Once upon a time there was a pretty Willow tree growing in
               my back yard..... During the heavy ice storms of 2000 it was damaged
               and as a result it died....So what to do with a dead tree??? Well...Make
               a mountain dulcimer of course...Follow along on these pages as I try my
               hand at instrument making.....

Log peeled and ready to cut into lumber...              First the tree was allowed to stand all summer
              to cure in the ground.. I know...This also
              allowed for a few bugs to dine on the wood
              but that just adds character..... It was then
              cut and peeled to get ready to saw into lumber.
              Now I do not have a saw mill and my small
              band saw will not cut anything this size so I
              decided to use the table saw.. By putting an
              extension fence on the fence and taking slow,
              small cuts I was able to produce some nice
              lumber. I will say that if you want to try this
              you will need a carbide tipped blade and probably
              don't want to use a new one because you
              will burn it.. :(  Glad mine was a few months

                                                            Got wood.....
Mold ready for action...                    Now that I have a little wood it's time to
                get busy making the dulcimer... The first thing is
                to make a mold to hold the piece after the sides
                are bent... The picture on the left shows my
                mold. It is made from 3 pieces of 3/4 plywood
                glued and screwed together. The shape is cut
                in each piece before it is assembled. I also chose
                to cut mine in half and place a hinge at on end
                and a locking bar at the other. Knowing my
                luck, the dulcimer will get stuck in the mold.
                You can also see the 3 cross pieces that act
                as wedges and hold the side pieces tight to the
                mold.  Click hereto see a larger picture.

                                                             Let's get hot!!!

Side view of the bender.Front view of bender
    The first time I tried to make
    a musical instrument, I tried
    to use steam from a pot on
    the stove. While this did work,
    it did not give real good results.
       After a little searching on the
    net, I found this idea. It's just
    an aluminum pipe with one end
    closed and a propane torch at
    the other. The idea is to take
    the wood that has been soaked
    in water for awhile and place it
    on the heated pipe. The steam
                  that is formed will allow the wood to be bent easily.

Test bend to see how it works...This is a test bend done on a scrape piece of wood
 just to see how it works. Once bent in this manner,
 it tends to remain with very little spring back.

 For those of you wondering, yes the box is
 a Kennedy. I was a machinist in a former life.
 The work bench is also a Kennedy. Good stuff
 but a little on the expensive side these days. :)

                                                                   Puttin' it together...

                         If you look close at the photo of the mold you may notice
                         that the sides are already bent and placed in the mold. The
                         cross wedges are in place and the the bottom edge has been
                         trimmed to size.
Detail of the head piece. The next step is to cut and sand the head
 piece. This is also made out of a piece of
 willow. Because of the slant of the side
 and the friction of the wood no clamp
 is needed to hold the block in place while
 the glue sets.

Detail of tail piece.  The next step is to carve and sand the
 tail piece to fit. It can then be glued into place. It
 is made from a piece of oak also from the yard.
 Note the 't-bolt' style clamp. A hold over from
 my machinist days. If you use this kind of
 clamp, be careful, they can generate a lot of

Not too bad!! After allowing the glue to dry, I've opened
 the mold to take a look. Not too bad for the
 first time I do belive.  Click here  for a larger

Sides after sanding...After a little sanding and some cleaning
 it's looking pretty good..

 Continue on to the next
 page where I will be making
 the top and bottom and
 a kerf lining cutter.

  Home  Sides  Top and bottom  Fret board  Tuning head