Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
4 weeks ago
597 posts

Watco is good. I just finished a guitar neck with Birchwood Casey's Tru-oil gun stock finish. It is easy to apply and makes a really great finish. I have nothing against oil. I just don't like to get my fingers messy. HaHa.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ferrator
Ferrator
@ferrator
4 weeks ago
8 posts

Thank you Ken, but I am leaning toward Ken..

Hmm, that needs explaining, huh?

Myself, I am a huge fan of oil finishes. I like tha 'hand rubbing' that goes along with it. Since the Tung Oil will harden. That is another thing in it's favor. So...it can take 2 days or so to dry. No problem. Add in being able to use stains, sounds good. Then, in looking at the oil, I found some put out by 
Watco. Watco and I are already good buddys.

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
4 weeks ago
597 posts

A finish I like to use is a satin finish lacquer. I use a rattle-can spray (Deft), but I think any spray can lacquer would work well. The instrument in my hands in my avatar has a sprayed satin lacquer finish.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
4 weeks ago
1,591 posts

Tung oil is an oil from the tung nut tree in Asia.  Better than boiled linseed oil!  Yes, it hardens.  Get as pure of tung oil as you can -- some manufacturers adulterate it with other things.    It works fine with stains that are dried.

Ferrator
Ferrator
@ferrator
4 weeks ago
8 posts

Nice catch on the paper with the notes. I made that, and like everything with me, it is a bit more than 20 years old. It has also been in and out of that placement more times than I care to think about. I will double check that. Thank you Ma'am :)

Tung oil. Never heard of it. But it is something I will be looking into now. Deep gloss is nice, but not all the time. Does this "harden" at all? Also, how does it act/react with stains?

 

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
4 weeks ago
1,591 posts

Finish -- I'm a big fan of Tung Oil.  Rub on 4 coats of tung oil and call it good!  But then I don't like deep mirror glossy finishes on anything.  

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
4 weeks ago
1,667 posts

Um, when you are making a note of what each strings was tuned to, be careful
I'm thinking that someone inadvertently REVERSED that paper naming the notes for each string.  The notes should be going LOWER, not higher, as the strings get longer. Your slip of paper is currently oriented the opposite way.  --> Try taking the paper out and putting it in the opposite wayStarting with the shortest string, it would then go: C, B, A, G, etc...




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Ferrator
Ferrator
@ferrator
4 weeks ago
8 posts

There is going to be some manner of brass used in this project. That black piece where the stings run over the courses is plastic. Sure, a hard plastic, but I think brass would be a better option. This was not a high digit instrument. But with some careful consideration, it can become mighty fine. Just need to exercise the necessary care to make sure the brass is good and straight, no kinks allowed. A soft 'bow' maybe, but that is it.

Brass would be good at the tail, but wood would look better...decisions, decisions... Either way, there should be some "shaping" to get the piece to look right.

Ah, the strings. I have done a LOT of rooting about the net on that. I do believe I have the gauges now. It is also fairly apparent that the strings are indeed ball end guitar strings. There is a place I go for my dulcimer strings that can set me up with what I need. ~L~ At that point it is choosing the correct TYPE of string. One site I looked at likened the strings to gauges of piano wire.

As a retired machinist and tool maker, I know WD-40 quite well. But using it on a tuning peg in wood? Maybe a q-tip and daubing? But a goof tip. Not one I would have considered, but it sounds like a plan.

"Make a note about the note they are tuned..." Hoboy, done. After that, there is the world of confusion that goes into all of the alternate tunings. Is Draconian an type of tuning?

Then, after all that, clean the poor baby and have a look, eh?

There WILL be sanding and refinishing. This is something I enjoy quite a lot. There are some nasty looking marks on the edge of the face that need to be addressed. Short of the playing once the work is done, the wood working part of this is going to be one of if not THE best part of the project.

The more I look at this thing the more I am convinced that the "finish" is about as minimal as it gets. "Student" instrument was mentioned. Sounds about right to me. I am leaning toward a lacquer or shellac for the finish. Needs to be water based though as I do not have good ventilation and cannot access a spray booth. Yup, spray. ~L~ I do NOT have the arms to do a French rub.

To stain or not to stain...

I want to thank you all for the ideas and suggestions. I have never worked with an instrument before. Not a decent one. I can use ALL the help I can get.

 

John Gribble
John Gribble
@john-gribble
one month ago
83 posts

About the strings-I can't tell for certain, but they look like guitar-type ball end strings. (There were some oddball oversized autoharp ball end strings, but the shape of the ball end was different.) Take the strings to a well-stocked music store  and you should be able to match the strings gauges for a few dollars. You might want to tape the old string to a piece of paper or cardboard and write which note they were tuned to, so you can put the right replacement on the right pins.  

Fun! a worthy project.  

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
one month ago
1,591 posts

Yep -- it's a kantele shape anyway, if unconventional in construction.  I'd guess a "student" model.

