Friday, April 29, 2016

Heikki’s Standard Mandolin in the white

This week saw all of the construction completed on Heikki’s mandolin and it strung-up in the white. Once I was 100% happy with it (action and intonation), it was stripped back down and cleaned-up, ready for the finishing process.
In the “before and after” shots below you can see what a difference a few coats of shellac make.


Friday, April 22, 2016

More old tools…..sorry, “Vintage Tools”

With the finer weather, we see the return of open-air markets! I saw (and coveted) these three lovely Stanley USA Hercules butt chisels on one stall. Old, but completely unused and just the right size for mandolins! 
They were a bit pricey for me, but Amanda snuck back and bought them for my birthday! Here’s the box that they came in, someone must have bought these mail-order, stuck them in a drawer for years and years, waiting for me to come along and use them.
I also came across this 3 inch Record Junior clamp, I really like these nickel plated clamps- they always seem very precise for instrument work. You can see the original price label; £1.43.
 And after a bit of a clean-up, it’s ready to take its place with the rest of my Record Junior collection! The 2 inch ones I’ve had for about 40 years.
 It occurred to me, as I was sharpening this Stanley #102 plane that I also must have purchased it 40 years ago. 
Tools that I bought new whilst at the London College of Furniture in the 1970's are now probably considered vintage! I bought this and many of my tools from Parry’s in Old Street, East London.
These days, Old Street is a very hip place- those days… not so!
 I never really got on with this plane- probably due to the lack of adjustability, and I’ve only really been using it regularly for the past two years or so. What I like about it now, is that it’s light and can be held in one hand.  This is essential for the rough shaping of braces as I never clamp down my soundboards whilst working on them.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Chris's Electric Mandolin

Just in case you were wondering…….Chris’s left handed electric mandolin has been completed and he came over during the week to pick it up. I’m very pleased with the way turned it and I’m glad to report that Chris is too!
Below is a video that we (Amanda and I) made during its construction- it’ll give you an insight in to how it was built.
And here are a few photos for you too.....

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Thursday, April 07, 2016

Making Paul’s neck blank

I thought that I’d show you how I put a neck blank together- although this one is for Paul’s Standard Plus mandolin, the general process is the same for any of the instruments that I make.
We start with some basic woodwork- I don’t have (or want!) a large band-saw or planer machine, so it’s down to traditional, hand skills to true up this piece of maple.
Once the maple is flat and square, the rough profile is cut-out and prepared for laminating with some rosewood veneers and a thicker piece of pau ferro.
Another piece of maple (from the same board) is prepared for the head- my bench-top band-saw is just about at its limit here!
The head is glued on- I always use a spliced head joint.
Once the head is on, two slots are routed for the carbon-fibre strips that I like to use to stiffen the neck. With CF epoxied in place, the head overlay can be glued on- this is a precious piece of beautiful chocolate brown Brazilian rosewood. It does look good enough to eat!
Next the head can be shaped and the tuner holes drilled- you also have to counter-bore the holes to take the bushes.
The head can then be inlaid with my N logo; Paul has chosen abalone for his.
And after quite a few hours work, we have the finished neck blank…..
You can also see that on the back of the head, I’ve partially carved the volute and, those tuners are some very nice handmade Robsons.

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