Instructables

Good enough for the bush Australian version of Tahitian ukulele

Step 7:

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Tuning Pegs
This little bit is how I made the wooden tuning pegs – you can skip this if you are sensible and go for store bought machine heads- so far my expenditure is zero – all of his stuff was what I had lying around in my shed. A sensible person would have gone for machine heads and fret wire in any case.

Wood tuning pegs are a traditional and craftly way to tune string instruments. Sometimes I get just as much enjoyment from making a jig or a tool to do a job as I do making the the thing itself and I had a ball making these. I got these tips from various cigar box guitar and luthierie based forums, not to mention a few instructibles.

Tuning pegs are not straight – they have a slight taper (1 in 25 traditionally and 1 in 30 more recently) I began my process by making a 1 in 30 reamer out of an old kitchen knife. To mark metal accurately for cutting and grinding, a good tip I heard was to use a permanent marker to make a wide black line and then use a scribe (a sharp strong needle) to scratch a clear accurate distinct line in the black. This knife was 8 mm across the handle and the blade was 90mm long so a 1 in 30 taper means the end should be 5 mm across. This reamer is what we will use to make both the holes to put the pegs in. It will also make the tool to make the pegs, that way even if the reamer itself is not 100% accurate it will be the same shape as the pegs so there should be no problems. I cut it out roughly using an angle grinder and straightened it out, sharpening the edges slightly with a file.


I started out using the reamer as is, without any aid and this was taking too long. That knife handle is narrow and provides very little grip to spin it. So I then used it in combination with a power drill, which was fast, but accidentally turned the reamer into a twisted one. So I had to hammer it flat, file it straight and temper it over the BBQ burner (didn't bother measuring the temperature just held it in the gas flame for a minute or two, pulled it out and let it slow cool- it's only a kitchen knife, not a tool steel for goodness sake).  After this I switched to using a short handle made out of a bit of offcut pine. Marked a rectangle the size of the handle, drilled it out and bunged it on with a bit of glue. Occasionally rubbing it with a file to put an edge back on it while in use seemed to help (made me feel better anyway).The tape on the blade marked my desired “uniform” depth.