Monday, November 28, 2016

Don’t you just love mandolins!

Here’s brilliant new video of “Mr Charlie Pig” playing “Tripping up the Stairs” on his Nava Standard Plus mandolin. Great playing! Enjoy!
And in case you’re wondering. All the constructional work on Patrick’s twin point is now complete; it’s been set-up and is now being polished. Here are a couple of photos of it, in the white, before it was disassembled.

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Friday, November 11, 2016

The demise of the cocktail stick

When you glue the fretboard on to any instrument, the alignment has got to be spot on, as any error is magnified along the length of the instrument. I’ve always used some kind of pin that goes into both the neck and fretboard as a method of ensuring that fretboard doesn’t move around whilst being glued.
For many years, cocktail sticks were my favourite choice of pin; they used to be a consistent diameter and made from beech- ideal! However, these days they are of a much poorer quality, inconsistent size and made from bamboo which tends to split. OK I guess for cheese and pineapple chunks but not for precision work!
So now, I make up pins from silver steel rod, which I must say is far superior!
Here’s Patrick's fretboard waiting to be glued on.
A simple plywood caul spreads the pressure.

And here we have the fretboard in perfect alignment!

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Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Patrick's Twin Point

Here’s an update on what has been happening with Patrick’s twin-point. The body is now together and I’ve just completed the purflings and bindings. As you can see, I use tape to hold the purflings in place whilst the glue sets.
 I like to use ebony bindings on my twin-points; not only does it look good, the ebony makes for a very robust "point". It never ceases to amaze me, how readily ebony will bend and here good old cloth tape is used to hold the bindings in place whilst gluing.
 Once all of the piece have been glued on (in this case 20 separate pieces) it’s a big clean-up. The bindings are always proud of the surface and have to be taken down flush with the body. For ebony it’s best to use a cabinet scrapper- if you sand, you run the risk of grinding ebony dust into the other surfaces. A dust mask is always a wise precaution with cocobolo.
 
And after a good half a day’s work…….
At the same time I’ve been making the tailpiece.
On this one I’ve used ebony and cocobolo and you can see how it complements the body.
 Next stage, fit the neck.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Now Playing: Bob Weir

Oh my! Truly wonderful- I defy you not to love this new Bob Weir album.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Even more OM

Since the last post, the neck on Philip’s octave mandolin has been carved; essentiality the last major woodworking task. 
The bridge and tailpiece have been made, and the instrument set-up and playing in the white. If you regularly read the blog, I’m sure your fully conversant with this this process!
 One interesting element of this build is the tailpiece. Philip wants to use ball-end strings which meant that I had to design and make a new style of tailpiece. So below are some photos of the process………….
As you can see it’s a completely time-consuming, mad thing to make but the end product is rather cool and I must admit I enjoyed the challenge!
Next step; strip it down and add shellac.

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

More OM

In the last post, I hinted at the fitting of Philip’s OM neck.  So, a tenon is cut on the end of the neck and painstakingly fitted.  It takes quite awhile to get both a snug joint and the neck’s alignment correct.
 
Fast forward………..Here you can see the neck, fretboard support and two-way truss rod in place, all ready for the fretboard to be glued on.
 
Fast forward again……I always put a compound radius on my fretboards and the crayon lines are a quick visual guide as to how much wood has to be removed.
Then the dots and a cup of tea whilst the epoxy sets.
 And after a real good clean-up I’m ready for the frets. Now when you look at luthier supply websites, you’ll be amazed at how many tools are available for the fretting process. There is a trend to use “press” type tools to squeeze frets into their respective slots. I think that this is a response to more makers using bolt-on necks which are shaped before they are fretted. This makes the the neck tricky to support whilst hammering in frets.
 As you can see below, I like to leave my neck square, this way they can be firmly supported so that they don’t bounce when a fret is hammered in.
 Also above, you’ll see my favourite fretting tools; a pair of 120 year old piano wire cutters and a ball-pein hammer. You can buy fancy dead blow hammers etc if you wish, but if the neck is well supported you won’t have any problems. I’ve polished the face of my hammer so that it doesn’t mark the frets.
The only really “specialist” tool that I use is a fret rocker- I use this to double check that each fret in seated correctly. I believe that some young folks would call this approach “Old School."
Job done.

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Monday, September 05, 2016

OM body

The body of Philip’s octave mandolin is now complete. Below you can see the sequence of the herringbone purflings and the maple bindings going on.
And here are a few choice photos of the body, all cleaned-up.
With the body complete, the next stage is to route the pocket for the neck joint into the end of the body joint (not for the faint hearted!) and then to fit the neck……..
More on that anon...............

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