I would start with what Ken Longfield suggests.  To keep the strings from cutting into the edge of the top, I might use a thin (1/16" or 1/8") strip of wood about 1/4" wide, running across the junction of the top and back -- instead of a brass rod at the back edge as Ken suggests.  Use a very hard wood -- at least as hard as hard maple -- and make sure the grain runs the length of the strip.  The strip can be held in place with even rubber cement until at least a couple of strings are replaced, then string pressure will hold it.

What is that bridge made of?  Metal?

I would start by recording and removing the strings, as Ken says, then a soft cloth dampened with soap water to see if those white stains and assorted crud can be wiped away.  A few drops of WD-40 on each tuning pin near where they enter the wood might help things in that department.


updated by @ken-hulme: 08/16/19 07:19:23PM
Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
one month ago
597 posts

The work to do doesn't seem too bad. I'd try to clean the top, back, and sides before doing any sanding. Of course I would take all the strings off before doing this. Make sure you keep a list of the gauges of all the strings in order: from high to low or low to high whichever youosr prefer. After clean up you can decide whether you need to sand the finish and refinish the instrument. You will need to see if the bridge and need any work. Although it is hard for me to see, I would probably add a brass rod all the edge of Kantele just under the top edge along the side to keep the strings from eating into the top. Keep us posted on your progress.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ferrator
Ferrator
@ferrator
one month ago
8 posts

Alright, here is the front and back...

Hoboy yeah...needs work


updated by @ferrator: 08/16/19 04:32:49PM
Ferrator
Ferrator
@ferrator
one month ago
8 posts

~wow~

OK, let me see if I can address ALL of this! ~L~ Dang people! This has got to be about the friendliest group in Dodge!

Oh yes, I have seen Kantele' that are the size of the one in the photo. Is drooling allowed?

Full sized pics, I will work on that. File size kept being far too large.

Ken Hulme:


That is certainly a VERY uncommon way to build a kantele.  You may not -- in fact -- have a kantele, but rather some other form of zither/psaltery.  Can we see some less close-up photos of the instrument, please?  Say a quarter of the instrument in each photo. and then frame-filling pix of the top and back so we can see the whole instrument

Exactly why the name of this thread has the question mark. Maybe even a lap harp? Regardless, it is a sweet sounding instrument when it playing condition.

Lois Sprengnether Keel:

A computer search on Kantele was eye-opening.  It reminds me of the zithers and toys that had diagrams you insert under the strings to play a song.  Being eager to make music simply, I've fallen for some of those & even created some diagrams of my own.  This shows there is a whole Finnish musical tradition without the cheat sheets that probably inspired the commercial American instruments .

Just wish he hadn't allowed his microphone to pick up wind noise.

Oh, I know about the wind!

Good thoughts on the tuning key. I have also thought the same about the pegs. But then, removing them and knocking down the rust with some steel wool might render something of a "patina like" looking result.

Sanding it is. That are a few seriously nasty looking dings that the moisture and iron technique are not going to touch. But then, if the patina for the pegs work out, the coloring in the dinged area might lend a bit of "old" to the appearance.

Lois Sprengnether Keel:

I'm not "Finnished" with mine, but appreciate seeing a more musical and traditional version. 

Ooooh! PUNS! hehehee...be careful there. I too have been known to PUNish...


updated by @ferrator: 08/16/19 11:52:11AM
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
one month ago
1,667 posts

I just gotta add, about tuning wrenches:

Having used both the T shaped cheaper ones and the L shaped slightly more expensive ones... I urge people to get an L wrench-  you get way more control for fine tuning the zither pins- the fulcrum range is much wider. Truly, it's like twice as easy to fine tune by very small increments, and also the L wrench is much much easier on the hands.  It's almost like the difference in ease between plain wood tunings pegs that are sticky, and simple geared machine pegs.  My advice is to pay the extra couple of bucks and get an L wrench... it'll make your life easier!    ;D




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
one month ago
597 posts

Thanks, Ken, for that explanation of the string anchor photo. I must have been tired last night as I looked at it. I could not figure out why there would be vertical grain wood in the "nut" by the anchor pins. Now I see that is the top and the strings anchor on the side of the instrument. Duh. I just couldn't see that when I first looked at it.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
one month ago
1,591 posts

Tuning Key -- You can use a clock key for those wind-up clocks; they come in a variety of sizes.  You can use an L-shaped autoharp tuning wrench -- $15-20.  Or you can get a 1/4" T-handle Tap Wrench from on-line sources ($3.99 Amazon) or a good hardware store for under $10.  You want one that goes from 0 to 1/4", not one that goes from 1/4" up.

Strings -- if that is indeed how the strings are anchored you're going to need "ball-end" strings, not "loop-end"

I see what KenL means about the string anchor photo.  The anchors appear to be on the rear side of the instrument and the strings are going over the edge of the top -- is that correct?    I've never seen Baltic Psaltery that did not use a steel string bar on the rear deck to hold the tail ends of the strings  -- as you can see in my photo below.  

