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Two Mandolins #7: Dovetailing

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Blog entry by Texcaster posted 01-03-2015 10:36 PM 1469 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Binding The Body Part 7 of Two Mandolins series Part 8: The Neck »

The body is dovetailed before the back goes on. I use a parallel dovetail like Bob Benedetto’s in his archtop guitar book. The advantage is, timber can be removed from the bottom of the neck heel to easily get the right neck height relative to the right bridge height.

Most of the waste is bandsawn away, then the body is routed with a bearing on the shaft. Use the same bit for neck and body because the dovetail angle can vary bit to bit. The neck dovetail is cut on the router table, a small amount at a time. The neck blank is oversize and one end is used as a setup piece.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.



8 comments so far

View BJODay's profile

BJODay

512 posts in 1406 days


#1 posted 01-04-2015 02:52 AM

Bill,
When I begin a project I try to envision how I will complete each step with the tools I have. In reading about mandolin construction this joint seem to be to most critical and difficult. Is it pretty tough or have you done it enough that you are comfortable with it? Do you use a lot of scrap pieces to get it right?

BJ

View Texcaster's profile

Texcaster

1138 posts in 1137 days


#2 posted 01-04-2015 06:22 AM

BJ, yes it’s fussy but doable. My first mandolin was by the book for an “A” style, tapered dovetail and scribed shoulders. Now I make more of a miniature archtop guitar and have a flat area, at the neck joint, so I can have square shoulders on the dovetail, to make it easier.

I also pre- dovetail the neck block on the router table for archtops. Cut away most of the waste, make the joint MUCH wider than the bit and have a push block as big as the neck block.

On my last mando the neck block was pre- cut using the jig pictured. Try and have a few setup pieces handy to find your way.

Guitar neck block pre-cut, mando to be cut as in the blog.

Mando neck blocks and jig

“A” style and archtop style.

The archtop style has no binding, a violin overhang and violin purfling.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5177 posts in 2657 days


#3 posted 01-04-2015 05:14 PM

That’s an interesting concept, Bill….I can’t remember how I set the neck on my mandolin….I haven’t seen it in a long time (it’s in the case).....I put the “curl” in the body, using a solid block to set the neck and then shaping the top to match the curl, pairing away the waste to make everything match up before cutting the groove for the binding….Solid block in the rear for tail piece mounting…..I do remember using a dovetail for the neck set, like Martin Guitars uses…I have a 1956 “A” model Gibson tear-drop (I call it a “minnow dipper”), short neck that I got in trade….Not as much scale as an F- style….Old, and a good woody sound…..I’m still watching…!!!

-- At my age, an "all--nighter" is not having to get up and pee...!!!

View Texcaster's profile

Texcaster

1138 posts in 1137 days


#4 posted 01-04-2015 11:14 PM

Cheers Rick, thanks for hanging in.

I’ll probably never build an “F” style because of all the extra fine work involved. Also it has too much of a period look for me. It’s interesting that the F was developed for classical music and the mandolin orchestras of the early 20th century but has become the mainstay of bluegrass.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5177 posts in 2657 days


#5 posted 01-05-2015 12:00 AM

Bill….You’re correct in the fact that it is extra work to cut the scroll on the top, sides, and back, and add the block, but the “F” style is the most popular style, simply because it was first introduced as the main instrument in bluegrass by Bill Monroe back in the ‘40s, when he introduced bluegrass to the music world…..Bluegrass musicans like the F over the A because of the long scale to reach the higher notes up the neck…..It’s harder to make a B or C chord on a short scale neck w/o getting into the body, and running out of room…...Just my opinion…..I’m still watching your progress…..

-- At my age, an "all--nighter" is not having to get up and pee...!!!

View Texcaster's profile

Texcaster

1138 posts in 1137 days


#6 posted 01-05-2015 01:53 PM

Rick I think you are confusing scale length with the neck joint fret. The A joins the body at the 12th fret and the F joins the body at the 14th fret both have a scale length at plus or minus 13.875in. A 14th fret body join will give greater access to the, for me anyway, dusty end of the fingerboard.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View AnthonyReed's profile

AnthonyReed

8727 posts in 1903 days


#7 posted 01-06-2015 08:08 PM

Any type of adhesive used in this?

-- ~Tony

View Texcaster's profile

Texcaster

1138 posts in 1137 days


#8 posted 01-09-2015 12:22 PM



Any type of adhesive used in this?

- AnthonyReed

Cheers Mate,
Mostly Tightbong original, hot hide glue on the back and CA for the plastic binding.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

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