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4 String Dulcimer Build

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Blog series by Dave Rutan updated 11-21-2016 01:32 PM 8 parts 7965 reads 45 comments total

Part 1: Cutting the pieces

11-08-2016 02:11 PM by Dave Rutan | 4 comments »

See the finished dulcimer here. [link] As a reference, I’m using the basic dimensions and instructions from the book: Making Folk Instruments in Wood by Dennis Miles Waring. The only place that I believe I’ll be straying from his methods is that I’ll be using home-crafted tuning pegs instead of guitar tuning machines. (Yes, there is a reason for that.) [Above] The top and sides are supposed to be made of hardwood. he only hardwood I have in quantity is the ma...

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Part 2: Planing and Some Fitting

11-09-2016 01:04 PM by Dave Rutan | 11 comments »

[Above] Here I am planing the pieces down to thickness, top, bottom, sides, and fingerboard. This was the nicest day of the week, so I was able to do this outside. [Above] Finally making the brace for the inside of the instrument. It’s just a piece of pine. The circular cut outs are to allow sound and air through from one part of the dulcimer to the other. The band saw and I actually got along pretty well on this part. [Above] Here you can see the sides dry fit int...

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Part 3: Need more Clamps!

11-11-2016 09:36 PM by Dave Rutan | 5 comments »

[Above] Next I traced the sides/end block assembly onto the mahogany back piece. Then I attached that to the ?? wood front piece and cut them out on the band saw, keeping outside the traced line. I’ll neaten this up later with a flush trim bit on the router. [Above] The band saw yielded the front and back. [Above] Next step was to glue the side assembly together and onto the back piece. The instructions I’m following actually said to glue the end blocks and the ...

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Part 4: Fingerboard

11-14-2016 09:55 PM by Dave Rutan | 2 comments »

After cutting a new fingerboard stick from my mahogany, I proceeded to mill it, etc. Roy Underhill stated in his video where he shows, sort of, how to make a dulcimer, that the fingerboard is the key. You can stick a fingerboard on anything and it will work, but it needs to be correct. [Above] After cutting the stick to correct size, I marked it up according to the instructions. Several things get done to the fingerboard, and I already learned how to avoid a few problems from my las...

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Part 5: Friction Tuning Pegs

11-15-2016 09:17 PM by Dave Rutan | 5 comments »

The last time I made a dulcimer I tried to buy guitar tuning machines to put on it to tune the strings with. I was thwarted in this because the music shops, at least the brick and mortar ones near me, IE LOCAL BUSINESSES don’t sell the to ordinary folks off the street. They will happily bring your instrument in and install them and charge you for that, but they won’t just exchange money for a tuning machine. So I had to buy them off of eBay and install them on my custom made mu...

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Part 6: Frettin' over the finger board

11-18-2016 10:03 PM by Dave Rutan | 2 comments »

[Above] With the fingerboard otherwise finished, it’s time to cut the fret slots. This is actually the most important part of the whole process as the position of each fret makes the difference between musical instrument and a nice wall hanging. I looked up 3 separate fret calculators online and they all gave me the same answers. Using milimeters and my true to life meter stick, I marked the location of each fret on the wood, starting from the nut end. [Above] I’m us...

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Part 7: Sound board

11-20-2016 03:12 AM by Dave Rutan | 9 comments »

[Above] On the reverse of the sound board piece, I measured out and cut the gap that will help the sound from the fingerboard travel into the sound box. I drilled holes at each end, leaving a ‘bridge’ in the middle for strength and cut it out with my jig saw. This area is hidden by the finger board, so I’m not concerned about blowout. [Above] Then I marked for the sound holes. I drilled two round holes in the upper half and traced out and cut two birds in fligh...

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Part 8: All but finished

11-21-2016 01:32 PM by Dave Rutan | 7 comments »

[Above] With the whole instrument put together, it’s time to attend to a few details. First I sanded the whole thing, rounding over the sharp corners. Here I’ve used a very thin bladed back saw from my modeling tools to score the locations on the nut and bridge for the strings. These are just marks for now. The final fitting of the strings will be done last of all. FYI the two notches are supposed to be close together. It’s a dulcimer thing. [Above] On the ...

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