June 2021 archive

Gator Mouth and Sound Holes

It was time to go back and finish the peghead. The mouth pattern lined up perfectly with one of the pictures I had. The trick was to duplicate both sides exactly. After sketching out the mouth on paper, I attached it to each side of the snout and poked holes along the pattern, including the …

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Making the Top and Back

The top (soundboard) of the dulcimer and the back should be no more than 1/8″ thick. Making thin slices of thicker boards is known as resawing, and can be a problematic process. Although I used my new resawing jig to thin the blocks used for the peghead and tailstock, this would be the first time …

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Fretting Over the Eyes and Frets

I am particular about the eyes on these carvings. Through trial and error, I have settled on the half-beads with built-up eyelids. This is the trickiest and most time-consuming part of the whole dulcimer. It would be a snap if I were working with clay, but must use tiny pieces of walnut instead. I make …

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Adding Texture

I decided to add some texture to the upper snout area — something I have never tried. I like it. I also added some eyes. Letting them dry overnight.


Still entertaining company, but found some shop time to start the shaping process. It’s important to clamp that puppy down when making the large rough cuts. Sometimes I tape down a piece of scrap if there’s a chance I might damage a semi-finished part. I am able to hold the work while doing some of …

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We have out-of-town family visiting for a few days, but I still found a little time to slip into the shop to cut out the profile. I’m beginning to see this dude!

Hunting a Gator

With the functional part of the peghead completed, it’s time to find the gator hiding in this block of wood. This part of the process is truly magic to me and I do not rush it. Besides, walnut is not the medium for whittlin’ out a head — I have to use power tools. One …

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And We’re Off!

I like to start with the peghead first. The width of the peghead will determine the width of the fretboard. Since this will be a carved peghead, I need to add extra wood to make sure I have enough to work with. However, the tuning peg box is still the same basic shape that I …

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A Florida-Flavored Number 50

Becky, a fellow member of the Naturecoast Dulcimer Players, has commissioned a new dulcimer — one with a gator head carving in the tuning scroll. I am particularly excited about this build: this year marks the 45th year since I learned the craft, it will be the 50th dulcimer I have constructed, and Becky has …

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