How To Prepare Wood To Make A Musical Instrument

Preparing Instrument Wood

sanding exampleMaking music is always fun, but making it with your instrument is much better. The musical instruments can be crafted from simple materials found around the house one of them is wood. Whether you are a professional musician or just a curious individual you can use this material to make a variety of instruments. Firstly, you should select high-quality wood, which will give you a fine musical instrument. Go for naturally dried ones since they have a tight even pattern.

Tonewoods are the best to get the job done, especially if you want to make the stringed instruments such as violins. Rosewoods, Ebony, spruces, and Cedars are some of the tone woods you can select from.

From wood, you can craft a flute, a simple guitar, a simple drum and a shaker. But the main challenge is to master the art of preparing your wood for these crafts. When you consider wood as your raw material, you have to prepare it first through various techniques. This include:

  1. Using Of Electric Sanders

Electric sanders are best when it comes to the preparation of wood. First, start by inspecting the wood. Note down any cracks, holes or loose joints. In case you find any, use the tip of the screwdriver to fill it and give it time to dry up. The better the wood preparation, the better the result. Sanding is a crucial step when it comes to wood preparation. This process is made easy and quick when one uses an electric sander. It smoothens the dry fillers, removes small scratches while opening up the wood and this makes painting easier. Sanding removes the surface glaze created during the manufacturing of wood.

When working on flat boards, always sand parallel to avoid scratches and keep the sander moving to avoid making a hole in the wood.

Consider using a belt sander because they are the best when it comes in smoothing rough edges. Subsequently, electric sanders can be used to remove pants and vanishes from wood.

  1. Priming Technique.

gila paint woodYou might want to know if priming is necessary before one paints wood. This is a necessary step, because if you omit it, you might get disappointed with the final results.

  • So Why Prime?

The main purpose of a primer is to provide a solid base coat and fill the grain present in the wood, thus making the finish coat appear smoother. A primer has high solid content, which makes this process a success.

In addition, its binding agents are very sticky than that of most paints, so it attaches itself better on wood than most paints. On the other hand, paint will stick on prime better than on wood.

It will also help you to achieve a significant color change on your wood.

All the above advantages are based on the fact that a good primer will prevent bleeding through and will block stains. This ability is important when one is working with certain kinds of woods.

  • What If You Don’t want To Prime Your Wood?

Well, if you don’t seal your wood with primer, the first coat of paint will be blotchy and uneven. More so, the water available in most wood will raise the patterns in it, especially around knots.

Applying the second coat of painting might correct the above errors, however since you never applied an undercoat there will be high chances that your paint won’t last long. It might start peeling off after a year or two.

If you don’t use a primer when painting, certain woods dark spots might unveil around knots. You won’t be able to get rid of these spots, no matter how many coats of paint you use when reapplying wood.

  • How Is The Process Of Priming Done?

Sand your wood so as to open the grains, you will need to ensure the surface is clean. Apply the primer by using a spray or brush since a single coat is all you might need. Once the primer has dried up, it’s advisable to sand it again slightly, to achieve best results, you should paint within seven days of priming.

  • What Are Some Precautions That One Should Consider When Priming?

Ensure that the area where you are priming in is well ventilated. You are advised to wear a respirator even when you are using a latex primer.

Once you are done, clean up your apparatus to keep them fresh and set for the next job.

  • Which Wood Primers Are Best To Get The Job Done

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The most preferred primers are oil-based or latex. Since most people are not patient enough to wait until it dries so as to be coated, most paint producers have manufactured a new, fast-drying technology for both latex and oil-based primers. Once applied, you will only wait for some few hours before top coating your surface.

Please Note: when using oil primer on certain kinds of woods, it might penetrate deeper into the wood, and this will prevent tannin stains.

  1. Painting

Once you are done with the priming process, painting should be your next step. One is advised to choose the right type of paint and color, which will get your work done. Read the labels as they provide more information about the paint.

  • What Kinds Of Brushes Should One Use When Painting?

There are two main types of brushes. These are Angle brush and straight brush. Both are good when it comes to the painting process, but when you are using latex for the painting you are advised to use a brush with exploded tips.

A good brush will take in the correct amount of paint into its bristles and will leave a smooth finish on your wood.

