Bending Linings For Dulcimers

Linings are strips or blocks of wood glued around the inside-edges of the sides of a stringed instrument.  The linings add width to the edge of the sides and provide a broader gluing surface for attaching the soundboard and back.

Some dulcimer makers use linings and some don’t. If the sides are relatively thick no linings are necessary.

I make my sides fairly thin so linings are essential to my design. I also put binding around the soundboard and extra thickness is required so I can cut the rabbets for the binding.

(Please note the word I used is rabbets, not rabbits! No rabbits are harmed in the making of my dulcimers!)

Rabbet, not rabbit!

Wood for the lining strips usually comes from scraps accumulated while making soundboards, backs and sides.

I bend linings on a hot-pipe in the same manner as bending sides and find the process centering and relaxing. I am also continuously amazed that wood can be bent into curves using just a little heat and water.

A dulcimer maker's workbench is always neat and tidy!

Speaking of water, you may notice the yogurt container on my bench. It is filled with distilled water and I occasionally dip my fingers into the water and rub a little on the sides or linings while bending them. It doesn’t take much, just enough to create some steam when the moist wood comes in contact with the hot-pipe.

I use distilled water because it is free of minerals and chemicals that can stain the wood during the bending process. It took me a while to figure that one out!

The yogurt container used to contain organic yogurt. This is important! If the container had contained non-organic yogurt the water would be tainted. When the wood started to steam a toxic cloud would rise and transform me from a mild-mannered dulcimer player into a clawhammer banjo player.

Wait, I do play clawhammer banjo.

I’ll stop now.