Author Topic: DIY Sustain Pedal  (Read 4238 times)

Offline sean

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DIY Sustain Pedal
« on: December 27, 2018, 11:17:14 PM »
I had more Rhodes pianos than sustain pedals, so I decided to build a few sustain pedals. 

I came up with a number of basic designs and I wound up building a few prototypes plus seven finished products, and there are still more variations that I didn't get completed.  I started with the measurements of a later-production sustain pedal, which I posted ten years ago:

I’ll show you how to build all the pedals shown in the photo above, and also how to make your own adjustable sustain rod.

Table of Contents
Oak and Steel Sustain Pedal –
Double-Wide Oak and Steel Sustain Pedal –
Aluminum Sustain Pedal –
DIY Sustain Rod –
Other Designs and Wrap Up –

Where to buy Materials –
Tools you will need –

« Last Edit: December 27, 2018, 11:40:08 PM by sean »

Offline sean

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DIY Oak and Steel Sustain Pedal
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2018, 11:19:01 PM »
Oak and Steel

I think the easiest DIY sustain pedal to build is oak and steel with the lever made of 1” x 1/2” steel U-channel, as shown above.  You can build two oak and steel sustain pedals in a weekend for under $60.  That is $30.00 per pedal.

Shopping list for building two of the oak and steel sustain pedals:
Oak 1 x 2 - 4' – more than enough for two pedals – $ 5 at Home Depot
Oak 1 x 3 - 6' – more than enough for two pedals – $ 10 at Home Depot
One 1" x 1/2" x 36" steel U-channel – for two pedals – $ 9, Home Depot SKU #232129
Slotted spring pin, 5/32" diameter x 2.5" long – $7.69 for 25, McMaster 92383A722
Rubber feet – $ 9.95 for 50, McMaster 9540K53
Shipping from McMaster – $7.00
Eight #6 x 1/2” sheet metal or wood screws to mount feet – $1.25 at Home Depot
Four 1/4” thick spacers (two per pedal) to center the lever – $ 3.50, Home Depot SKU# 596548
Two #6-32 x 1/2" SS machine screws for anchor pin in lever – $ 1.25 at Home Depot.
Thin sticky felt pads, 3/4” x 1” – $ 1.00 at the dollar store
Titebond glue – $ 4 at Home Depot, Lowes, True Value, Ace, or anywhere

Total:  $ 60.00 for two sustain pedals.

The BOM is for two pedals simply because the steel U-channel is 36” long, so you have enough to build a pair (and I want to spread the other costs across two pedals).

There are a lot of places that can supply your materials.  The parts that I found the hardest to find are the spring pin for the fulcrum, and the rubber feet for the oak and steel pedal.  For these two parts, I had to splurge online.  I was stuck with buying a large quantity and paying for shipping, but those expenses are included in the shopping list above.  There is more commentary on parts selection in the post below at

The drawing below shows the Oak and Steel sustain pedal.  The attached pdf file looks better when printed.

The pedal housing is just a box of oak boards glued together.  I didn’t use nails or screws, but you can if you want.  The glue is plenty strong enough. 

I started out by cutting the oak boards to length with the chop saw.  You should cut the top and sides exactly the same length (12 and 3/16”), but keep in mind that the wooden pedal body will be slightly smaller when you sand it down after the glue dries.  Cut the top, back end, and front lip from the same piece of lumber, so that these three pieces will be exactly the same width, and will glue up without problems.  Even though the 1 x 2 lumber is supposed to be 1.5” wide after the sawmill cuts and finishes it, not all boards will be identical.  Furthermore, wood shrinks and expands due to moisture content, temperature, and differences from tree to tree.

Here is the lumber cut list:
Side Rails     –  two each  –  1 x 3 oak  –  12.187” long (12 and 3/16”)
Top               –  one each  –  1 x 2 oak  –  12.187” long (12 and 3/16”)
Back End      –  one each  –  1 x 2 oak  –  1.750” long (1 and 3/4”)
Front Lip       –  one each  –  1 x 2 oak  –  0.750” long (3/4”)

After the boards are cut, the first step is to drill the 3/4” hole in the top.  Or maybe not.

On the first few pedals I built, I cut the hole in the top before I glued the boards together.  However, I now think it is better to glue the box together first, sand it down smooth to establish the final size, and then drill the hole in the top.  This will establish more accurate relationships between the holes (because all of the hole locations will be marked after the box changes size due to sanding).  The only risk is that if you ruin the workpiece when cutting the hole, you have to start over – measure, cut, and glue all the pieces again. 

If you have a drill press and a good set of Forstner bits, then you should have no trouble cutting the hole after everything is glued and sanded.  So glue first, then drill.

If you don’t have a drill press, then you should drill the hole in the board that will become the top before you glue.  If you have problems, you only ruin one board.

I originally decided that the hole in the top should be 1” rather than 3/4”.  I started the big hole with a 1” Forstner bit to create a clean edge at the top of the hole.  The 1” Forstner bit does not make much progress in the hard oak.  So after the hole diameter and location were established, I put a standard 1/2” bit in the drill press, and bored away the center part of the hole.  Then I went back to the 1” Forstner bit, and it easily chewed through the oak.  I later found that a 3/4” Forstner bit has a much easier time chewing through the oak, and the smaller hole is rather nice.  I have changed the drawing to show the hole size of 3/4”, but the photos below show that I built three pedals with a bigger hole.

Glue it together
I put a sheet of parchment paper over the workbench to prevent any sticky messes.  You may notice that I oriented the front lip of the pedal with the grain vertical, like the back of the pedal.  After it was all dry, I noticed that it looks out of place with all the end grain from the top and sides.  You should glue in the front piece with the end grain exposed if you want the front of the pedal to look more uniform.

Use lots of excess glue, clamp it up tight, and wipe away most of the glue slop.  Then let it dry overnight. 

The lever   
While the glue is drying, you can cut and shape the steel lever.  Cut the U-channel into 15” pieces, and grind the ends smooth and round the bottom edges.  Make the ends nice and smooth with sandpaper.  Put the lever in a vise on your drill press, and drill the pivot hole straight through both sides of the U-channel.   Drill and tap the hole in the back end of the lever for the screw that anchors the bottom of the sustain rod.  Install the screw, and the lever is complete.  Don’t push the spring pin through the lever yet.  The spring pin will get installed later.

When the glue is dry on the oak body, remove the clamps and take the workpiece out to the belt sander.  I think I used a 120-grit aluminum oxide belt.  It cut away the glue and rough edges very well.  I used the sanding belt to round over the edges and the ends, but I sanded the corners round by hand with 120-grit paper.  It is very easy to grind too deeply with the belt sander, so I didn’t want to risk flattening a corner with the machine.  The 120-grit paper leaves a very nice surface, but you can follow up with 220-grit paper by hand if you want it even smoother, or if you plan to varnish or paint the surfaces.

