Tips, Tricks of the Trade and Secrets that (almost) no one is supposed to know about...Tell us your secrets!

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  • Hey Y'all.  i just built a cookie tin Dulcimer. I cant seem to get the sound to be consistent.  And I can't seem to slide down the neck and get any good sound . It's all weird. My first cookie tin build just need to know some secret's. Thax!!

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  • Speaking of 'Too Small' boxes- if you can match several boxes of a similar depth (or don't care about a weird shape because you're playing around) remove the lids from each box, slap 'em upside down on your workbench and glue them together, Saw out most of the interior dividers and you now have a sturdy, ribbed soundbox with a unique shape and resonance. Trace the shape onto a nice bit of your favorite tonewood panel and trim for a custom soundboard, add a neck and join the face with decorative screws, glue, tape or friction-fit as is your preference, then string 'er up!

    None of my free or cheap boxes match my ideal size very often, and those small but deep boxes have such wonderful Spanish cedar that I just can't waste it...

  • I take them too small to do anything with cigar boxes and use them for pickup rings and pick guards as well as cover plates. Chopsticks work great for fret dots and saddles and nuts. I also use file hangers (the strip of metal that the files hang from ) to make brackets for pickups and pick guards as well.
  • So true John!

  • My top secret is this : if at 1st you don't succeed ... get someone whos good with wood to build it for you ..!!

  • No...These aren't 'secrets' per se, but knowledge gained by all who wish to share! THANK YOU to all who contribute!
  • Well, I don't know if any of this stuff is really 'secret' or particularly 'underground' but there are probably loads of things that beginners to our fold don't realise simply because nobody has ever told them.
    For example:
    Often the bottom of a cigar box makes a more suitable sound-board than the lid - so try using it 'upside down'.
    Try not to kill yourself calculating out fret positions but simply copy them from an existing instrument that you feel comfortable with.
    Extend the neck wood right through the box to get a strong instrument without having to make all kinds of skillful wood joints.
    Okay, then, there's three to start with.
    Have fun !
  • Hi all cant say as Ive come across any secrets the only thing that I dont tell any one is that if I make a mistake on a build it seems to improve it so is it a mistake ? I dont know anymore now Ive said it ime confussed :)
  • howdy.
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A good source for good vinyl is your local sign shop.  I have a friend who owns one and can get scrap rolls in just about any color, thickness and selectivity.  I bought from fleabay some very cheap leather punches in the 7 - 8 mil size and honed them further so that a tap with a small hammer cuts thru the vinyl and not the backing.  I mix'n and match'm up and even use them as side markers as well.

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Milk Paint & Natural Pigments

I am going to try making milk paint with natural pigments for adding some color to the Dulcimer I'm working on. It has survived since ancient Egypt, and was also used by the pioneers on Colonial furniture. It has the effect of adding soft color while remaining translucent, so you can see the grain of the wood through it. Here is a link for a milk paint recipe, followed by a link to a site that has an extensive list of natural pigments you can forage, grouped by color. I have dried some grass so…

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Easy way to glue down a fret board without it sliding

On the neck near where the top of the fret board is going to be....on the right hand side near the edge in one of those tiny skinny nails or brads or whatever they call them ...but only about 1/2 way....down at the bottom of where the fret board is going to be on the left hand side ...near the edge drive in another one...only 1/2 way in. Now take wire cutters and on a angle (so the tops of the little nails end up sharp) cut the little nails. Now apply the glue to the neck and fret…

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Sharpie safe varnish for saving signatures on CBGs

I have a bunch of signatures on my CBG. Johnny Winter, Jimmy Vaughn, Mac Arnold, George Thorogood, pAt mAcdonald, Bob Margolin,etc and all of them are written in Sharpie marker. Sharpies are great in that they are thick enough and can be applied to almost anything. Bad thing is that they are highly susceptible to solvents such as nitrocellulose solvents and alcohols. So when you try to cover these with some sort of varnish, they tend to fade, dissolve, or outright disappear. A while back I…

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