I want to design and create my own music box by hand. I'm looking for a way to create the metal comb/teeth. It would need to be a thin but sturdy metal in order for it to make tones.

I'm looking for a cheap way of making these, as I would need to make many of these as I continuously tweak the design until the correct notes are achieved.

I plan to ask separate questions for the other components of the music box in the future.

3 Answers 3


In order for the "tines" on your comb to ring brightly, you must begin with spring steel. You may use a flat piece of steel and cut the teeth into it or use a long length of quality steel bar such as a metal yard rake.

I used a length of sewer cleaning flat bar--cheap and very good steel. I simply cut it into 15 pieces about 3 1/2" long. You must secure these onto or between heavy steel blocks. Cut at an angle to make each tooth a little shorter than the last and bring them each to a point for plucking. Using a tune meter ($10.00 at any guitar store), pluck the shortest tooth and grind or sand off a little of its surface on the back until it is the correct note. Follow in order until each tooth is in tune. Remember: making each tooth either thinner or shorter raises the pitch of that tooth.

Don't let anyone tell you this will not work! I have built four machines so far with great results. Go for it.

  • 2
    Another source of spring steel strips is windscreen wiper blades. Cheap ones can have really rather thin steel.
    – Chris H
    Apr 16, 2021 at 10:18

You can't make one for a serious music box. It is quenched and tempered to high strength, which means the steel needs to be at least low alloy. I expect the slots are cut in and cut to rough length before hardening. Then after hardening, each "finger" could be ground to exact length for the note. Also, some I have seen are ground to a special shape on the tip where it will be plucked. A friend bought a replacement comb, so they are available but expensive. For a novelty, I expect cold rolled brass sheet metal would be good--hard enough to "ring" but could still be cut (it would be cut in the hard condition).My old ,entry level music box, has tines about 0.050 " thick; I cannot measure them directly but that is close.


Most are a tempered piece of thin sheet steel. The teeth are cut by a diamond-encrusted blade in your simple hand coping saw. Then you must cut each to tune.

My first search would be "tempered thin sheet steel." Good luck to you.

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