Saturday, July 22, 2017

Head Inlay

I’ve said it many times before and I make no apologies for saying it again- one of the greatest compliments you can get as a luthier is a past client coming back for another instrument. So, Amanda and I were delighted when Brendan decided to commission a new mandolin from me.
 Many of you will know Brendan for the wonderful video that he posted, playing what was then his new Nava cocobolo twin-point. That was about 5 years ago and since then Brendan has become a good friend and confidant.
You’ll have seen the neck blank in the previous post, well that’s for Brendan and over the coming months you’ll see his rather special build unfold.
He set me a little challenge for an inlay in the head overlay. Here’s a sequence of photos- A few stages are missing; once I'm in the zone, I find that I can easily forget about taking photos!
 
Many hours later........here’s the final result. The red and green are made from reconstituted rock and the N from black pearl.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Making a Neck Blank

I thought that I’d show you how I make my mandolin neck blanks. For this one, I’m using some of my very old Cuban mahogany stock. It’s a “recycled” lid from a Victorian grand piano- I like the idea of a new musical instrument rising phoenix like from an old one. Unfortunately, I’m running out of it so not too many more!
It doesn’t look much at this stage but here’s one that I’ve been French polishing; beautiful!
 I always laminate my necks; this gives a much more stable neck compared to a single piece of wood- you’ll note that the central piece has its grain running opposite to the two outer ones.



After gluing the three pieces together they’re squared up and the head joint is prepared. I’ve always used a spliced head joint; it’s a far superior method as it eliminates any short grain in the head itself.
It’s a bit tricky to glue up; because as the glue joint isn’t perpendicular to the force applied by the clamps there is a tendency for the two pieces to slide apart. You can see below how I stop this.
Once the head has been glued in place and the blank trued-up again, the next step is to fit the carbon fibre.
I’ve been using carbon fibre to reinforce mandolin necks for well over 10 years now without any problems- I feel that an adjustable truss rod is unnecessary on such a short neck. The CF is epoxied in place with a strip of wood on top of it. These strips are to allow extra surface area for gluing the fretboard on with Titebond.  One thing that you must do is leave a small gap at either end of the carbon fibre to allow the excess epoxy to escape when applying clamping pressure. Why? Before the epoxy sets it’s a liquid and you can’t compress a liquid, so if it can’t escape the pressure will build-up and the neck can split- you only make that mistake once!
And here’s the neck blank awaiting its head overlay……….more anon.


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Thursday, July 13, 2017

David’s Standard mandolin

David’s Standard mandolin has now been completed and was shipped out to him earlier this week. I think we were both delighted with it!

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Sunday, July 09, 2017

Working

By way of a change…………..

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Saturday, July 01, 2017

Twin-point available

You may have seen the cocobolo twin-point that I’ve been building recently. I’m just in the middle of French polishing it, and sadly my client has had to cancel the order due to ill-health: Amanda and I send him all our best wishes for the future.
This means that in about 6 to 8 weeks time, I should have a cocobolo twin-point completed and ready for sale. The last time I had one of these available was in 2009! So if you wish to circumnavigate my 10 to 12 month waiting list this could be for you. For more details send me an email (you’ll find the address on my website). I should add that due to the new CITIES regulations this mandolin can only be sold within the EU.

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Random Stuff 2

The Scheppach had its first big test this week- 75mm of mahogany- didn’t seem to throw up any problems! So far, so good.
I recently bought some black mother of pearl for inlays and I thought that I’d try it out my N logo.
I like the effect, it has a bit more colour to it than “white” pearl yet is more subtle than abalone. Not easy to photograph though!
As a post script to the last post, “Watching TV…” you must try to see the Handmade in Japan series on BBC4. Quite extraordinary patience and attention to detail; wonderful!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Watching TV…

One reason that you might be reading my blog is that you like making stuff- it’s always interesting to see what other craftspeople do and to know that it’s just not you who’s mad! There seems to be a plethora of reality TV shows where various stuff from cakes to rat rods are made. Many of them show the main protagonists getting frustrated and swearing a lot; presumably this is what has been deemed necessary to attract viewers! And there some, where making process is more important, these are our favourites-
Sin City Motors: follows the guys at Welderup building rat rods.
Forged in Fire: a competition for bladesmiths making a variety of weapons.
Café Racer Naked Speed; various bike builders, building café racers.

Enjoy!