If you haven’t already cut the hole in the top, now is the time to drill that hole.  Be careful to measure the hole location from the front face of the pedal, because the edges are rounded. 

Clean off your drill press table, and clamp a block of wood to the left edge of the table as a stop to prevent the workpiece from spinning if the drill bites too hard.  Install a 3/4" Forstner bit into the chuck, and clamp the workpiece to the table before you drill.  Make sure you put a block of wood between the clamp and your freshly-sanded workpiece so that you don’t mar the surface of the pedal housing.  The Forstner bit will get clogged up with chips, so lift it out of the hole a few times while drilling.

Smooth the edges and interior of the hole with sandpaper.  Cut a strip of sand paper about an inch wide, loop it around your thumb, and scrub the workpiece back and forth.  Keep the sand paper off of the top surface of the pedal or you will have to sand the circular marks out of the top.

Drill four 1/16” pilot holes for the screws to mount the feet.  Hold the workpiece down tightly when you withdraw the bit, because a 1/16” bit is easy to break.

Before you drill the hole in the sides of the pedal housing for the pivot pin, make sure you have the lever finished.

Locate the hole for the lever pivot pin
You should be able to drill the hole exactly where the drawing says to, but it doesn’t hurt to double check.  If you drilled the hole in the top before you sanded the body down, then your top hole might not be exactly 10.5” from the front edge of the pedal body.  If you drilled the hole in the top after you sanded the body smooth, then the top hole position will match the drawing (in that the distance from the front of the pedal to the center of the big hole is 10.5”).  If this is so, then you can drill the hole in the side of the pedal housing exactly where the drawing shows.

If the hole in the top is not exactly 10.5” from the front of the pedal housing, or if your pedal lever came out a little wonky, you can use the method below to make sure that your pedal will work correctly. 

Mark a line on the side of the oak pedal housing that is 3/4” from the bottom and around five inches from the front of the pedal.  This is roughly where you want the hole to be, but you should confirm that the hole placement will make the anchor screw line up perfectly with the hole in the pedal top. 

Lay the U-channel lever against the side of the oak pedal housing so that the pivot hole drilled through the sides of the lever sits over your line 3/4” from the bottom of the pedal.  Then move the lever forward or back to align the screw in the back with the center of the hole in the top of the pedal housing. 

Make a mark where the pivot hole in the lever sits against the oak side.  This will locate how far from the front of the pedal you should drill the pivot hole in the oak sides.  It will probably be a little less than five inches from the front edge, depending on how much sanding you did to get the oak housing nice and smooth.

Drill the pivot hole straight through both sides in one operation to ensure that the holes line up and the lever will be straight down the middle.  I had to struggle with my first pedal because my drill press only has 2” of quill travel, and the standard jobber-length 5/32” drill bit isn’t long enough to be secure in the chuck and reach all the way through the pedal.  I ordered an extra-length 5/32” drill bit.  If you go with a 3/16” pivot pin, the standard jobber-length drill bit will reach all the way through the pedal housing.

If you want to stain, varnish, or paint, now is the time to do it.  Sand the surfaces with 220-grit aluminum oxide paper, then vacuum the surface clean.  Wash your hands, then wipe off the residual dust from the pedal with a rag.  Stain, varnish, or paint, then let it dry for a day or two.

Install the steel lever into the oak housing.
This is a bit of an ordeal, because the spring pin fights the whole way.  You need to push the spring pin through the oak side of the housing, then through a spacer or stack of washers, then through the steel lever, then through another spacer or stack of washers, then into the hole on the other oak side of the pedal housing.  Then you want to push the pin slightly below the wood surface.

I really liked using a simple steel spacer instead of washers.  Two 1/4” spacers will work perfectly.  If you find that they fit too snugly, you can shorten them with a file. You will only need to take off a little bit of metal, so it only takes a minute or two.

I think there are four ways to push the spring pin into the sandwich:
1.   Use an arbor press (works great),
2.   Use your drill press as an arbor press (works great),
3.   Use a bar clamp as an arbor press (works great),
4.   Tap the pin in with a hammer (yikes, I didn’t try this method).

Starting the insertion process with a bar clamp or the drill press works easiest, because I don’t have an arbor press that is big enough.  To use the drill press, simply put a bolt or flat-head screw in the chuck to act as a pusher, put the oak housing and the pin directly below the pusher, and lean on the feed handle.  After the spring pin has made it through the top side of the oak housing, you can slip the first spacer over the end of the spring pin, and insert the lever under that, and put the second spacer under the lever.  Then you have to encourage the spring pin to go through the holes in the lever.

This is a frustrating process, because the oak is very dense and holds the spring pin very tightly.  However, if you drill out the hole to 11/64”, the spring pin will not grip the sides at all.  Don’t enlarge the holes.  Just take your time and push the pin in there carefully. 

This is what it looks like when you are done.

Install the rubber feet.
If you haven’t already drilled pilot holes for the screws, run a 1/16” hole at each foot location.  The feet I used have a little steel washer molded in, so the screw holds them tight forever.  If you use different feet, you might want to add a tiny washer around the mounting screw.

The last assembly step is to apply a little felt pad under the front lip of the pedal to keep the lever from making a loud click every time you lift your foot.  You can get self-adhesive felt pads at any hardware store, but they are way cheaper at the dollar store.  If the felt pad falls off at a gig, you can use a band-aid from the venue’s first aid kit.

The pedal is completed.  Go test it out!

Build Options and Variations

If you decide not to use a spring pin, and you use a simple steel rod as the pivot, the assembly is much easier.  I tested it with the 1”-wide steel U-channel lever.  All the hardware stores sell 36” lengths of steel rod.  I got a 3/16” rod, and cut off a piece 2.5” long.  I tapered the ends and sanded them smooth.  Obviously, you need to drill 3/16” holes in the lever and pedal housing walls.  The steel rod simply slips into the wood and through the lever without resistance, and it might want to fall back out immediately.  So you need some way to secure it.  (The steel rod did not hold tight in my pine mock-up pedal, but it did stay put in one oak pedal I made.)  I think a lump of epoxy in the middle of the underside of the rod would keep it from becoming un-centered in the lever.  You don’t have to glue the rod to the lever, just make it so it can’t fall out.  The spacers on either side of the lever will keep the lever centered in the pedal, and there is only a small amount of side to side wiggle.  It doesn’t feel as solid and secure as the spring pin assembly, but it works just fine. 

There is a better solution to keep the pivot rod secure:  use shaft collars as spacers on either side of the lever.  The local hardware store didn’t have any shaft collars the right size, so they would have to be ordered online.  I would rather use aluminum shaft collars, so that I could more easily adjust their thickness. 

