Light Box Contest…

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Here are some sketches of the ultimate (?)  light box for embossing reeds. The idea here is to take a piece of plastic pipe, cut it into a half-round and then put on a flat top with a slot cut into it. You could then change the angle of the slot you look at when embossing. The slot would have a hair line above and below it that lines up with a cube that has cross hairs on it. the cross hairs line up when you have your eye centered.

Inside, you have an LED light bulb.

About the “cube”… This is plexiglas cube 1″ x 1”. I used a dial caliper to scrape cross hairs on it in the front and back, centered. Then I rubbed in black ink from a sharpie pen. It is centered above the slot that the light shines through. When you move your eye from side to side, the cross hairs tell you if you’re eye is centered. When your eye is centered The cross hairs line up and it looks like one line. When your eye is centered you see the slot more accurately.

Study the drawings to get the main idea. I am sorry – I tried to make the drawings bigger, but could not get the technical process to work with me…

Here is what I am thinking: If you want to take this idea and want to make this box, I will help you sell it. I just don’t have time to build this thing myself, but i think the idea is a winner. Plenty of people have asked me if I can make them a light box, so I know there is a market.

If you can improve on this concept, I am all for it. So – that is the contest – the winner (s) get to make some money by building light boxes for people who want to hot rod harmonicas.

Questions? –

Harmonica Reed Sorting Box

Reed BoxThis is a harmonica reed sorting box that I had custom made for me. Three drawers, each drawer has 12 rows of 10 compartments. It makes it very easy to sort and find reeds.

It is made of handcrafted solid oak.

I have decided to let it go. I now use small envelopes to sort reeds and even though it is more of a hassle to find reeds, I want to make my operation as small as possible.

This beautiful piece of is available to anyone who will make me a reasonable offer and come and get it.

You can reach me via email:

Basement Moisture Exhaust Fan…

…For the harp tech who wants some peace and quiet along with a dry basement.

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When I moved my harmonica shop into the basement of our new home in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, I had to start using a de-humidifier. Or so I thought. For two years I suffered through the noise and heat of the dehumidifier and  the nuisance of having to empty the water from the drain pan.

This year I moved my tuning area directly into the area where I kept the dehumidifier. I hated the thought of another summer of noise and heat, so I started looking for some other way to deal with the humidity.

I ran across this article:

It explains that the cold air with the most moisture collects at the lowest point in your basement and if you move that air out, you also get rid of most of the moisture.

So a quiet exhaust fan at floor level ends up doing a better job of getting rid of not only moisture but stale air in general.

It is a simple idea – an exhaust fan at floor level with a switch unit that measures the level of moisture in the air – a humidistat. You can set the humidistat to kick in when the humidity rises to a particular level. I ended up tuning the knob on this so it runs all the time.

So far, I love this rig and will never go back to the dehumidifier. This rig also uses a lot less electricity than the dehumidifier.

Sure makes it a lot more pleasant to tune harmonicas!

My Favorite Tools: Sanding Jigs for Harmonica Combs

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I made these jigs from 1/2 inch thick plexiglass with aluminum flat stock screwed in around the edges. The plexiglas is dead flat, and the raised edge holds the comb in place so you can concentrate on moving the combs in figure eights on a piece of sandpaper, or use the jig with the belt sander without worrying about losing control.

This tool makes it very easy to put even pressure on the combs as you flatten them.

I tried making these by gluing the frame around the plexiglas, and it worked for a little while, then the glue gave way. The version you see in the photos is put together with 2-56 screws. I had to tap the plexiglas. You could drill the whole way through and use long screws and nuts to hold the sides together, or use self tapping screws. The main thing is to make it sturdy so you don’t need to worry about it coming apart.

Then you can knock out lots of flat combs in record time!

My favorite Tools: The Belt Sander


This is my Trusty Delta 4″ x 36″ belt sander that has flattened hundreds of harmonica combs and lower reed plates ove the years. A real time saver, once you get the hang of using it. You need several different belts with different grits, including fine grit. I removed a sanding disk that was attached to the unit. (the grey plate in front on the left covers the area where the disk sander was). Also took off the piece that goes over the sanding belt to keep things from getting snagged by the belt and sent flying.

If you use a belt sander set up like this one, you can expect to send a bunch of reed plates and combs flying across the room until you get your technique together. I also removed flesh from my fingertips more than once. You have been warned!

One last tip – it is worth it to buy expensive high quality belts for your harmonica work. Keep a couple of cheaper ones on hand for household projects and other non-harmonica work. Do that and your best belts will last for years.

Hello out there!

Welcome to

This site is devoted to the noble art of Hot Rodding harmonicas, and breathing life into them and through them.

The video series “Hot Rod Your Harmonicas – The Movie” will be up soon here, for sale as DVDs and Downloads.

There will also be articles, videos, pictures, and audios. The goal is to see how far we can go to bring the harmonica into a new world of expression. This is an amazing time to be a harmonica player. The harmonica today is on the verge of transforming into a new instrument, really, a new family of instruments.

It is a bit like what was happening to the guitar in the late 1940s, with Leo Fender and Les Paul changing the guitar from a mostly accoustic instrument into the electric guitar.

Only the change going on with the harmonica is a combination of a new generation of harp techs and new designs meeting computer assisted design and small machine shops working on big ideas.

Stay tuned! It is going to be a wild ride…..

BTW – plenty of harp tech articles are at