On the bench is the frame of a cherry dulcimer and the cherry back with spruce braces it will soon receive. The kerfing on the sides gets notched to receive the ends of the braces and the ends of the braces are trimmed to fit in said notches. Attaching the ends of the braces into the sides adds strength and stability to the dulcimer. I took this photograph just before I began marking the brace locations on the sides with a pencil.
Before gluing the back to the frame I’ll be adding small braces to reinforce the side sound port.
I’m working on two other dulcimers that are several steps farther along. One dulcimer is in the homestretch, another will receive binding as soon as I bend it.
I usually build dulcimers in groups of three or four but each dulcimer is given individual attention and worked on one at a time. This isn’t the most efficient means of production but I am happier with both the process and the results of working in this way.
On the bench are two dulcimer fretboards in cherry.
The one on the left has had the strum hollow cut and refined and the location of the position markers laid out. It also has an ebony end cap in place. An inset of Spanish cedar is inlaid in the fingerboard just ahead of where a bridge/pickup will go. I find using a softer wood or shim ahead of this type of pickup makes the amplified sound more natural. This fretboard is chromatic up to the 7th fret/first octave and diatonic the rest of the way.
The other fingerboard is fully chromatic. The layout lines for the strum hollow are in place and this one will also have position markers and an ebony end cap
On the right is the glue pot that keeps hide glue warm and happy. The Erlenmeyer flask holds water for adding to the glue as necessary. I picked up the Erlenmeyer flask at a salvage sale because I thought it would be more difficult to knock over than the glass jar I previously used. This has indeed been the case but I still manage to knock it over now and then.
On the bench is some of the wood going into the next run of dulcimers. Two dulcimers will be all cherry, one will have walnut for the back and sides and a spruce soundboard, and another will have spalted maple for the back and sides and a spruce soundboard.
If you look closely at the photograph you will see a triangle with numbers drawn in pencil on some of the cherry. This is an old trick to mark bookmatched wood so the edges line up as intended. After matching the pieces the way I think they look best I draw the triangle and number. The triangle will only look like a triangle if I put the wood back together in the same orientation. When working with multiple sets sawn from the same stock the number assures the sets are two pieces sawn sequentially. This simple trick has saved me from many headaches!
My back has healed enough from surgery that I can now work on dulcimers in short spurts several times a day. I’m taking things easy and slow and avoiding the temptation to do more work than I know I should! Slow and steady wins the race!
I can already tell that when fully healed I will be able to work many more hours than I have been able during the past six years. More dulcimers, more fun!
In the photograph are cherry and walnut dulcimer sides bent and ready for the next three dulcimers I will be making.