That is certainly a VERY uncommon way to build a kantele.  You may not -- in fact -- have a kantele, but rather some other form of zither/psaltery.  Can we see some less close-up photos of the instrument, please?  Say a quarter of the instrument in each photo. and then frame-filling pix of the top and back so we can see the whole instrument


updated by @ken-hulme: 08/16/19 08:20:58AM
Steve Smith
Steve Smith
@steve-smith
one month ago
28 posts
This is a wonderful group of players of a variety of types/sizes of kantele. They're doing a tour next month through the Midwest and Washington DC. I wish I could get up there to see them!
FB_IMG_1565954893036.jpg

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
one month ago
1,591 posts

There are a whole spectrum of Baltic Winged Pslateries, each slightly different from the next.  The Kantele is arguably the most well known, because of it's connection to the Kalevala.  In Lithuania they're called Kankles; in Estonia,  Kannel; in Ltvia they are Kokles or Kandla; in parts of Russua they're called Kusle,a nd in other parts Gusli; and the Norse Sami call them Harpu.  I've built several over the years.  Some of the originals were backless, but the vast majority are "carved body" construction -- a 2" thick plank is hollowed out, and then a thin soundboard is inset into the top so there is a sound box.  The majority of them have a metal 'string bar' at the back and wooden peg or autoharp pins for tuning.  They can have as few as 5 strings or as many as 18.  

The photo below shows a Kiev style Gusli that I made for Lady Sally's daughter Holly who has a 17th century Kievan persona in the Society for Creative Anachronism.  6" wide, 1-1/2" deep.  

Gusli.JPG   

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
one month ago
597 posts

I am somewhat familiar with the Kantele as well as the Kalevala having graduated from Suomi (Finland) college.  I, too, would like to see a photos of the whole instrument front and back. Some things to consider are whether the tuners work smoothly. After 20 years some may be stuck in place or no longer hold when tuned to pitch. These are easily resolved problems. Make sure all the joints are secure. If not, you will need to glue them. Do you know who made your Kantele? If it has a finish on it, you can test to see what type of finish it is. If it is lacquer you should be able to put a new coat or two over it. It could be shellac. Or it could be some type of varnish. You may need to sand it down to bare wood, but I would avoid that if I could as I don't like sanding. If you like to sand, go for it. It looked like some of the dents could be raised using moisture and a hot iron. Looking back at your photos, I do not understand what is happening in the first photo with the string anchors. What are the strings going over in the photo? Also, if you want to you can replace the tuning pins with shiny new ones.

Just a few thoughts. I hope some of them are helpful.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
one month ago
1,667 posts

Ferrator, can you post here a photo or two of the entire instrument?  It's hard to tell anything from just a few closeups, without the 'big picture'.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Lois Sprengnether Keel
Lois Sprengnether Keel
@lois-sprengnether-keel
one month ago
150 posts

A computer search on Kantele was eye-opening.  It reminds me of the zithers and toys that had diagrams you insert under the strings to play a song.  Being eager to make music simply, I've fallen for some of those & even created some diagrams of my own.  This shows there is a whole Finnish musical tradition without the cheat sheets that probably inspired the commercial American instruments .

I'm not "Finnished" with mine, but appreciate seeing a more musical and traditional version.  His tying it to the Finnish epic of the Kalevala adds to its appeal for me as a storyteller, especially in a state known for its Finnish residents.  The Folkcraft name convinced me to watch the video & I appreciated Ken Bloom's many ideas.  They fit much more than just the Kantele for those of us playing members of the zither family & that includes the dulcimer. 

Just wish he hadn't allowed his microphone to pick up wind noise.

Ferrator
Ferrator
@ferrator
one month ago
8 posts

I have had this for many years. When I got it, it was labelled as a Kantele. But now, after a lot of researching, i came to have my doubts since the back is enclosed. Doubts until I saw this:

in the forums here.

As you can see, she needs a bit of love given to her...

But I have had her since she was playable and the tone was wonderful. After 20 some odd years for the wood to dry and settle even more, I suspect the tone is going to be even better.

There are 15 strings, but I have a place to go to that I can get individual strings, when the time comes. But now, time for some other things, like getting a tuning key. That and a nice sanding down to smooth things out and get rid of the blemishing.

I have originally been thinking of a black finish along the lines of the East German zithers of the late 50's and early 60's. But on further consideration, something natural seems a better choice. Thoughts?

This also leaves me wondering just what finish to use. Again, thoughts please?

I am no rookie when it comes to wood and working with it. Many moons ago, I was a cabinetmaker building specialized bookcases (specialized to fit a certain size of books). But this is a LONG ways from the kind of finishing that would be given to a fine instrument. I have already ruined a guitar with (I spit) polyurethane once. Long ago, but never forgotten.

This is something that is going to span some time, I know this and look forward to bringing  this instrument back to health and play-ability. Labor of true love here! sun

Any ideas?

Suggestions?

Things TO do?

Things to AVOID like the plague?

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