|Project by WagnerWoodworks||posted 03-28-2014 08:35 PM||1838 views||2 times favorited||12 comments|
My daughter is a young harpist and she had been getting by on a cheap rental harp for a while. I decided to surprise her with a custom-built harp for her birthday last month. She had no idea I was building it, so it was quite a shock to her when I gave it to her.
Building it was a lot of fun. The design is based on blueprints and a hardware kit from MusicMakers, which is a fantastic company to work with if you ever decide to start building instruments. They offer a variety of kits and their customer service is phenomenal. It’s a great way to learn the basics before making your own designs.
I decided to build two at the same time; I figured I’d save some time that way, but I don’t quite think I did. The one in the highly-figured cherry was for my daughter, and I’m still seeking a buyer for the walnut one.
They’re 29-string with excellent sound that keeps maturing as the Danish oil fully cures. The finish was simply Danish Oil with a bit of wax over top. All pieces were solid hardwood except for the soundboards, which i made from Finnish Aircraft Birch plywood. Soundboards need to be thin enough to resonate well, but strong enough to hold the roughly 700 pounds of string tension! High-end harps often use sitka spruce for the soundboard, but even those have a tendency to crack later on down the road. The Finnish Birch seems like a great alternative.
I think the total project time was roughly 40 hours, so about 20 hours each. With a bit more practice, I think 15 hours per harp will be achievable. The next harp I plan to build will be my own design of a 36-string, and I’d like to experiment with some of the less commonly used American woods (locust, osage orange, hickory).
-- Jake * Wagner Woodworks * Glenelg, MD * www.thewagnerwoodworks.com