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 using it for the job for which it was designed. It became readily evident that the process needed some tweaking. For one thing, I had not accounted for the actual 33″ length of the boards that I use. To actually have the board clear the sawblade, I had to stand to the left side of the saw and continue the cut. That felt awkward and somewhat dangerous. Any inconsistency to the cut could result in unevenness which must be sanded out. So I used some scrap plywood to build a bolt-on handle, enabling me to keep constant pressure through each pass of the cut.

It still took extra time to set up each piece, but I was rewarded with consistently thin, beautifully bookmatched boards. With the work securely clamped and by making several passes with increasing depth of cut, I felt comfortable raising the saw enough to do the entire job on the tablesaw, eliminating the need for the bandsaw completely. This also simplified the finish work, requiring only sanding.

Since the edges were perfectly straight, it was a simple matter of gluing the 4″ boards together to create the 8″ width that I needed. I was so pleased with the jig that I started slicing up other boards for future projects. Sometimes it’s a mystery what the grain will look like when it’s bookmatched. One of the boards I found was mostly walnut heartwood — much lighter in color. I made it into a soundboard as well. I gave Becky a choice of the darker or the lighter soundboard and she chose the more exotic heartwood. I think the contrast will look nice.

The next step will be cutting out the sound holes. She wants a Florida/swamp theme with some type of lizard and a stylized sun. As if on cue, there was a small lizard on my outside wall as I was mowing two days ago and I happened to have my phone with me. His pose was perfect, and I’m taking it as a sign. I’ll just modify it as needed to fit the space constraints. It’s all coming together!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.