Introduction: Kalimba

About: I published my first video game on Google Play and itch.io Check out my website!
Make a Kalimba
1 - grounding bar (look in the electrical part of your hardware store 3"x 5/16")
1-shim or piece of wood 3 1/2" long x 3/4" x 5/8"
1 block of wood 9"x 5 1/4"x 1 1/2"
2 -screws about 5/16"x 1 1/2"
drill bits
screw driver
for the kalimba keys:
1 -package of metal barrettes (look in the craft section for hair accessories)
     or you could try harvesting metal from an old rake.

or you could use bamboo skewers for kalimba keys.

Unsuitable keys:
thin metal from bobby pins or aluminum cans because it doesn't make a good sound.

Optional wood mallet:
bamboo skewer, and one wood bead that fits the skewer, glue.

Optional woodcarving:
1 -xacto or carving knife
1 -dremel
metal bits for carving, sanding

Step 1: Directions

Mark holes.  Pre drill the wood. Stack the grounding bar on top of the shim that is on the wood.  Screw together.
Prepare the barette keys:
Bend the metal barretes open to form a v shape.  You need a variety of lengths so you will want to break some by bending and pressing open to fatigue the metal.
If you use bamboo just insert through the grounding bar and screw tight.

Step 2: Carving

Optional carving:
Draw design with a pencil.  Use a xacto to score along the details.  Use dremmel bits to carve between the lines and around the edges.
Use sandpaper around the edges.

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    2 Discussions

    Dream Dragon
    Dream Dragon

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Anything reasonably ridged would work as "keys", bits of coat hanger, plastic rods, paint brushes, would all sound and function slightly differently, but well worth experimenting. Hacksaw blades may not fit in your grounding bar, but they do sound really good. I would suggest using a "bridge" of some kind to transmit the vibrations directly to the resonator rather than having them go through the clamping mechanism, but that's almost a matter of preference and aesthetics. You have made a nice instrument, and I hope you enjoy it.

    Thank you for sharing your project.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you Dream Dragon for the suggestions. When experimenting with different keys you might need to make your own bridge, and layer the woods.