Saturday, January 21, 2012

So what I have been up to so far this year?

So what I have been up to so far this year? I finished polishing Brendan’s twin-point mandolin this week and now it needs a good two weeks to harden off before it goes back together and is shipped off to Ireland. I know I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the shellac really brings out the beauty of the wood like no other finish!!

Standard III is having its finish applied too; this one has my open pour satin shellac finish which, is quicker to apply and harden. Working on the two mandolins at the same time brought home to me how much quicker it is to build my Standard mandolin (compared to the twin-point) which is of course, why I can keep the cost down. It should be completed and up for sale within the next few weeks.

I love the look of this 3 piece back with the laminated neck!


Although each of my instruments is custom built, it makes some sense to do common tasks at the same time. So for example, with my next three instruments, I’ve prepared all the wood for the bracing in one go.

Also I prepared 3 neck blanks, which although very different, will all have carbon- fibre reinforcements, so whilst setting-up the router for one, you just as well do 3.

John’s guitar neck is made from really nice Brazilian mahogany and will have two carbon-fibre strips and an adjustable rod. This quality of mahogany is getting harder to find, it has a lovely rich colour which will complement the Koa body nicely.

Alan’s mandolin neck is made from some beautiful flamed maple with black and red laminations. When I have to plane highly figured wood like this, I remember why I paid a small fortune for my low-angle Veritas plane; it doesn’t get a lot of use but when you need it, you’re glad of it!

Another little used but very useful tool is the Wagner Safe-T-Planer; it’s a bit like a fly cutter. You see that I’ve used it to thickness Alan’s neck from the back- it can’t be planed because of the heel. When you first use it, it frightens the life out of you- feeding wood into this spinning block of sharpness with your hands- but you soon get used to it and it works remarkably well without grabbing.

Alan gets two lengths of carbon fibre.

The third neck is a “Spanish” cedar one for a baritone ukulele that I’m building. This will be available for sale, via my website, in a few months time. This gets just one length of CF. To be honest, on a relatively short, four nylon string neck you don’t need anything to reinforce it but I know that customers feel more confident with a neck rod. I chose cedar for the neck for its light weight- on a small bodied instrument you can’t have too much mass in the neck, else it will be neck heavy.

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