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Homemade pipe organ

So this isn’t a gadget that you’re going to knock together over a rainy weekend.  Raphi Giangiulio is a mechanical engineer, former TI employee, music lover, and woodworker.  Put all of those together and you have someone with the qualities needed to build their own pipe organ, from scratch, entirely from wood.

This organ has  5 stops and 5 ranks.  If you, like me, aren’t an organ player you may not know what that means.  On a pipe organ there are usually multiple sets of pipes, called ranks, each of which spans the range of notes that can be played by the manual (keyboard).  The ranks all play the same notes, but they differ in volume, timbre, or pitch.  The stops in turn control which ranks produce sound when the organist presses a key. “Pulling out all the stops” refers to using all of the available ranks to make the loudest tones.  The organ has a pedalboard in addition to the single manual, and each has its own set of 5 stops.

As  describes it, he got tired of working on DLP projectors for movie theaters so he quit his job in order to concentrate on relaxing and organ building.  Almost 4 years later the organ you see in the photo was complete.

Giangiulio’s web page is very complete, including the mathematics involved, the temperament he chose, the prototype pipes he built, etc.  He includes a complete set of 3D cad drawings for the entire organ in STL format.  The workmanship involved in building something like this is amazing to me.  Take a look at the fit and finish of the manual in the second photo.  The keys are built up from 4 layers of poplar, with the grain alternating directions in order to control warping in the presence of humidity.  They are then topped with walnut for the naturals, and maple for the sharps.  The windsheets of the pipes are specified to an accuracy of a thousandth of an inch.

As you might guess,  Giangiulio is now employed as an organ builder at Pasi Organ Builders of Roy, Washington.  Take a look at his photo gallery and prepare to be amazed.

Steve Ravet

Design News Gadgeteer

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