A Jheronimus Bosch lute… pt. 4 – Everything at once…

I tried to complete the Bosch lute in time for the re-enactment event next saturday . But this is about half the time it normally takes to make a lute. According to the planning it should work, but it was very tight.

imageunfortunately I lost a complete day of work last Tuesday, due to some obligations that can best be described by this cartoon…

Despite two VERY productive days after that it became clear that finishing the lute in a day will be impossible. So I will take it along as a work in progress…

Wednesday and thursday, the soundboard was thicknessed and got its bars and bridge, the neck was made, veneered and fitted, the shell was fitted with a gluing strip, the rose was designed, cut and made, and the body was closed. A genuine building frenzy. In which I often forgot the world around me…

EndclaspIn the last episode of this series we were just looking at the completed body, waiting for the end clasp. This is a sort of rib that goes over the other ribs, on the outside. It has three functions: Holding the other ribs together, increasing the gluing surface for the soundboard and decoration (especially n later lutes, where it can be really extravagant).

Laux MalerThe cap on this lute is quite simple in fashion, like the one used by early lute makers like  Laux Maler (Bologna 1482-1552).

Laux MalerUnfortunatelly I forgot to take pictures while the cap was glued. But it’s a process with rope and wedges.

While the glue on the cap dried I thought it was time to thickness the soundboard. It was joined earlier. I often glue a couple of them in one go and then leave them to rest for at least a month. Might a joint fail because of inner tension in the wood, at least it doesn’t so on a finished instrument. Although I never had that happen, but better to be safe than sorry…

Thicknessing the soundboard

Shavings...A lute soundboard is very thin. I initially bring it down to 2 mm, then cut out the outline and start to make it thinner in the desired places. It’s hard to give an exact measurement, it’s a process of scraping, feeling, flexing and listening. In the end you have a wafer-thin soundboard and a workshop that looks like a hamster cage…

These shavings are collected and brought to the local chicken coop. They’re also great for packaging or as a basis to start a fire.

imageThe Neck

After the bowl is completed a the point is cut down at a slight angle. At these early lutes it’s almost perpendicular, because of their relatively thick necks. On later models the angle is much sharper, because the neck is relatively thin in relation to its width.

Most lute necks are veneered. A core of a relatively soft wood (often spruce of pine, but there are also poplar and willow examples) packed in a layer of a harder wood. This keeps the neck light but makes it more resistant to wear and tear.
NeckFor the core of this neck I chose a rather special piece. It was given to me by a fellow luthier, mr. Eugen Wulff of GUN Guitars in Haarlem.

The legendary "Koelcaster" by Eugen Wulff of Gun Guitars, Haarlem

The legendary “Koelcaster” by Eugen Wulff of Gun Guitars, Haarlem

A leftover from the “Koelcaster”, one of the most legendary guitars made in Holland in the past years. Its body was made from a single piece of 300 year old spruce/pine. Once a family of wood worms found a home in it, but they abandoned it years ago (it was treated, so no risk of infestation). It’s a strange sensation to work with it. Light, dry and very strong.


The profile of the neck is determined by the shape of the shell. After it is shaped the veneer can be laid upon it. In this case oak, to match the rest of the lute.


The neck is left to dry overnight.

At the same time the soundboard receives its bars and bridge. The rose was cut and put in place before closing the bo  up… But we will leave that for another day…

If you’re curious about the present state of this lute or its rose. Please visit our booth at the “De Wereld van Jeroen Bosch” event in Den Bosch this weekend…

Continue to part 5…


This entry was posted in Jheronimus Bosch Lute, Re-enactment, Uncategorized, Woodworking, Workshop and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Jheronimus Bosch lute… pt. 4 – Everything at once…

  1. meubeluniek says:

    Wat ga je hard man met die luit. En dan ook nog een dag missen. Diepe buiging voor je vakmanschap Jan!

    Liked by 1 person

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