Thursday, 11 October 2012

Making a 2 String Jouhikko

I was made aware of the potential for this instrument which dates from the 19th century by Simon Chadwick who has written an in depth article on this and made many video recordings that can be heard on YouTube.

The original which can be viewed here is made of a block of aspen, a.resonant light hardwood, with a pine soundboard and birch pegs. The soundboard original also had a birch bark strap to hold it in place but on my example I will use animal glue.

I started with a block of alder wood and marked out the instrument from my full sized plans (now included on my Lyre making CD-rom as an added extra or separately on my website here)

I then marked the straight sides of the soundbox interior using a biscuit jointer(my router was set up for something else that day but with care it worked well)

Then I used a Forster bit to hollow out the sound box.

Once this was done I used a chisel to remove the waste and clean the slanted edges in the end grain top and bottom.

A Forster bit and biscuit jointer was used to begin to open up the hand hole.
More to follow in a few months!  please feel free to comment 

Friday, 21 September 2012

Kantele Making update

I have been a full time luthier for over 10 years now and have been making Kanteles since the start.
 The main techniques of construction are fully shown in my Kantele Making CD-Rom. but there are a few differences in the finer points of making them that I wanted to share.

In the CD-ROM I suggested inserting hard maple or beech under the tuning pin holes, I now insert a whole strip of hard maple under the soundboard. These needs a 5 piece construction for the tuning/head section

It takes longer to build this way but it allows the free use of softer timber like spruce, alder or walnut and still safely use zither pins. Over time softer woods would wear down without the inserts.

It helps to plane all the timbers through a thicknesses, unlike the individual inserts that can be done by bench press drill

Note: I use miller dowels to secure the laminations of all pieces now, these are self gripping and makes gluing up si much simpler.

When we get to stringing I will show how to lay out the strings now on the finished instrument!

CD-ROM available from my website
or from my alternative blog account here:

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Cutting List for Stick Dulcimer making course!

One element that was missing from my original Stick Dulcimer DVD was a cutting list,   It is of course possible to work out what sizes you need from the plans and I had left that out.   Here is a general guide for future reference, These are the finished sizes so please allow for final sanding or planing by adding a little to the length,  

Neck: Gdg  492mm Long 26mm-28mm thick and 32 depth
          Dad  560mm Long 26mm-28mm thick and 32 depth
Body sides 410 Long by 28mm wide and 1.5/1.8mm thick  (X 2)
Front and back:  350 long by 135mm wide and 3mm thick
Fingerboard: Gdg  382mm  by 26/28mm by 5.5mm
                    Dad   430mm by 26/28mm by 5.5mm
Please note,  you can make the neck of of several pieces to build up the heel and head,  you can also utilise scraps from a guitar and join up several pieces for the backs.

more information on timber and materials is here:

Friday, 17 August 2012

Sutton Hoo Lyre replica by Michael J King Part 2 of 2 New Tuning key

My complete and updated Lyre making CD-Rom with plans for 7 plucked lyres and added bonus of 4 Bowed ones is available here:
The updated file with replacement tuning key plan is to be found as a free download on my instrument plans page here:
The Lyre featured in this Video will be part of the Display at the Sutton Hoo Visitors centre

Monday, 30 July 2012

Kantele from The year 2000!

A little nostalgia this time......

My interest in Kanteles goes a long way back to my early 20's but the reference point was the fabulous book of old Kantele drawings by Rauno Nieminen published in 1984 which I had ordered from Finland via fax (amazing how we did things before the Internet took hold)

I took a year to make it on and off, mostly by hand, completing in the year 2000 in my back garden.

Made from a recycled pallet runner of Poplar and pinewood, It was always more artifact than an instrument, smaller than the 5 string Kanteles I make today but it does play. It has had several different stringing and tuning pin stages, painted several times but now in black it has wooden violin pegs and .010" strings tuned to B, c#, d#', e f#

The sizes of this one are100mm wide and 480mm long

Introduction video

Playing example

The instrument now has a new home in Walthamstow, London E17, birthplace of William Morris and my own instrument making Career.

For my website and current Kanteles  see here

Monday, 25 June 2012

Half fretting the fingerboard for the ├ępinette des Vosges

Sorry it's been a while, it's been a busy time!
Plans are now available to purchase and download for this instrument either from my website or from the link at the bottom of this article,  please feel to post any questions regarding this instrument.

One distinguishing feature of  this ├ępinette is that it has half frets which can seem a difficult thing to do at first. Some makers cut the slot across all frets chromatically and simply install the fret on the ones required. This leaves fret slots to fill or left as they are but is acceptable.
For mine I take advantage of the thicker fingerboard and cut the half slots at an angle.

I then cut the fret with the tang cut off on one end only.
note that this is the reverse of what is usually done,  the cut tang is on the inside not outside.

Some titebond is placed in rhe skot and the fret is then hammered in.
The slots have to be cut deep so there will be slots to fill with rosewood sawdust or filler If you wanted to another way to you could use fingerboard bindings instead cutting the tangs off all the frets.

Plans to purchase

6 string epinette  New 2012 model,  
When you purchase the PDF Download plans you receive a set of folders conyaining my original ink plans alongside the new CAD plans and photos
add to

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Stick Dulcimer in Gdg tuning (part 2) comparing G and D models

Alternative plans now available for this tuning.
My 2012 Stick Dulcimer comes with pearl or abalone position markers, zero fret and a handmade hard case as standard, I will only be making a small number as always.
Over the next couple of Videos I will play some examples

I will be making a small number of these this year, let me know if you would like one,  for those interested in making one I will be making the plans available for sale  for £5.00 here:

Add to Cart

Stick Dulcimer in Gdg tuning (part one)

Alternative plans now available for this tuning.
My 2012 Stick Dulcimer comes with pearl or abalone position markers, zero fret and a handmade hard case as standard, I will only be making a small number as always.
Over the next couple of Videos I will explore this tuning and give you a chance to compare it to the "Dad" tuned older brother. In this first part I play an improvised piece and then demonstrate the sound with different plectrums.
I still have a few spaces this year to make one for commission,  or for those interested in making one I will be making the plans available for sale  for £5.00 here:

Add to Cart

Monday, 13 February 2012

Gdg Stick Dulcimer plans

My Youtube videos showcasing this shorter scaled Gdg Stick Dulcimer will be out this week, but for those interested in making one I will be making the plans available for sale  for £5.00 here:

Add to Cart

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Gdg tuned Stick Dulcimer coming soon

The earliest instruments I made of this type were back in 1999 and were very short scaled for my kids to play. When I started making these for musicians I increased the scale length to guitar lengths but kept the same tuning. Around 2006 I changed to the Mountain Dulcimer pitch of Dad for comparability with that instruments and the tabs available. My current offering this year has the original tuning but with a more ideal scale length, this will make playing tunes even easier and it has the benefit of 12 years plus of making them.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Welsh Crwth January 2012

First Welsh Crwth this year,  a natural finished model with modern strings and fine tuners.

Here is a short sound example(from mobile device)