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How to cut detailed sound holes?

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How to cut detailed sound holes?

Postby Dean Smith » Sat May 31, 2014 10:17 am

Hey everyone, I'm new here and I suck at searching forums so if this a repeat please tell me and I'll remove it. If I'm allowed.

I'm making a dulcimer and I want to do custom sound holes. Problem is I'm not sure the best way to cut the holes. What is the best way to cut these? Thanks.

I have attached a link to the picture.

https://rdsguitars.files.wordpress.com/ ... 4659_b.jpg
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Re: How to cut detailed sound holes?

Postby Dave Stewart » Sat May 31, 2014 10:40 am

Searching for a "best" way in luthiery will end in tears. There are lots if different ways and many who swear by each (eg carve it, use a deep throat fret saw, etc)
I like a scroll saw for archtops.
With the detailed holes you are planning, I'd likely drill, then use a fine saw, then scalpel or X-acto knife.
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Re: How to cut detailed sound holes?

Postby Dean Smith » Sat May 31, 2014 12:28 pm

Dave, forgive my language. I realize there is no best way to do this stuff. I have a good idea of how I want to tackle this problem but I wanted to reach out and see if maybe someone had a different 'angle' so to speak.

These holes are very small and as such its hard to drill the tips of the leaves(since they come to a point.) I'm willing to sacrifice the tips but before I did that, again, I wanted to see if someone with experience would be able to shine some light on a new method that would be "better" for me personally.

Thanks for your reply, I had not considered x-acto knives for this, but I will definitely consider that option.
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Re: How to cut detailed sound holes?

Postby Dave Stewart » Sat May 31, 2014 1:06 pm

Well, you wouldn't want to drill the tips. Like any pierced fretwork in furniture, you'd drill a hole in the fat area of the hole, use a fretsaw or scroll saw to saw towards the tips, & then clean it up.
The old school way of doing violin f-holes is drill the lobes, then use a knife to open the center and work out to the edges.
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Re: How to cut detailed sound holes?

Postby Dean Smith » Sat May 31, 2014 1:35 pm

Yep, I was planning on drilling the fat area and doing as you say. However I had thought maybe drilling a tiny hole at the tips in addition to the fat hole may help keep it cleaner.
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Re: How to cut detailed sound holes?

Postby Jim McConkey » Sun Jun 01, 2014 1:06 am

Dave has it right, you want to drill only in the fat part, and use a scroll or inlay saw to cut the shape. There is no point in trying to drill the fine tips. It will only make the end less pointed. And having done this kind of fine soundhole work on dulcimers before, I would strongly recommend gluing a small wood plate with the grain oriented at 90 degrees to that of the top behind where the soundhole will go. It will help stabilize the small hanging bits, which have an nasty tendency to break off.
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Re: How to cut detailed sound holes?

Postby Andy Birko » Sat Jun 14, 2014 10:30 am

Don't know if this will help you too much but perhaps you can find someone local with a CNC machine?

I used mine to do this detail for the sound hole in an instrument I made for my son. It was very nerve wracking because I had to strap a fully finished and buffed instrument to the table to cut it but it worked out nicely.

Something else I did was because the details are so fine, I glued parchment paper (the real stuff) to the back of the sound hole for extra support.
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Z-Finished R1.jpg
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Re: How to cut detailed sound holes?

Postby Bob Francis » Thu Nov 27, 2014 6:15 pm

I just saw this. Andy that's awesome!
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Re: How to cut detailed sound holes?

Postby Barry Daniels » Thu Nov 27, 2014 11:59 pm

To keep the tip of the leaf finely defined use a fine fret saw blade. Advanced it forward then stop and back the blade out. Doesn't get much finer.
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