Winding it up

After the finish had dried, I applied a coat of paste wax to help protect the instrument. I installed the tuning pegs and added the strings. (I use Number 44 finished 2medium gauge Vega banjo strings). After a little fine tuning and bridge adjustment, she was all done!

Even though the actual time for construction stretched for a couple of months, it doesn’t usually take that long. In actuality, I kept a record each time I worked on something , and it totaled about 30 Number 44 finishedhours from design to finish, not counting time for glue or finish to dry.


Congratulations, Jean, on your new baby–and thanks for your input along the way!

Finishing Touches

At last–we have reached the final stage of construction. At the suggestion of the client, I rounded the peg head and attached it.

I always do the final sanding of the Head finalinstrument by hand, because when the finish is applied, there’s no going back.

final sandThe bottom photo is the first coat of the hand-rubbed polyurethane. This was all done a few days ago; currently, the second coat is drying. Very soon, it will be time to add the strings and any finishing touches.



First coat

Sides and Detail Sanding

I had intended to be further along than this. Unfortunately, this time of the year brings band and choral concerts as well as my own clampsperformance in a faculty show. So I pick at the dulcimer as I can. These shots represent the weekend work and tonight’s work on the peg head.



final shaping 1

final shaping 2

Heads and Tails

Head and Tail 1Shaped the head and tail blocks and glued them into position. Then attached the back, insuring that the flanges line up perfectly so that the sides will be nice and square.




Head and Tail 2


Head and Tail 3














Finishing the Top

fretboard attachUsed razor files to finish the sound holes and attached the fretboard.

Top and Sound Holes

xactoFinished sanding the top and began cutting out the patterns for the sound holes. Using the scroll saw, I cut out the sound holes in the top.










They still need some final shaping before moving on to the next step.


Sanding and Shaping

I finally had some time to work in the shop this weekend. I have cut the back and Back and Toptop to shape, then focused my attention on the back. The fretboard is not attached yet–the sound holes must be cut first.

one side pins

I thinned it evenly and attached the ribs that will hold the sides.







strips installed on back

Weekend Progress

I have bookmatched the top and back, sanding both smooth. I didn’t include a picture, because it looks just like the bookmatching post earlier. The plan tonight is to cut the teardrop shapes on the top and back, continue to uniformly thin them down and install the gluing strips on the back.

I also added a 6.5 fret to Janice’s dulcimer.


resaw I re-sawed a plank using the table saw, finishing up with the bandsaw. Opening up the thin panels like a book gives us a nice mirror-image with the grain pattern.






glueupThe gluing of these panels is decidedly inelegant, but effective. Note to self: I really should rebuild the book matching jig I used to have. At this point, I’m not sure whether this will be the top or the back. It’ll still need a lot of planing and sanding once the glue dries.


The fret board is finished.


ErrorAbout the same time, however, my main computer crashed. The new Windows 10 would not boot up, nor repair itself, so it is currently “what’s on the bench”.



MachineI always use separate hard drives to store important data, so I decided to just purchase a new C: drive and a new copy of Windows 10. Even though it’s a pain in the rear to re-install software, I feel a “clean” copy of the operating system will maintain a more stable machine. Unfortunately, I kept getting error messages after Windows was installed. I wrestled with this all weekend until I finally discovered that the new hard drive was defective. After purchasing a second HD, all is well. I will be able to free up my bench once again and continue with Jean’s dulcimer.