The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #89374   Message #1686193
Posted By: JohnInKansas
06-Mar-06 - 01:06 AM
Thread Name: Making an angel harp
Subject: RE: Making an angel harp
I'm a bit puzzled by the description of the pins. The set of autoharp pins I picked up (on sale) with the thought of maybe someday doing "something" with them are just straight pins. The only difference between the fixed anchor pins and the turnable tuning pins is the square "head" and cross-hole in the tuning pins and a simpler hole (or hole and end groove?) in the others.

As I have not really "studied up" on Autoharps, there may be other kinds of pins, but the ones I've seen should just lift out of the holes once the strings are loosened or removed. A very close fit between pins and the holes they go into is needed for proper tuning action and retention, so it may take a bit more than "finger plucking" to get the pins out, but they should just lift out of the holes with a little "persuasion."

If you do have the simple straight pins, it should be fairly easy to remove the pins once the strings are slacked off or removed. Since you'll probably need to remove the strings to do any sort of finishing properly, you'll know by the time the strings are out of the way whether removing the pins will be a problem. Any finishing will be much easier with the pins out.

Although the pins should be interchangeable, from one hole to another, I'd be inclined to drill a row (or 2 or 4 rows) of loose holes in a scrap block of wood to put them in as they're removed, so that they're kept in order and can be put back each in it's original hole; but that's just 'cause I'm a bit "detail oriented" on such projects.

IF the original finish is black, it's probably a lacquer, or on an originally cheap instrument, "just paint." Stripping and removal may be messy, but isn't complicated with "removers" from the nearest hardware. If you want a "wood" finish, you will need to strip any paint before applying a new finish. You might consider just painting over with one of the "gold paints" (or "silver") that should be easy to find at a local "craft shop." Unless the original finish is cracked/peeling or otherwise needs removal, these paints should give adequate coverage and durability as an overpaint.

If the pin/hole fit is as close as it should be, you'll want to be very careful about getting any paint (or other finish) actually in the holes since this may make it difficult to fit the pins back in place when the finishing is done. Consider small corks or "stoppers" in the holes (maybe made of small pieces of wooden dowel, tapered a bit on the ends so they "sit" in the holes like a stopper).

Now, as soon as someone who actually knows about autoharps comes along, they can explain to us both all that's wrong with the above; and I'll get a chance to learn something.