Fretting, Gluing and Shaping

This entry is actually several day’s work put together. Wednesday afternoon was my last day of school, so my calendar just cleared up a bit.

Fret cutThe fretboard requires the most precise work. The board is complete, and the rough shapes of the peg head and tailstock are cut and clamped.







head and tail clamps


New Project

After she saw Jean’s new dulcimer, Lynn and I have worked out most of the details of her new teardrop instrument. Here is the first post of the initial sketches and raw fretboard.¬†Lynn1Lynn2








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.