Creating the Ponsi

Picture of the completely shaped ponsi shown on the workbench

The almost completely shaped ponsi shown on the workbench

A ponsi is a curved wooden block that holds the kantele’s varras (see previous Varras post on 8/15/2015). Together these two parts connect the strings to the soundboard of the kantele.

Picture of the ponsi pattern taped on top of the wood block.

Ponsi pattern taped on top of the wood block.

Creating the ponsi involved a number of challenges. A wood block of the appropriate size was cut out of a walnut plank. The ponzi shape was drawn on tracing paper using the original printed plan as a reference, transferred to the wood block using transfer paper, and then darkened with a Sharpie. The hole for the varras had to be drilled slightly off center on the 7/8” side width through the 5+ inch depth of the wood block. Since most drill presses only drill 2 – 2.5 inches in depth, we had to start this hole on the drill press and then finish with a long bit in a hand drill.

Picture of the jig created to hold the wooden ponsi upright for accurate drilling.

The jig created to hold the wooden ponsi upright for accurate drilling.

My brother constructed a jig to hold and center the wood block on his drill press, and we drilled the first half of the hole. It was challenging to find an economical drill bit long enough to drill a 5+ inch deep hole. Most hand drill bits are only a couple of inches long. After looking in numerous big box stores and home centers we finally found an economical 5/16 inch drill bit that was 24 inches long at Harbor Freight and used this to complete the hole. This was an awkward tool to use due to its extreme length, but the job was successfully completed through teamwork. My brother operated the drill while I steadied the block.

Picture of the successfully drilled ponsi with pattern still attached. The center line for the drill hole is drawn on top of the wood block.

The successfully drilled ponsi with pattern still attached. The center line for the drill hole is drawn on top of the wood block.

After the varras hole was drilled, the curved areas of the ponsi shape were cut out with a jig saw. It was then sculpted with files and sandpaper into the final shape.

Picture of the ponsi shape that has been cut out with a jig saw and is attached to the workbench, ready for shaping with a file and sandpaper.

The ponsi shape has been cut out with a jig saw and is attached to the workbench, ready for shaping with a file and sandpaper.

Picture of the Ponsi being shaped by file and sandpaper.

Ponsi is being shaped by file and sandpaper.

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