2 each   Set Screw Shaft Collar, 3/16" Inside Diameter, 7/16" OD, 1/4" thick.
(Like McMaster 9946K42, made of aluminum, $1.53 each)

Other levers than the U-channel
You can use other metal bars for the lever.  All you have to do is attach a small lump of metal that you can drill through to hold the pivot pin.

Using a bar of 1.25” x 1/4” steel for the lever is a tiny bit sweeter underfoot to play. 

The chrome-plated wrench is my favorite.

The flat steel bar is easy to find at most hardware stores:
1.25" x 1/4" Plain Steel Flat Bar, 36" long, Home Depot SKU #482684, $8.21 each

I marked the round end shape, and got close to it on the grinder.  Then I moved over to the belt sander to get the final shape.  It looks like I polished the steel bar, but all I did was smooth it out with the belt sander.  I used 400-grit, 800-grit, and then an old worn-out belt that claims to be 1000-grit.  I cleaned off the crud, and wiped on a little oil.

The extra-long wrench came from a $25 set I bought at Harbor Freight years ago.  Other hardware stores sell extended-length wrenches, but they can get expensive.  Not many of them have the smooth all-chrome finish that the Harbor Freight wrenches have.  Sometimes there are very long wrenches sold beside the trailer hitches in an auto parts store.  Using the wrench is kind of a budget buster for this project.

Since the oak pedal housing has a closed back end, the wrench that I wanted to use didn’t fit.  I had to saw off the box-end of the wrench.  This cost me $12 more dollars, because I had to go buy a diamond-coated jigsaw blade.  It still took about a half hour to saw through the tool steel wrench.  It was an ugly jagged mess, but the grinder cleaned it up just beautifully.

I used a 2.5” length of 1/2” square aluminum bar to hold the pivot pin.  I drilled two mounting holes in the lever material.  Then I drilled and threaded holes in the aluminum bar, so I wouldn’t have to use nuts.  You can certainly use nuts and bolts to hold them together if you don’t want to tap the aluminum.  If I had to do this again, I would tap threads into the steel lever bar and wrench, and not in the aluminum.  This way, the screws could be tightened or removed from the underside of the pedal after assembly.

After the aluminum piece was bolted to the lever, I put the assembly into a vise to drill the pivot hole.  I drilled the hole after the parts were bolted together so that I could ensure that the hole was drilled perpendicular to the lever. 

In the photo below, you can see that I use pink loctite as a threadlocker.  Pink loctite is just fingernail polish that I stole from my daughter.

The pivot hole must be lowered
If you use this method to mount the lever, you will have to re-calculate the position of the pivot hole in the side of the pedal housing.

After you drill the hole in the aluminum bar, measure the distance from the top of the lever to the center of the hole.  The hole in the side of the pedal should be this same distance below the front lip of the pedal housing, because you want the lever to sit flat and level when at rest.

If the item you want to use for the lever is too short, simply extend it by bolting on a piece of aluminum bar or U-channel.

The 1/2” aluminum bar or U-channel is easy to find at the metals suppliers noted below, but it is not sold at your local hardware store. 

My local Metal Supermarkets store has the 1/2" square aluminum bar sitting on the shelf.  Online Metals part 1113 is 1/2" square 6061 aluminum bar.  Metals Depot SQ312 is 1/2" square 6061 aluminum bar.

Home Depot and Lowes don't stock any aluminum square bar.  You can buy 1/2" square steel or brass bars at some hardware stores, it is sold as "key stock."

Grainger item #5UU45 is a one-foot length of 1/2" square aluminum key stock.

There is more info about metals suppliers in the post below –

If you want the lever to sit lower to the floor, then you can make the front lip of the wooden housing larger, and lower the fulcrum point.  This will give you a little bit less travel, but it could work out fine.  If you really want to change any of the dimensions or components, you should test out your ideas.  It is really easy to build a mock-up with cheap wood, simply nail it together, and use a long #8-32 screw for the temporary fulcrum pin.   

Here is my ugly proof-of-concept mock-up demo pedal made with scrap wood.

« Last Edit: December 28, 2018, 01:47:39 PM by sean »

Offline sean

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DIY Double-Wide Oak and Steel Sustain Pedal
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2018, 11:20:14 PM »

After building seven or eight sustain pedals, I decided that there was still one more that I must have.  A double-wide version of the first oak-and-steel pedal I made.  Just about the same, except the lever is 2” wide.

It is the same basic design, with three simple changes:  the lever is two inches wide, the body is four inches wide, and the pivot pin is a 3/16” plain steel rod.

It makes the other pedals look so skinny, and it feels great underfoot.

The bill of materials on the double-wide is very similar to the BOM above:

Shopping list for building two of the double-wide oak and steel sustain pedals:
Eight feet of oak 1 x 3 – more than enough for two pedals – $ 14 at Home Depot
One 2" x 1/2" x 36" steel U-channel – for two pedals – $ 15, Home Depot SKU# 468392
One 3/16” plain steel rod – $3, Home Depot SKU# 671460
Four 1/4” thick spacers (two per pedal) to center the lever – $ 3.50, Home Depot SKU# 596548
Rubber feet – $ 9.95 for 50, McMaster 9540K53
Shipping from McMaster – $7.00
Eight #6 x 1/2” sheet metal or wood screws to mount feet – $1.25 at Home Depot
Two #6-32 x 1/2" SS machine screws for anchor pin in lever – $ 1.25 at Home Depot.
Thin sticky felt pads, 3/4” x 1” – $ 1.00 at the dollar store
Titebond glue – $ 4 at Home Depot, Lowes, True Value, Ace, or anywhere

Total $  60.00 for two fat sustain pedals.

The BOM is for two pedals simply because the expensive steel U-channel is 36” long, so you have enough to build a pair.  If you only build one, you will spend more than $50, so go ahead and build the pair.

Here is the lumber cut list for the double-wide pedal using all 1 x 3 lumber:
Side Rails    –  two each   –  1 x 3 oak  –  12.187” long (12 and 3/16”)
Top              –  one each   –  1 x 3 oak  –  12.187” long (12 and 3/16”)
Back End     –  one each   –  1 x 3 oak  –  1.750” long (1 and 3/4”)
Front Lip      –  one each   –  1 x 3 oak  –  0.750” long (3/4”)

The drawing below shows the Double-Wide Oak and Steel sustain pedal.  The attached pdf file prints out clearly.  Notice that I was too lazy to modify the top view.

The double-wide pedal gets constructed exactly like the first pedal in the previous post, with only a few exceptions.

