We are all hacks!

Ed Gaunt
01/15/14 08:30:08PM

I saw this editorial in Popular Woodworking Magazine ( www.popularwoodworking.com ) by Jeff Farnbach, and although it is about furniture making, I though it could apply to dulcimer making as well [text in brackets is where i substituted the word "dulcimer" for "furniture"]:

"Of all the pithy quotes I heard or saw tweeted at Woodworking in America a few months ago, the above has been banging around in my head the most. I want to look at the process of [dulcimer] design for today's post, and so-called "hacking" makes a good entry point for this topic. Furniture [and Dulcimer] hacks are everywhere - maybe even in your shop!

The word "hack" has various meanings in a woodworking context, almost all of which apply in some way to what I'm talking about. Hacking can refer to technique or method, in the sense of making do with the skills you've got. The word can also refer to the basic act of banging away with a chisel on a piece of wood - as in hacking it apart. In the 17th century, the phrase "hacking stock" was commonly used. But I'm mainly referring to a design process wherein the designer digs into a project plan - possibly someone else's project plan - takes it apart mentally and puts it back together in the way he or she sees fit.

Perhaps I'm at the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, but I think it's important to remember how much the history of [dulcimer] design is actually the history of [dulcimer] hacking. Every time you look at a project plan and consider how to make it really work for your needs, that's what you're doing - and that's what most [dulcimer] makers have always done. In fact, if you're not doing much hacking yet, I would encourage you to start now! Design modification is how you really stretch your brain and grow as a practical woodworker. [Dulcimer] hacks put themselves on a fast-track to being better craftspeople."