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Dylan Holderman

new builder looking for advice

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Looks like it's really coming along! 

In regards to the braces, they probably don't matter too much.  Many of the dulcimers I have don't have any internal bracing at all.  For the future: I've generally seen cross braces like that placed at the widest parts of the bouts and the narrowest parts of the waist.  But that said, I don't think it matters enough to try to move them.  You might consider a thin strip down the seam of the back to add some reinforcement there, but even that's probably not critical.

My general thoughts on a first dulcimer build is to consider it a learning experience 🙂  Particularly if you're working from your own design or loosely following another one. 

The one I built is is based on a mix of Ed Thomas' and Homer Ledford's patterns, but isn't exactly either of them.  There's a couple things I didn't account for and had to fix as I built.  Now I know what to account for when I build the next one.

It looks like you're on a good path though.  Looking forward to seeing more photos as you go!

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It shouldn't be a problem. When I make dulcimers with braces, I like to place them so that they are not too visible through the sound holes. On single piece backs I seldom use braces. I use them mostly on two piece backs. On two piece backs I also use a strip down the center of the back about 3/4 inches wide with the grain of the center strip perpendicular to the joint.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

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yeah i'm using building a mix between what irving sloan shows in his book and the sketch from the woodwrights shop and iv'e already had some problem solving to do lol

also gluing little individual blocks of wood in makes me understand why modern kerfing took over!

Nix1blS.jpg

i'm going to give these a full 24-48hr for the glue to dry and reach full strength before i do the final sanding to level the sides off.

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Your braces look pretty massive, but I wouldn't worry about their placement.  Certainly not worry enough to try and pull them out and replace them!  What's done is done.  Building is about learning technique as much as anything.  Next time, perhaps, ask us before you commit to a step.   

For example,  these days I don't personally add braces to the back (or top) but if I did, I would not put them where you did, but rather one at the widest part of each bout, and skip the brace that you did not put at the  narrowest part of the waist (which serves no purpose).  Back when I did add braces, I was told by my mentor not to make them more than 3/8" wide and 1/4" deep, and that they didn't need to be half round, just a bit tapered at the ends. 

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I don't think the back brace locations are critical.  I constructed a dulcimer from a kit and didn't like that the braces were directly under the sound holes.  I built another kit (same model) and I moved the braces so they were not so visible.

Dave

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NoterMan i'm actually not to far off that size, i started off with 3/8 square. do you think its worth it to scallop them out with my little thumb plane?

last night i also roughed out some bone blanks for the bridge and nut, turns out that shinto rasps cut bone pretty good too!

 dwxQbAs.jpg

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Posted (edited)

Nope, not worth scalloping out, IMHO. 

Your build is looking very nice, BTW.  

Those kerf blocks aren't really worth the effort either. IMHO.  Very "old school" 1970s feature.  With modern glues we don't need to have huge glue surfaces.   Unless your sides are going down to .10" thickness or less.  Kerf strips are needed if you are going to router a channel around the edge and install binding -- the binding has to have something to glue to.  But I'd say the vast majority of modern builders today do not use kerfing  -- it's an unnecessary expenditure of time, effort and expense.

Edited by NoterMan

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Looks like you are coming along well with your build. Like Noterman, I don't care for kerf blocks. Some of the older builder did not use kerfing or other linings, but glued the top and back directly to the sides. The bone nut and bridge should give the dulcimer a nice bright sound.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

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fret wire and tuners came in today, now for fret placement i looked up the fret calculator from harpkit.com, i just want to run these numbers by you guys to see if i'm reading them right.

