Part 2: Building the harp
Part 1: Harvesting the Tree
Part 3: Finishing Up

October 2007
Time has passed. I designed the parts using a 843% enlargement of the Castle Otway harp from Armstrong's book. The illustrations I enlarged had the overall shape of the harp and all the decorative details.

The text had some of the important dimensions which allowed me to figure how much to enlarge the scan. Unfortunately there is no information given about the joints.

Armstrong illustration at 843%
Armstrong illustration at 843%
The soundboard has a pronounce crown in the drawing. Initially I cut the box with the crown, but after corresponding with David Kortier, who has seen this harp, I revised my thinking and started with a flat soundboard. After 100 years this one will probably be crowned as well.
Front view
Front view
Those are full size handsaws that the plan is hanging on - to give you an idea of the scale here.
October 2007
Smoothing the inside
Smoothing the inside
I also used some violin planes and a 2" framing chisel
side and top view
side and top view
The outside was worked down using my old faithful 24" Bailey plane
On Dave Kortiers plan 12/2/2007
On Dave Kortiers plan 12/2/2007
I got the first issue of Dave Kortier's measured drawing of the Castle Otway harp. My enlargment of Armstrong's illustration is remarkably accurate. This harp is narrower in the bass because I didn't have the wood to make it wider. The pillar is about 1/2 inch short; otherwise it is very close. Preliminary joint calculations
Preliminary joint calculations
It's tricky to get things in parallel planes to mark out the joints. It's times like these that I appreciate my experience as a shipfitter.
Inside the box
Inside the box
I had to guess on the wall thickness, soundboard thickness, joint dimensions. As far as the thickness is concerned each timber is different. The original of this harp appears to be 3/4 inch thick according to Armstrong, but it is made from willow and this is maple so that comparison is meaningless.
First joint done
First joint done
The first joint I cut was the bottom pillar. It is slightly undercut and will stay without my holding it.
Plotting the joints
Plotting the other joints
Fitting the top pillar
Fitting the top pillar

My plan was to make the harp a mirror image so that is would be easier for a right handed player. Partway through I abandoned that idea, but when the joints were all done it was left handed, so there you go! The strings will run on the right side of the neck.
Together at last! 12/5/2007
Together at last! 12/5/2007
Actually it isn't together yet - I still have to cut the third joint
How does this work?
How does this work?
Not much stock here for a tenon.
Bottom Pillar
Bottom Pillar
First stringing?
First stringing?
The elastic rope is just to make me feel better. It will stay together without being tied.
Another view
Another view
Soundbox mortise
Soundbox mortise
I hope it's robust enough.
Foot joint
Foot joint
This one's OK.
The main components
The main components
Note the spalting in the top. The pillar is actually in two pieces. The limb was cracking down the pith so I sawed it apart to releive the stress. After it dried I dressed and rejoined the piece. The glueline follows the curve of the limb. There is no short grain in this piece.
Artwork 12/10/2007
Artwork 12/10/2007
This design is straight off the Armstrong illustration. am wood burning rather than carving
Another Armstrong design
Another Armstrong design
Cabot crest
Cabot crest
This design is based on a tree of life motif from the book of Kells. Starting from the bottom: Cabot crest (scallop shell), fish, cat (and mouse)...
Continued
Continued
Stag, bird, honeybee, greenman, dove
Marking the brass 12/11/2007
Marking the brass 12/11/2007
The pin bands are 1/8" brass. I traced the profile of the neck, ran parallel lines and punched through my pattern
Now to inset 12/14/2007
Now to inset 12/14/2007

I screwed the two pieces together to smoooth the edges. It was mostly file work. I got a set of guide bushings and cut a negative template using the brass as a guide. By changing bushing and bit diameters I could then route the recesses for the brass. I have to inset the brass so there will be enough tuning pin exposed.
Bit of a warp here
Bit of a warp here
This side has to be planed. There is some grain midway that is causing the distortion.
After a few minutes with "Mr. Bailey" This warp was gone and we were off and running.
Drilling the side pieces
Drilling the side pieces

I sawed these pieces from 1/8' sheet brass, screwed them together for smoothing the edges - files, sander, elbow grease. I kept them together for drilling the tuning pin holes. The tuning pins on the original were evenly spaced along the curve meaning that as the curve changes so does the string spacing. I altered the spacing so it will be more like Julia's other harp. I also mounted the strings on the opposite side so she can play the harp right-handed and still be able to reach the treble strings.
A further consideration was tuning. I want to make this as compatible as possible with the harp she plays now, so the tuning pins will be altered by drilling string holes at the big end so, even though the strings run down the right side of the harp, she can still tune with her right hand.
Shaping the neck 12/16/2007
Shaping the neck 12/16/2007
The recesses have been cut and I am profiling the top of the neck. Spokeshaves, sanding belts and cabinet scrapers.
more shaping
more shaping
I love using cabinet scrapers
Reinforcing pegs
Reinforcing pegs
The short grain is where these solid wood necks fail. These two pins and the other plug you can see should help that. The old Clark harps have a similar reinforcing plug.
Cutting the beading
Cutting the beading
I made a scatch cutter to add some beading to the neck. It's just an old saw blade filed to the negative of the desired profile.
Scratch cutter
Scratch cutter
This one has a guide that will slide in the recess.
Sylvester
Sylvester
One of my helpers. He is inside the case of Julia's other harp, a 36-string Greenwood Custom.
Iona Greenstone
Iona Greenstone
We were given this piece of Iona greenstone by Jane McFadgen when we visited here there in 2005. It is soft enough to shape with a file and polish with emory pads. It will be set on the neck end cap.
Proposed setting
Proposed setting
I punched this paper model of the setting for the Iona stone with the punces I made for my baroque guitar rosette. It looks great but was for naught - my punches couldn't cut the brass.
Making the end cap
Making the end cap
I cut the profile with a fretsaw and smoothed up with files. The clamps are to hold it tight to the neck while I drill and screww .
End cap
End cap
I couldn't do it the easy way and have a flat end. The end of the neck it curved so fitting is crucial. The side plate was filed flush with the end of the neck. The end plate overlaps
Soldering the brass
Soldering the brass
I found it easier to solder downhand so it took some crawling aroung to gain access to all the angles. I used electrical solder. It's not as strong as silver solder but it doesn't have to get as hot either.
All together!
All together!
The soldered seam will be filed smooth and polished. The screw holes in the face will be covered by the stone.
It's starting to look quite handsome 12/19/2007
It's starting to look quite handsome 12/19/2007
Plain neck
Plain neck
Julia thought the wood was to good looking to cover it entirely with designs. Note that this decoration is much simpler than the original, which was probably painted as well as carved!
12/22/2007 Making string shoes
12/22/2007 Making string shoes
I don't know anybody locally to do any lost wax brass casting and I didn't want to cut 34 shoes with a jewelers saw so I made this rig to help me uniformly bend some 1/32" brass rod.
Just push the wire...
Just push the wire...
around the pin.
around the pin.
I made a few extras
I made a few extras
Second bend
Second bend
The staples fit into two holes in this block. I drilled them at 85° so that the string pressure on the arch will tend to tighten the shoe. I used a smooth faced jewelry hammer to bend them over
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