Having found that a steamed top wasn’t really working well enough – I really think this old timber is very dry and brittle – I decided to go back to what had been my original plan, to form the rough shape of the top from a few pieces (rather than carving the whole top from a single piece, which I couldn’t find the wood for anyway).
I did find a very helpful supplier of the right sort of timber – sawn Sitka spruce – in Robbins timber, who provided me with a very reasonable quote (though delivery is not cheap of course – I was wishing I’d found them before I went down to Halsway a few weeks ago!).
The thing is, that having started making a nyckelharpa from a recycled piano, I am really keen to make it completely from the recycled wood. That means making the top from much thinner pieces that is ideal, with quite a lot of gluing to make the top rather like a barrel. Let’s see how it goes!
Here’s an early stage of gluing – I am using the former made for steaming as a frame to help clamping:
Naturally I discovered once everything was clamped up that I’d used the wrong two pieces – 5 and 6 rather than 4 and 5 – however it doesn’t really matter, they are all fitted individually anyway.
I can do one join a day (I’m using Cascamite again), so here’s a sequence showing construction:
You can see that the edges are protected from the clamps, and those strips are actually screwed into the frame, since the clamps are at somewhat peculiar angles and this reduces the tendency for them to slip off, whilst still allowing pressure to be applied.
The last photo above shows all eight pieces finally glued. You can see in the photos how I used additional wood braces to hold the clamps straight during the glue curing process. Once set, the top is ready for final shaping:
Let’s hope for success this time!