Chapter 2 of the continuing story of how i'm trying
to make best use of the old maple tree that fell
in my backyard in the winter of 2000/2001.
For the first chapter in the story, see my

Djembe page

Short review: Tree falls.
I cut it up for firewood,
and musical instruments.

Summer 2001, i make an African Djembe

The story continues here when i got out into
the woods in the spring of 2002 to inspect the
trunk below the place where the break happened.

I had noted from doing the drum that there were
slices of the tree that were hard, and others were
damaged and soft. So I decided to try to make
something from the trunk section, if i could find a
slab of relatively undamaged hard maple in there.
So I cut out a
fairly long hunk of
the tree trunk
And made ready my
trusty gas chainsaw
to begin whacking away
I identified a cross-
section that seemed
be pretty sturdy and
undamaged. And cut a
slice in that direction
Here's the face of
that slab. A fairly
straight cut.....
for a chainsaw.
Another few hours, and
another cut about 3"
parallel to the first
Not the monolith from
2001: Space Oddesy

But it is what I would
work with. At this time
I didn't really know what
I'd make from this hunk.

Days passed, and I
would visit the slab
and try to picture
what could come out.
Finally, a guitar/
image emerged.
Shown here still
rough. Next to the
basement de-humidifier
to dry for many weeks.
So it dried for a long
long time. But it
really needed to be
  • Thinner
  • Lighter
  • Smoother
  • Flatter
  • Prettier
So i bought a power
hand planer, at
Home Depot, and
removed about half of
the wood from each
side. Here's the
removed wood.
And lo and behold,
after much planing
and sanding, It
looked much better.
More smoothing, and
application of many
of polyurethane
finish, and it looks
even better.

So at this point I had to make some decisions, like how many strings, frets or no, etc.

I decided to make three banks of five notes each, double strings for each note.

One big reason for three
groups of five is shown
in this shot: the amazing
crack in the top side.

This crack is in the
instrument intentionally,
for it is the one that
caused the tree to die
and fall in the first
place. It is easily seen
also in the final Djembe

Here we see the hitch
pins installed. I've
also put pins in each
end for a guitar strap.

Much stress now. How
to space and drill
for the 5x2x3 = 30
total tuning pins.

Finally worked it out,
as shown here.

And resulted here
I bought the dulcimer/piano/zither hardware (pins and piano wire) from
The Instrument Workshop in Ashland Oregon. He was really helpful, even calling
me before shipping to say that he thought the hitch pins I had ordered
were too wimpy (more on wimpy hitch pins below).

Meanwhile, while doing all the woodworking and worrying about where
to put pins and pegs, I had found and ordered three dual-coil,
humbucking pickups from the Stewart-MacDonald guitar supply company.

Here I have
tentatively strung
up the instrument to
see where the pickups
should be mounted.

The pickups were even
thicker than i had
planned, so i needed to
use a router to counter-
sink them. But wait!!
I didn't have a router,
(but always wanted one).
Off to Home Depot and voila!!

Here's the pickups all
mounted in their places.

CyThRs' first song (name coming)

I wired simply all the pickups together, plugged into my Korg Pandora signal processing box, and recorded a little song.

Clip A (300K)
Clip B (400K)
Clip C (500K)
Clip D (750K)
Entire Thing (3.5Meg)

Stay tuned for more developments