DragonFly Harp #1: Planning, planning, planning

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Blog entry by Donna Menke posted 12-29-2010 09:44 PM 3488 reads 4 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of DragonFly Harp series Part 2: Progress in Design »

Hi, I’m Donna Menke and I enjoy making things out of wood. You can see more of my projects and links to other woodworking and carving blogs on my web site:
I have some nice cherry wood on hand- so I’m going to make another harp similar to the last one, but with a few variations. Stocks above, and view of grain below.

This is the harp I made from plans from MusicMakers back in 2007, out of walnut boards.

Here is the rough stock being analyzed for the best sections to use.

Cutting the big woods into littler woods makes them easier to handle. Here I’m checking the blade for square.

Sometimes it seems like the planning can take longer than the creation, but it is a necessary phase in any project.
Why am I designing my own harp? I wanted to see if I could modify the Limerick plans I used for the walnut Rainbow harp I made in 2007. I wanted the soundbox smaller, and I wanted it to be self-supporting and as tall as the Heartland DreamWeaver that I have and like. I took aspects of lots of different harps and put them all together and this is what I came up with. I also wanted a harp that could be easily transported- like the lap harps, but also be able to stand alone like the floor harps, but even more, to not need to lean it against myself to play it.
The first step will be to make a model out of foam. The plan is to make it fairly close to reality so that I can get close to correct interfaces for the parts. I also want to sculpt the knuckle out of foam before
committing to wood.
I may be trying to do the impossible- but I have hopes that it will work.

Here I’m checking out possible layouts for the neck and pillar plans. These are not the final plans, but I can get an idea if I will have enough wood for the project.

These are the boards that will be used for the sides.

This is the sort of damage to look out for. The obvious nick at the end is one, but the shallow splitting of the wood further up is even more dangerous.

I will run the wood through the planer to see if I can get below these ‘shakes’. Right now the thickness is 1 7/8” and it should be 1 3/4”.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

5 comments so far

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3256 posts in 3860 days

#1 posted 12-30-2010 07:10 AM


We don’t know much about musical instrument design and construction, but are wondering how the change in the size of the soundbox will alter the tonal quality of the music?


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View jack1's profile


2111 posts in 4175 days

#2 posted 01-22-2012 09:32 PM

All I can say is wow.

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4414 days

#3 posted 01-22-2012 09:57 PM

Thanks, Jack.
LWLL- the sound is great. Every change I made seems to have been good. I’m very leased with the results of my experiment.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View Roger's profile


20949 posts in 2952 days

#4 posted 03-18-2012 11:02 PM

what jack1 one said… and double wow wow. just beautiful. I’ll bet it sounds explicit! Do you play the harp Donna? If so, could you add a few strums, I’d really luv ta hear this beauty. thnx

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4414 days

#5 posted 03-19-2012 01:52 AM

Thanks Roger- nice that you like my harp. I did post a followup including a link to a YouTube played on this harp.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

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