i copied and pasted this from another subject on this board. i'm hopefully in the home stretch of finishing a 12/11 hammered dulcimer i made from plans from folkcraft. they no longer support the plans and i've got questions. mostly related to the bridges, the string spacing between each string of each course, and the actual height of the bridges. i made the bridges to exactly the height specified in the plans, 28mm tapering to 22mm, but when i use actual string to mock up the thing, the strings touch the top of the holes in the bridges. if i shim the bridges up, i will still have a taper along the top, but the bridges will be higher. also, i used copies of the plans taped to the pinblocks to lay out all the hitch pin and tuning pin holes, but something doesn't look right. the strings all come off the pins together, no separation. it's as if the holes need to be rotated a bit towards the rear rail, using the hole furthest from the soundboard as a pivot, so that when the the strings come off the pins tangentially, there will be some separation of them. i don't know if under tension the strings won't slide on the delrin side bridges. i bought some brass rods and thought i could very light notch them like a guitar nut to keep them apart and it worked with regular string anyway. i don't have a sacrificial set of metal strings to waste. can anyone walk me through these issues, please?
making the bridges
By Noisykids, September 4 in Hammered Dulcimer Beginner's Area
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Posted September 4
i started making a hammered dulcimer 6 years ago, got the case made, the top, the bridges, and then got stumped by laying out the holes in the pinblocks. lately i've corresponded with chris at songbird and he told me i should change the bracing from front to back to side to side. those braces sat under the bridges and had a dowel glued to them for support. so i did that then after looking at pictures online i realized i needed to cut openings in the rails to accomodate moveable tone rods so i did that. the router got away from me and did some damage buti was able to repair it. he also said my bridges were incorrect and he's right. i'm making it from plans from folk craft. it's a 12/11. i very carefully made patterns for the pinblock from the plans but it seems to me that the plan may have been drawn smaller and then printed on a plotter because it seems that every little misalignment is magnified. the plan shows the bridges tapering from 29mm to 22mm front to back, and also tapered top to bottom. that particular cut seems difficult to finesse. it would be terrifying to try to run that small piece of wood, with the holes already drilled and just begging for chipout through the table saw. and planing that taper would be problematic with the holes already drilled and i can't wrap my head around drilling them into an already tapered bridge. do i really need to do that top to bottom taper? can i get away with planing the edges of the top to almost meet the groove for the rod? if i have to taper them top to bottom i'm going to glue some pine pieces the bottom of the bridge and make some kind of sled that grips the saw fence so i have some safe control. i've got everything i need to finish this..the motivation, the hitchpins, the tuning pins, the strings. just need to remake the bridges. any advice would be welcome. thanks
Posted September 7 (edited)
FWIW -- it would have been better to post this under Building Dulcimers, not under the general topic of Hammered Dulcimer Beginners...
I don't normally build HDs, having more than enough fun with the Mountain Dulcemore and other instruments. However if I were to build a Hammered Dulcimer, the plans I would use are those by Randy "Ardie" Davis -- A Dulcimer Builder's Do-It-Yourself Guidebook for the Hobbist. you can find it on Amazon and other places. Several builders who I admire and respect use Ardie's plans with great results.
Drill parallel stock, not tapered. Then sand the tapers in with a table or spindle sander or even just a handheld belt sander flipped on it's back. Your experience with a run-away router is exactly why I will never own one or use it for building delicate things like dulcimers.
Edited September 7 by NoterMan
3 weeks later...
Posted Wednesday at 06:18 PM
i've got that book and the patterns for the bridges are the same height, front to back. i got two new bridges built, all the pins are installed, and i've been stringing the thing with actual string so as not to waste sixty dollars worth of metal strings. the sting touches the tops of the holes so i've been shimming them up to move the strings into the center of the holes. another problem i see with the plans is that the tuning pin and hitch pin holes are not offset enough for the strings to go over the side bridges without touching. this is the issue i originally had when trying to lay out the pin blocks, and this is what i got for copying the plans exactly. so i don't really know what to do. will the strings stay separated under tension when run over a delrin rod? i'm wondering if i used a brass rod and slotted it like a nut for a guitar. as far as posting this in another topic, i belong to several astronomy boards and the admins usually move posts for a better fit. i couldn't even find one for building dulcimers.
Posted Wednesday at 07:34 PM
The strings should stay put under pressure, you really don't want to notch things, because pressure is downwards not sideways from being plucked. If you post a question in the Building section, my friend Ken Longfield (KWL) is much more knowledgeable than I on building HDs and he'd be happy to help. You might also send him a PM here.
The Admin here is not particularly active, unfortunately; we're sort of self-policing. I was very active in the original Everything Dulcimer group 20 years ago or so... The Building Dulcimers section is a bit farther down the the list: