Hog-nosed Psaltery (her first instrument)
click here for a sound sample - non nobis
instrument is the direct predecessor of the keyed psalteries like the
piano and harpsichord. The Illumination in the book of hours that
this instrument is based on is impossible, the structure is wrong,
there are no bridges, but man, it is an impressive instrument, so a
little 'experimental practical archaeological application' used to try
to make a playable instrument was the goal. And here's what we
came up with.
There are more than 3
octaves in this instrument, making it one of the biggest of the keyless
psalteries. It is designed to be tuned in the key of D.
Loveday is the daughter of Fionnuala, and this project was both her
first instrument and her first A&S competition entry. And
while I am biased and think my two daughters are the best students
around, she did pretty well.
Armed with paper, pencil, ruler and square, and a printout from the
internet of the little angel playing the psaltery, we started drawing
the instrument in plan form. Using the measure of the top string
on a little lap harp, and working down from there, we came up with a
modification of the shape of the instrument that was both aesthetically
pleasing and functional.
Transferring the parts
to masonite as templates. Just in case anyone wanted to make
another of this instrument. You never know.
Finishing the templates, as important as finishing the piece.
the maple for the ribs and the pinblocks. This will be a 2 inch
thick soundbox, so full 8/4 lumber is used.
Gluing up the boards for the back and soundboard. The back is
walnut, the soundboard is spruce.
Cutting out the back according to the template. This will be the
piece we use to assemble and glue the frame on.
After I rough cut the
parts with the bandsaw (a 1.5 horsepower geared resaw bandsaw is no
place for most children) the oscillating spindle sander is used for
shaping and finishing.
Cutting the rose on the
jigsaw. Lots of pieces, lots of blade changes.
After the frame is glued, it is
removed and given a first coat of stain, in the hopes everything
fits. It doesn't, of course, but the stain gives a good indicator
of when the final sanding is done. The stain is alcohol and osage
The rose is stained yellow as well, in preparation for rub-n-buff
antique metallic gold finish.
The back is stained with a natural oak-gall and iron shoemakers black,
a very medieval dye.
The back clamped to the sides. No
bindings were needed in this instrument.
the soundboard is glued on. It is also stained with the same
black. Don't make the mistake of handling anything after you have
handled this stain until you have THOROUGHLY washed your hands.
Even if you can't see the stain on your fingers, residue will stain
other things after you touch them.
Now back to the oscillating sander to true up all the pieces. And
then re-staining, and then a coat of minwax finishing wax to seal and
protect and shine.
Applying the gold wax to the
rose. then the rose is glued in place.