Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Binding the mandocello

I’ve just completed the bindings and purflings for Jonathan’s mandocello. The first thing you have to do is cut a rebate around the edges to take the strips of purfling and binding. Normally, it’s relatively straight forward, as you can sit a router on the body of the instrument itself. However, with a carved/arch top you have to be a bit more inventive! I fixed the router’s motor into a pillar drill stand, and then clamped the body back into its external mould- this allowed me to adjust the position of the body in space, so that the glued edge between the top and the sides was level.
With the router set to the correct height, the body could then be feed into the cutter and the rebate cut. However, it's always a good idea to go around the top with a good old-fashioned purfling cutter first- this helps to eliminate the grain tearing.
It proved to be remarkably stress-free, and got me thinking about the “True Channel” type router jigs sold by StewMac and others. Now I could spend a few hundred quid and buy one, but that would be too easy……………..watch this space!

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Monday, May 04, 2015

The Lost Dreadnought!

London Guitar Gallery 12 string Dreadnought
I was delighted to receive an email and some photos from Richard of his guitar. I built this 12 string Dreadnought in 1980.  The body is longer than a standard D shape as it is designed for a 12 fret neck.
Richard commissioned it and is still playing it.

There's loads more of my past work to be found in my archive.  

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Friday, May 01, 2015

Another Day, Another Jig

Whenever you build a one-off instrument such as the mandocello, you’re not just building the instrument but also various jigs and fixtures to make its construction possible. Today, in order to route the female part of the neck’s tapered dovetail, I had to make up this jig. Might not ever use it again, but it was essential for this task.



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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bracing the 'cello

With the rosette completed, fitting the internal bracing is the next step for Jonathan’s mandocello. I’m using X-bracing as it’s simply the strongest and on a 10 string mandocello you have to be robust!
So, here is a number of days’ work compressed into a few photos.  Firstly, some accurate marking out is needed;  as the underside of the soundboard is hollow, it made sense to lay-out the angles on the same jig that I used for routing the sound hole and then transfer them to the edge of the top.

After making a number of templates, directly from the inside of the top, the braces are roughly cut on the bandsaw.
They’re then cleaned up with a flat file to a close-ish fit and then the fun starts……
Fitting the braces to the top, demands the utmost accuracy. I clamped a strip of angle aluminium to the top; this ensures that the brace is vertical and after checking, goes back into exactly the same position each time. A strip of abrasive paper then goes between the brace and the top, you then put a CD on and settle down to a couple of hours of painstaking sanding until the brace fits.

Once both braces have been shaped, the joint for the X has to be carefully marked-out and executed. I decided to glue the two braces to each other, before gluing to the top itself, this way they are self-supporting when you actually do glue them to the top.
I clamped them to the top whilst the glue set in order to ensure that they are in the correct alignment to each other.
As a belt and braces measure I’ve glued small fillets of spruce into the X, this should ensure that the joint never fails.
So, with X brace made and reinforced, another CD goes on to the player and some final fettling to the fit.
Last test; with clamps in place and a feeler gauge to check for gaps.
Then I made up a simple wood and foam clamping caul to support the weight of  the clamps and to help spread the pressure of them evenly along each brace.
The X is then glued into place………….


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Friday, April 17, 2015

Strings attached!

And here we have Alex's twin-point strung-up.............

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Alex’s Twin-Point

Just completed shaping the neck of Alex’s twin-point, getting ready for setting it up “in the white.”
A few photos for you………..




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Saturday, April 11, 2015

A bit of a challenge!

I’ve just completed work on the rosette for Jonathan’s carved top mandocello. It’s a task that only those who are practically minded would appreciate the complexity of. Unlike most rosettes, you have, thanks to the carved shape, a third dimension to work in. I probably spent as much time thinking about how to achieve it as I did making it!
Firstly, a jig had to be made-up to allow me to cut a clean and accurate oval shaped soundhole with a router.

And a lot of careful work to get to this stage………………..
…..I got so involved that I forgot to take any photos of the "in between" stages, doh!
As the rosette is oval and it follows the curve of the top, each piece of abalone had to be cut and individually fitted.
And he we have it.



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