DragonFly Harp #4: 1/4/2011 Completed Model

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Blog entry by Donna Menke posted 01-04-2011 07:05 PM 6581 reads 1 time favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Making the Pink Harp Part 4 of DragonFly Harp series Part 5: Stand Mods- 1/6/2011 »

Here is a good example of just how difficult joinery is with foam. Lots of slop and instant gratification- not at all like wood. Wonder if one can play a foam harp- nah.

The foam model has been assembled for the first time- with toothpicks, tape, and chewing gum (just kidding about the gum). I tried to glue some parts with Titebond, but it never dried and didn’t stick well. I’ve decided to return to the original plan to end the bottom of the pillar outside of the sound box. Hope it works. Everything else looks good to go.

I’m designing and making the base for the harp now. If I say I’ll do it later I know it will never happen, so I will do all the building at the same time. I have changed the base profile many times and ended up with this ‘walking man’ design. I like it. By placing the pieces altogether I can make the base to fit just right (fingers crossed).

I ran out of pink foam so we have a two-toned harp base. I also left these pieces 1” thick though the wood version will use 3/4” cherry. You can see my Heartland DreamWeaver next to the model for size comparison. Everything has so far fit better than I anticipated. Then again, foam is much more forgiving than hard wood.
As you can see in the last photo- this is a perfect fit for me- and I am a happy camper.

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

14 comments so far

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3392 days

#1 posted 01-04-2011 08:25 PM

Great idea using foam for the mockup Donna. Now you can begin with the real fun of building it. I can’t wait to see it completed I’m sure much later on.

Try using hot glue for foam, works real well.

What kind of tension are those strings under? Looks like you have adequate support for it hopefully.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4463 days

#2 posted 01-04-2011 08:55 PM

Eric- just vacuumed up the foam bits and pieces and next I’m going to need to dig out some more cherry lumber and hope it is in good enough shape to use for this project. After I get it all planed down to required thicknesses I’ll be able to lay out my foam on the wood. I’ve decided to not make full-sized drawings since: 1. I don’t have a drafting machine; 2. I’m anxious to start making sawdust; and 3. Things will change as I go along- so why waste my time. When doing a one-off, I’ve heard it is good to fit each part to the adjoining part. Hope that works.
What I will do is trace off each piece onto a large piece of paper so that if I want to recreate this project in the future I will have a ready reference.
I believe these nylon strings are only under about 450 pounds of pressure. It is a relatively small harp with 26 strings.
I didn’t want a too permanent join for the pieces since I will be taking it apart and using the pieces as a start for the plans. I’ll remember hot-glue next time. Thanks

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

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4463 days

#3 posted 01-04-2011 09:49 PM

Autumn- thanks- lot of work, but easy work. That foam is so easy- light- bendable- not like wood at all. I have seen harps with all sorts of configurations. The bottom of the pillar can end on the soundboard itself, though backed up with solid wood on the interior to the base; through a hole in the soundboard to the base; or just outside of the soundboard resting on the base. Through the soundboard is most common for harps of this size, but I like the looks of it outside so we will see how that works out.
The ‘walking man’ refers to the stand, whose legs look to me like a walking man.

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

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 3085 days

#4 posted 01-04-2011 09:57 PM

Hi Donna.

Nice mock-up. If you used rubber bands as strings, you could “play” it. (grin)

I’d be concerned about the arrangement of the pillar with the strain that area will be under. It could easily twist the base out of alignment and cause a complete failure of the harp if it isn’t braced in some way. 450 pounds of tension doesn’t sound like much compared to the many times that ammount larger harps are subjected to, but when it is concentrated at one place and is pulling at the fastening of the base to the back, trouble is just waiting to happen. I’d brace that area in some way to avoid problems.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4463 days

#5 posted 01-04-2011 10:14 PM

Hubby has already suggested the rubber-band idea. Maybe I’ll try it before taking it apart.
About the strain- I’m not sure where you are noticing the need for bracing. Do you mean the base of the pillar or the base of the harp body? This is a good time to think about bracing if I need more. Easy to add now.
Thanks for your comment.

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

View kenn's profile


810 posts in 3916 days

#6 posted 01-04-2011 10:52 PM

Smart use of a model and full size, too. I like the flow you’ve put in and how it all moves from top to bottom. The harp just grows right out of the base. I don’t know anything about harp making, but this looks cool.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4463 days

#7 posted 01-04-2011 11:17 PM

Thanks Kenn- you understand what I was aiming for- yippee!

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

View Diane's profile


546 posts in 4319 days

#8 posted 01-05-2011 05:46 AM

Great mockup. It looks like it will be comfortable to play, perfect angle, reach and height to you chair.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18618 posts in 4357 days

#9 posted 01-05-2011 11:44 AM

what a brilliant idea and the shape is beautiful – very musical.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4463 days

#10 posted 01-05-2011 08:32 PM

I’m hoping it all works out. Thanks to some comments from a harp group I’ve changed the angle at the bottom of the stand so that the harp tilts a bit more towards the player. This also makes it a bit shorter and the strings more vertical. As building progresses with wood there will be more design modifications (never call them mistakes) to work into the mix.
Foam has been retired- now to the wood!

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

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 3257 days

#11 posted 01-06-2011 08:01 AM

I use to make props from foam.
There are couple of way to glue.

Hot glue is the fastest
or construction foam adhesive sold in caulk tubes

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4463 days

#12 posted 01-06-2011 04:45 PM

Glad to know that there are alternatives. The yellow glue was OK after a long time- like overnight- and then when I wanted to take the pieces apart they mostly came away easily. The foam was old and dusty though, so that probably made a difference.

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

View tyka's profile


142 posts in 2890 days

#13 posted 01-22-2011 09:14 PM

Good work Donna. It looks like its allready paying off, making the model I mean. Making corrections allready. Best done before you start making sawdust. I tend to make a scale drawing and wing the rest as I go along. I tried cardboard, but its not really 3D like foam. I’m designing contemporary coffee tables and was affraid to start building them. Wood is very expensive here. Now I will do a mock-up with high density foam. Thank you very much for sharing and for all the pics.

-- Paul, Plantagenet, Ontario

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4463 days

#14 posted 01-26-2011 02:38 AM

Hi Paul- you are most welcome. I have learned so much and gained so much inspiration that it is only fair to reciprocate to the fine folks in group. This foam was not very expensive- even if I had had to pay for it, and it has more than paid for itself. I laid out the cut lines on the wood for the pillar, neck and knuckle today so I’ll be able to cut them out tomorrow. I made even more changes on the wood, but it was nice to have something to use as a start pattern.

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

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