Wider lever
Since the lever is much wider, you don’t really need the pivot pin to grip the lever (so I didn’t use a spring pin).  The wide lever doesn’t wobble or rattle, even though it is loosely mounted on the pivot pin.  However, because the bar is so wide, drilling the holes for the pivot pin is more tricky.  I don’t have a machinist’s vise with deep jaws, so the C-shaped U-channel (yes, I said it) can’t be reliably mounted in the vice.  So I designed and constructed a set of auxiliary clamping jaws for my vise (actually, I just used scrap wood to sandwich the steel in the vise).  It looked like this:

Because the hole location is so close to the rounded edge of the U-channel, I had trouble getting the point of the drill bit to stay in the center of the center-punch dimple.  It is impressive how much a 3/16” drill bit can wander and bend.  I must admit that my first attempt resulted in a cattywampus mess of holes and a diagonal pivot pin.  Rather than start with a new piece of steel, I just flipped the lever end-for-end, marked a new hole, and paid better attention to the second effort.

I guess I could have tried drilling a tiny pilot hole, but I decided to use a center drill to start the hole.  The center drill is very stiff, and it so does not misbehave.  The center drill I used is similar to the middle one in the Harbor Freight 60381 set.  McMaster-Carr calls them drill-point countersinks, see SKU# 2915A13.

The center drill made a nice tapered hole that the 3/16” drill bit found confining enough to stay on target and drill through the first side of the U-channel.  To verify that your vise is holding the lever perfectly perpendicular to the drill press table, keep an eye on where the tip of the drill bit will contact the second side of the U-channel.  If it looks like the drill bit is parallel with the inside face of the U-channel, you should be in good shape.  I guess it would have been smart to mark a line 1/4" from the lip on the inside of the U-channel, and watch to make sure that the drill bit hits that line.  I expected the drill bit to wander when it hit the other side of the U-channel, but it didn’t; it cut the second hole directly in line with the first hole.  So be very careful to get the first hole in the right place (start it with a center punch, then a tiny pilot hole, then drill that out to 3/16”), and also be careful to get the second hole drilled 1/4” from the other edge.

Wider body
Since the body of the pedal is 4” wide, drilling the holes for the pivot pin is also more complicated.  After marking the hole location, I drilled a 5/32” hole in one side of the pedal housing.  Then I put my extra-long 5/32” bit into a hand drill, and drilled straight down through the hole I just made, and then through the opposite side of the pedal housing.  Clamp a piece of wood under the pedal housing so the drill bit doesn’t cause a blowout (tear out) on the outside of the freshly-sanded pedal housing.  This established the correct hole locations in both sides of the pedal.  Then I put a 3/16” bit into the drill press, and carefully enlarged the holes to their final size.  I think small misalignment of the holes in the oak sides may contribute to the grippyness of the fit with the pivot pin.

Longer pivot pin
Making the pivot pin is simple: cut the 3/16” rod to length (three and 5/8”), then grind and sand the ends until they are rounded and smooth.  I used bolt cutters to snip the rod, but a hacksaw would work fine too.

Since the pivot pin is a 3/16” steel rod, the holes in the side of the housing are 3/16”.  I thought that this would allow the rod to slip around freely, so I thought I would have to use shaft collars (McMaster 9946K42) to secure the pin.  When I constructed the pedal, the pivot pin was pretty stubborn about moving, so simple spacers were used because the (probably mis-aligned) holes in the oak held the pin securely. 

When installing the spacers on either side of the lever, you might find it to be a very tight fit – the spacers are a tiny bit too thick.  You can either file or grind down the spacers (they are hard to hold on to), or you can sand away a little wood from the inner sides of the pedal housing.  This only takes a few seconds if you have a mototool.  A mill file does a neater job on the spacers.  I had to file away about .025” off one of the spacers.  Once the lever and both spacers would fit between the wood sides, I was able to push the pivot pin through the hole by hand (without the arbor press or clamp).

« Last Edit: December 27, 2018, 11:49:52 PM by sean »

Offline sean

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DIY Aluminum Sustain Pedal
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2018, 11:21:33 PM »
Aluminum and Aluminium

You can build two all-aluminum sustain pedals in a weekend for under $70.  That is $35.00 per pedal.  It costs a little more if you use a steel wrench as the lever.

Shopping list for building two aluminum sustain pedals:
Body is 2" square 6061 aluminum tube with 1/8" thick walls – buy 2.5 feet – $ 20.68 for two pedals
Lever is 1” x 1/2” 6063 aluminum tube with 1/8” thick walls – buy three feet – $ 9.58 for two pedals
(You can also use 1” x 1/2” 6063 aluminum U-channel with 1/8” thick walls for the lever. Save $3.00)
Shipping for metals – $ 10.00
Small piece (6" x 12") of 3/8" or 9mm birch plywood at Michaels craft store – $8.50
Slotted spring pin, SS, 5/32" diameter x 1.75" long – $ 5.19 for 25, McMaster 92383A720
Shipping from McMaster – $7.00
Eight 1/2” x 1” clear plastic adhesive feet – $ 3.00 Home Depot, Everbilt 1002066614
Eight #6 x 1” wood screws to mount pivot blocks – $ 2.50
Four #4 x 1/2” wood screws to mount backstops – $ 1.25
Two #6-32 x 7/8” pan-head SS machine screw for rod anchor pins – $1.25

Total $  68.95 for two pedals.

This pedal comes together pretty easily.  Finding supplies for this pedal will take longer than building it.  Sources of supply are below at

The drawing below shows the All-Aluminum sustain pedal.  The attached pdf file prints out more clearly.

I cut all the aluminum tubing with an old Craftsman 10” miter saw with an ancient Craftsman 60-point blade with carbide tips.  This is a common blade that would be used for woodworking.  It is proudly marked “THIN KERF Smooth/Cross Cut.”  It isn’t a special blade; it is a $20 garden-variety blade that probably came with the saw.  I bet a blade with 40 teeth would work just as well.  Be patient, don’t push, let the blade work at full speed.

The only thing that I did to specifically prepare to cut aluminum with this blade was to use a paraffin-based saw blade lubricant.  Before every cut, I would just run the saw blade against the stick of wax to keep the aluminum from sticking to the saw blade.  The wax flies everywhere and makes a mess of your blade guard, but it makes the blade cut like butter.  When I forgot to use the wax, there were lots of hot little hunks of aluminum to pick off of the saw blade.  I used the $8.50 Olson Saw Blade Lubricant wax sold on Amazon.  I believe that candle wax will work, and might even have a nice perfume.  The saw blade wax is plenty sticky, made for high-heat, works very well, and the one stick is a lifetime supply.

The circular saw blade kicks up a very amusing snowfall of aluminum flakes.  Wear a full face mask (they are cheap at Harbor Freight).  Wear gloves, because the flakes can be hot.  A band saw, table saw, or even a hack saw could also be used to cut the aluminum.

I did not use an abrasive “metal cut-off blade” for the aluminum, because they don’t cut cleanly nor safely in aluminum.  They work fine on steel, but they smear and blubber their way through aluminum.   

