Bocote Wood - the 'eyes' have it.

last year
494 posts

That is beautiful. Bocote always seems to have an eerie look to it.

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
last year
1,017 posts

Very nice. That bocote wood is beautiful. You do good work. Enjoy your dulcimer. I'm sure your friend will cherish the other one you made. Like Ken H., I use a surface sander on figured wood, never a planer.


"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
last year
2,098 posts

 Nice work!  The bocote is gorgeous.  I try never to use a planer on figured wood -- a surface sander is much safer!

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
last year
1,695 posts

That's a beautiful looking dulcimer.  I can see why you guys chose bocote wood.  How special is that!

By the way, I do the same thing with my pinky.  I tend to anchor it when I'm doing really tough flatpicking stuff, but I let it move around on the soundboard when I strum.  On one dulcimer with a red cedar top I put on a clear pickguard so you can still see the wood grain underneath.  I also try to keep the nail on that one finger super short.  That pinky scratching seems to show up more on cedar than on spruce.

Dusty T., Northern California
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As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
J. Andy Crandall
J. Andy Crandall
last year
3 posts

I have an acquaintance who wanted a special and unique dulcimer.  He also indicated that cost was not to be a factor, but I didn't really push this too hard. 

After some discussion and looking, I found a bocote board on Ebay that we both agreed on.  Never having worked with bocote, and not actually having a close inspection of the board, I had picked a board of a size that, if everything went perfectly, I could get 2 instruments out of it. 

I was really concerned about working the wood because of all the 'eyes' that make the wood so distinctive (see pic 43 b2).  Fortunately, there was only one problem when a planer tore out a chunk of one piece.   As a result, the 2nd dulcimer (pictured) is 1" shorter than intended.  I can live with that.   Other than that, the wood was quite easy to work.

Attached pics are my dulcimer #43 - the 2nd and shorter one.  It has a yellow cedar top and ebony binding.  The fingerboard is maple and wenge and I added a wenge pick guard because I may keep this one and I tend to either post, or drag my little finger and wear hard on the finish in this area.  The pick guard is only about 1/16" thick.

For what it's worth, except for length and top wood I made two identical instruments.  The one for my acquaintance had a redwood top, the 2nd yellow cedar.  As expected, the sound of redwood is mellower with slightly more emphasis on the base.  I can't tell if the 1" makes any difference but I think they both sound really nice. 

The bocote wood is spectacular and both instruments have a clarity that I think only comes from super dense tropical hardwoods.

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