Tuning keys

I make custom hand-made tuning keys (sometimes called a tuning hammer or tuning lever).

My keys normally use a machined clock-key socket shaft, fitted into a hand-carved wooden handle. I am happy to make a key specially to fit your harp. The price will depend on the amount of work that goes into your key, and there are many different choices!

This key has a no.14 square brass drive socket, to fit my handmade old Irish harp tuning pins. The socket has been re-shaped inside to make it a better fit on the tapering heads of the pins, and the shaft has been lengthened with a silver-soldered extension. The handle of this key is hand-carved from Irish oak, and finished with beeswax. The shaft is pinned into the handle and glued to make sure there is no slack or movement in the key. A key just like this will cost you £75.
This key has a no.11 plated steel socket, to fit modern blackened steel tuning pins in a Kortier HHSI Student harp. The handle of this example is hand-carved from Scottish walnut, and finished with beeswax. The shaft is pinned into the handle and glued to make sure there is no slack or movement in the key. A key just like this will cost you £45

As a general rule of thumb, you can use a key with a plated steel socket on modern machine-made steel tuning pins.

However, if your harp has brass tuning pins, or old iron pins, I think these plated steel sockets are too hard, and they may damage the pin drives. You would be better off using a key with a brass socket. The brass socket shafts I can get are shorter, and while I can make you a key with a short brass socket (see gallery below for some examples) I now think it is better to lengthen the shaft, with an extension piece silver-soldered on (see the oak example above). This of course increases the amount of work and therefore the price.

Some harps have rectangular tuning pin drives. I can make you a key with a rectangular socket to fit your pins. This will cost £75.

Size of tuning pin drive

If you are not 100% sure what size you need, I can lend you a selection of plain sockets so you can try them on your pin drives and see which size fits your pins best. Or you can extract and send me one of your pins.

My sockets are the standard clock-key sizes, numbered every quarter millimeter:

NumberWidth across flatsWhat each size is good for
104.75mmNo.10 sometimes fits the modern blackened steel pins but is often just a bit too tight.
4.8mmThis is the size of the little brass radiator keys which are a perfect fit on modern blackened steel pins. But their shafts are very short.
115mmNo.11 is a slightly loose fit on the modern blackened steel pins used in HHSI Student harps and similar.
145.75mmNos. 14 to 16 are the sizes I usually use for old Irish harp tuning pins with the big square drive heads.
156mmNo.15 is probably my favourite size.
166.25mmBecause these pin drives are tapered, you can use a size up or down equally as well.

Deluxe options

We can have fun creating a unique custom key design… do you need an extra different sized socket concealed in the handle end? Exotic materials for the handle? gilded or painted decoration? a long or asymmetrical handle? silk ribbons? Get in touch with your luxury tuning key requirements and I’ll see what I can do for you!

At the moment for standard keys I have Irish birch, oak and yew, and Scottish walnut and cherry. For extra cost I can use Scottish or English bog oak, or horn or antler. If you have an interesting piece of wood or other suitable material I can use it to make your key.

Keyring tuning key

If you are the kind of person who sometimes forgets their tuning key, it can be useful to keep a tiny spare key on your keyring so you always have a backup.
If you have modern blackened steel pins that fit the 4.8mm brass radiator keys, then they make the ideal tiny keyring key. They are £2 each.
You can take a clock key of any size in brass or steel and put it on your keyring as a somewhat oversize keyring key. They cost £6 each.
I can make a tiny keyring key of any size for you by fixing a cut-down clock key shaft onto a radiator key handle. This will cost £20.
I can make you a deluxe keyring key as a miniature of any of my full size designs. I can add a suspension loop to the handle. Even though they are much smaller, there is as much work as a full size one, so the price will be the same (£45 for the key, plus £15 for the loop, plus any exotic extras)

If you fancy making your own tuning key, I can sell you the clock key for you to use the shaft of. The cost is £6 each. Or I can make you an extended brass socket, ready for you to fit to a wooden handle, for £35. Or, I can make you a rectangular socket, also for £35. I made a photo-essay on how I make a tuning key.

How to order:

Send an email to shop@simonchadwick.net, or phone or text me, telling me what you would like.

Please note: postage is charged extra. Click here for payment information.

If you are not sure what you need, still get in touch and ask me. There is no commitment to place an order; just call or email and see if the price and description is really what you are after. I am happy to recommend other sellers who might have what you need.