Fixing the popped soundboard was not too difficult, though it did take some time. I knew instantly how to fix it so that the problem would never reoccur. I needed a block to connect the soundboard firmly and immovably to the sturdy base. I sure wish I'd though about this from the start of the project.
I cut the trapezoidal block to shape matching the harp's angles on the table saw and then cut it to length and removed a piece to go around the bottom of the string band.
It also needed an arc removed so that the head of the bolt would have room.
Then the problem was how to hold it firmly in place while the glue dried when there was little access to the interior of the harp. I wanted to use bent sticks, but there was no way to get a long stick into the harp through the access holes- believe me I tried everything- including cutting the sticks and then gluing them together inside the harp. No way. What a mess.
Finally, my husband suggested using the hole in the harp to make a clamp through the base. Utter genius! Now I know why we have been married for 44 years. It was an elegant solution utilizing the hole and the clamping pressure that was normally used to hold the harp to the stand. I had the parts made within minutes using just scrap already on the workbench.
This is how it looked on the exterior. The scrap of 1/8" ply helped to distribute the pressure of the knob and there was no damage at all to the finish.
This is how the clamp looked on the inside. Worked superbly. Used lots of glue.
I wasn't about to trust a glue joint again- even though this one had maybe 20 times the glue surface and would probably never give way- I was not going to take any chances. So I drilled through the bottom of the base of the harp into the repair block and glued in some redheart dowels. They looked terrible even after sanding and I fiddled with some oil with stain again- and then it looked worse. Oh misery!
Yeah- after the finish was applied again it looked great- whew- sigh of relief. Even though this is the bottom of he harp I did not want it too look ugly. This is nice.
Then I wanted to secure the soundboard to the block. Removing the securely glued trim strip was not an option, so I went right through it and the soundboard with steel screws countersunk to just under the surface of the wood. Glue was applied to this joint at this time. Hubby noticed that they were not at the same height- darn it all.
I took this picture because I was very proud of the fact that I did not come through the block with all the drilling that I had to do. I was dreading finding holes visible on the interior.
I made plugs in the same cherry wood to disguise the heads of the screws on the front. They were about 1/16" thick. I thought I could chisel them smooth to the front, and then sand, but the result was terrible.
Add to this the irregularity of their location and I had a problem. The solution came to me in wanting to add more ebony accents.
I cut some larger ebony plugs and reduced them to 1/16" thickness, and rounded their edges over to the back. Then I sanded the heck out of them until they were the same smoothness as the other ebony accents and glued them over the messy cherry plugs- both at the same height from the base. After a bunch more sanding and carefully applied finish the repair was done.
And it looked super.
I haven't taken a photo of the harp since the repair was finish, but you saw the finished harp in the last blog entry and the only visible difference is the addition of the ebony plugs to the front.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my trials and tribulations as well as my fixes and eventual successes.
I enjoy reading your comments- and stay tuned- I plan to put a video clip at the end of this in a few weeks when the harp stays in tune- then you can hear how it sounds. Donna
PS- I did continue to keep track of my time spent on this project, though I was less accurate during the repair phase. I give it 210 hours overall, with 165 for the harp and 45 for the stand.