Keeping The Dulcimer Shop Warm

My wife and I live in a 100-year-old farm-house. What once were fields around us are now house-farms, but that is another story.

It is a challenge keeping the house comfortably warm but that too is another story.

My shop is in what once was an upstairs bedroom. Since I spend a lot of time there during the day I keep the heat set low in the rest of the house. If I’m doing lots of planing and sawing I like having the shop on the cool side because I get heated up pretty fast from the workout of using hand tools.

Edge-joining two boards with hot hide glue

When doing glue-ups I use a space-heater to warm up the shop. When using hide glue I heat the shop  70 ° F. If the room is much cooler than 70 ° F  hide glue will being to gel before I have time for proper assembly and clamping.

An old-style heated glue pot

The hide glue cooks in a double boiler at 140 ° F. The combined heat of the space-heater, the glue-pot and a halogen floor lamp quickly bring the temperature up to 70 ° F. This is one advantage of having a very small shop!

My highly effective third world electric glue pot

I have written other posts about why I love using hide glue. It is my glue-of-choice for assembling many parts of the dulcimers I make. I do use other adhesives where the qualities of hide glue are either not optimal or necessary.

But I love hide glue for its workability, strength, reversibility and most importantly the quality it adds to tone.

3 thoughts on “Keeping The Dulcimer Shop Warm

  1. Doug,
    Is it possible to use just a word or two to characterize the tone given to an instrument from using hide glue in its building (as opposed using some other adhesive)?

    • Hi Robin,

      All variables depend on, well, other variables, but on my dulcimers using hide glue helps give a very quick, responsive attack. Hide glue dries very hard and thin so it transfers vibration very well.
      All the best,


      • @Doug Berch,

        Thanks for the reply, Doug! Although I know nothing about luthier work, I do get the Stew-Mac newsletter (and have been to Gene Imbody & Erik Coleman’s shop several times) and am interested in how things get fixed/made.

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