27" scale length

2.946    5.57      6.773    8.98     10.946    11.847    12.697    13.5    14.973   16.285    16.886   17.99    18.973   19.423   19.849   20.25

last night i dug this bit of scrap out for the head stock and did a pore mans stabilization with thin CA glue, it should work out nicely as a lamination.

vs9ozAP.jpg

JKOVKGx.jpg

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Here's the fret spacings for a 27.0" VSL  from WFret.  Distance from Nut to Fret.  No 6+ or 13+ frets.   
         1.         2.95 
         2.         5.57  
         3.         6.77 
         4.         8.98  
         5.        10.95 
         6.        11.85   
         7.        13.50  
         8.        14.97 
         9.        16.29 
        10.        16.89  
        11.        17.99 
        12.        18.97   
        13.        19.42
        14.        20.25 
        15.        20.99  
     
 

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You're numbers look good for a 27" scale according to StewMac's calculator. 

One thing that may make laying the fret spacing out easier for you: If you have a yardstick / meter stick with millimeters on it, using a milimeter scale may be a little easier to work with than thousandths of inches.

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I agree that working with millimeters is easier than decimal inches.  The WFret calculator can give millimeters, fractional inches or decimal inches, and can give Diatonic, Diatonic with 6+  & 13+ and Chromatic frets and much more.  I gave decimal inches to show the minor differences between calculators.  

We can only cut wood to the nearest millimeter or 1/64" anyway...

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millimeters would be nice but i don't have anything that reads in it aside from my little calipers lol. 

i'll just use a chart and convert the decimals to fractions and lay it out with my normal tape, i'm pretty confident at doing layout down to 1/32 with it and it doesn't even have 1/32 on it.

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Here's your 27.0" VSL spacing chart in fractions:

         1.      2 61/64   
         2.      5 9/16 
         3.      6 49/64  
         4.      8 63/64   
         5.     10 61/64 
         6.     11 27/32  
        6.5     12 45/64  
         7.     13 1/2   
         8.     14 31/32  
         9.     16 9/32  
        10.     16 57/64  
        11.     17 63/64  
        12.     18 31/32 
        13.     19 27/64  
       13.5     19 27/32 
        14.     20 1/4  
        15.     20 63/64   
          
 

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Strum hollow depth is a personal choice. Some dulcimers have no strum hollow at all. On some of my dulcimers I cut down to about1/8th inch left glued to the top. On others I cut only down 1/8th inch from the top of the fret board. Those who cut a deep strum hollow feel it allows the top to vibrate a little more. I can't say that I have any proof of that.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

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As KenWL says,  depth of the hollow is a personal choice.  Personally I don't cut a strum hollow -- almost no one strums there, and you seldom see and pick damage to a full height fretboard except when beginners are just starting out and dig too deep with their pick.  We all strum up around fret 12-14.  I just run my hollowing all the way back to the butt end, and round-over the area between the last fret and the bridge location.  One builder I know uses a small radius but decorative beading cutter on his router.  I round over by hand.

 

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i ended up going roughly half way.

any rule of thumb for sound hole size? iv'e seen some really elaborate sound hole cutouts online and that's a bit beyond me, looking at either round holes or simple cutouts

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There is a hugely complicated mathematical formula that can be used to calculate the optimum total area of of sound holes based on the volume of the body and a sphere and a bunch of other higher math -- Helmholtz Formula and such.

Anyway, as it turns out, a good rule of thumb is to have the total area of your sound holes be about the same area as 4-5 US Quarters  --  each quarter is about 1" in diameter and about  .75 sq. in. in area.

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From the picture above. I would use the paw print you have sketched there -- perhaps just a bit larger -- as the large sound holes in the lower bout.  Nice idea, but IMHO that size print just looks a bit too big for the upper bout location.  Then make two more, smaller, paw prints,  for the upper bout holes.   Center the sound holes half way between the edge of the body and the edge of the fretboard, at the widest point of each bout.

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You can always reinforce the sound hole area with a thin patch of wood under the sound hole. Just orient the grain perpendicular to the grain of the top. A friend of mine uses used dryer softener sheets to do this .I've tried this as well, but must no be using hard enough glue as I get fuzzy edges when I cut the sound holes.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

 

cc

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I don't see why that wouldn't work. You are looking for something that will prevent splits and cracks.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

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