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Thread: First Mandolin Build Thread

  1. #1

    Default First Mandolin Build Thread

    I think it's time to start a build thread for my first mandolin. So far I've resawed, jointed, and glued up the blank for the soundboard and glued up and roughed out the neck blank. The neck blank is a 5 piece construction made with walnut and maple.

    Thanks to everyone who's helped me out so far! Please keep the feedback and advice coming!

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  3. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Davison Mich.
    Posts
    452

    Default Re: First Mandolin Build Thread

    looks like a good start to me. i am just starting my 4th, should say 3rd, the first one will never be playable,
    Mike Marrs

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  5. #3

    Default Re: First Mandolin Build Thread

    Done!

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    :P

  6. #4

    Default Re: First Mandolin Build Thread

    Made some progress today. Glued on the headstock extension wings and inlayed in the reinforcement circle. I also started carving the soundboard with my hand made gouge. (works like a charm)
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  7. #5

    Default Re: First Mandolin Build Thread

    A couple more pictures of the progress.

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  8. #6
    Adrian Minarovic
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, Europe
    Posts
    2,987

    Default Re: First Mandolin Build Thread

    I see you got some blisters :-)
    This carving stage is one of the most enjoyable in building, IMO.
    I would suggest few tips though. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got (and typically realized they are really good only later) is to always use the most aggressive (or biggest) tool for the job at given point. That means carving with gouges as close as possible to final shape and only skip to next level (finger planes) to smooth out traces of previous tool, not to remove vast amounts of material.
    This requires good control of the tool, but reward is much better efficiency both in time spent AND reduced amount of blisters :-)
    For carving top or back the gouge cuts are typically done across the plate (perpendicular to center joint) from edges towards joint. If you plane the blank to final height before carving and mark 2" oval at center and flat platforms at edges (or just mark on outside edges) it's just matter of smoothly carving away wood from one line to the other (as close as you dare). especially on flamed maple you cannot cut along grain without bad tear-out.
    You can skip to larger convex planes (I would recommend asian style with two handles - have a look at some vids from chinese instrument factories thay are really efficient with these after initial rough gouging) or just start taking thinner and thinner shavings with gouge and skip to small fingerplanes when the arch is nearly done.
    I strongly recomment watching videos of Davide Sora, one of the best violinmakers these days - he's got covered all stages of violin making with traditional hand tools to hihgest level, really must see for anyone aspiring to building violin or similar carved instrument. His use of gouges is unreal.
    Adrian

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  10. #7

    Default Re: First Mandolin Build Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    I see you got some blisters :-)
    This carving stage is one of the most enjoyable in building, IMO.
    I would suggest few tips though. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got (and typically realized they are really good only later) is to always use the most aggressive (or biggest) tool for the job at given point. That means carving with gouges as close as possible to final shape and only skip to next level (finger planes) to smooth out traces of previous tool, not to remove vast amounts of material.
    This requires good control of the tool, but reward is much better efficiency both in time spent AND reduced amount of blisters :-)
    For carving top or back the gouge cuts are typically done across the plate (perpendicular to center joint) from edges towards joint. If you plane the blank to final height before carving and mark 2" oval at center and flat platforms at edges (or just mark on outside edges) it's just matter of smoothly carving away wood from one line to the other (as close as you dare). especially on flamed maple you cannot cut along grain without bad tear-out.
    You can skip to larger convex planes (I would recommend asian style with two handles - have a look at some vids from chinese instrument factories thay are really efficient with these after initial rough gouging) or just start taking thinner and thinner shavings with gouge and skip to small fingerplanes when the arch is nearly done.
    I strongly recomment watching videos of Davide Sora, one of the best violinmakers these days - he's got covered all stages of violin making with traditional hand tools to hihgest level, really must see for anyone aspiring to building violin or similar carved instrument. His use of gouges is unreal.
    Thanks! I'll definitely check out those videos. I was being very cautious removing material on this one since it's my first. Despite the blisters this part has been tons of fun! I was very surprised at how fast these tools take off material and it's very rewarding watching the shape come out.

  11. #8

    Default Re: First Mandolin Build Thread

    Excellent advice from HoGo. I used to use a large fishtail gouge and a mallet to remove the bulk of the wood. As I've gotten older, my knuckle joints don't hold up well to pushing finger planes through figured maple. Not having the money or desire to invest in CNC (I'm only a hobbiest with 5 builds completed) or even a pantograph carver, I consulted a Maloof-style contemporary furniture builder friend and ended up getting a Kutzall spiky donut to run in an angle grinder. Definitely an art to using it (outdoors, LOTS of dust) but it very quickly removes lots of wood and the contour even lets me rough in the beginning of the recurve area. Speaking of which, there is one StewMac tool I've found to be very useful in the final phases of shaping the back, it's their ultimate scraper. It has the perfect gradual french curve for finalizing the recurve area:
    https://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tool...e_Scraper.html
    Also, when I put that flat ledge around the outer edge at about 3/16" thick (I use a slot cutting router bit on the table) I keep it only 1/2" wide so that it doesn't interfere with the recurve where it transitions from overcurve to undercurve. Like the old traditional Gibsons, I don't like to see a crease line at the bottom of the curve.

    BTW, beautiful work so far. You've obviously already got the skills and some cool benches too. Enjoy the journey!

  12. #9

    Default Re: First Mandolin Build Thread

    I haven't been making much progress on this build lately. I've been pretty busy. I did recently finish cutting the truss rod slot and making the truss rod.

    Made it out of a piece of 3/16 inch stainless steel round bar.

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  13. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    MountainView, AR
    Posts
    317

    Default Re: First Mandolin Build Thread

    It seems like the rod needs to be bent further down then curved. Could be just the way the pic looks. I’m reminiscing siminoff blueprint here, I usually lay the rod on top of the print for comparison.

  14. #11
    Adrian Minarovic
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, Europe
    Posts
    2,987

    Default Re: First Mandolin Build Thread

    I would advise using straight rod deep in the neck. Works better and is easier to install, especially for first build.
    Adrian

  15. #12

    Default Re: First Mandolin Build Thread

    I tried to match the pattern from the book for the truss rod. I even scorched the paper a little bit trying to match the shape while it was still hot from bending. to my eye it looked like it lined up pretty well with the pattern. It's still a little long though. I need to cut off an inch or so from the threaded end but I wanted to have extra length to play with for now.

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