After you cut all the aluminum pieces to length, you will need to remove the sharp edges and clean off the burrs.  I didn’t use the belt sander to clean up the ends, because I didn’t want to risk ruining the perfectly-square cutoff that the saw produced.  I trimmed the burrs with a de-burring tool, and then filed and sanded the ends by hand.  If your cut ends are very jagged, then I do recommend cleaning them up with the belt sander before you go any further.  Just be careful and wear gloves, because the aluminum gets very hot very quickly.

I cut the beveled front end of the lever on the miter saw, but I had to clean it up with the belt sander.  (I cut this by eye.  I will measure the bevel, and update the drawing.)  After it is a nice and even bevel, you will notice that the edge of the underside is extremely sharp.  You will have to grind away the sharp edge with a mototool, or end mill, or rotary file.  This was a slow and sloppy experience for me.  You can avoid this complication by using U-channel instead of box-channel for the lever.  1” x 1/2” U-channel with 1/8” thick walls works great, and looks the same from above.  (Maybe I should change the drawing and bill of materials.)

This photo shows that the bottom lip of the bevel has been crudely ground smooth:

When all the pieces are smooth enough to handle, you can mark the hole locations in the 2” square body, and in the lever.  Use a center punch to make a nice dimple at each hole location.

The first hole to cut is the big one on the top of the housing.  Drill a 3/8” pilot hole to establish an accurate center.  I recommend that you clamp the workpiece to the drill press table so that it doesn’t drift when you enlarge the hole with the step drill.  Put a step drill into your drill press, and push it on down until you have a 3/4” diameter hole.

The step drill makes a sloppy bottom edge to the hole, so you will want to clean that up before you cut yourself.  De-burr it and sand it smooth.  Then move on to the holes in the bottom of the pedal housing.  Be careful when counter-sinking the holes for the screws, because it is very easy to lean too hard on the drill press feed lever and ruin the workpiece.  Test-fit the screws to verify that the counter sink is deep enough, and go no further. 

Brushed aluminum finish
After all the holes are completed in the body, you can take it out to the belt sander to give it a uniform grained finish.  Use a 120-grit sanding belt that has never touched steel, preferably a new sanding belt.  Hold the workpiece parallel to the direction of the moving belt, and gently press it against the moving sandpaper.  When all the random scratches are gone, and the surface looks evenly grained, you are done.  If the corners or edges feel rough or jagged or prickly, you can smooth them by hand using 220-grit sandpaper.  Don’t let the 220-grit paper create new lines or a tighter grain, just use it to knock off the jagged feeling of the grained finish.

Use kraft paper and masking tape to wrap and protect the workpiece while you complete the final assembly steps.

The lever
Load the aluminum lever into your vise, and carefully drill and de-burr the hole for the fulcrum pin.  Then drill and tap the hole at the back end of the lever, and install the anchor screw.  You can install the spring pin in the lever now, if you like.  Push it exactly half way through the lever.


Cut the following pieces from 3/8” plywood:
Pivot blocks    – two each – 3/8” plywood – 3” x 1.750” (1 and 3/4”)
Back stop   – one each – 3/8” plywood – 3” x 1.750” (1 and 3/4”)

The pieces don’t have to be exactly 3” long.  Simply cut 1.75” strips off the 6” wide side of the plywood, and then cut them in half.  Test fit them in the square aluminum body.  If they don’t fit, simply sand them down until they do fit.  You want them to slide into the tube, but still fit snugly.  Tighter is better than looser.  (This is because when you are screwing them into position, you don’t want them to have room to move around.)

Use sandpaper to create a little bevel on the edges of the wood blocks so that they sit snugly against the walls of the aluminum tube.  The inside corners of the aluminum tube may have a slight radius, so you simply sand away a little wood to conform.

Now you need to test if the lever will fit between the two pivot blocks when stuffed inside the tube.  It probably will not fit.  The solution is to simply thin the plywood with either the belt sander, or by hand.  I did it by hand, and it only takes a few seconds of sanding on each face of the plywood pivot blocks.  When it finally fits, you can clean all the sawdust off the pivot blocks, and get ready to drill a hole in them.

Take your two pivot blocks and sandwich them together.  Use a pencil or pen to mark the bottom, mark the outside faces, mark the rear edge, and mark one “left” and the other one “right.”  Put them back together, and load them into your vise.  Mark the pivot hole 3/4” from the bottom edge of the sandwich, and centered from front-to-back.  Drill through both pivot blocks in one operation.  Blow away the dust, and mount the pivot blocks on each end of the spring pin.

Now you are ready to push the whole assembly into position inside the housing.  If the spring pin is a little too long to fit into the housing, just file off a little bit from each end.

Slide the lever and pivot blocks into the housing until the anchor pin lines up with the center of the big hole in the top of the pedal.

Now without moving the lever and pivot block assembly, take a pencil and carefully mark the location of the four mounting holes.  Okay, I realize you have to move it.  You have to turn it upside down so you can see the holes on the bottom of the pedal, but don’t let it slide back or forward.  Keep the anchor screw centered in the hole.

Transfer the four screw holes onto the plywood edges of the pivot blocks.  After you have made these marks, if you move the lever assembly, it is pretty easy to line it up again by finding the pencil marks on the bottom of the pivot blocks through the screw holes.  When you are sure that you have it all positioned correctly, bring it over to your drill press, and drill 3/32” pilot holes for the mounting screws.  Drill these holes into the wood with the lever assembly still inside the housing. 

Vacuum away the sawdust, and install the four screws to secure the pivot blocks in place.  The lever should move smoothly, but it doesn’t have to flop around loosely.  If the pivot blocks are rubbing against it a little bit, you won’t notice it at all when the pedal is underfoot.  If one of the screws goes in wonky and pulls the wood block away from the side of the aluminum housing, you can fix it later by re-making the plywood piece.  But don’t do this until you have completed the pedal and tested it underfoot.  What feels stubborn in your hand may not matter when the force of the dampers are pushing against the pedal rod.

The back stop
Sand the third block of plywood that is going to be the back stop smooth and pretty, and make sure that it fits into the back of the pedal.  Hold it against the pedal housing wall and transfer the screw hole locations with a pencil.  You can drill tiny pilot holes in the back stop if you want.  I used a 1/16” drill to make the screws easier to start.  The 1/2” screws will protrude through the plywood, so take a moment to either nip off the end of the screw with dykes, or file the end down to slightly shorten the screw.  Install the back stop with the screws. 

The head of the anchor screw that is on the bottom of the lever should contact the back stop.  You could use this to adjust the resting level position of the lever.  If you add washers around the anchor screw so that it protrudes more, then the front end of the lever would rise less.  However, adjusting this is an awkward process, because you have to remove the whole lever and pivot assembly to access the anchor screw.  It works fine without any additional washers.

Stick on the feet
Peel and stick and you’re done.

