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Dulcimer neck to side joint

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Hi, 

I am new here. Canadian but live in France. I am new to lutherie, but determined to build a dulcimer (after buying Chet Hines book in 1975!)

Things are coming along, and I gave looked through a few guitar building books (Bogdonovich was a great help)

i have made the sides - bent and laminated with walnut and spruce, and have glued in laminated spruce linings. (Picture attached)

i am a bit stuck on how to plan for the joint between the sides and the neck/head. I I have made end blocks - (in the photo), but not sure whether the head should be attached before the end blocks, or the other way around. I am assuming I will mortice the head and tail into the blocks, so have cur a slot for that. 

I am concerned about making a good looking and nice looking joint for the head, and wondering which is the best joinery option. See the attached sketch of options. Option D seems to be common on classical guitars, but given the steep angles, seems to be the most tricky to make. Any suggestions would be most appreciated.

Craig - in France

 

 

 

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VERY nice looking work!

MOST builders attach the tuning head to the head block as a simple flat glue joint -- no mortise.  Some use a screw from the inside of the head block into the butt of the tuning head.  Others use a wooden dowel  from the block into the butt.  MOST of us attach the tuning head to the head-block before assembling the sides to the headblock.  Your sketch B is probably the most common joint between the end of side and the edge of the tuning head.  MOST of us no longer use lining strips.  Modern glues give  plenty of wood-to-wood grip without the additional glued surface. Most of us (in the States at least) use Titebond brand glue; my living-in-Spain father-in-law turned me on to the European product called EVO-Stick which works equally well.

BTW -- Chet's book is rather dated these days as far as construction goes.

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Thanks, this is very helpful. I will practice on some scrap first, and let you know what I come up with. Yes, Chet’s book is old, but I have been dragging it around for 45 years, waiting to retire and have time (and patience) for the project. Any newer book recommendations? As I mentioned, I have read (and re-read) Bogdonovich on classical guitar building which is informative and also inspiring  because of his perfection. Yes Titebond is available here, and I really like the baby glue bot for this type of work. 

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MOST of the modern building knowledge is being spread on Social media -- websites, blogs, MeWe, Facebook, etc.  --   rather than books which are increasingly expensive and difficult to publish.  Will get you a list of better modern resources after I wake up this morning!

Thing to remember about Bodanovich and other non-dulcimer builders is that the dulcimer does not generate its sound in the same way as guitars, mandolins, ukes, etc.  The whole guitar concept of bracing tops and backs is major over-kill (and sound deadening) when it comes to dulcimer building.  The top already has a massive brace (called the fretboard).  Backs made from two planks book-matched need a thin joint-covering longitudinal brace, not side braces.

 

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Thanks, and you have anticipated my next question. I was planning to put 3 fine braces in the back, but only one on the top at the waist. Is that reccommended?

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How wide (inside lining-to-inside lining) are the bouts?  If they're less than 8" wide I would put one brace in the bottom at the widest part of each bout, each brace about 1/4" x 3/8".  No braces needed at the waist, top or bottom.  No braces under the top because there will be less than 3" of unsupported wood at the widest part of the widest bout.

If the bottom is book-matched from two pieces of wood, you'll want one longitudinal brace running from headblock to tailblock about 3/4" wide and the same thickness at the top/bottom planks.  A two piece top doesn't need anything, of course,  because the fretboard stiffens it.

The only time you would need more bracing is if you made a 'marquetry' top/back by edge-gluing a multitude of narrow strips into a wide plank.

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Thanks, again, very helpful. I am kind of figuring this out as I go along. My widest point is only 19cm, as have scaled the instrument to the size of our CNC which I plan to cut the frets on.

On that note, do you feel that the Stewmac fret calculator is the best? They have a dulcimer option, so I am assuming it is good.

 

 

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19cm is a good width for a dulcimer.  I've made quite a few that wide; but these days make them more on the order of 13cm, and I use  narrow traditional style fretboard only about 3cm wide.

I know lots of people who use the Stew Mac calculator, and they seem to get good results.  I use a calculator called WFret from the old MIMF forum from decades ago.  It has a diatonic/dulcimer spacing option and allows you to add 6+ and 13+ frets (but I don't use them).

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Hi, working on the head design, and practicing the joint on scrap wood. I think I will use a bolt to hold the headstock (and tailstock) to the sides as it seems like a good way to assemble, with the bolt acting as a clamp as well. Any opinions about using a threaded insert vs a barrel nut? Seems to me that a barrel nut would cause less stress, and that a threaded insert in end grain, might be less desirable.

Craig

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