What’s On The Bench – 7/5/2017

Dulcimer in the home stretch

On the bench is a curly walnut dulcimer having its head attached with hide glue.

It is important to attach a head onto a dulcimer, because if you don’t, it will go searching the night to find a head and the one it chooses could be YOUR HEAD!

But I digress.

This dulcimer is one of three I am currently working on. The other two dulcimers are ready for final preparation before receiving the finish and tomorrow this dulcimer will be ready to join them.

I wait until I have 3 or 4 dulcimers ready to go through the finishing process at the same time. I put the woodworking tools away, clean the shop, and dedicate the space to finish work for about a week.

After all coats of finish are applied the dulcimers hang on the wall for several days so the finish can further cure before being rubbed out.

While the finish is curing I start work on the next 3 or 4 dulcimers.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

You can see my work in progress by following me on Instagram.

L’ÉBÉNISTERIE – A Silent Film About Woodworking (1932)

Last week Kari Hultman posted a short French silent film about woodworking on her blog, “The Village Carpenter.” If you haven’t checked out Kari’s blog you should go there very soon.

While watching this amazing film I looked around the website where it was hosted. I wished I had paid more attention during French class in high school.

I found several  interesting videos about woodworking, music, lutherie and more.

Here is a link to a silent film called “L’ÉBÉNISTERIE.”

L'ÉBÉNISTERIE - A Silent Film About Woodworking (1932)

It shows the woodworking process beginning with felling trees and ending with finished furniture. We watch an apprentice learning to use a frame saw, planes and other tools. There are shots of joinery, veneering, staining and finishing.

 Chopping down a very large tree

 Ripping with a frame saw

Planing at the bench


Outdoor Lutherie


Outdoor Lutherie


I’m pretty sure this was a staged photograph but I like the idea of working outside on a beautiful day.

I occasionally prep and finish dulcimers on the front porch when the weather is cooperative.



Steel Wool, A Magnet, A Rubber Glove And A Dulcimer

A quick tip I thought I’d share. I prefer a finish leaning towards the matte side of semi-gloss.  I use nylon abrasive pads for cutting between coats of varnish but I prefer the look I achieve by using 0000 steel wool when rubbing out the final coat.

Steel wool leaves fine steel dust on the dulcimer that needs to be cleaned up.

Where has that rubber glove been?

First I vacuum the dulcimer and bench. I follow this by placing a strong magnet inside a rubber glove, a plastic bag, a paper towel or whatever ever I have at hand. I gently move this assemblage over the surface of the dulcimer and pick up the dust left by the steel wool. Then I switch to a tack cloth to grab any steel particles that may still remain.

The rubber glove , plastic bag, paper towel or poodle I used to wrap the magnet gets thrown away and I am left with a clean magnet that is ready for its next adventure.

Magnets having fun.



Scraping and Sanding And Dulcimers, Oh My!

After 7 days of nursing a wretched cold/flu/plague I am feeling up to putting in an hour or so of shop-time every now-and-then. This brings me great joy!

Work stopped last week just as two maple and spruce dulcimers were  about to be prepared for finishing.

As a part of the dulcimer making process preparing a dulcimer for finishing reminds me of the cross-country trips I took as a younger musician. Just when I thought I was in the home stretch I’d come to the border of say, Kansas or Pennsylvania; there was still a long way to go.

The same is true with preparing a dulcimer for finishing.

I’m not complaining. It is that I am surprised every time I get to this point that perplexes me!

I can’t remember where I found these two article on scraping and sanding. Enjoy!


Scraping - fast, efficient, and shavings galore!

Sanding - forgiving, messy, dusty, annoying yet expected by the average consumer