Two Mandolins #9: Home Stretch

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Blog entry by Texcaster posted 01-09-2015 11:19 AM 1479 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: The Neck Part 9 of Two Mandolins series Part 10: Finishing The Archtop I Started In The 1st Mandolin Blog »

I didn’t get any photos of the fretting. The fingerboard is stuck to the fret scale template with double sided tape. The notches in the template index on a pin in the mitre box. Too easy, this scale is mando/ banjo. My others are guitar 25 in / 25 1/2 in and bass 34in /35 in. My saw back bottoms out on the top of the mitre box when the cut is at the right depth. The fb edges are bevelled before being shaped with a 12 in radius sanding block.

The fret wire is pre bent, then slightly back bent because the radius is too tight. For a bound fb the fret tang is cut with a fret tang nipper. I cut 4mm black dots with a leather punch.

12in radius sanding block, nippers and nipped fret wire.

I masked off the body to set the neck and the polish came off the edge tape binding. The edge tape is probably the only thing shellac won’t stick to. It’s good for black dots though.

I polished the body before setting the neck. It’s too hard to french polish around the extended fb.The Oregon has been stained, just to kill the new pine look, maple and walnut spirit stain. BLO cut by 75% for color. The neck is 95% shaped but still wider than the fb. Note the pins to prevent slipping under clamp pressure.

Final alignment.

fb caul

In irons

All the metal parts are treated with gun blue for a vintage look. The tailpiece cover is simplified to just a curve.

On the buttons, the casting ridge is carved away and the faces are tool marked. One coat of colored polish.

Strung up. Still some work to do on the bridge. I’m quite chuffed with the tone and projection.

The logo brand is better than the pic shows.

Changes, just to keep it interesting for me.

A volute or dart or diamond. It comes from the early Martin guitar bird mouth neck / headstock join. Later, just decorative. They say the extra thickness doesn’t make it any stronger. I can’t help thinking it must, this is the weakest area of the neck. At least it looks cool, I’ll use it again.

The long arch on the top is more like a violin. I’ll change the next one to give me a thicker fretboard extension.

Standard arching. Much thicker fb extension, better glue joint.

I’ll try and get a sound file up. That is the hard part for me.

Jorge, the back is as you carved it, I adjusted the top. I’ll see you when you get back.

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

5 comments so far

View exelectrician's profile


2327 posts in 2456 days

#1 posted 01-10-2015 07:56 AM

I am amazed at the beautiful musical instruments you have made… Wow!!

Also I am amazed at the lack of comments, I guess your level of artistry with wood has left everybody speechless…..

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Texcaster's profile


1285 posts in 1702 days

#2 posted 01-10-2015 08:05 AM

You’re a very kind man exelec.

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

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5913 posts in 3223 days

#3 posted 01-10-2015 03:19 PM

Well Bill, I must say tht the mandolin turned out beautiful, as I expected it would….You are a master luthier, and I would like to be able to learn from you, and some of the techniques you use on the build….I followed this blog from the start, and I knew it would be a great instrument…..Thanks for sharing, and I learned a thing or two….

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....

View Texcaster's profile


1285 posts in 1702 days

#4 posted 01-11-2015 10:42 AM

Glad to hear you liked it. I’m only too happy to pass on what I have learned.

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

View AnthonyReed's profile


9761 posts in 2469 days

#5 posted 01-13-2015 04:31 PM

Wow! Fantastic! Such beautiful work Bill.

Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

-- ~Tony

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