What’s On The Bench – 4/3/2015

My first “shop” was my parent’s kitchen table in our apartment in Brooklyn, NY, probably around 1973 or 1974. I grew up with very little knowledge of tools and woodworking.  I bought tools as needed and learned to accomplish the most work with the fewest tools. I also learned to improvise around anything I needed that wasn’t available to me.

My first few dulcimers had their tops and backs glued on by using weights instead of clamps. An encyclopedia served this purpose well. For those of you too young to have grown up with an encyclopedia in your home, an encyclopedia was a vast wealth of knowledge contained within a set consisting of many books. Books were made of paper and had words printed on them with ink. But I digress…

I now have a shop with just about every tool I need to make stringed instruments so instead of using the encyclopedia I use an array of bench planes as weights to glue the tops (and sometimes the backs) on dulcimers.

Another use for bench planes

I do have plenty of clamps but placing weights on the ribs with the soundboard face down on the solera (classy term for work board) is much faster than securing clamps around the edges. This method works well but requires the solera to be perfectly flat (if that is what is desired) and the mating of the sides to the top or black plate to be very accurate. By the time I glue a top or back on I have prepared the joints so little to no pressure is required for the parts to fit together in proper alignment. I could probably get away with using less weight but I feel more secure about the quality of the joint by using more planes.

If my workflow requires access to the bench while the glue dries I will use clamps instead of using planes as weights. This way I can take the solera with the dulcimer clamped together and hang it on the wall while I work at the bench.

4 thoughts on “What’s On The Bench – 4/3/2015

    1. Sometimes the simplest solutions do indeed work best! I don’t always have enough clamps but I almost always have plenty of dead weight lying around!

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