Appreciation For A Simple Tool

Call me anything but late for dinner.As I gain more experience with tools I find myself needing fewer tools.

In the past I used this knife for repair work. It is long, thin, and has a slight taper in thickness. With a little heat, moisture, and this knife I can take the back off of a dulcimer, etc.

I have seen this style of knife referred to as a both a shoe knife and a rubber knife. I suppose that makes it perfect for cutting rubber shoes.

A week or so ago I was sharpening everything in sight and as part of the fun I honed the edge of this knife and stropped it. I had forgotten how fine an edge it can take.

I have found myself reaching for this knife and I keep finding more uses for it. This evening I used it to cut linings to length before gluing them into a dulcimer. I used to reach for a chisel to do this but this knife works better. I have also used this knife to score straight lines for sawing sides to length, cleaning up the fuzz sometimes left on the edges of softwood parts, and a variety of trimming and shaping tasks where I might have used a chisel, saw or block plane.

I enjoy doing more with less.

What’s On The Bench – 2/16/2017

A rare shot of an empty bench

What’s on the bench? Nothing! Well, there are two holdfasts but they are really a part of the bench so they don’t count as stuff on the bench.

I’m getting ready to start work on the next run of dulcimers and that begins with some general woodworking tasks. I’ll be sawing and planing rough stock to size and that requires a clear bench top and some elbow room.

I also take the time between starting a group of dulcimers to clean the shop (within reason) and find all the tools that sometimes run and hide when I look for them.

Since the basic work of making a dulcimer starts out as rough woodwork it makes sense to start 3 or 4 dulcimers at the same time. After the rough work is accomplished I sweep up all the wood shavings and start on the finer work. Once I have the tops, backs, sides, and other parts roughed out I tend to work on the dulcimers 1 or 2 at a time. I like to focus on each dulcimer individually during the stages of work that define what qualities I am shooting for with that particular dulcimer.

I also usually go on a sharpening binge before starting the next bunch of dulcimers. I keep my tools sharp but after making a few dulcimers there are usually a few plane blades that need some grinding or serious honing, a paring chisel that has a nick in the edge, a drill bit that runs a little too hot, etc. As long as I’m going to put all the sharpening stuff on the bench I may as well sharpen everything in sight. I usually throw the kitchen knives and my wife’s pocket knife into the mix as well. I find an hour or so of sharpening to be a relaxing meditation.

I frequently post pictures of work in progress on Instagram so follow me there if you want to see a dulcimer builder working in its native habitat!

Finding Happiness In A Small And Cluttered Workshop

Sometimes my wife refers to my workshop as “Doug’s playroom.” She’s right.

Some luthiers have workshops that look like laboratories. Others have workshops that make mine look like a laboratory. I walk the middle path.

Here are some honest and candid pictures of one of my favorite places to be. I love and enjoy my work. Like any craftsperson there are times the work is challenging and there are the “oops!” moments but in the long run that is part of the joy as well.

If you are reading this post on Facebook you won’t see all the pretty pictures so click on the link, visit my website, and gawk in amazement or horror! 🙂

A place for everything and everything is someplace.

Let there be light. And planes.


More dulcimer maker stuff.

Does this tool look boring?

There is a place for everything and everything is some place!