Daniel Fishkin has the first part of a three-part series on the Daxophone in the Shop Blog for Popular Woodworking – a both novel looking and sounding musical instrument:
Hey! My name is Daniel, and this is the first of three posts about the daxophone, a very special and strange musical instrument that not many people know about outside communities of experimental music. The daxophone is a thin hardwood strip, which when set into vibration by a bow, can sound like the human voice, a violin, or a frisky woodland mammal. The daxophone is a rather new musical instrument, invented in 1987 by German font designer and musician Hans Reichel. There is no specific or “classical” way to make it—its form could vary widely between different luthiers. I have been building daxophones since 2005, and in this guide I will detail some things I’ve learned along the way. This will not be a how-to-do guide, but rather, how-I-do. Creative tinkerers can easily build their own daxophone with a little effort. I hope that you, dear reader of Popular Woodworking, will be inspired, and give it a try.
But since this is a musical instrument, let’s start off with a video, so you can hear how it sounds, and see how it is played.
I dig this pro-tip for using clear plexi for tracing the dax tongues on wood, because the clear allows you to see the grain of the wood and layout the position of the tongue for optimal grain aesthetics:
Here’s a slew of daxophone tongue templates. I use these for tracing patterns onto daxophone blanks, before approaching the scroll saw. The great thing about the clear plexiglass is that you can see the grain. I sometimes move these around to change the shape while tracing, if I’m trying to include a particularly interesting pattern.