this week i

built a mountain dulcimer.  matthew wrote this post about it.

found a dusty old book..

..with almost one hundred pages of exploded designs.

convinced matthew..

..and david to join in.

borrowed my father's car..

to maryland's pennsylvania border

hand-picked our inventory

..alongside mennonite lumberjacks.

planed the boards down to appropriate instrument thickness.

loaded up diagonally.

paid near nothing.

drove carefully.

parked in the woodshop.

 measured out the curves.

traced out the mold.


..the white whale.

squared up the sides.

fired up the steamer.

clamped the curves into place..

..but they sprung back too quickly.  blame the weather.

disposed of mold number one, built mold number two.

regrouped over some coffee.  reinvented our autographs.

spent our snow day wisely.

ran a straightener to assure symmetry.

confirmed both fit and grain pattern.

glued the fronts and backs right down the spine.

join this walnut in perfect matrimony.

soaked the sides overnight.

slept on david's air mattress more than once.

sawed the endoskeleton.

smoothed every groove.

have no common ancestors.  none.

sawed through epoxy, still unclear how this fit into the construction plans.

retried the curvature of the sides.

kept them warm at david's house.

maintained the vice for two tense days.

hollowed out the sound-cavity on the back of the fretboard.

drilled through the tuning holes near the top of the fretboard.

carved homes for both nut and bridge.

circumcised the far bottom edge.  a sonic improvement, allegedly.

sanded down the strumming well.

glued in some romantic padauk..

..and the nut and the bridge.

measured out the frets.

had our first taste of fame.

cut across the first two frets.

repeated ad nauseam.

filed down the prickly edges.

plotted the tuning pegs.

drilled into a dowel.

handmade a few violin clamps.

figured out a shortcut.

mass-manufactured luthier clamps.

understood most of what transpired, but not this part.

broke for ms pac-man.

opened up those ratchet straps.

had the sides, now needed matching tops and bottoms.

pasted on the side-reinforcements, conceptualized.

glued on both sides.  wow.


still might just be a box

mowed down the top-center.

saw something semi-recognizable.

aligned the fretboard hollows.

pressed on the top.

spoke-shaved every corner.

sanded down the body.

flooded each imperfection with epoxy.

hammered in the bottom pegs.

ate nutella donuts.  do not miss this step in the process.

blew the dust out of the body.

gazed at the innards one last time.

laid down the fretboard.

didn't know ravi shankar played dulcimer too.

dusted the naked instrument.

coated her in tung oil.

polished every crevice.

hung her from the ceiling to make sure we hit every spot.  kind of like achilles' mom.

attached the first few strings.

have something.

brought her back to david's for the afternoon.

let 'er rip.

built a mountain dulcimer.