Monday, May 26, 2008

Putting It All Together

At last the time had come. All the pieces were shaped, fitted, and stained. The harp was ready to be assembled!

I always put this inscription on the back of the soundboard of my harps.

I had already attached the top and bottom of the box to the arch and pillar using wood screws and wood glue. Next I needed to install the wood screws to hold the box together, two on each corner. Because I was working so close to the edges of the boards it was very important to countersink the screws so the boards would not crack.

This red metal brace is to keep the top of the arch from twisting due to the torque from the strings. I'll cover it with a stained wood piece to make it look nice once everything else is assembled.

Once the wood screws are all in place I take them out on one side so I can glue in the soundboard and the back of the box. I'm using 2 ton epoxy with a 30 minute working time for the soundboard. There is between 500 and 1000 pounds of pressure on the soundboard once all the strings are tuned up tight, so 2 ton epoxy ought to do the trick.

First I put wood glue in the grooves for the box back and slide it in place. Then I pull out the soundboard and spread the epoxy in those grooves before sliding it back into place. Last of all I prepare the remaining side of the box with a new batch of epoxy. After putting the side of the box on, I screw the wood screws in. All done!

After the epoxy has cured I cover the metal brace at the top, then add the foot pieces at the bottom of the pillar. The foot pieces are important to help the harp stand upright and to keep the base of the pillar from twisting. I added a decorative wood piece on the arch at the top of the box, just because I felt like it. Those other pieces of light-colored wood are not just for decoration. The long ones keep the pillar from bending under the tension of the strings.

Notice that the bottom of the string rib is braced by the inside edge of the pillar. This is to keep the strings from ripping the soundboard out of the base of the box.


Frozen Cacti said...

Wow! (I said softly under my breath as I scrolled down and saw the finished picture). That is beautiful.

Remind me what becomes of your other harps?

Anonymous said...

beautiful! you are amazing!

becca gibson

Rebecca J. Carlson said...

Thanks, everyone.

As for what becomes of my other harps, so far this is only the third one I have built. The other two are sitting in my front room along with a larger harp that a friend built after I helped her draw up plans. A fourth harp that I adopted and repaired is sitting on top of the bookshelf in front of me.

This is the first harp that I am building on commission, and the owner, a relative from California, will be coming to pick it up some time in September.

Zaboo said...

I am continually awed by your creativity and capability, Rebecca. Always have been, always will be.