News & Views: Issue 96

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This article is from Issue 96 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Psaltery precision

I’ve had a bowed psaltery for 30 years, so I appreciated your article (p.35) in the April/May issue. But the overly precise dimensioning is nearly impossible without a CNC machine. The wood grain would interfere with such precise placement of the holes. Also, gradually increasing the distance of the hitch pins is unnecessary for a psaltery because each string plays only a single note. The string’s tension makes the note. My psaltery has natural notes (white keys of a piano) on the right, and sharps and flats (black keys) on the left. For instance, the pin for C# is across the soundboard and between the C and D pins. Don’t get me wrong—your instrument is beautiful, just overly complex, especially for newbie luthiers.
—Greg Mead, Gainesville, FL

Senior editor Ken Burton replies:
Being more a woodworker than a musician, I’ve relied on proven dimensions for the instruments that I’ve built. But I’ll consider your approach when making my next instrument. In your suggestion, you still need to be accurate and the grain can play just as big a role throwing things off. But as you point out, tensioning the strings is what dials in the note.

Missing something?

Your cover model for the April/May issue should have been wearing a face shield. Not the best safety message to send new turners! Just saying.
—Lewis Kauffman, Chambersburg, PA

Your recent cover features a turner with absolutely no safety gear. As a woodshop teacher in a small, rural public school, I often remind my seventh through 12th-grade students to put on their (school-provided) safety glasses while turning. You too need to be reminded.
—Rob Harrison, via email

Featherboards: essential and fun

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the article on featherboards (p. 28, June/July 2020). I know too many woodworkers who go without because they take a few minutes to set up. But that extra time means you’re really thinking about the cut. And that is critical when working with power tools. Getting in the habit of using featherboards forces you to slow down and think about what you’re doing, which is just good practice in any venture. Plus, they’re kind of fun to make.
—Kiah Harrington, Chicago, IL


I can relate to the “There’s Always One More” article by Ken Burton in the June/July 2020 issue (p. 64). The “Misc.” collection of hardware (often gleaned from discards) serves me well at work and home. Also, I have several 5-in-1 drivers (p. 57). And the articles on dovetails (p. 58) and featherboards (p. 28) were particularly helpful. Thanks for the great magazine.
—Ken Welch, via email

Extended Esherick exhibition deadline

The annual Wharton Esherick juried exhibition deadline has been extended from July 1, 2020, to January 4, 2021. This year’s theme is “Wood and…” Visit for more information. 



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