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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