A Simple Tool

It is easy to romanticize about the beauty and functionality of vintage hand tools, but on a day-to-day basis there are some unsung heroes put to work on my bench that deserve mention.

Today’s episode; The Plexiglass Rectangle

Sheilds Up A Simple Tool

In this photograph two plexiglass rectangles protect a dulcimer soundboard during fretting. Years ago I used cardboard for this job. Then one fine day an errant piece of grit found its way under the cardboard and scratched the top of a dulcimer. Next time I used a piece of plexiglass to protect the top so I could see what was going on underneath. Another problem solved by modern science!

One of the plexiglass rectangles has a line scribed across the center of the width. I use this to layout braces on the back of a dulcimer. The scribed line goes over the center line on a dulcimer back and makes a simple task of placing braces square to the line if so desired.

I also use these rectangular marvels as see-through and somewhat flexible clamping cauls.

 

Progress

This is a post to replace one that went up yesterday and disappeared when my site crashed last night.

Thankfully I was able to restore everything but my last post; not to bad as far as these things go.

Anyway, yesterdays post was about getting the first coat of finish on the first two dulcimers to get that far since I have been able to get back to work.

Dulcimers after the first coat of finish1 Progress

I’ve been able to work a few hours a day most weeks, some weeks some more, some weeks less. My body continues to heal. Life is good.

Since the amount of time I can work is a bit less than i would prefer I am focusing my energies on advance custom dulcimer orders. I hope to have some other dulcimers available in the near future.

 

A Few Dulcimer Pegheads In Progress

Here are two pegheads in curly walnut and one in cherry ready to be sawn out.

Dulcimer pegheads trapped in wood A Few Dulcimer Pegheads In Progress

When making parts for more than one dulcimer at a time I sometimes leave notes to myself on the parts in pencil. The numbers in the layouts for the two walnut pegheads are to remind me how many tuners each will receive. There are also notes on the respective dulcimers to remind me which peghead goes with which dulcimer. I know it may be difficult to imagine that the wrong peghead could possibly end up on a dulcimer but imagine away….it has happened.

Once the pegheads have been sawn out they are brought to final shape by eye. My pegheads all look basically the same, an asymmetrical snake-head, but each is is slightly different.  I enjoy sculpting each peghead until it looks right to me and depending on the grain and figure of the wood a different variation in the final shape looks more “right” for each individual peghead. It would be faster to just make them to a set repetitive pattern but what would be the fun in that?

Planing Pretty Pegheads A Few Dulcimer Pegheads In Progress

Here are two of the pegheads in the home stretch.

Dulcimer headstocks A Few Dulcimer Pegheads In Progress

 

 

What’s On The Bench – 05/16/2014

Here is a cherry back getting having the center reinforcement strip glued up while a completed walnut dulcimer back sits on top and photo bombs:

Dulcimer backs showing off Whats On The Bench   05/16/2014And here is a cherry dulcimer waiting for it’s back.See through dulcimer Whats On The Bench   05/16/2014In both photographs the work is taking place on top of the solera. These days almost all steps in dulcimer building take place on top of the solera.  The solera usually lives in the vise unless I need the bench for the rougher stages of sawing and planing.

Well, there is not much else to say at the moment so here is a photograph of me and Twinkie D. Possum.

Doug Berch and Twinkie D. Possum Whats On The Bench   05/16/2014

 

 

What’s On The Bench – 04/29/2014

Last night and this afternoon I found myself bracing the back of a custom walnut dulcimer. I turned around and there I was. It was kind of strange and startling but at least I was getting some work done.

But seriously folks, here are some photographs of a cute little plane I use to rough shape braces.

Shaping dulcimer braces with a cute little rosewood plane Whats On The Bench   04/29/2014

Curly shavings Whats On The Bench   04/29/2014

I love those little spruce curls!

I don’t have a set bracing pattern for dulcimer soundboards and backs. I also don’t have a standard thickness for tops and backs.

Thicknesses of tops and backs and the number and sizes of braces depends on the particular pieces of wood I am working with. As a dulcimer comes together I make decisions and adjustments to achieve the resonance I desire.

I enjoy this process immensely.

After shaping the back braces I glued in the center reinforcement; a brace that strengthens the center joint of the book-matched back and adds stiffness to the back lengthwise.

A place for everything and everything is someplace Whats On The Bench   04/29/2014

A few hours later the back is ready to be fitted to the dulcimer.

Dulcimer back waiting for a label Whats On The Bench   04/29/2014

Note to self: Don’t forget to put a label on the back before gluing it to the dulcimer! (Yes, it has happened!)