  • The Painting Technique

sanding back to wood layer

The technique requires you start painting at the top of your wood moving toward the center. When you notice the brush is dragging, stop and dip it again in the paint. The main aim in brushing is to quickly paint an area with adequate amounts of paints and then blend and smooth it by the tipping process. The more the paint the brush carries the faster you will coat your wood.

You should tap your brush against the pail so as to avoid dripping. The paint will flow smoothly on your wood surface, try an put a second coat to get a fine finish.

string set
Please Note:
 don’t let paint settle for a while before tipping. Additionally, you shouldn’t force dry paint of the brush. The main goal in painting is to create a uniformed surface of thickness rather than to make it sag.

In conclusion, you will be able to make beautiful music instruments from wood once you implement the above techniques. Not only will it be fun when working with a pure wood made instrument, but also it will open your musical world to diverse cultures.

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How to Care for Dulcimer

Wildwood-DulcimerMusical Instrument Care:

The tops and backs of most dulcimers are made with 1/8″ hardwood. The finish is also as thin as possible, laying on top of the wood without sinking in too much so as not to dampen the tone of the instrument.

Cold weather is a direct cause of finishs cracking. It is usually just a cosmetic thing and does not really effect the sound. Once we start heating our homes, cars and work areas the air gets very dry which causes the majority of damage.

Most dulcimer wood is dried to around a 8 percent moisture content. However, the wood will forever allow moisture to pass in and out. Each variety of wood has what is called its equilibrium moisture content (EMC) with most instrument wood being at about 12 percent. This is the moisture level at which the wood is at rest naturally at a given atmospheric temperature and humidity. It is not constant. When the air is wetter, the wood will absorb moisture to a new wetter level, which is not the same amount as the moisture level in the air.

The EMC is different for each type of wood and so you have a conflict going on within the instrument when severe moisture changes occur, particularly when you have an instrument which is made out of several different types of woods. You have different amounts of stress going in different directions at the same time. This is where the pressures come from that result in the glue joints pulling themselves apart or the actual wood members cracking.

Most homes have a humidity level of about 10 percent and usually most instrument builders try to keep their workshops at about 40 percent. This allows instruments to be shipped worldwide to slightly higher or lower humidity ranges with little or no effect.

Instruments are relatively undamaged by exposure to higher humidity levels. However, when humidity drops extremely low or extremely fast, the resulting loss of moisture and shrinkage of the unfinished wood surfaces (like the inside) while the fibers of that piece of wood are still moist and unshrunken causes severe pressure and distortion of the wood. The results can be glue joints coming apart, cracks, warping, loose braces and loose and uneven frets. Wooden instruments can shrink so much that the strings will buzz. Often these strange buzzes will disapear when the humidity is brought up again.

With the unfinished fretboard wood expanding and contracting with the weather changes, it is not uncommon for the frets to lift away from the fretboard causing any number of buzzes, rattles, muted notes and more. A problem can occur when the fretboard shrinks and the fret ends are exposed. This can cause the edges of your fretboard to be so sharp it can draw blood!


All acoustic instruments must be kept in a good hard case. A quality hard case is the only way to guard against dings, scratches & bruises. This should be followed with a thermal case cover. Standard high quality wood cases offer little to no thermal protection.

When you are not playing your instrument, it should always be returned to the case. And the case should always be latched closed and be kept somewhere away from direct heat like heaters and stoves. The reason for latching is to keep the instrument in a stable temperature situation and many instruments have been damaged severely when the unlatched case was picked up and the instrument falls out.

If it is necessary to play outside where it is cold, and your instrument has been in either a warm car or house, take the instrument outside (in the case) about 30 minutes before you want to play. Leave it closed up in the case for about 30 minutes. Then 10 minutes before you want to play, open the case. This gives your instrment time to gradually acclimate itself with little shock. Do the same thing in the reverse also, if you are going from cold to warm conditions, say from the trunk of the car to the gig. Either of these senarios might mean planning on getting there a little earlier than the last minute if you want to minimize the possibility of hurting your instrument.

All musicians should understand that owning a high quality dulcimer requires that you know how to care for it. If you follow the advice outlined here, your favorite instrument will play better, last a long time, and be a valuable asset in years to come.

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