Loveday's Hog-nosed Psaltery (her first instrument)
click here for a sound sample - non nobis

This 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 chromatic 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.

Planing 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 orange shavings

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.

Now 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.

The drillpress is set to 15 degrees and the holes are drilled for the tuning pins.  Blackened zither pins are used for both the tuning and hitch pins, as they are proper in appearance and strong, and this instrument will have substantial tension on it.

You can hear every vibration in the room in that box.  No, actually, you can feel every vibration in the room in that box.

Setting the tuning pins and hitch pins is a real pain.  But it has to be done before stringing.

The bridge is just a flat-sawn piece of pecan, with a brazing rod set into a shallow groove in the top.  A single bridge is common on many designs, and it sounds good.  The matching bridge was cut and finished, but wasn't needed.  And hey, we already have more bridges than the picture shows...