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Peg Head and Fretwork

Squeezing in time to build the pieces in between teaching responsibilities and holiday activities. My new Ryobi multi-tool helped speed up the process with the peg head. The fretboard is the most important component. I use a fret position calculator from Stewart-MacDonald’s website to determine each fret’s location within 1/100th of an inch. I test-fit …

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A Celebration of Maryville College

45 years of Construction Dulcimer #51 was inspired by a contact from my college days. Bill Doyle, who lived down the hall from me in Dorm 1 (now Gamble Hall) sent me a message out of the blue saying he wanted a custom-made dulcimer. I had to warn him that this may take awhile — …

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Delivery

I am very pleased to present my 50th dulcimer, constructed 45 years since I built my first one — to Ms. Becky. Thank you for the opportunity to build this for you. Enjoy!

Tuning Stuff

It was time to install the friction pegs which was quick and painless because I had prepped for them when I put together the peghead. The fine tuners were next. The only other time I added fine tuners at the other end was for the Dog Head dulcimer I made for myself. For that one, …

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Prepping for the Strings

After the second coat has dried thoroughly, I gave the dulcimer a coating of paste wax, applied lightly with 0000 steel wool and wiped off to a smooth and slick finish. I then installed the tiny screws that serve as end pins for the strings. For the past several years, I have been using a …

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Finishing Coats

I love this part. The walnut is pretty enough in its raw form, but really pops when the finish is applied. I use Minwax satin finish hand-rubbed polyurethane for all my instruments. This time, I deviated from this by using a foam brush to do the gator head because of all the convolutions in its …

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Sloping the End of the Fretboard

Since I am using friction pegs, I like to employ fine tuners on the other end. Many times when a dulcimer is slightly out of tune, the friction pegs can make it difficult to make small adjustments. (The fine tuners harken back to the days of playing cello — MANY days ago — with wooden …

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Adding Sides

The side pieces had been resawn from the same board, so they are bookmatched just like the top and back. I first needed to thin them down to be able to bend them easily. For this, I employed a belt sander with increasingly finer grade sandpaper. I then used masking tape to trace the path …

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Finishing holes — Install Fretboard

I decided to finish the lizards by woodburning the feet. This will ensure that the design wouldn’t be weakened by too many cuts. I also had to redesign the sun sound holes because I could not get the scrollsaw to fit into the tiny holes of the previous design. After shaping the suns with the …

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Building Holes

To cut the sound holes, I transferred the designs onto the top, ensuring that the holes were mirror images of each side. I then used a scroll saw to rough out the holes. I then used small razor files and sandpaper to finish the lizard holes.