Category: Construction


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.

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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