I enjoy building with wood and doing the work (mostly) by hand. Here is a gallery of some of my projects.
My Little Woodshop
In grad school, I rented a townhouse with a little backyard. They let you build sheds out there as long as they were shorter than 7.5 feet tall total. So I built my little woodshop in early 2020. Little did I know how nice it would be as a retreat during lockdowns. The door and windows are all from my local Habitat for Humanity salvage store.
36-String Lever Harp
I spent most of my woodworking time in 2020 on an ambitious project to build a lever harp. It's body is maple with a mahogany sound board, oak column, oak string rib, and pine sound box.
My poor jigsaw could barely cut through the slab of maple I used and I filled my little shop with maple smoke as it burned its way through this bridge. Here the two sides of the bridge are glued together and I am working on chiseling and planing the burned saw kerf off and evening across both pieces.
Tight harp strings each pull with about 20-30 pounds of force. This means that the harp needs to hold about 1000 pounds of force 24/7. Here I am building the reinforced base where the column connects to the soundboard.
Hidden beneath the nice mahogany of the soundboard of my harp is a rib of oak to help hold the tension of the strings. The strings also pull on a diagonal to the soundboard, which helps keep the planks of the soundboard from popping out.
The rough string rib and all the string ties are hidden inside the resonating sound box. Here I was making the sound holes for the back of that sound box. I used my 100-year old jab saw on this part.
I measured very carefully when drilling for string pegs and the holes in the soundboard so that every string would be parallel as well as parallel with the harp's column. The strings are spaced at regularly decreasing intervals from 15mm to 12mm in the higher register. I used a python program to calculate my spacing as well as to check the feasibility of tuning the whole instrument with the available string lengths.
Harp pins are usually installed with an arbor press, but I don't have one. I spent the better part of a day driving the tuning pegs through the bridge. It currently is working, but I am waiting on warmer weather to apply my finish.
This lap harp was a learning experience before I started building the large lever harp.
The soundbox is oak and oak ply. The base is maple, oak, and hickory. The column and bridge are recycled SPF
The strings are polyethelyne twine tuned by turning poplar and pine dowels. This is much more economical than traditional strings and hardware.
Being a fan of Iceland, I decided to make a traditional type of zither called a Langspil based loosely on this museum piece as well as other examples.
Hardwood does not grow in Iceland so instrument materials would have had to be imported or salvaged from rekaviður (driftwood).
The entire instrument is held together only with wooden pins and glue. The ends are cedar, the panels are oak ply, and the crowning is pine. The fret board is maple.
I strung it with cello strings, but the traditional material would probably be brass wire. The fingered string is tuned to E♭3. The low string is E♭2 and the middle string is B♭3. I play it with a scrap of maple shaped like an oversized guitar pick.
Here is a sample of how it sounds. I'm playing 'O Jesus, Broðir Besti'´, an Icelandic hymn written by Páll Jónsson set to a tune by A. P. Berggreen, both from the 19th century.
Benches for the kitchen table
Paper Towel Holder
Paper towel holder in quarter-sawn oak to match the kitchen cabinets. The rod is a scrap of maple. Finished with food-safe butcher block oil.
My left-handed workbench. I originally had it in my living room, but it was much cleaner once I built my little shop.