More than once I had found myself perplexed by a fret that would not gracefully seat itself completely in a fret slot.
More often than not the problem was the slot being too shallow for the tang on the fretwire. I saw the slots to an appropriate depth when making a dulcimer fingerboard but by the time the fingerboard is trued and leveled the slots sometimes become too shallow.
After having this happen a few times I came up with a very simple tool to solve the problem.
I took a piece of fretwire and filed the barbs off the tang so it will easily fit into a fret slot. if the slot is deep enough the crown of the fret will seat well on the fingerboard. If not then I need to deepen the slots.
The tape on the end of the fretwire it to remind me that this is a tool and not a stray fret that escaped the blow of a hammer.
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
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.
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.
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.
Here are two pegheads in curly walnut and one in cherry ready to be sawn out.
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?
Here are two of the pegheads in the home stretch.
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:
And here is a cherry dulcimer waiting for it’s back.In 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.