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What is the easiest wat to cut my own harmonica combs from aluminium? Answered

I need the best technique for cutting a harmonica comb from aluminium or brass(or anything else for that matter!) with a router or hand tools. It needs to be fairly accurate but not necessarily that proffesional looking(I like the homemade look). I have no problem building a guide or template for the router but I want some advice on the best way to go about it. They need to be 100mm x 25mm x 6mm. I can buy sheets at the right thickness so it is just the comb shape I need to get. Thanks


You're looking for fine detail from a router. That means you need a very narrow cutter, which is not easy to run by hand - it'll snap unless you use very light cuts. Why not just saw them, either with a junior hacksaw, or a jeweller's saw ? It might actually be quicker.

I would use a smaller table saw with the comb stock sitting on the edge where the slot will begin. Make a guide table to make nice square cuts and set the blade depth carefully depending on the length of the slot. Using a router won't give you nice square corners in the slots and will be tougher to do precisely. Lay out the slot placement on the guide table and match the leading end of the stock to the next slot. Start with the shallowest slot, high notes, and increase your depth as you move up to the lower notes.

I'd be surprised if aluminum works well. Brass or steel are more commonly used for free reeds. I agree that hand tools are likely to be a better bet, though you might be able to design some sort of slotting jig around a dremel tool with a cutting disk.

I did think about that. I definately want to do acid etch on the covers for decoration.

How thick are the reeds ? Etching may well be perfect !

There seems to be some confusion between the comb and the reeds. The comb, the part I want, is the middle section, the filling in the sandwich. The reed plates sit on top of and underneath the comb. They are separate parts. The reed plate is best left to a pro to do as the tolerances are tiny. The central comb is 6mm thick. I do have a 4mm carbide end mill on the router that cuts aluminium fine at that thickness but I can't cut straight for toffee. I need a jig I think. Or find someone with a drill press and mill it out. Hand tools sound like hard work. I have done some wood ones that way with mixed results. Thanks.

Ah, Yes, a jig is the best way to go. How many are you going to make ? You MIGHT get an electric jigsaw that would do well in that kind of scale of work, providing you can follow a straight line !

If it goes right I will make quite a few. I definately can't do straight lines. I'm also thinking about some kind of X,Y, axis rig to mount the router on.

Thanks, it was only the comb i wanted to do at the moment not ambitious enough for the reedplates yet. Besides, You can't beat Hohner plates. I just want some replacement combs. Cheers