29-String Celtic Harps

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Project by WagnerWoodworks posted 03-28-2014 08:35 PM 3075 views 2 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My daughter is a young harpist and she had been getting by on a cheap rental harp for a while. I decided to surprise her with a custom-built harp for her birthday last month. She had no idea I was building it, so it was quite a shock to her when I gave it to her.

Building it was a lot of fun. The design is based on blueprints and a hardware kit from MusicMakers, which is a fantastic company to work with if you ever decide to start building instruments. They offer a variety of kits and their customer service is phenomenal. It’s a great way to learn the basics before making your own designs.

I decided to build two at the same time; I figured I’d save some time that way, but I don’t quite think I did. The one in the highly-figured cherry was for my daughter, and I’m still seeking a buyer for the walnut one.

They’re 29-string with excellent sound that keeps maturing as the Danish oil fully cures. The finish was simply Danish Oil with a bit of wax over top. All pieces were solid hardwood except for the soundboards, which i made from Finnish Aircraft Birch plywood. Soundboards need to be thin enough to resonate well, but strong enough to hold the roughly 700 pounds of string tension! High-end harps often use sitka spruce for the soundboard, but even those have a tendency to crack later on down the road. The Finnish Birch seems like a great alternative.

I think the total project time was roughly 40 hours, so about 20 hours each. With a bit more practice, I think 15 hours per harp will be achievable. The next harp I plan to build will be my own design of a 36-string, and I’d like to experiment with some of the less commonly used American woods (locust, osage orange, hickory).


-- Jake * Wagner Woodworks * Glenelg, MD *

12 comments so far

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1522 posts in 2872 days

#1 posted 03-28-2014 09:20 PM

Very unique and a nice build. The wood for both is beautiful.

Glad that it was such a surprise, it probably made it even more gratifying.

-- Jeff NJ

View Underdog's profile


1740 posts in 3274 days

#2 posted 03-29-2014 12:39 AM

Nice! I should make one for my brother… in all my spare time.

WE really like the walnut harp. It has a nice contrast.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 3723 days

#3 posted 03-29-2014 01:25 AM

Making something that nice for your daughter puts you in the running for best dad ever. Fantastic work.

-- Brian Timmons -

View a1Jim's profile


118241 posts in 4815 days

#4 posted 03-29-2014 01:44 AM

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 3852 days

#5 posted 03-29-2014 02:32 AM


-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View luv2learn's profile


3143 posts in 3541 days

#6 posted 03-29-2014 04:26 AM

I can appreciate your attention to detail, it shows in the final product. Great work, I know your daughter is proud of her dad.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View Richard's profile


11310 posts in 4271 days

#7 posted 03-29-2014 04:40 AM

Very Nice and Well done! Thanks for Posting.


-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3660 posts in 4951 days

#8 posted 03-29-2014 04:43 AM


I can’t decide which of you is more blessed: you, for having a daughter who can fill your home with heavenly music from the harp; or your daughter, for having a father who can build her such a beautiful instrument!

Thanks for sharing.


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View WagnerWoodworks's profile


6 posts in 2759 days

#9 posted 03-29-2014 04:07 PM

Thank you all for your kind comments; this forum seems like a very supportive place to be!

-- Jake * Wagner Woodworks * Glenelg, MD *

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4105 days

#10 posted 03-29-2014 04:10 PM

This is a beautiful instrument and you’ve done a fine job on it.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View garriv777's profile


148 posts in 4103 days

#11 posted 03-30-2014 03:08 AM

Beautiful work Jake!

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 3414 days

#12 posted 04-02-2014 02:38 PM

Wonderful instruments! The wood are gorgeous, awesome build and finish. I’m your daughter was very happy. Excellent job!

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