Dulcimer Quality Control

This post is inspired by a router bit that slipped in the chuck while working on a curly claro walnut and Adirondack spruce dulcimer this afternoon.

When I saw the bit was tearing through the side of the dulcimer a sense of calm came over me. I turned off the router. I looked at the gaping maw in the side of the dulcimer-to-be and thought of ways I could make an invisible repair, or perhaps use the opportunity to do something creative in the place where colorful, curly figured would have been plentiful.

But reason prevailed. The dulcimer was not even half built. I should just quit and start another.

And there was the cherry and spruce dulcimer that had been hanging around the shop for a few years that I knew I’d never let out the door. It was an experimental design that did not live anywhere near up to my expectations.

My solution as to what to do next was inspired by the work of my friend Michael C. Allen of Cloud Nine Musical Instruments.

Dulcimer Quality Control

Visible is the cherry and spruce dulcimer. The curly claro walnut and Adirondack spruce dulcimer served as kindling.

It is nice to have a fire on a cold day. I have no marshmallows to toast in the fireplace so I guess I will go back to the shop and get back to work.


11 thoughts on “Dulcimer Quality Control

  1. Hi, Doug,

    I’m sorry that you had a rough-ridin’ router that took a bite out of your beautiful handiwork. I’m glad you shared your story and resolution, though. The picture of the dulcimer inferno made me smile just a little. I thought I heard the theme music from Bonanza playing in the background…

    Take care,


  2. Hi Lynn,
    Cynthia was happy I bailed out as soon as I did as she has seen me agonize over getting things to be just right. It was pretty obvious that I wouldn’t be happy enough with the results this time.

  3. Hi Steve,
    Very funny! I have a feeling a hammered dulcimer probably burns a lot longer!
    I am not crazy about routers either. They are noisy and messy little beasts!

  4. Wow. I never made friends with wood, but I remember cutting fabric wrong one night, about 2am the day before Christmas, someone special’s shirt collar. I was able to fix that one but it was very close. Fabric can not go back, just like wood can not.

    I am spoiled now. Polymer clay is pretty easy to do without any disaster, and it’s inexpensive stuff. Yarn can be ripped out and knit again, though some yarns can be ripped more times than others. Feltmaking is a crapshoot every time I try it, so I’m OK when it comes out different than expected.

    But what I see is your ability to see reality more quickly than most. And to let go. Soon. Good for you.

    Hmm. No working fireplace here…

  5. So, seeking the answer to the perennial question?
    Which burned longer? Yours or Michael Allens? :)

    (I hate routers! one just wobbled and ate up the crest pieces I’ve been trying to make for my teaching studio!)

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