Sherrie's Broken Dulcimer

Ken Hulme
04/09/15 07:50:06PM

On the Care & Maintenance Wall, Sherrie H wrote:

I purchased a dulcimer off eBay,long story made short,the seller was careless in packing,used 2 flimsy boxes taped together and didn't write "fragile" on the box. Arrived with a small piece of wood knocked loose on the inside,and partial separation of the top & bottom from the sides. (Got a partial refund as I wanted to repair it) How do I take off the bottom of the dulcimer without damaging it further? The piece of wood looks to be a narrow rectangle measuring app 1 1/4" by 3-4". (peeking thru soundholes with a flashlight) I do see two narrow bands of glue near the head stock where I'm guessing the piece goes. Any help is appreciated.

If you tell us what brand the dulcimer is, it might make it easier to help... Also photos of the partial separations of top and back, so we can see just how bad, or not so bad things might be.

1. The "small piece of wood knocked loose inside" is undoubtedly one of the crossbraces.

Where do the glue marks appear -- on the top or bottom? Does the stick seem to have lain 'wide side down', or stood narrow side down??

Before you pry things apart, try to get the wood piece out by working it to a partial separation or a sound hole and grabbing with tweezers.

If there are no outside signs of wood top or back separation (cracks on the surface) where the wood piece was glued, the dulcimer may be perfectly alright without that piece of wood in there. I'll bet $10 it's a brace and not a major structural part of the the instrument.

This would be my first attempt at a fix -- get the piece of wood out, and re-glue the partial separations using Titebond glue (not epoxy or superglue) with clamps from top to back to hold the edges together until things dry.

2. If you absolutely have to.... A hot putty knife blade or other thin metal strip is often used to separate wood joints since they are probably made with Titebond glue. Use your hair drier on HI first, for a few minutes, up close to the joint, to warm wood and the stuck together glue bit, then work the hot knife into the gap and tap towards the stuck bit while gently prying.