It Starts With A Tree

Future Cherry Dulcimers

I’ve taken some wood down from the attic and have been truing it up for resawing. I true up wood with hand planes. I get a good work out, make lots of shavings, and enjoy the smell of freshly planed wood.

It is easy to disassociate materials from their source. When eating a hamburger one usually does not think of the cow from which it came. The same thing can happen with wood; one can forget it was once part of a tree.

One of the reasons I enjoy working wood with hand tools is the sense intimacy with the timber I am working. Each piece of wood and process of working it is unique. As a luthier I feel I have a better understanding of the structural and acoustic potential of wood as I work it by hand.

The cherry billet in the photograph still has bark on what had been the outside of the tree. This piece comes from a board that was originally about 12 feet long, perfectly quartered, and rough sawn. I made a few cherry dulcimers from this board several years ago. This last remaining piece has a few flaws I need to work around but most likely there is enough for a dulcimer or two in there.

 

My Happy Place

Dulcimer builder's play room.

When I first converted a small bedroom into a workshop my wife Cynthia referred to it as “Doug’s playroom.” She’s right. I have spent many happy hours there.

Loving what you do doesn’t mean there will not be moments of challenge and/or frustration. That’s how life tends to go but if passion fuels the journey you keep on going.

I’m working on a few dulcimers at the moment. Two will be strung and set up next week. In the photograph is a dulcimer that probably won’t be completed before I have back surgery in a few weeks. I’m doing the “heavy lifting” now so I can do the less physically demanding work on the dulcimer when I am able to start working again.

I’ll also be resawing some beautiful cherry, walnut, curly ash, cedar, and cypress for future dulcimers.

Deep Winter has finally come to Central Michigan. Sap has gone to the roots and birds constantly visit the feeder during daylight. Deer and the occasional rabbit leave tracks in the snow outside the house. Cold weather and snow bring quiet to this small piece of the world. I’m happy.