Building of a Mini Organ          

The idea of this mini organ came from a student of the Swiss organ builder Thomas Wälti. He built this small organ as his exam for the basic study. It includes everything of a real organ, but now with small sizes.

With this organ as a starting point, I built an organ model but with realistic sounding pipes. The keyboard is a model, but with pressing the pedal keys the pipes are playable. After that I built an organ with manual keys to play. It is an example of a small organ for inexperienced organ builders. The small pipes have a relatively high pitch, but by increasing the depth of the pipes they produce low fundamental tones. Example film

The design is so easy that more than 150 people have created this mini organ now. I'm free the brochure with the drawings are free available. File size makes sending by e-mail possible. See below on this page.


The portative organ is the smallest organ of the Renaissance era. A portable organ with the bellows on the back. Despite the small number of pipes, it was a pleasure to play this organ. The sounds were bright and full and the inspiring sound made the playing of this little organ pleasant.

The construction of a Portative was not simple, because the manufacturing of the bellows demanded much insight and knowledge from a beginning organ builder.

Playing on an organ that the player has built himself gives a special feeling. If the construction of a large organ is still too difficult, you can also play with satisfaction on a mini organ. With the sound of the Portative as a base I designed a small pipe organ with eight pipes that can be used to play music of high quality.

Organ pipes

The making of the pipes isn’t difficult, provided that the construction is well explained. Therefore are highly detailed drawings of each part made. The design has proven itself just a long time, failing is excluded. A 12-year-old girl has got it and she was able to produce good sounding pipes.

The Holpijp 8' (Stopped Diapason 8') which I have described in several books, is the basis for the scale of this mini-organ. On the small pipes, it gives a clear and yet full sound. The pipes are stopped, also pipes which are closed with a moveable stop. Since the pipes are stopped they tone is an octave lower than an open pipe. By moving the stops the pipe is tuned.

Wind supply

The cost of the material for the mini-organ is low and the simplicity of the design makes it possible that everyone can build it. Such a small organ does not need bellows. The pipes are located on a wind chest and the player himself, makes the wind pressure himself (herself) if he (she) blows over a hose pipe in the wind chest.

The Hohner Melodica - with accordion reeds - works in same way. It is also possible with a small and cheap fan as the centrifugal fan of Conrad,  order number 570095-62 (€ 29.50). You will need an adapter 230 Volt to 12. Because of the noise of the engine, a damping box is needed.

Miniature Pipe Organ 32 cm high 18 cm wide

The mini-organ is 32 cm high and 18 cm wide. The construction is simple, but it has all features of a large organ. There are few cost for the material of this organ.

I've used oak for the walls, but each type of wood is suitable according to the preference of the manufacturer. The pipes are made of 3 mm wood; Oak, Pine, Pear, Red Cedar are some suggestions. The sound is not depending on the type of wood. Expensive parts are not used in this small organ.

The mini-organ has a keyboard, a wind-chest for eight pipes and a tracker action as a connection between keys and valves. 
Children about 12 years are able to build it, but there is no age limit. Everyone could have much joy both the playing and the building experience. YouTube shows many examples of organ playing on a small (portable) organ.                YouTube 

There are eight tones with the keys C - D - E - F - G - A - B - c.  Only the white keys of a normal keyboard are used, but because eight similar keys do not differ from each other, are the black keys glued on the white keys for better orientation. The view is then a keyboard as any keyboard instrument has.

Pipes with a clear and full sound

I chose the scale of the pipes, that the tone sounds clear but also have a deep tonic. The sound is attractive and inspires to play a long time. Eight pipes contain an octave, and that's enough to play. You may miss the half tones (cis, dis, etc.) It is possible to play in a different key by tuning the f to fis, or the g to gis. Tuning the pipes is easy with a tuning device. If desired can be played quickly in a different key.

The keyboard shows the black keys, but just for the marking of the white keys. If there are eight similar keys, it is impossible to see which key belongs to a  certain tone.

Tracker action

The connection between key and valve is called the tracker action. In larger organs, there is a leather sheath around the action thread; It provides a windproof closing off the hole. Here, it is a thin nylon line which goes through a wind-proof hole in the bottom of the wind chest. The supple leather allows a long movement.

Wind chest

In this mini-organ, all threads go through one long piece of leather. There are small openings for the threads. The thin leather is very supple. When it is placed with folds, a thread moves up and down without taking the adjacent thread.

Tie the thread to the eyes in the valves and the eyes in the keys. The photo shows eyes, wrapped around, but this is unnecessary. The thread goes through the openings of the leather and on the spot of the passage provides a drop of glue for the closing. A drop of glue on the end of the thread prevents for fraying.

The valves are strips of wood 58 mm length, width of 11 mm and 9 mm high. At the upper side there is sheepskin for a wind tight closing to the pipes. The leather is somewhat longer, it is a hinge on the valve plate.

Pallet plate - upper board middle - upper board

The pipes are placed in holes in the upper plate, the pijpenstok. The pipes cannot get a place exactly above the valve holes. Due to the different widths, the big pipes get more space than the small ones.

In church organs, the difference is compensated with conducten and in this mini-organ, it happens with the conductenplaat, a plate with ellipses.  The conductenplaat is drilled partially together with the ventielplaat (8 mm Ø) and partly together with the pijpenstok. So there are two 8mm holes which form an ellipse associated with each other.

All plates are glued together with white wood glue. This triple upper plate is on the glued sides of the wind chest. Springs push the valves against the ventielplaat. The material for the valves is 1.5 mm ø steel rod. Wrap the wire two strokes with a round nose pliers. On the front and the back leather strips are glued on the edge along the wind-chest for a wind-tight sealing.

Building a Mini-Organ

About the construction of a mini-organ I have written a booklet. All parts of the organ are shown in clear perspective drawings. All dimensions are specified, so that it is possible for anyone to build the mini-organ.  

Although the booklet will be sent by E-Mail, I would like to know where the applicant lives. I will send it free on request with the full address. I don’t have commercial intentions.

Request free publication:  Building a Mini Organ

e-mail to:    John Boersma
  The construction of a pipe is shown here step by step

constructie toetsen
Mini-Orgel met pijpen van lood