Dulcimer #2 Build 1st entry #4: entry #5

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Blog entry by poospleasures posted 08-08-2014 12:38 AM 1917 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: entry #4 Part 4 of Dulcimer #2 Build 1st entry series Part 5: entry# 6 »

On we go with this (fun to me) build. Had planned on getting the sound board glued on yesterday. I had a lot of company instead. One of my visitors was a friend who is a very accomplished Luither. He has been guiding me with tips and advice during these two builds. I should also give credit to the guy at the music store and to my wife’s music teacher as they are also full of tips and information also. Today starts with preparing the fret/finger board and sound boards in the sound board assembly. This takes a fairly long time. A mistake I made on the first build was to cut the fret slots too narrow.

I cut them with an .018 saw and it should have been .024. This made the frets very hard to drive in and did force the wood to bow up as the sides of the fret wire was pushing it too hard. This bow in the assembly would not allow for string note intonation and caused some string buzzing against the frets. My friend saw this right away and didn’t mention he had told me this could happen but did say that I could help by filing down the frets some. I spent yesterday afternoon filing frets down to level. I hope you don’t get into that job. It did help the tune some. He reinforced what I read on line about sanding a long downward slope from the #1 fret to the last #18. The slope should begin and end at about .005 and be about .015. in the middle.

The saddle and the nut are stuck in place just for the pics. Notice the strum hollow is cut

The board was pre- finished before doing the fret work. 1 1/2 hours later the frets were all in place with the ends filed and rounded over.

A thin string of glue was applied to the tops of the walnut side pieces and aliberal amount to the top of the neck and tail piece.

It is now hurry and put the sound board assembly into place and apply lots of clamps.

Sorry this was so long. Maybe if you can bear with me you will still enjoy this build with me. As always thanks. Comments and PM’s welcom

-- I,ve had amnesia for as long as I can remember. Vernon

6 comments so far

View jumbojack's profile


1685 posts in 2798 days

#1 posted 08-08-2014 01:14 AM

In the narrative you spoke of filing the frets. Do you actually crown them or am I not getting it? We built a few cigar box ukeleles, I did not see anything about crowning the frets. I used a Dozuki Japanese saw to cut the frets.
Thanks for doing this blog.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View NormG's profile


6266 posts in 3178 days

#2 posted 08-08-2014 04:59 AM

Great work, these are great musical instruments

Jumbojack – I saw a video not long ago where the builder also rolled the edges of the frets

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View stefang's profile


16063 posts in 3508 days

#3 posted 08-08-2014 04:16 PM

I have never heard a dulcimer being played. I hope you can somehow include that in your blog or give us a link to a video with one being played. Your blog is far from being too long. It’s a very interesting build and it is coming along very well from the looks of it. Excellent work so far.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View BJODay's profile


527 posts in 2117 days

#4 posted 08-08-2014 07:35 PM

Nice Blog. I appreciate the work your putting into the pics and descriptions.

Are you working from a kit? A plan? Or are you winging it?

I have been thinking a building a mandolin. A musical instrument packs a lot of skills and technique into a small project. I think it would be fun to work on something that doesn’t take up the whole shop.


View poospleasures's profile


776 posts in 2658 days

#5 posted 08-10-2014 01:16 AM

To attempt to answer some questions ; jumbojack my friend who is an accomplished Luither who I will call Tom for the rest of my posts suggested the some of the frets were a little higher than others and could probably be filed down a few thousands (I had also heard this before). After me filing them Tom has a special shaped diamond file which he will round the flat to make it have a crown again. I also use a fine tooth Jap. saw which made an .018 kerf however the kerf should be .024 to allow the stock to seat correctly with out having to beat it into place which caused some curvature to the finger board. By widening the kerf seems to have worked better on this 2nd build. Stefang I think there should be several videos on Utube with people playing the dulcimer. If you do not find any let me know and maybe I can record my wife and friends playing. BJODay I guess you could say winging it with one wing maybe. My wife plays and I have had her dulcimer to look at and measure some things. I kinda just went at it and wound up making a whole bunch of mistakes as you cannot always count on what you see. As I am a little slow this was probably the way to go as it has made me study and ask for a lot of help from some great people. You are very right it is a lot of fun.
Thanks to everyone for your comments and encouragement. May have more blog tomorrow.

-- I,ve had amnesia for as long as I can remember. Vernon

View Roger's profile


20949 posts in 2978 days

#6 posted 08-10-2014 12:21 PM

Really interesting build/blog Vernon. Thnx.

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

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