Friday, May 4, 2012

back to the harp

 This is a bit of a catch up post, having spent many hours in the 'zone', attending to surfaces more than shapes, but looking below at the oversized lump at the top of the soundbox, there has been a bit of sculpture going on.
 The bulb at the base of the neck was an intimidating project in itself- one of those little jobs that presents more problems in the mind before you actually tackle it, and then it simply becomes a satisfying flurry of woodchips and right-brain flow, sawdust and feeling the shape with very sharp tools, and with a bit of luck and/or experience, you know just when to stop.

The soundboard is glued onto the box, and then secured with covering strips which are themselves glued and screwed...and these are covered with thin strips of matching wood to cover the screws.

Creating the final surfaces for the fit of the neck and pillar to the soundbox is a job best crept up upon rather than attacked with bravado. Rick recommends leaving a small allowance for the movement of the neck wood after compression by the strings, and I have done that, but I needed to be very careful that the slight gap was even enough for the surfaces to bed down without any sideways twist. At this point the top joint is held in position by a pair of positioning dowels, and the bottom joint is just hanging there. When all is well-placed, the bottom end will be secured by a stout coach screw into the base.

It looks as though this instrument will be finished with oil in the timber, rather than coatings over the top. The surface will be less perfect in that wood flaws and surface variations won't be masked, but the timber itself has such authority and integrity I'm not sure I have the will to wrap it. The exception to this is the sound-board, which has had a couple of sealing coats of shellac. Softwoods can look gooey if oiled, and have been known to drink far too much.


  1. That's amazing. Great shape. It looks like it would be heavy to lift. Is it?

  2. Perhaps I show my ignorance of harps here. I'm impressed to see it stand balanced and unsupported. I imagined that the harpist held the instrument up and when not in use, a stand of some kind was employed. The harp looks so majestic standing alone. If this was in my home it would be in the living room so I could just look at it, like a sculpture.

  3. Pablo, it's not so much heavy as bulky, the box walls are only 4mm thick. It will have a pair of 'feet' to raise it a little and to give some more stability.
    Michael, you are right for most harps- the most usual that you've probably come across are celtic lap harps. The floor-standing harps like this are less commonly seen because they are less portable.

    I've rushed a little ahead of myself since yesterday and have started the oiling process before drilling around a hundred holes for the hardware. That means I have to be more careful in moving it around now!

  4. It is simply beautiful Dad!

    And your first build!

    Fantastic! x