Saturday, May 26, 2012

Back to mandolins!

It’s back to mandolins! Now, making instruments isn’t all about fancy rosettes and French polishing! Whilst waiting 24 hours for the glue to dry on Alan’s fingerboard I got on with some of the more mundane stuff and made up the end and tail blocks and the solid linings for the next three mandolins. Because of the way I make linings, each instrument needs 8 lengths!

I’ve been shaping the neck for Alan’s mandolin- he wanted a maple neck on this one. This maple has a really nice figure to it, which means it’s difficult to shape! Like all wood workers, I prefer to use edge tools wherever possible, but the flame figure plus the fact that I laminate my neck so that the grain runs in opposite directions, makes it virtually impossible to use a spokeshave. So here’s my arsenal- rasps, abrasives, a dremel and a scraper.

You can see how the pattern makers vice comes in to its own again.

As far as abrasive paper is concerned, silicon carbide paper is my choice- it has no grit as such and therefore, even the rough stuff, doesn’t leave deep scratches. I like to use 120 for actually removing wood and then work up to 500 before applying any finish.

Here’s Alan’s mandolin “in the white” as they say. There are few design details that Alan specified and as you can see they worked well!

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Monday, May 21, 2012

John’s Koa Guitar

John’s Koa guitar was completed last week and we drove down to London, at the weekend, to deliver it to him. He was very pleased with it and he has promised to post a video. He’s a good player and will do the guitar justice- far more than I could! this space!

I’m not going to say too much more as here are a few choice photos for you...

Here’s a video of me running through the spec of the guitar and few details about my design ideas....

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fitting a mandolin neck... and more!

 Well, I’ve just realised that it’s been a couple of weeks since the last post! This week the bridge went on to John’s koa guitar and it has been strung up. What I do nowadays, is string up an instrument and get the action and intonation just about right and then leave it for a few days. During this period the instrument will move under the tension of the strings and once it’s in equilibrium, the final fettling is done. If the instrument does not move once it’s under tension for the first time, you’ve built it too heavy!
Whilst waiting for the polish to harden, there have been other things going on. I thought that as I’ve recently described the process of fitting a guitar neck, I’d do the same with a mandolin for you.
Apologies, I’ve gone a bit arty here-
The end of the body is completely flattened and then I route a mortise into the body. You can see how clean and accurate it is- the rule here is that this part of the joint isn’t touched- all the adjustment is done on the tenon.

After some careful marking out the tenon is roughly cut.

Then comes the fine fitting....

You have to get the neck aligned along the centre of the body, the neck has to slope backwards to get the correct height of strings above the soundboard and also you don’t want any gaps between the body and the neck!

Once you’re happy, the neck can be glued in. Again, I don’t use clamps, just a tight joint and gravity.

Remember all that abalone? Well here’s one of the “N”s in a cocobolo head overlay- this is for Sean’s twin-point mandolin as you can see he is going for my F style head. 

 This little chap has been appearing in our garden and has been quite a distraction. I keep watching him munching away at daisies out of the workshop window!

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