Hammered Dulcimer

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Project by Blayne posted 07-24-2010 12:11 AM 6618 views 4 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m a hammered dulcimer player, and I decided I wanted to build one on my own. So, with a set of plans and a pile of lumber, I set out to build this dulcimer. I got as far as completing the sound box when new responsibilities at my day job kept me from completing it for a year. But, I eventually came back and finished it all in one (long) weekend. This is my most ambitious project to date.

The soundboard is quartersawn mahogany, which I resawed in the shop from an 8/4 board, and then edge glued to make the panel. The pin blocks (which you can see in the construction photos) are hard maple, and the pin panels (the wood visible beneath the tuning pins, overlaying the pin blocks) are 1/4” birdseye maple. The sides are cherry and the edge trim is walnut. The bridges and string supports (next to the pin panels) are padauk. The back is 1/4” birch ply. The soundhole rosette is a maple, laser-cut crown of thorns that I purchased off of the Web. The dulcimer is finished with four coats of General Finishes wipe-on oil poly. The label on the inside is the name under which I build my instruments, Dove Creek Dulcimer. In the construction photos, you can see the hard maple pin blocks, the (unfinished) cherry sides, and some of the internal support.

This instrument sits in my office at work today, so that I can play it when I have some spare time. It has a good sound and stays in tune pretty well. While it was a frightening build at times (wondering if I was about to make a high $ pile of firewood), I’m pleased with the outcome.

-- Blayne -- Stillwater, OK

13 comments so far

View Kate's profile


403 posts in 4514 days

#1 posted 07-24-2010 12:29 AM

Wow, that’s beautiful. Makes me wish I could play.

-- Kate,

View CharlieM1958's profile


16284 posts in 4858 days

#2 posted 07-24-2010 12:38 AM

Gorgeous instrument!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Tony Strupulis's profile

Tony Strupulis

260 posts in 3763 days

#3 posted 07-24-2010 12:49 AM

Incredible! Now I want to build one.

-- Tony -

View Tony Strupulis's profile

Tony Strupulis

260 posts in 3763 days

#4 posted 07-24-2010 12:51 AM

Any way you can post mp3 files????

-- Tony -

View BarryW's profile


1015 posts in 4546 days

#5 posted 07-24-2010 01:54 AM

a seriously excellent project….I’ve always love hammered dulcimer music…like the zither…super super.

-- /\/\/\ BarryW /\/\/\ Stay so busy you don't have time to die.

View Tim29's profile


307 posts in 3790 days

#6 posted 07-24-2010 02:09 AM

Nice! I would love to hear it.

-- Tim, Nevada MO

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3714 days

#7 posted 07-24-2010 02:18 AM

This looks absolutely great.

My wife owns and plays a hammered dulcimer. I would love to build a new, very special, one just for her. This is inspiration for me.

FYI – the hammered dulcimer’s first cousin, the alpine dulcimer, is, allegedly, the only true American folk instrument. My wife has one of those also.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 3528 days

#8 posted 07-24-2010 11:33 AM

I too admire the workmanship and would love a copy of the plans if available,
As for the dulcimer being the only american instrument, isn’t the banjo also in that catagory? As Roy Clark says about the banjo, “only america would DARE!” ;)

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View tinnman65's profile


1398 posts in 4054 days

#9 posted 07-24-2010 01:10 PM

Fantastic job Blayne, it looks like it was worth the wait.

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

View Blayne's profile


28 posts in 3504 days

#10 posted 07-24-2010 02:08 PM

I’ll look up the plans and let you know where I got them. I’ll also try to record some MP3 samples when I get time.

-- Blayne -- Stillwater, OK

View DocT's profile


109 posts in 4078 days

#11 posted 07-24-2010 02:42 PM

I can almost hear it now! Ditto on the MP3 sampler. What genre of music do you play? I have a stringed instrument on my wood working bucket-list, but this build must have been a bit daunting (it would be for me). Great job, and, I assume…..GO POKES!


View Lewis Baumstark, Jr.'s profile

Lewis Baumstark, Jr.

49 posts in 3564 days

#12 posted 07-24-2010 03:28 PM

Very nice! Loved your “Pickin’ Stick” project, too. There’s just something about building instruments…

-- Every time I walk in my shop I thank my dad, my geometry teacher, and my drafting that order.

View BTKS's profile


1989 posts in 4104 days

#13 posted 07-25-2010 02:11 AM

Beautiful. Talented with wood and music, I’m envious.

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

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