The harp that I'm to build has begun its life as a plywood template of the neck. There are lots of places I could have started, but for me it felt important to get the feel of the neck because it will determine both the engineering of the harp as well as establishing the flow of it's appearance (or not).
One of my older posts from the guitar build expands a bit on my feelings about bringing all parts of an instrument together, and seemingly 'working all over the place' in the process. It is: http://middlething.blogspot.com.au/2011/09/working-all-over-place.html
Anyway, this template is derived from a drawing done by Rick Kemper of Sligo harps, and I acknowledge his technical advice and his design. He has been generous in his support, and if we weren't half a world apart, I'm sure we'd have some creative fun together. So, I started with a tracing of his suggested outline, but in these things (if you care about lines) the curves need to be tweaked and nurtured into a harmonic path. Even a perfect master drawing will become a bit wobbly in the most fastidious tracing, and as well, I like to create my own little nuances here and there.
So the template is as much about getting to know the curves and their purpose as it is about having a master shape with which to make the real harp. Most of you will see in the pic above that the curves are still a bit rough and wobbly, and I'm working on them now, between typing things. The curve is set by the string length and the thickness is established by the strength required at a given point and by the need to have enough wood there for pins and levers.
For those who can't see what all the fuss is about, the pic below highlights (I think) some of the blunt or dead spots on my curves so far. The knife is pointing to a place where the two curves begin to spread. The inner line comes out too fast, and then flows into a line that is too straight. On the outer curve (indicated roughly by the pencil) there are bumps and hesitations.
Now in focussing on these things and spending some hours on the template, I get a side benefit in that I'm becoming familiar with the whole project and am beginning to own it.
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