What’s On The Bench 12/18/2016

Sanding dulcimers. The fun never ends.Two dulcimers have been gone over with scrapers and files and now comes sanding. And sanding. And then some more sanding.

I enjoy working with scrapers and files. Sanding is messy and time consuming.

There was a time when most luthiers did not do much sanding. The finished instrument did not have a perfect, homogeneous surface. It looked like wood that was worked by hand with edge tools.

The tool marks and slight unevenness in finish and texture of a scraped and filed instrument is beautiful in my eyes. In our current industrial society many people think wood should look like a photograph of wood more than wood itself.

So I sand my dulcimers.

Still, there will be the occasional tool mark that I don’t sand out. I made this dulcimer. I made that tool mark.  And to me it is beautiful.

By “tool mark” I am referring to a subtle witness that a plane, chisel, scraper or file had been used to work the surface. By “tool mark” I don’t refer to marks left by the sawmill, the bandsaw, a dulcimer-making machine, etc.

For years I have thought of making a sandpaper-free model. I’m sure some people would like it. Or not. Maybe someday.

That’s dulcimer #157 on the bench. The old shaving brush is great for sweeping away dust from all the nooks and crannies.

Not in the photograph is the dust mask I wear while sanding and and air cleaner that sucks the dust out of the air.

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