Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How to Make Your Own Irish Harp for around $250

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I'm going to start blogging about my harp-making process. This time, I'll include diagrams, plans, and instructions. In other words, YOU, dear reader, should be able to do it for yourself.

Here is what you'll need:
  1.  Complete hardware kit for the 29 String Studio Harp available at This includes strings, pins, wood screws, finishing nails, and even a tuning wrench. $74
  2.  A sheet of 1/8 inch, 5 ply aircraft birch laminate, at least 12 inches by 29 inches, cut with the grain running parallel to the short side. This can also be ordered from, but you may be able to find it cheaper somewhere else. Be sure and let them know which way you want the grain. $60
  3. Another sheet of 1/8 inch plywood, same size, but it doesn't need to be aircraft quality. 3 ply is fine. This will be for the soundbox back. $10
  4. One 4ft by 4ft piece of 3/4 inch oak plywood. This is for the arch and pillar. Available at Lowes. $35
  5. Four solid wood boards, 1/2 inch by 3 1/2 inches by 4 feet, also available at Lowes. They call them craft boards, and they come in oak, poplar, and pine. I recommend the oak or poplar. These will become the soundbox and part of the pillar as well. $20 - $40.
  6. A piece of 1/4 inch by 3/4 inch oak batten, 5 feet long, for the string rib. $5
  7. Your favorite woodworking tools. I use a circular saw, a band saw, and my Dremel (which has a router attachment). A table saw and a jig saw would probably work instead, if the jigsaw is big enough handle the 3/4 inch thick oak plywood. You will also need sand paper of various grits, 50 - 200, and paint brushes or soft rags for staining and varnishing. If you don't already have woodworking tools, I'm sorry but your harp is going to be more expensive than I said. But if you don't already have woodworking tools, you probably want to start with a simpler project. Just a suggestion.
  8. The strongest 30-minute epoxy you can find. $10
  9. A small can of wood stain and a small can of polyurethane. Even if you have these in the garage already, you may want to get fresh, new stuff. Especially when it comes to the polyurethane. $12
For a more complete supply list and full instructions, visit my How to Build a Harp page!


matilda said...

You forgot the cost of pizza dinners that your husband will have to buy while you are working on the harp. :)

Rebecca J. Carlson said...

Well, when I make them I buy larger sheets of plywood and cut out several at a time. This makes each harp around $150 instead of $250. So we can figure in the difference for pizza.

Pendragon said...

wow. You actually make harps? This should be interesting. Very cool. :)

Rebecca J. Carlson said...

Yes, I make harps. My degree in physics and my bardic imagination joined in perfect harmony.

roc of the desert said...

When listing your tools, I think you left out your drill press, but a drill and a steady hand would also do, I'd bet.