Binding the Mandocello and beginning a Cittern
The body of the mandocello is now together: this is the first time that I’ve used this shape and it’s not until you’ve got the body together, that you get a real feel of what the finished instrument will be like and I’m really pleased with the way it’s turned out. This is going to be a stunner!!
With the body together the bindings and purflings are next. The mandocello has 29 separate pieces that make up its purflings and binding so it’s quite a time consuming process. A rebate is cut around the edge for the bindings and purfling and this is done with a hand-held router.
The problem that I encountered with this shape is that the point of the cutaway is very thin and the back is curved, so the flat base of the router wobbles and the rebate can’t be cut accurately. So, at this point I thank my old tutor, Hebert Schwarz, who made me do everything by hand and get out my purfling cutter that I made about thirty years ago!
The purfling cutter is like a cutting gauge and allows you to cut a line parallel to the back or to the sides.
Once you’ve cut the line the rebate is chiselled out by hand.
There are so many websites that show guitar makers (notice I didn’t say luthiers) using jigs and machines for every operation. If you want to master the art of being a luthier you need to develop skills and know how to do things properly by hand, so that when your jigs and machines fail you, you can still get the job done!
Instruments progress in fits and starts, the purfling and bindings tend to take a long time to, you glue one piece on wait for it to dry, do the next etc.
So how long does it take to make an instrument?
Below you can see the neck blank starting to take shape. I can’t use mahogany as it’s a tropical hardwood and the usual alternative for a neck is maple. The cittern will have 10 tuners, so I wanted to keep the weight down and maple is much denser than mahogany. So, you can see my answer below, the neck will be laminated from maple, walnut and a green stained veneer.
Also the sides have been taken down to 2mm thickness, bent and fitted into the mould. Yes, it is the same shape as the Mando!
So far five hours work.....................