Doug Berch

Dulcimer Maker And Musician

cropped Dulcimer Builders and Makers 1 23

Month: December 2008 Page 1 of 3

Harmonie Universelle

Marin Mersenne‘s “Harmonie Universelle” is an encyclopedic work on the musical theory and instruments of the 17th century.

Being a mathematician, musician and theologian Mersenne took a more scientific route towards explaining the musical theory of the day, the various systems of temperament, etc.

In Mersenne’s time the West had not yet settled on equal temperament as the standard for intonation. Keyboard instruments  presented a challenge and often had more than 12 keys per octave to accommodate this:


Mersenne explains the acoustical principals behind instruments of his day, theories on selecting string gauges and other specialized information relevant to musicians and instrument makers.

string from Harmonie Universelle by Mersene





Books I am drawn too are often out of print, rare, expensive or generally hard to find. I was delighted to find a version of Harmonie Universelle translated into English through my local library system.

There is no ISBN but here is the relevant information should you want to find this book:

Marin Mersenne “Harmonie Universelle – The Books On Instruments” translated by Roger E. Chapman – published by Martinus Nijhoff/The Hague/1957

A Very Useful Small Scraper

I always have a few scrapers on the bench and could not imagine working without them. This little scraper is one of my favorites.

small scraper

Just a few of it’s uses:

  • Cleaning up dried glue
  • Trimming binding flush with the top and sides
  • Shaping braces
  • Softening edges
  • Beveling the edges of the back reinforcement strip
  • Making pennies look big

The angled edge creates 2 small straight edges on one end of the scraper that are often perfect for getting into a tight place.  The pitch of the edge also makes beveling the edges of braces much easier.

Some Old Woodworking Tool Ads

I’ve been a little under the weather for  the last few days so I  have not put in as much time in the shop as I would have liked too.

There are always a few things I can accomplish in the shop on an off day so I milled and glued up a few fretboard blanks to add to the pile that I age before use. I also selected the wood that will become pegheads for the three dulcimers currently in process.

This involved enough hand planing to leave me feeling that I had enough exercise for the day.

Since computers and the Internet are the great time wasters information tools of the current age I spent some time cleaning up some images of old tool ads I have found here and there on the web.


old ad for a work bench

old ad for Johnson's finishing products


old ad for a Yankee screwdriver


old ad for a Millers Falls drill


old ad for a Royal grinder

Maybe you could leave this post up for someone to find as a holiday shopping hint?

Davy Graham Passes Away

The influence of Davy Graham and many of the musicians he has influenced largely influenced my own musical sensibilities.

He was a musician whose influence on other musicians exceeded his own personal fame.


An obituary can be found here.

I Knocked Over My Glue Pot

I thought I’d get a little work done in the shop this afternoon.

I have a cold and I am not at my best so I figured I’d keep it simple and glue some braces to the backs of the three dulcimers I’m currently making.

Here is my apprentice mixing me a fresh batch of hide glue.


While the glue was drying I thought I’d clean up the shop a bit.

The shop vacuum hose gently grazed the cord of the little crock pot that keeps my hide glue warm and the pot gently fell to the floor, delicately spilling warm water everywhere.

Luckily I had the lid on the jar of hide glue and it didn’t spill a drop. And the sawdust on the floor soaked up a lot of the water too.

Not a bid deal, not even a big mess but enough of an adventure for me to decide that even though I love my work it is still work and I have a cold and should take it easy.

So I guess its time to enjoy the dancing monkeys!


The two musicians on the left play a wonderful rendition of “Dancing Queen,” the favorite song of Marjorie, the young lady on the right.

Her two older sisters often tease her about dancing by herself  but I told her that they are just jealous of the attention she is getting from the sax player.

Page 1 of 3

Doug Berch & Dulcimer Makers

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!