« Last Edit: December 27, 2018, 11:36:24 PM by sean »

Offline sean

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DIY Sustain Rod
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2018, 11:23:00 PM »
DIY Sustain Rod

You can make your own sustain rod pretty easily.  Back in 2004, I made my first one, and I posted about it on the old Yahoo group.  That post was copied to the ep-forum:  That post didn’t include details about making a clutch, so here are the exhaustive instructions on how to make the push rod and clutch.

The materials you will need are:
One 1/4” steel or aluminum rod, 15” to 20” long
One 18” tube made from 3/8” steel brake line
One wing screw, Gibraltar SC-0009 or Pearl UGB815, with 8mm M8-1.25 threads
One set screw, 1/4”-20, 1/4” or 3/8” long
One block of 6061 aluminum, 3/4” x 1” x 1.25” tall

The 3/8” steel brake line can be purchased at any auto parts store, but you have to ask for it specifically.  Usually they have a bunch of various lengths hanging in a rack.  Obviously, don’t select any of the bent ones.  A three-foot section should cost less than nine bucks.  It will come with captive connectors and flared ends.

The 1/4” rod can be found at any hardware store in 36” lengths for less than four bucks.  The wing screws are available at drum shops, larger music shops, or online for $8 for a pair.  The set screw is in the magical drawers at any hardware store. 

A foot-long piece of 3/4” x 1” rectangular aluminum bar will cost less than six bucks at any of the metals suppliers noted in the sources of supply appendix below at:

You should be able to gather all the materials to build two sustain rods for less than $30.00.  That’s just $15.00 per sustain rod.  You will probably have to buy a plug tap to cut the threads for the 8mm wing screw, but the local hardware store will have one for about $6.  Even so, the sustain rod is a cheap afternoon project.

I recommend using a steel rod for the inner rod of the sustain pedal.  This is simply because it is harder to bend by accident.  However, an aluminum rod works fine.

Here is the drawing that shows how to make your own sustain rod:

Cut the rod and tube
The 1/4” rod is easy to cut with bolt cutters or a hack saw, then grind and sand the ends rounded and smooth.  The rod can be longer than 15”.  In fact, I think it should be longer than the outer tube, so that it can’t slip down into the tube and disappear while you are bent over trying to get the rod poked up into the piano. 

The brake line can be cut in half with a hacksaw, or cut with a plumbers tubing cutter.  Be careful not to crush the tubing with a vise, or with the tubing cutter.  File the freshly-cut end until it is clean and smooth.  Discard the flare nuts.  I simply leave the bottom end flared, but you could cut off the flare if you want to.  It wouldn’t matter if the tubing section were cut down to 16” or 17” long.  The tubing cutter will leave a sharp burr on the inside of the pipe, I simply removed this by running a countersink into the end of the tube.

The clutch
I used a chopsaw with a 60-tooth carbide-tipped 10” woodworking saw blade to cut the solid 3/4” x 1” aluminum bar.  I used the lubricating wax and proceeded slowly.  This operation is why you should buy a long bar of aluminum.  A long bar can be clamped securely to the saw fence.  Wear a full face mask and gloves, because the rain of aluminum chips is furious.  Hot chips sting.  If you are muscular, you can cut the aluminum bar with a hacksaw.

I cleaned up the saw marks on the belt sander, and ruined one piece by letting it get out-of-square.  It might be better to sand or polish the clutch after you have drilled all the holes.  For now, just file off any sharp edges that might cut you during the following operations.

Put the block into your vise and bore the 17/64” hole all the way through.  Don’t remove the workpiece from the vise.  Enlarge one end of this hole to 3/8”, but be careful to only drill about 5/8” deep.  Carefully inspect the hole to determine if the larger hole is centered around the smaller hole.  If the two holes are not concentric, the clutch will not work.  You can test fit the brake line into the hole, and see if the 1/4” rod will go straight down into the tube.  Don’t push the brake line all the way in, because it will be hard to remove.

If the holes for the tube and rod are concentric and pass your inspection, then you should drill the two holes in the side of the clutch.  Put the workpiece in your vise, drill the holes, and leave it in the vise while you tap the threads.  Dip the tap in oil before you start cutting threads.  The aluminum will gum up and clog the tap.  After going about half way to the bottom of the hole, remove the tap completely and clean out the hole.  Then re-oil and re-insert the tap, and continue cutting the threads.  If it gets bogged down, remove it again.

After cutting the threads and cleaning away the chips, you may notice that the tap makes a mess of the inside of the hole where the brake line and rod need to go.  You can run a drill bit down those holes to remove the most of the mess.  Once all the machining is done, you can clean up the outside of the workpiece.  The edges and corners of the clutch can be rounded with a file and some 400-grit sandpaper.  Then all the faces can be smoothed with 800-grit sandpaper.  It doesn’t have to look beautiful, but it should feel smooth and comfortable in your hands.  Wash the workpiece with soap and water, and dry it off. 

The next assembly step is to push the brake line into the clutch.  Mark a line 5/8” from the end of the tube so that you can tell how far you have inserted it into the block.  Push it into the hole as best you can with your hands, and then squeeze it in the rest of the way with a pipe clamp.  I found that the brake line fits very tightly in the 3/8” hole, but you should install the set screw just in case. 

Insert the 1/4” rod into the tube and install the wing screw, and the sustain rod is finished and ready for action.

« Last Edit: December 28, 2018, 01:52:45 PM by sean »

Offline sean

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Other Designs, Crazy Ideas, Project Wrap-Up
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2018, 11:24:18 PM »
Other designs, idle commentary, project wrap-up

This project went better than I expected.  The final products are certainly good enough to use, and I don’t have any desire to buy an authentic Rhodes pedal anymore.  The Oak and Steel pedals and the All-Aluminum pedals perform very well on carpet and smooth tile flooring.  They don’t move around or walk away during use.  All of the DIY pedals feel pretty natural underfoot. 

I was worried that the DIY pedal levers don’t have the toe stop like the original Rhodes pedal, but it doesn’t seem to matter when I wear shoes while playing.  The front of the oak pedals does a fine job keeping your foot in the correct place.  On the All-Aluminum pedals, sometimes I got the front of my shoe caught under the lip of the pedal housing, so maybe a toe stop would be a worthwhile refinement to the design.  But it didn’t take much concentration to keep my foot from sliding forward on the pedal. 

If you play barefoot, you need a toe stop.  On the All-Aluminum pedals, your toe can go inside the pedal without getting pinched.  On the Oak and Steel pedals, the front lip is a pinch hazard, so keep your toes out of there.

The oak pedals are about one pound lighter the original Rhodes aluminum castings.  The All-Aluminum DIY pedals are smaller and half the weight of the original pedals. 

My original Rhodes sustain pedals weigh 3 lbs, 2 oz., about 1.417 kg.
The DIY Oak and Steel pedal weighs 2 lbs, 3.5 oz., about 1.006 kg.
The DIY All-Aluminum pedal weighs 1 lb, 8.2 oz., about 0.686 kg.

