Lutherie requires precision work with a material that prefers to bend and sway with the weather!
I have learned that it is better to accommodate the will of the wood then to force it to meet my demands. I have tried both approaches and have learned that the will of the wood always wins!
Working with the will of the wood has led to an evolving sense of design and technique that has led at times to both revelation and frustration.
Compromise is possible in certain areas and the result leads to a dulcimer with an organic look and feel that shows it was made from trees by a persons hands.
The natural world has few perfectly flat and straight surfaces. The will of the wood demands that I remember this!
The tolerances of the fingerboard must be precise and remain precise. I can make few compromises here. If the fingerboard becomes inaccurate or warps the dulcimer is no longer a musical instrument capable of satisfying a demanding player.
Again, I have learned that keeping a fingerboard true requires understanding what the wood prefers to do and working with the will of the wood.
On a good day, rather than me working the wood it is the wood that works me!
4 thoughts on “The Will Of The Wood”
I just was out at Kelvin’s sawmill last week. You can find him here:
All the best,
Have enjoyed your site on this sleepless night. I am not a dulcimer player but am a visual artist. Truth transcends medium.
I found your site looking for my old friend Kelvin Potter. I lived in Lansing in the early 90’s. Do you know him?
All the best, Lisa Siders-Kenney
Thanks Kari. I really appreciate the kind words. I like the metaphor of working with horses. I think it’s true about a lot of things!
And “Woods that’s been beaten into submission has lost its soul” needs to be a bumper sticker!
Your post makes me think of Wharton Esherick and his organic designs. I saw his museum last year and was captivated with his free-form pieces. I’m sure your dulcimers that are made according to the will of the wood, not only stay true and tuned, but feel differently–more organic?–to the user.
Woods that’s been beaten into submission has lost its soul. I suppose it’s similar to breaking a horse vs. using a horse whisperer technique.
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