Over the years, I’ve built up quite a collection of exotic tonewood, and I feel a responsibility to use it in the best way that I can. As the pieces aren’t particularly large, I need to be imaginative. So, for my next archtop mandolin, I’m going to incorporate into its construction, as much Brazilian rosewood, from my collection, as I can.
One aspect that will be a bit unusual is that although I’m using the Rio for the sides, its carved back will be made from figured maple.
I’m going to do another series of videos, but try to cover different aspects of the build, not covered in the previous two build video series.
So here’s the first dealing with bending the sides and making the rim.
I’ve been having a bit of difficulty taking some good photos lately; don’t know why but I can’t seem to do the wood justice. So just to keep up-to-date, here's the best I can do at the moment. The completed rim-
I’ve made up the neck blank and you can see that I’ve used more Brazilian rosewood for the head overlay. The inlay is from black pearl; I like its subtlety; in some lights, it disappears into the wood! The neck itself is maple with a Brazilian rosewood core, you can see that I’ve started to carve the volute.
I cut up a billet to use for the fretboard and was really surprised by the bright rose-pink colours that I found inside. Made me think is that why, along with its sweet, sickly smell, someone named it “rosewood”? It was one the dark brown pieces in the previous video.
Quite a spectacular pieces of wood, although the colours will tone down over time, I’ll have to decide whether it’s a step too far! Cheers Gary
I imagine for younger folk, it’s inconceivable to imagine a world without the WWW. When I first started out, I devoured as many guitar making books as I could find. Amanda, then girl-friend, worked for a publishing house, so when in 1976, I wanted a copy of David Russell Young’s book she wrote to the American publisher, waited for a letter to come back with the cost etc, bought an international money order, posted it to the States and waited……………. Like many, I still like a physical book and have quite a lutherie library but sometimes descriptions of making techniques can be a bit lacking. Try, for example, looking up, in one of the definitive books, “how to join an archtop back plate together.” Wouldn’t be easier to look at a video on YouTube?
And here’s the aforementioned back fully carved……….
I’ve just made the fretboard and tailpiece for the archtop. If you look a few posts back you would have seen the bright colours that were exposed when the rosewood billet was first cut. As you can see it’s started to mellow a bit and is now tending towards an orange/brown instead of pink. I'm very pleased that I managed to get the tailpiece out of the same piece of wood, so that’ll match nicely. The tailpiece has had a good soaking of lemon oil hence the slight difference in colour and sheen. Cheers Gary
I’ve been working on the top plate, for this one, I have some superb Sitka spruce (not easy to say quickly). The two halves were joined with same method as I demonstrated in my back plate video, taken down to thickness and the profile cut-out so that it fits into my jig, which holds the wood firmly whilst I carve it.
However, being a slab rather than a wedge, there’s too much waste to just plane, so first step is to use my Wagner Safe-T-planer.
As an object, I love its heavy duty casting but no matter how many times I use it, it’s always with trepidation. What’s always more dangerous with wood working machinery compared to metal working, is that you fed the work into it with your bare hands. But with so much wood to remove, it’s a sensible option.
Once I’ve got down to this kind if stepped profile, the rest is done with planes, scrapers and sanding, as you would have seen, again in one of my previous videos.
Here you can see the how tight the grain is on this Sitka.
So here is the top plate fully shaped and with the sound holes cut and bound. I feel quite strongly that the holes should be bound; it helps protect the softwood edges from accidental damage, strengthens and helps to lessen any risk of cracking at the holes, stop moisture escaping via the end grain and looks jolly nice too! Cheers Gary
With the archtop’s body together, the next stage is to work on the bindings and purflings. Like most luthier’s, I cut the rebate channels for the bindings and purflings with a router. I don’t know if I’m getting fussier in my old age, but these days I seem to spend more and more time fettling the rebate in search of the prefect fit!
I’ve always liked “rope” purfling and have successfully used it on a number of guitars, but never on a mandolin. I like to have the purflings and rosette matching and the curves on my mandolin rosettes are far too tight to bend the rope purfling around. Anyway, I had a lightbulb moment, “the archtop doesn’t have a rosette!” So, I thought that I’d use rope on this one. Here you can see the purfling being held (whilst the glue dries) in place by some StewMac Orange Multi-Purpose Tape. It’s the first time that I’ve used this tape and I’ve been happy with its performance so far. It might not sound like a big deal, but getting just the right tape is important- tough enough, right amount of tack etc….
And with the purflings in place, I go through my usual mummification process to get the maple bindings glued on.
Onechordtrick: All quiet from Halifax. Should somebody check that they’re OK?
Sept 29, 2019 8:59:59 GMT
ocarolan: Most folk left now - just stragglers remain. Forum should get more news, pics, vids over the next few days/weeks. Was fab w/e, of course with friends old and new, lots of music, laughter, booze etc. A worthy 10th.
Sept 29, 2019 12:30:08 GMT
stevie2sticks: Congratulations. My youngest, 2 and a bit has just done "twinkle twinkle little star" on his Kazoo working on "a train" on harmonica, I've ear marked him a guitar. I started training him Klingon but grandma intervened.
Sept 29, 2019 16:49:24 GMT
Akquarius: To all of you who did not attend Halifax this year. You definitely missed a big thing!
Oct 1, 2019 19:15:18 GMT
martinrowe: Perfect Pitch: Lobbing a banjo into a skip and completely covering the accordion.
Oct 12, 2019 7:58:34 GMT
ocarolan: Q: If you drop simultaneously a banjo and an accordion from an aeroplane, which instrument will hit the ground first? A: Who cares?!
Oct 14, 2019 17:44:48 GMT
minorkey: Hmm I managed to set up a gallery finally but I had to leave the description field blank
Oct 28, 2019 22:28:31 GMT
curmudgeon: There was a fire at the local candle factory. Fire brigade turned up and we all circled the building and sun Happy birthday.
Nov 5, 2019 11:37:06 GMT
minorkey: How do you get a coloured background behind your profil pic?
Nov 6, 2019 12:39:39 GMT
minorkey: I studied sheep husbandry at university, did really well, came away with a B A A...
Nov 9, 2019 12:06:07 GMT
walkingdecay: My son's description of being drunk: "I feel as if I've suddenly got three eyes and I can only see through one of them at a time." The lad should write, he really should.
Nov 11, 2019 9:49:34 GMT