LumberJocks

Evolution of the Cricket Xylophone

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Project by johnhutchinson posted 12-19-2013 01:27 PM 1187 views 9 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This one makes me smile (and sometimes laugh) for a number of reasons.

The Cricket Xylophone was the first project that I designed and built for the Nov/Dec 1998 issue of Woodworker’s Journal. Just to keep things straight, my cricket is the one in the opening photo with the wooden tone bars. Half of the fun in doing the project was tuning the wooden bars with my physics-major son and his borrowed oscilloscope. After 15 years, it’s still in perfect tune.

When WWJ’s parent company, Rockler, decided to sell the plans in 2007 (second photo), they revised them and swapped the wooden plates for a set of metal bars. Something apparently got lost in translation, and the reviews for the plans are less-than-stellar because of some errors. I’ve never received a percentage for the plans they’re selling, but they did send me a set of the incorrect plans, for my own project, as a thank-you gift. FAR OUT!!!

My personal review of their metal bars, which I used for my XyloSpider, is pretty dismal. There’s a lot more thud-thud going on than the ping-ping I was expecting.

I know that a number of my fellow LumberJockies made the cricket because my daughter sent me some photos that she found. They’re all great, but my favorite is the hybrid (third photo) where someone used the plans for the body, incorporated a set of colored metal bars from a flea-market toy, and then offset the leg pivots by 180 degrees so that it looks like it’s walking. BRAVO!!! I’d like that Jockey to step forward and identify himself.

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"





25 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

15488 posts in 1089 days


#1 posted 12-19-2013 02:11 PM

Very cool

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View doubleDD's profile

doubleDD

2813 posts in 794 days


#2 posted 12-19-2013 02:26 PM

This is really cool. Someone in our family has one of these, or at least very similar. I just can not recall who has it. I might have ti investigate. What sets off the different tones? Different thicknesses, the length?

-- --Dave, Downers Grove, Il. When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams

View Marcus's profile

Marcus

1081 posts in 770 days


#3 posted 12-19-2013 02:46 PM

Thickness and length. Tuning these (marimbas, xylophones ) is a real pain in the butt as sanding the bottom 1/64” too much can totally change the tone. I had not seen this before…very cool work John.

View johnhutchinson's profile

johnhutchinson

753 posts in 380 days


#4 posted 12-19-2013 02:47 PM

Dave—The different tones are a function of the different lengths, but the bars all have the same 1/4” thickness. They were fine-tuned by paring small shavings of wood from the bottoms. I can remember doing a considerable amount of research at the time on the physics of wooden xylophone bars. Fascinating stuff!

I used some spectacular quarter-sawn cherry for the bars. It gave them a really bright sound.

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View Jeff_in_LSMO's profile

Jeff_in_LSMO

195 posts in 1091 days


#5 posted 12-19-2013 03:05 PM

First off, I like it, and it would be really cool if you put the antennae on pivots and attached them to the front wheel axle with cams so they could “play” the xylophone while in motion… or, have a series of hammers hidden underneath, all cam activated, that play a song when the xylophone is pulled… I think I’m getting some inspiration… and in the middle of a major home remodel… i will have to sketch this out before i forget

View johnhutchinson's profile

johnhutchinson

753 posts in 380 days


#6 posted 12-19-2013 04:09 PM

Great ideas, Jeff! The evolution continues. :)
Fisher Price did some great things with their early xylophone push/pull toys.
I’ve posted one of the examples that I found below.

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View luv2learn's profile

luv2learn

1865 posts in 1053 days


#7 posted 12-19-2013 04:41 PM

You are a kid at heart John. This is another fine example of your creativity.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View HillbillyShooter's profile

HillbillyShooter

4893 posts in 1043 days


#8 posted 12-19-2013 06:02 PM

Very cool and a great design/construct. Just one question, I’m not getting your comment on the third toy that the builder “offset the leg pivots by 180 degrees so that it looks like it’s walking.” I don’t mean to be obtuse, but I just don’t see it in the photographs as the first and third look the same to me.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View johnhutchinson's profile

johnhutchinson

753 posts in 380 days


#9 posted 12-19-2013 06:49 PM

Thanks, John C. Let’s see if I can answer your question.
The rear axle is fixed to the wheels, and I set both of my leg pivots to the same “time” on the wheels—6:00 in the photo.
The gentleman who made the third example set his pivots at 6:00 and 12:00.
Mine hops. His crawls.
I just like the way his version displays when it’s sitting on a shelf, as a piece of folk art, with one leg up and one leg down.
I also like the primary colors on the plates mixed with the natural wood.

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View johnhutchinson's profile

johnhutchinson

753 posts in 380 days


#10 posted 12-19-2013 06:55 PM

I forgot to say that his looks like it’s in motion even when it’s at rest.
I LIKE THAT!!!

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View HillbillyShooter's profile

HillbillyShooter

4893 posts in 1043 days


#11 posted 12-19-2013 07:18 PM

John, Thanks, that explains it. For some reason, I didn’t understand that the offset was on the two back wheels and kept trying to figure out an offset for each wheel. Best wishes, and Merry Christmas, John

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View hoss12992's profile

hoss12992

2961 posts in 644 days


#12 posted 12-20-2013 02:20 AM

This is awesome! Great job buddy. Your creativity knows no end, and your craftsmanship is def top notch. I really like this piece.

-- The Old Rednek Workshop https://www.facebook.com/theoldrednekworkshoptn

View RogerInColorado's profile

RogerInColorado

306 posts in 705 days


#13 posted 12-20-2013 06:40 PM

You, again! I saw this one in the WWJ years ago and sort of decided not to build it for much the same reason you pointed out, I felt the metal bars suspect. I had no confidence in them having a decent tone. Now that I know the original had wood bars … (the dots imply thinking, but I already know I don’t nave the patience to fine tune 8 wooden bars to sing).

I think it’s time you wrote a book.

View johnhutchinson's profile

johnhutchinson

753 posts in 380 days


#14 posted 12-20-2013 07:15 PM

That’s right, Roger. I’m everywhere. :)

I plan on building more, and I’ve been accumulating a stash of trashed Fisher Price xylophones from flea markers and garage sales so I can salvage the bars. Fisher Price knew how to make them right!

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View johnhutchinson's profile

johnhutchinson

753 posts in 380 days


#15 posted 12-20-2013 07:25 PM

Roger—I just noticed your comment about writing a book, and I’ve been considering it. I’ve been posting my current and past projects on LumberJocks to share what I’ve been up to for the past twenty years, but it’s also been a good sounding board for what’s a hit and what’s a dud.

Since I’ve done everything from toys, to chicken coops, to furniture, I’m not sure what the title would be. Maybe just ”John’s Stuff”. :)

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

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