The instructable is not a complete how-to, it shows basic guidelines on making the instrument and leaves room for creativity. Common sense is needed when reading.
Please read the notes! It is of utmost importance! The tag notes patch up my faulty drawings quite a lot.
In pic 1 you can see a very basic kantele model with wooden tuning pegs.
Pic 2 shows my (still a little unfinished) kantele, which has been made from some junk 2x4 pinewood(and it looks like a wooden shoe, I hear!).
Pics 3-5 show the works of a local kantele maker J. Väätäinen.
Additional information and legend:
The original story of the Kantele is related to Kalevala, the Finnish national Epic. According to the epic songs the first Kantele was made by Väinämöinen, the wise old seer. He took a giant pike jawbone and tail hair from a demonic horse to make the instrument. Luckily nowadays the construction is less of a hike.
Many different sources point to the fact that traditionally each household had one kantele. It's supposed that the kantele was property of the head of the family. The instrument was often made and played by the same person, not mass produced by skilled carpenters like today. Traditional kantele was never an instrument of professional performers.
This is my first instructable, so be merciful! And sorry about the stunted English.
Correct me freely, if you see errors :)
And let me know if you make a kantele, I'd love to see what kinds of instruments people come up with my instructions!
Step 1: What You Need
-some DRY 2x4", no branch spots if possible. 1m should be enough, there's a lot of room for error.
-tuning pegs of your choice(5mm metal pegs for zither instruments are recommended and this, get a tuning key as well)
-piano wire/guitar string(not too thick 0,20-0,50mm)
-chisels(straight and curved)
NOTE: This instructable is written in the sense that the recommended zither pegs are used.
Step 2: Basic Outline
Pic 2 shows the kantele from top, as you would be holding it on your lap.
Saw the outline as illustrated in pic 3. The inner lines show the section that will be hollowed out from below.
The shorter side is about 5-10cm shorter than the longer one. Best measures are found by trial and error, as usual. There are no "right" measures.
Step 3: Hollowing
The wall thickness depends on the wood you're using. If it's strong and hard like birch or hickory you can go as thin as 3mm, for softer woods I recommend at least 5mm, just to be sure the thing won't break. Again, trial and error.
Step 4: The "ponsi" and "varras"
"Ponsi" is the part that holds the "varras" in place. It also acts as an arm rest when you are playing the instrument.
Make the ponsi from a piece of 2x4. It is best to first drill the hole for the varras(see pic 2), then make the bigger recess. The varras-hole diameter is determined by the material the varras is made of. A wooden varras needs to be thicker than one made from iron, too thin varras might bend or break when the instrument is tuned.
Unlike in the picture, do not do any other shaping yet! Very important! You will have a hard time gluing the part in the main body afterwards! Trust me, I know by experience ;)
Step 5: Glue the Ponsi on the Main Body
Pic2 shows(rather crappily) a possible ponsi shape from the side.
Apply whatever finishing touches you want, sanding, painting, firing, etc.
Step 6: Tuning Pegs and Stringing
Insert the varras in the ponsi. Pictures 2, 3, 4 show how the varras end of the string is wound up.
The peg end of the string is easier, all you need to do is insert the string in the hole, tighten a bit and rotate the peg clockwise, making sure the string gets on comfortable level for playing.
Step 7: Tuning and Playing
First Type (Minor) 1 1/2 1 1
Second Type (Major) 1 1 1 1
Third Type (not Major neither Minor) 1 ? 1 1
Other way, if you didn't understand the first one(I didn't :D):
Diatonic D-major (d–e–fis–g–a) or minor (d–e–f–g–a).
The strings live a little and you might have to tune your kantele a couple of times on the first day, but the tone will settle after a while.
When played the instrument is usually placed either on a table or held on the lap with the shortest string closer to the player.
There are two different basic principles of playing. Melodies are played with fingers of both hands so that each finger is attached to a single string. Simple tunes are played by picking strings one after another, but often several strings are picked at the same time. This allows polyphony in playing.
The other way of playing consists of damping some strings with fingers of the left hand and strumming strings with the right hand. This allows to play chords. These two techniques are often combined with each other.