Friday, September 14, 2012

Inlay work

Other than my “N” logo, I rarely get the chance to do any inlay work. John, whose twin-point I’ve just started, is clearly going to pamper his mandolin with various handmade accessories, one of them is this arm-rest made in the USA by Doug Edwards.
You can see that Doug has inlaid it with John’s “family tree”, so I thought it would be a good idea to complement it with a similar head inlay.
I made my shape as a juxtaposition of Doug’s inlay and John’s original artwork.
The design is glued on to a piece of inlay material (in this case green abalone for the tree’s canopy) and the abalone is in turn glued to some thin plywood for support whilst cutting.
A piercing saw is used to cut the shape out and then needle files for the final shaping.

Once the shape is cut out, it needs to be inlaid into the head overlay.
As the inlay is in two parts, it makes sense to get the trunk aligned with the head’s centre line first and then inlay the canopy.
To remove most of the wood I use a dremel mounted in a StewMac base. As the base doesn’t plunge, I drill a small hole to give a start point for the cutter. For the final fitting I use engraving tools sharpened as chisels.

With the trunk fitting, it’s on with the canopy!

And here is the finished inlay....

 And here is the rosette for the same mandolin. It’s been a good week!

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Sunday, September 02, 2012

More mandolin work

The French polishing on Sean’s mandolin is well under way. I often get asked how long does French polishing take or how many coats etc. Simple answer-  there is no answer! It’s one of things that you work on and on, and then one day it suddenly looks done; it tells you when you're done.

The Standard plus has now been set-up and I’m really pleased with the initial sound- loud to say the least! It will stay strung up for about week before the final tweaking and then be polished.

It has one of my own tailpieces. One really successful aspect of these tailpieces is the ability to be able change the shape of the wooden element to complement the head shape and also to vary the wood itself; so as you can see this one is Indian rosewood to match the back and sides.

Work has started on John’s mandolin- we’ve gone for a three piece back on this one. Putting a back together like this one is a bit tricky. Because the grain in cocobolo is quite wild, it runs in opposing directions along the joint. Ideally you should always use the longest plane that you have; however, here I have had to use my low angle block plane to stop the grain from tearing out.
Then you the three pieces to align plus a black veneer in the joint; note how notches have been cut into the back to ensure that the pressure is applied evenly by the clamps.

And here we have it!

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