The McNally Strumstick is an amazing instrument, perfect for those just learning to play guitar or for the experienced player who wants to try something new. They are not desperately expensive so they are great for the party or camp fire where you won't be too heart broken if it gets scuffed up a bit.
The Strumstick or dulcimerstick, as it is sometimes known, is also a great way to try your hand at building your own instrument. I hope this instructable will provide enough information that you will try one too.
Material I chose to use:
Pine boards, 4" X 1/4" X 24", 2 of them for the top.
Figured maple, 1 1/4" X 3/4" X 24", for the neck.
Recycled ash floor board, 1 1/4" X 5/8" X 24", back of the neck.
Red oak, 1/8" X 1 1/4" X 14", 2 of these for the sides.
White spruce, 1 1/4" X 6" X 3", for the tail block.
Meranty plywood, 1/4" X 6" X 24", for the back.
Carpenter's yellow glue (LePages is the brand I use).
2 part epoxy, you can use the 5 minute type if you are sure of what you are doing, or the 30 minute type if you want a bit more time to adjust things.
Spray lacquer (gloss).
About one ton of sand paper, 60, 100, 150, 240, 600 grits.
1 tail stock of your choosing. I chose copper bar 1 1/2" X 1/8" X 3".
Soup bone for the nut.
Purple heart for the bridge,
3 tuner heads, 3 left or 3 right, or any combination you want.
About 18" of medium high nickel silver fret wire.
The tool I used:
I don't expect every one to have access to every tool I list, I've been working wood for over 25 years and have been able to amass a pretty good kit.
One crap load of clamps (bar type, spring and C )
assorted files and rasps
Copping saw (hand powered)
Dove tail saw
Flush cut saw
Resin headed hammer (for fretting)
Assorted drill bits
Measuring and marking tools (rulers, tape measures, calipers and squares)
A word about safety: practice it! nuff said.
Step 1: Stock Preperation
You will first need to dimension your lumber. Cut the neck wood to width, then to the rough length. A table saw and chop saw makes quick work of this but a hand saw will do the job too. Then glue them together. Use lots of clamps and clamp pads (to protect the wood from dents). Mean while you can prepare and glue up the top boards.
The mated edges of the top boards need to be squared up and checked for a perfect joint. I use an 8" joiner but you can also do it by hand using a smooth plane. Check the joint by holding the edges together and holding the piece up to a light. You are looking for light shinning through the joint. Keep working at it until you see no light come through. All you need to do then is glue them together.
The oak I used for the sides was prepared ahead of time for another project but the process for dimensioning it is very simple. I used my table saw to rip thin strip from a 1 1/2" X 3/4" board. I started with 1/8" thick by 1 1/2" wide rough cut then laid them on a 3/4" think backer board and ran them through the thickness planner. Go easy and take very, very light cuts, as you get close the the 1/16" thickness things get delicate. The board could quite easily shatter in the machine sending spears of oak every where at a high speed. You can avoid this potentially deadly out come by using 2 sided tape to adhere the boards to the backer board.