The All-Aluminum pedals are so light and small that they are perfect for bringing along in a tool bag when checking out a craigslist Rhodes for sale.

Other designs

There are lots of other methods to make a Rhodes sustain pedal, and I did build three other ones just for fun.

The Flintstones-Style Rhodes Sustain Pedal:

This is just a 1/2” thick oak lever on top of a 12” x 3.5” base.  It needs the sticky feet to keep it from moving around.  There is a little block of wood under the rear of the lever to limit the stroke and keep the lever level.  This pedal is actually the nicest pedal to play if you are barefoot.  The wood lever doesn’t feel cold under your tootsies.

Just two boards nailed together:

This is the epitome of stupidity simplicity.  Cut one board 15”, and the other is 6”.  Nail them together, and stick a nail in the back as the anchor for the sustain rod.  You don’t even need to trim the front edge of the lever.  Both pedals shown work just fine.  This pedal is a pain to use, because it walks around every time you step on it.  Sticky feet don’t help.  The only good thing about this pedal is that you could go to Home Depot 30 minutes before a gig, have them cut the wood, and get it done.  It might get you through the gig.  Oh, I guess the other great thing about this pedal is that you don’t have to worry about it getting stolen.

The lug wrench pedal:
Use a 20” cross-style lug wrench as the lever with no housing, just flop it on the floor.  I thought it would be easy to just drill a hole and tap it, then use a single screw to be the travel-limiter and the anchor for the sustain rod.

The lug wrench pedal looks really cool underneath the piano… stupidly brilliant.  This pedal works fine on carpet, but it slides around a bit on a hard floor.  It needs a scrap of carpet or a padded cargo blanket underneath it. 

Drilling the hole in the lug wrench was a painful lesson in low-quality cheap drill bits.  The lug wrench is impressively hard, and I ruined a handful of drill bits.  When I finally got a 5/32” bit to go through, I gave up and tapped #10-32 threads.  The lug wrench was Harbor Freight #94110.

You should avoid drilling into the hardened lug wrench.  I bet if I just wrapped duct tape around one arm of the lug wrench, the lump of tape could be the travel-limiting back-stop as well as secure the sustain rod.  Duct tape.  I should have used duct tape.

There are a bunch of ideas I didn’t get to try (yet).
 – Don’t sand down the edges of the wood pedal, leave them sharply square, and then Tolex the pedal before you install the feet.
 – Make the sides of the pedal out of thicker wood, then bandsaw the housing to match the original curved profile of the Rhodes pedal.  Trim the top edge with a router.  Stain it black, then paint it black to match the original look of the Mark II pedal.
 – The pedal housing and lever could be 3D printed, but this would break the bank.  It would probably be better to print molds and then cast the metal.  Still, this would cost too much to be practical.  (The reproduction Rhodes sustain pedals that are on the market are very nice, and sold for very reasonable prices.)  I think if I had a 3D printer, I would be tempted to create plastic covers that would make the pedal housing look like a car, a tiny Rhodes, a sleeping cat, or a dog or lizard about to bite your foot as you try to hold a chord.
 – I wanted to build a shorter stubby version of the wooden pedal, but decided not to because you would have to stretch farther back with your foot to reach the pedal.  Also, a shorter lever might feel too different underfoot.

There are loads of other things that would make a good lever:
 – Use an old Fender guitar neck as the lever, mount it so the full fretboard is exposed.
 – Use a Rhodes white key as the lever, with cheek blocks on either side.
 – Use a 3/8” thick solid aluminum or solid steel bar for the lever.  Needlessly heavy.
 – Use a brass bar as the lever, needlessly expensive and heavy, but so pretty.
 – Use a tire iron (Harbor Freight 93230) or crow bar (Harbor Freight 2529) for the lever.
 – Use a 3.5” brick set or mason’s chisel as the lever, like Home Depot SKU# 560211 or Harbor Freight 69237.  Cheap, heavy, and rustic.
 – Use a barbeque spatula as the lever.  Not serious about this one.

Okay, I think that is the end of the compulsively meticulous documentation of this silly project.  It was a whole lot of fun, and kept me busy for far too long.  I have no idea what I am going to do with all these pedals.

If anybody builds a pedal using the designs above, please post a reply with photos.  If you build a pedal using a guitar neck or a Rhodes white key – I would love to see that!  Do it!


Offline sean

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Sources of Supply and Gripes
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2018, 11:25:24 PM »
Sources of materials and gripes about finding parts.

You will notice that there are three painful items on the shopping list for the oak-and-steel pedal:  the spring pin, the rubber feet, and the shipping cost from McMaster.  You can save some money if you find another source, or if you are willing to use a substitute component.

Simple rubber feet   
I can’t find any other good source for the rubber feet.  The challenge is that they should be smaller than the 3/4" wood that they get mounted on, and should be less than 1/2" tall.  All the guitar amp feet are much too large, and even the feet stocked at hardware stores are 1” in diameter and too tall.  If anyone can source a cheaper suitable rubber foot, please speak up.  However, the ones from McMaster-Carr are perfect.

The feet sold at Home Depot and Lowes are also too big in diameter, so they will stick out on the sides of the pedal.  But this may work fine for you. You could use Everbilt 1001687347, clear squishy feet, that are only $2.50 at Home Depot.  You could mount them off center to make them not protrude from underneath the pedal.

Spring pins   
I got my spring pins from McMaster-Carr, but there are other places to find them.

Fastenal can supply a 5/32" x 2.5" slotted spring pin.  It is plain steel, not stainless, but it is only 24 cents.  My local store doesn’t stock them.  See Fastenal SKU 64113.  If you need the 1.75" pin for the Aluminum pedal, see Fastenal SKU 64109.  But if they are not stocked in the local store, you have to pay shipping.

Grainger has 5/32” slotted spring pins in packs of 50.  See Grainger SKU 41LP42 for 2.5" plain steel pins ($6.15), SKU 5BY35 for 2.5" pins in 302 stainless steel ($15.20), and SKU 5BY33 for 1.75" pins in 302 stainless steel ($12.15).

I didn’t test any 3/16” spring pins, but they would probably be just fine if your supplier has them handy.

You don’t have to use a spring pin.  I like the spring pin because it locks snugly into the lever, and doesn’t move around or let the lever wobble.  I didn’t try using a piece of threaded rod or a long screw, but I did test a simple steel rod.  I got a 3/16” plain steel rod, and it works reasonably well.  The lever wiggles a tiny bit, but not noticeably when underfoot.  I like the idea of using shaft collars as spacers.  Locking the shaft collars to the pivot pin will keep the pin from moving side to side or falling out.  However, the correct shaft collars are not stocked in the local hardware stores, so it is another component that has to be ordered with foresight.

