Doug Berch

Dulcimer Maker And Musician

cropped Dulcimer Builders and Makers 1 23

Month: July 2010

Vintage Tool Aqusition Therapy

I was in a funk today and needed to snap out of it. I love making dulcimers but making dulcimers is also one of my jobs and I needed a break from working so I decided to go for a drive.

I ended up at an antique mall. My definition of an antique mall is “a museum where you can handle the objects and buy them if so inspired.”

I was “so inspired” today.

It is easy for me to spend time tweaking and tuning up wonderful old tools. Tools are functional objects of beauty and each will have a unique personality to contribute to my work.

Perhaps my relaxing hobby is exploring the history, form and function of the tools I use in my work.

Today I came across three tools that talked me into taking them home.

Implements of Vintage Tool Aqusition Therapy

The first was a Stanley type 11 #8C jointer plane in very good condition. Yes, I have a #8 but it isn’t a type 11. Now I have one that matches my type 11 #7. That must be important, right?

The second tool to not only jump off a shelf but  follow me down the aisle was a Ohio Tool Company wooden jack plane that just needs a little cleaning and sharpening. I have another similar wooden jack plane but the mouth on it is so tight I use it as a smoother. This one will be dedicated to rougher work.

Then an unmarked plumb-bob caught my eye as I walked by. I politely asked it to give me my eye back but it said it would only do so if I took it home. I thought it best to go along with its wishes. I have no actual need or use for this plumb-bob nor do I have a need or use for the other 3 or 4 I own. I tend to hang them from things around the house so I always have a reminder of where the floor is.

I usually end up selling , trading or giving away tools as I find some I prefer to what I have been using but sometimes that process takes a while. It is always hard when they leave the nest.

Did I really need any of these tools? No. Did finding them and thinking of the joy of working with them make me feel better about life, the universe and everything else. Yes!

The cost of these tools was very reasonable and much less than what I would have paid for a good massage or any other therapeutic intervention.

Time to get back to work and make dulcimers! Yay!

Valuable Secrets Concerning Arts And Trades (1795)

I came across this book while doing research on varnish-making:

Valuable Secrets Concerning Arts And Trades (1795)

The title alone provides a good read –

Valuable Secrets Concerning Arts and Trades: or, Approved directions, from the best artists : for the various methods of engraving on brass, copper, or steel. Of the composition of metals, and varnishes. Of mastichs and cements, sealing-wax, &c. Of colours and painting, for carriage painters. Of painting on paper. Of compositions from limners. Of transparent colours. How to dye skins or gloves. To colour or varnish copper-plate prints. Of painting on glass. Of colours of all sorts, for oil, water, and crayons. Of the art of gilding. The art of dying woods, bones, &c. The art of moulding. The art of making wines. Of the various compostions of vinegars. Of liquors and essential oils. Of the confectionary art. Of taking out all sorts of spots and stains.” (1795)

I love this stuff!

Learn methods of work from the past!  Amaze your friends!

Download your copy courtesy of The Internet Archive  –  Valuable Secrets Concerning Arts And Trades (1795)

Free Software for Musicians and Luthiers

Don't Throw Your Money Away


Great for sound recording and editing. Runs on most operating systems.

ABC Navigator

Converts ABC notation to standard notation, plays files as midi, etc. Windows.

Open Metronome

My favorite metronome. Windows.


Calculates fret spacing for any scale length offering many options. Windows and other systems.


Calculates wood movement based on species, temperature and humidity. On-line.



Doug Berch & Dulcimer Makers

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