Two Mandolins #10: Finishing The Archtop I Started In The 1st Mandolin Blog

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Blog entry by Texcaster posted 01-31-2015 05:18 PM 2348 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 9: Home Stretch Part 10 of Two Mandolins series no next part

Some progress shots of my newest archtop. Most archtops are 17in at the lower bout, this one is 13in. This guitar was started before Christmas. Work stopped to build a mando and started again Jan. 9. I’m pretty happy with the time, 8 hours a day just like the old days. For carving and binding details see the mandolin build.

Top …..Western Red Cedar

Back … PNG Rosewood

Sides.. Victorian Blackwood

Neck…. Plantation Mahogany

Fingerboard, Bindings and Veneers … Solomon Blackwood

23in scale story stick


graduation pattern

FB is shaped by pre- beveling, sanding with a 12in radius block and scraping, where I can, in between

The neck has two 3mm purple heart laminations. I thought PH bindings might look good. Wrong!

Fretting hammers, just to get the ends started. The 12in radius driver sets the fret. The hammers need four 20 cent coins for weight.

UPDATE 2-3- 15 Binding the ff’s. and closing the box.

Laminated binding, 3 wenge veneers.

UPDATE 2 – 4 – 15

Crocs, for slaving over a hot pipe. Solomon Blackwood bindings

The ends and the waist need more than masking tape.

My mate Phil came by to bend a ” drop top” for a chambered jazz bass arm rest.

It happened so quick I didn’t get a good shot. This is the kind of bend he was making.

UPDATE 2-5-15

First coat of polish, it’s just a little ol’ guitar, not much bigger than a Les Paul.

Electric double bass parts.

UPDATE 2-7-15

The body is almost done. It will sit another day, get fine scuff sanded and a final rubber of french polish. The neck is almost done, the fingerboard extension gets added tomorrow.

Meet Wilf the neighbor’s bull. We’ve known him since he was just a calf and looked like a funny little fawn.

UPDATE 2-11-15

Fingerboard extension, tailpiece and cardboard pickguard pattern.

Jorge is back and has his new back carved, the top is next week. The bench is on 130mm risers.

UPDATE 2 – 13- 15

Pickguard and trussrod cover

Pearl on a stick, I need dots and squares to make my logo.

UPDATE 2-14-15

The neck an body are joined. I made an 11th hour decision to further define the cutaway with more binding. It will mean a bit of re-polishing but worth it I think.

The pickguard is too big, it will be reshaped closer to the drawing. The pickguard only has to be big enough to hide the pickup wire going into the body.

Solomon Blackwood and Mahogany bridge. Same 12in radius as the fingerboard. I’m doing it this way because I only have long pieces of S.B. and a lot of offcuts.


UPDATE 2-19-15

The guitar is as good as done, just some fret work and the pickup to fit. This is the second guitar from this mold and the best acoustically. I think that may be due to the West. Red Cadar top and reducing the side width to 55mm from 65mm. A full size archtop has 75mm sides. Fiddles and mandolins have 32mm sides, these type of instruments seem to work best with shallow sides.

Fitting the bridge with lipstick, the high area registers.

Jorge is very keen on the blue chalk as a color. A couple of samples of chalk under oil, and shellac. The chalk works better on the Oregon than it does on the Mahogany. Collaborations are good for me because I go places I wouldn’t go on my own. I’ve dreamed up a mando I wouldn’t have even considered yesterday.

blue chalk Oregon Top

blue chalk Oregon hearstosk veneer

Maple binding on body and headstock

Maple neck

Maple fingerboard with black dots. Very old school Fender feel.

Jorge was very keen about this yesterday, not so much today. I might have to build my own blue mandolin. If I build my own it will also have Maple back and sides.

Blue Guitars

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

9 comments so far

View AnthonyReed's profile


9795 posts in 2491 days

#1 posted 02-02-2015 05:01 PM

Always a pleasure seeing your work. Just amazing. Thanks for sharing it Bill.

I see a genno there.

-- ~Tony

View Texcaster's profile


1287 posts in 1724 days

#2 posted 02-02-2015 10:30 PM

Cheers Tony, I couldn’t live without the genno.

Home grown versions of popular tees, a makeover for old work clothes while waiting for the glue to dry.

Got Bass and Got Dovetails

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

View chrisstef's profile


17478 posts in 3057 days

#3 posted 02-02-2015 10:41 PM

Lookin great Tex! Id love to hear those sing when the time comes.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Texcaster's profile


1287 posts in 1724 days

#4 posted 02-03-2015 11:24 PM

Thanks for commenting Smitty

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

View WoodshopNerd's profile


34 posts in 1256 days

#5 posted 02-13-2015 06:38 PM

Bill, your instruments look fantastic. I can only imagine how great they sound!

-- Michael,

View Augadel's profile


2 posts in 1317 days

#6 posted 02-15-2015 09:28 AM

Bill, the guitar looks great, the added binding on the cutaway is a great idea.

-- Augadel - "He talks of wood. It is some carpenter." - Shakespeare, Henry VI(I)

View AnthonyReed's profile


9795 posts in 2491 days

#7 posted 02-16-2015 05:13 PM

So absolutely gorgeous….

This is a pretty fantastic shot by the way:

As always, thanks for sharing the journey Bill.

-- ~Tony

View Texcaster's profile


1287 posts in 1724 days

#8 posted 02-18-2015 02:59 PM

Thanks for commenting fellas and all the best Tony!

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

View AnthonyReed's profile


9795 posts in 2491 days

#9 posted 03-04-2015 03:07 PM

Such beautiful results Bill.

I am looking forward to seeing what comes of the blue; maple fingerboard with black dots sounds interesting too.

Great Scotty pictures.

-- ~Tony

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