If you build your pedal with a plain steel rod instead of a spring pin, and use cheap rubber feet, then you can build a pair of pedals for $40.00 – only $20.00 per pedal!

Aluminum tubing and bar stock   
The extruded aluminum tubing probably won't be at your local hardware store, but I am lucky that I have a Metal Supermarkets store not far off of my regular driving commute.  The aluminum can also be purchased online.  Here are a few of the likely suppliers you should check out: – check for a store near you.
In-store prices are much lower than their difficult website shows.  My local store has a rack of pre-cut lengths, odds and ends, and usually a bucket of discards.  They can cut to spec, but their bandsaw operator will not likely do an acceptable job.  The circular saw at home can provide very accurate clean cuts.

Body – 2” square tube, 1/8” thick walls – ATSQ6061/22120
Lever – 1” x 1/2” tube, 1/8” thick walls – ATRT6063/112125
Lever – 1” x 12” U-channel, 1/8” thick walls – AC6063/11218
Great website, but I haven't used them yet.  I don't know what they charge for shipping.
Body – 2" square tube with 1/8" thick walls – 6061 T6 – Part #: 14952
Lever – 1" x 1/2" tube with 1/8" thick walls – 6063 T52 – Part #: 6865
Alternate style lever – 1" x 1/2" U-channel with 1/8" walls – 6063 T52 – Part #: 1061
For mounting a wrench as the lever – 1/2" square bar – 6063 T6511 – Part #: 1113
2" square tube with 1/8" thick walls – 6061 T6 – Part #: T32218-6061 – They may have a store near you. – They probably have a store near you.

Home Depot, Lowes, and my local Ace and True Value stores don't seem to stock any aluminum extrusions with 1/8" walls, all they had was thin and weak 1/16" stock.  But you might have a larger or better hardware store nearby, so it is worth a look.

All the other materials (oak, plywood, sticky feet, screws, washers, glue) were found on the shelves of my local hardware and crafts stores. 


Offline sean

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Tools you will need
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2018, 11:27:01 PM »
Tools you will need.

The following common shop tools will be required:

A circular saw, chop saw, or radial arm saw – used to cut the oak and the aluminum to length.  Regular carbide-tipped blades will cut through the aluminum "like butter."  I use saw blade wax to keep the aluminum from sticking to the blade.

A jigsaw, bayonet saw, or reciprocating saw with bi-metal blades for cutting the steel lever.  If you have plenty of patience and stamina, you can suffer with a simple hack saw.

A bench grinder to shape the round end of the steel lever.

A belt sander to smooth the oak body, or to create a grained finish in the aluminum body.  The belt sander can shape the rounded tip of the lever too.  The cheap 4” x 36” units are fine.  120-grit belts are available at Harbor Freight, and finer grit belts are available from Amazon (Red Label Abrasives has worked well for me).

A drill press.  Even a tiny cheap one like mine.

A drill press vise.  Wider is better.

A tap wrench, like Harbor Freight 38560 or Vermont American 21901 or 21916.  I like the Vermont American 21916 because the tightener is six-sided, not round and slippery.

Single-cut smooth or second-cut mill file, 10” long.  Not double cut.  Not bastard.

Sandpaper – 120-grit, 220-grit, and 400-grit.  Finer if you really want the metal to shine.

A 3/4” step drill bit for the aluminum pedal.

If you build the sustain rod, you will need a metric M8-1.25 plug tap, and a 1/4”-20 plug tap.

Tools specifically for the wooden-base pedal:

A 3/4” Forstner bit to drill the hole in the top for the sustain rod.

An extended-length 5/32” drill bit, jobber length is only 3.125” on a 5/32” drill.  To drill the pivot hole, you want one drill bit to go all the way from one side to the other of the 3” wide oak pedal housing.  A 4” long bit would be enough, but they come in 6”, 8”, and 12” lengths.  Like McMaster 29315A123 or Bosch BL2637.  If you decide to go with a larger diameter spring pin, like 3/16”, you won’t need a special bit.  The ordinary “jobber-length” 3/16” drill bits are 3.5” long, so you can drill all the way through the 3” body.

A bunch of 12” bar clamps, like Harbor Freight 96214 or 62237.  One longer bar clamp (Harbor Freight 96213 or Irwin 1825766) will be helpful to insert the tube into the clutch if you build the sustain rod.

A #6-32 two-flute thread-cutting tap, like McMaster 26955A15.  A three-fluted tap would be fine, they are just a tiny bit easier to break because they clog up easier.  All the taps I found at local hardware stores are three-fluted.  In thick stock, like the 1/2” aluminum bar, I have good luck if I completely remove the tap when I get halfway through the hole, clear out all the chips, clean the tap, and then restart.

Is there really anybody crazy enough to read all the way to the bottom of this?
If you build one, please post photos!


« Last Edit: December 28, 2018, 12:09:51 AM by sean »

Offline bourniplus

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Re: DIY Sustain Pedal
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2018, 08:28:25 AM »
Just wow!
Amazing work and a great detailed post. Thanks for sharing!

Offline Student Rhodes

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Re: DIY Sustain Pedal
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2018, 07:18:05 PM »
These look great!
But I'm a little concerned...  Are you sure that like the originals, they'll be able to slide around on a floor and thus lose connection to the piano? I mean, I'd hate to be in the middle of an intense and amazing solo wherein the pedal is supposed to slip away and ruin everything, but suddenly it stays where it's intended.

Offline Alan Lenhoff

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Re: DIY Sustain Pedal
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2018, 08:59:02 AM »
I love the wrench options, allowing you to take a workman-like approach to your music. (Perhaps you could create a Fender Rhodes hard hat to put you in a proper playing mood, too.)

>>I'd hate to be in the middle of an intense and amazing solo wherein the pedal is supposed to slip away and ruin everything, but suddenly it stays where it's intended.>>

Good point! 

Thanks for the laughs guys!

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1965 UK Vox Continental;1967 Gibson G101 organ; 1954 Hammond B2; Leslie 21H; Leslie 31H; 1974 Rhodes Mark I Stage 73; 1972 Rhodes Sparkletop Piano Bass; 1978 Hohner Clavinet D6; 1968 Hohner Pianet N II; 1966 Wurlitzer 140B; 1980 Moog Minimoog Model D; 1983 Roland JX-3P; 1977 Fender Twin Reverb; 1983 Roland JX-3P synth; Vox AC30CC2X amp.
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Offline pnoboy

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Re: DIY Sustain Pedal
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2018, 04:43:08 PM »
IMO, pick the lightest one if you gig, make sure there is minimal slop in the pivot, apply felt or rubber appropriately so the pedal doesn't clang at either end of its travel, and select some suitably "sticky" feet so the pedal doesn't slide around in use.  The use of wood is interesting--it has the potential for being light and stiff enough to do the job; I like the idea.  BTW, the use of a spring pin, as Fender did, for the pivot, is a poor choice.