Step 9: Cut Fret Grooves
I've found that it is most useful to build a jig with the precise measurements marked onto the guide. Then you can easily line up the end of the stick to the markings on the guide.
Make sure you use a very thin jeweler's saw blade (with a super thin "kerf,") and set the depth no deeper than an eighth of an inch.
Push the guide forward to make the cut on the tablesaw, and then lift up the stick before pulling the guide back.
This will prevent against accidental cutting twice, which widens the groove.
Refer to the precise Dulcimer's tuning measurements. Again, I cannot emphasize enough how important this step is to make sure the measurements are as accurate and precise as possible. re-measure, and double-check all measurements before continuing with the cuts!
Additionally, cut three more cuts just below the tuner holes. (these don't require precise measuring, they're to prevent the steel guitar strings from cutting into the wood.) Approximately a quarter of an inch from the tuner holes.
Sometimes mistakes are made, and if the mistake is over an eighth of an inch off, then it is acceptable to fill in the groove with wood putty. If the mistake is closer than an eighth of an inch, well... When it is time to hammer in the fret wire, the groove might just split.
Alternatively, I have also measured and cut by hand, using a hand saw with a thin kerf, and a miter box. Careful to make the depths of each cut consistently.
There is a wonderful Mountain Dulcimer Fret Measurement Calculator y'all should know about! it is at:
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