Mountain Dulcimer Project #1: The Plan Hourglass Style

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Blog entry by Jamie Speirs posted 11-18-2010 12:00 AM 10155 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Something that I’ve always wanted to do is make a musical instrument.
I would alo like to be able like to play the instrument that I make.
My final inspiration came from seeing Jon’s wonderful Dulcimer.

Click for details

It to me looked absolutely wonderful and a perfect Dulcimer.
Next step was to find out more about them.
I on;y learned ho to pronounce the name after Jon & Gordon (two of my Jolly Rouges) said it half a dozen times.
Although the Appalachian dulcimer appeared in regions dominated by Irish and Scottish settlement, the instrument has no known precedent in Ireland or Scotland. However, several diatonic fretted zithers exist in Continental Europe, which bear a strong similarity to the dulcimer. Jean Ritchie (The Dulcimer Book, 1974) and others have speculated that the Appalachian dulcimer is related to similar European instruments like the langeleik, scheitholt, and epinette des Vosges.

So it is 100% a product of The United States of America.

So next was to find some plans. have a great selection and I chose The Mountain Dulcimer “Hourglass” Style.

$6.50 got me a full size plan delivered to Scotland. It arrived in under a week

I’ve never tackled a project like this before, so any advice will be welcome
I thought I would start a blog and share the project as I go along.


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

6 comments so far

View mafe's profile


11730 posts in 3113 days

#1 posted 11-18-2010 12:12 AM

Wauuu Jamie, you impress me!
To start on a project like this, you are way to cool.
Look forward to follow on the side.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Brit's profile


7385 posts in 2867 days

#2 posted 11-18-2010 01:16 AM

Good for you Jamie and thanks for blogging the process. I’ll be following.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4152 days

#3 posted 11-18-2010 02:08 AM


Here in Kentucky, the Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer is our official state musical instrument.

Here’s a link to a friend, just down the road, that is famous for his dulcimers.

Warren May

Warren is also a well known master furniture maker.

BTW, I learned to play the dulcimer from Jean Ritchie.

I’m more of a player than a maker.

Suggestion, you can’t have too many small clamps to do the glue-ups.

Good luck.

-- 温故知新

View Schwieb's profile


1858 posts in 3486 days

#4 posted 11-18-2010 04:47 AM

Jamie, I like it that your association with the LJ’s inspired you to do something you’ve always wanted to do. I can totally relate. My younger brother studied as a luthier for several years and I was just blown away by the complexity of building an acoustic instrument. You will find it an interesting and fulfilling journey I’m sure. I can’t wait to see your progress.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 2863 days

#5 posted 11-18-2010 12:35 PM

I don’t play an instrument- but I bet you will make a great one. Appalachia in the US is an incredible place- the mountain people- Their culture is so wonderful! Good luck on this project my friend and keep us posted. Also- my cousin makes incredible mandolins and guitars- so I bet he could help you if you get in a pinch. :) Do you think you will include the big celtic know on your dulcimer?

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View JonJ's profile


163 posts in 3864 days

#6 posted 11-18-2010 05:34 PM

I’m very flattered you found inspiration in the dulcimer I made…Thank you, I am truely honored!

I ran across some photos of a jig I made to build this one that I thought you may find useful. I can’t remember if I posted it on here already, but here it is again. It allows the head and tailpiece to be held in line, and the grid allows the sides to be held symmetrical while the top is glued in place. The knot inlays in one of the photos are just paper templates at this point- I couldn’t wait to see what they were going to look like.

I also have a fret cutting jig I made that allows you to cut grooves at the correct angle and depth. I don’t have pictures, but I’ll get some.

I am looking forward to following your progress, and if there is anything I can do to help, let me know!

Oh… one other thought. I don’t know if the book you have mentions this, but get lots of clothespins!
(maybe 100 or so) they are great for clamping the little strips to the sides that the top and back get glued to.

-- Jon

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