length. However, quarter-sawn or rift-sawn grain is more desirable than flat or half-sawn. Quarter-sawn and rift-sawn end grain should yield bars with more sustain. In the photo below, the top piece has quarter-sawn grain and the bottom has flat-sawn grain. Bar blanks containing the center of the tree will show complete or near complete circles of end grain and these are not suitable.

Photo below shows milling machine setup for drilling holes in bars. A wedge of the required angle was placed below the bar when drilling angled holes.


Rough cut maple for marimba frame, from saw mill in Burton Station, OH

Thickness planer used to surface mill the maple (same machine was also used for African Padouk)


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