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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Tool for Tuning Harps
Tool for Tuning Harps
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255 posts
Sep 05, 2020
12:04 PM
What are you all using these days for tuning harps? I've been tuning my own harps for probably 15 years now. I use an old Richard Sleigh draw scraper and some cheap hobby files.

The draw scraper is losing its edge and I don't have the tools to fix it. And the files leave a lot to be desired. Was wondering what others are using and if there is anything better or easier out there?

I'm not interested in any full tool sets. I have what I need and like what I have. I'm just looking for files or scrapers for re-tuning reeds. Thanks.
6797 posts
Sep 05, 2020
1:25 PM
Tom Halchak turned me on to a particular rotary tool which cost about $60 Australian, which is what I use for most jobs. Draw scraper still sees some use, mainly on brass blow reeds when fine tuning assembled harps.

For years I used a Grobet diamond cut three square file on brass reeds and a little F Dick flat file on steel. The F Dick file is one grade more aggressive but I've forgotten the specific grades.
That rotary gizmo is the way to go though. The foot pedal makes it great to use. I avoid engraving tools wherever possible. They're too aggressive. I use the finest sanding cylinders I can easily obtain. Lots of people are using polishing pins and they do a great job
6798 posts
Sep 05, 2020
1:30 PM
Mine is similar to this. You can shop around and probably find better price

256 posts
Sep 05, 2020
3:25 PM
I just ran my draw scraper across the fine side of my Smith's knife sharpening stone and its good as new!
257 posts
Sep 05, 2020
3:26 PM
I agree the rotary tools are the way to go if you do a lot of tuning, But the draw scraper, now that I figured out how to sharpen it, is perfect for maintaining your harps.
John M G
368 posts
Sep 05, 2020
10:30 PM
I made a draw scraper out of an old Makita jig saw blade. It's exactly 1 mm wide and works really well. I also use a mixture of Richard Sliegh tools and others I've made or have adapted.
4167 posts
Sep 06, 2020
6:24 AM
I use the small blade of my Swiss Army Knife (Spartan model) as a scraper and have modified the tweezers to make a reed lifter/plinker. Not the greatest tool in the world, but good enough for me.
258 posts
Sep 06, 2020
11:37 AM
What do you use for stainless steel reeds? They dull the draw scraper.
6801 posts
Sep 06, 2020
2:48 PM
I keep my "good" sharp tools for brass. I have a separate kit for steel reeds. I try to not use sharpness to deal with the steel reeds so I rely on abrasion to tune them. I reuse the rivets to attach new reeds rather than reaming the rivet hole to take a screw (it's easier anyway). Dealing with steel reeds became much simpler when I got that "nail drill" tool. I used to dread tuning steel harps because it took so much filing. Now it's not much different to tuning a brass reed harp, although it does wear out the sanding barrels faster
Soap Music
10 posts
Dec 01, 2020
11:02 AM
A hammer, a feeler gauge and bucket of boiling water with diluted white vinegar. None of the aforementioned has ever really worked on my harmonicas but it has a amazing restoration effect on my favourite gig shirts.

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