hear the harp of Väinämöinen...


October 22, 2004: I made a list of all the tools I'm going to need, according to Michael's book. They're just the "basics" - but I don't have any of them -- not even the "long ruler" or the clamps. I can't afford to buy that many tools either. Luckily, I have a brother who used to be a carpenter! I'll talk to him.

October 25, 2004: My brother, Phil, has a bench drill which is the only power tool that Michael says is absolutely required. However, he doesn't have the drills that I need. I'll buy those.

Of course, I don't know what I'm supposed to look for when shopping for drill bits so my first job will be to educate myself. Michael recommends using Forstner drill bits. Researching online, I found out that's because Forstner drill bits have an excellent reputation if you need to produce flat bottomed holes. Also, they're the only drill bits that can drill overlapping holes and they can drill into angled sides vertically which makes hole alignment and spacing easier than when using other drill bits.

On the other hand, they break easily. Excessive speed, or too much force can ruin a bit. Here's a chart that gives recommended operating speeds for different size bits and brands. YouTube has some good videos that explain how to use a drill press or a drill. You can find other information on YouTube, as well, such as how to care for drill bits.

I couldn't find metric drill bits and ended up buying drill bits measured in "inches". The two systems of measuring don't really equate so the drill sizes I bought only approximate the ones Michael uses. I did find a conversion chart online here and I worked out conversions for the specific drill bits that Michael uses in his book. Just remember, these conversions only give you the drill bit size in inches that's the closest to the metric drill bit. As I make my kantele, I'll let you know whether these drill bit sizes (in inches) are "good enough".

  1. 50 mm = 2+"
  2. 25 mm=1"
  3. 18mm= 3/4"
  4. 8 mm=5/16"
  5. 6 mm= 1/4"

I went shopping for my bits on EBay and I found a set of 16 bits for just $14.95 (plus $9.95 s/h). This was cheaper than anywhere else and included all the bits I needed except for two which I bought individually online at Woodworker.com. Total cost for my drill bits: $39.33.

November 15, 2004: I bought a 1/2" wood chisel at the local hardware store for $8.00. After talking to my brother and my husband, I realized how important it was to buy a good sharp chisel. The sharper the chisel, the easier it is to use it. I've never used a chisel before but, apparently, it's easy to split the wood if the chisel is dull and you exert too much pressure when using it. Also, dull chisels slip easily and can damage your kantele. I bought the smallest size chisel I could find to allow for more delicate work.

November 29, 2004: I bought a 4" clamp at the discount store for $3.99. Now I have two clamps to hold my kantele down while I'm working!

May 15, 2005: Husband Dave has a dremel tool, so I didn't have to buy one. A dremel tool is a small drill-type tool that can be used for a number of things like sanding or drilling. Since it's shaped like a fat pencil, it can be used with more skill and accuracy than some other hand tools. Dave also has a scraper. However, I did purchase some sandpaper backed with sponge material. It's more flexible and can be easily folded for sanding rounded areas or corners. Also, it's easier on the hands. I forgot to save the receipt, but a combined package containing three different grits cost about $4.00.

July, 2005: I found a band saw for $5.00 at a yard sale and bought it, hoping to use it on this project. However, as of November, it hasn't worked out. There's no manual with the saw, and the band keeps slipping off, everytime I try to cut a curve.

November, 2005: I bought six peg hole bushings from The Fiddle Shop for $16.27 (including shipping).

January, 2006: I bought two pieces of walnut "box blanks" (in case I ruin one!) for $5.98 from Woodworker's Supply. It cost me another $6.98 for shipping. This wood will be used for the tailpiece.

February, 2006: I bought a 1/4" steel rod for the string bar for $2.06 from my local hardware store. The smallest length I could find was 3 feet!

November 13, 2006: Phil bought a mitre back saw for about $8.00.

Other Expenses: Other expenses include: $3.00 for a couple of 6 packs of sandpaper, $6.60 for tracing paper and a package of pencils (I didn't know tracing paper was so expensive!), and $13.00 for zither pins and strings. I also spent $9.49 for tung oil (to rub into the kantele after finishing) and $5.49 for gloves to wear while doing this work.

TOTAL COST OF MY KANTELE (not including labor!): $215.19