Roger’s Small Folk Harp

Roger GarzaArlington, VAAdded on September 16, 2014

I’d been wanting to build a harp for over a decade, so I finally took the plunge and ordered blueprints for a small folk harp from a luthier in Minnesota.

I used hard maple for the sound box, neck, and pillar, and Baltic Birch plywood for the soundboard and back. The neck and pillar are both made of laminated maple. I used three layers of half inch solid maple with the center layer laid out at 90 degrees to the outside layers to give strength, as the neck of small harps in particular must withstand almost 1,000 lbs of tension from the strings. The neck/pillar joint must also resist the pull of the strings to one side of the neck, so in addition to the overlays called for in the plans, I added metal brackets recessed into the neck and pillar. The top of the neck at the soundboard is kept from falling over by an extra 1.5 inches of hardwood. A dowel keeps this block centered on top of the sound box while stringing; the bottom of the pillar is held in place by two wood screws. The entire neck and column are built to lean away from the strings about 3 degrees. Besides the dowels and screws, the only thing holding the harp together is the tension of the strings. The neck/pillar assembly is removable in case it needs repair in the future.

I decided to stain the maple, and after many samples, ended up using GF Rosewood water based stain as a base coat with an added coat of Dark Brown water based dye. I left the birch ply natural. A little gold leaf was added to trim the sound box and back, followed by a wipe-on satin polyurethane as a finish.

This is my first “fine” woodworking project, and though I made mistakes, I’m very happy with the results!

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