Monday, June 22, 2009

Making Sawdust

There are times when I feel I make more sawdust than crafts. That may be true or not, but I do fill up the dust filters and containers every once in a while. At least I use it for compost.

The Summer Solstice is here, and the weather is almost Summer-like. It’s been in the 70’s off and on for a few days, a little windy, and dry. Actually, it’s good weather for putting finishes on instruments, which I started doing on the new Hans Memling psaltery.


Just yesterday I did the last step of assembly on the Memling: gluing the bridges. This is a time-consuming process due to the amount of preparation. I first have to place the bridges and temporarily clamp them, then use painter’s tape to mask the areas next to the bridges so glue won’t smear or leak on to the soft redwood top. A small bit of glue on the redwood would show as a light spot when the finish is applied. Today, with the glue set and the weather so nice, I did a final light sanding and cleaning and started applying tung oil. I’ll put on 3 or 4 coats, then it will be ready to polish, put on the pins and pegs, string it up, and play away.

On the other side of the shop (actually, a few feet to the left), I’m working on Barbara Allen, my new black walnut Mountain dulcimer. It’s another hour-glass shaped instrument in the style of the J. Edward Thomas dulcimer I saw at the Smithsonian many years ago. However, this one is a little larger than my other designs. The larger size allows for a little more volume.

Last week I steam bent the dulcimer sides and clamped them in Bending form-72one of my bending forms for a few days. While the wood was drying, I built a new assembly form for the larger dulcimer size out of old MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). When I finished it, I transferred the sides from the bending form to the assembly form. Within two days,

Glue kerf strips-72 I prepped and glued the head and tailpiece to the sides and started gluing in the kerf strips (lining on the side edges that add gluing surface for the top and back).

Meanwhile, instead of watching the glue dry, I started cutting wood (making more sawdust) for several new mini hognose Mini-hognose-frames72 psalteries. Up to last year, I had several in stock, but after the 2008 show season, I had none. They are popular and easy to play, so it’s time to make some more. Seven more.

The “Chapter House Portative Organ” is now on the back burner for a short time until I can obtain some leather felt custom made specifically for the tracking systems on organ pipes. While I’m waiting, I’ll finish up the Memling psaltery and “Barbara Allen.”

No fog outside right now, but onward through it anyway.




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