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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Birthday presents

Thank you, first of all, to my Sister & Family who gave me some wood (little did they know it!). The flamed maple veneer will be used for the bottom of the mandolin banjo pot, and the maple strips will be bent into hoops to form the sides. The thin strip is edge banding.

I made a bit of progress this evening - I have started on the mould for the pot (wheels of plywood glued together) and I also made a peghead veneer (as the original was painted!) out of ebony and glued it onto the neck.

My own family have equiped me with a new router which I need to make a table for...more projects and the porch still isn't finished.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Fitting the new goatskin

I have now fitted a new skin. This turned out to be quite straightforward and after I'd soaked the skin for half an hour I had it fitted, stretched and drying in only a few minutes. It sounds good when you tap it, but I hope it doesn't crack while it's drying out.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Dulcimer Fretboard

Just to mention that the dulcimer is still creeping forward - this is the second fretboard being glued up. now in bits

It really was a wreck. I have disassembled it and removed the worn brass frets, which I will replace with modern nickel-silver fretwire. I have also ordered a new skin - it will need soaking and stretch fitting which sounds like fun!

Friday, September 15, 2006

My New Mandolin Banjo

It's a bit of a wreck...did I mention that the nut needs replacing too!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Getting going again

I have to admit that progress has been extremely slow. However, after my decision to do a lot less inlay work, things have started up again. I bought two more fretboard blanks, this time in Indian rosewood, and I have now started working on the fretboards themselves.

So as to become even more distracted, I have also bought an old mandolin banjo on ebay, and it's a bit of a wreck. It needs a new skin, a new pot, a new bridge, new tuners and the frets need replacing! There will be very little of the original left when I've done with it.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

more lack of progress

Still no progress, but I have now decided to scale back on the inlays. I think that this is what's really holding me back. So, I just need to get round to buying two more rosewood fretboards and then there can be no excuses! On a related note, I made my first e-bay purchase yesterday, a battered-looking mandolin banjo - I hope it arrives.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Holiday Blog

It's been ages since I last posted anything, and there has been very little progress on the dulcimer. The soundboard now fits, but I haven't started on the fretboards yet. I ended up buying some santos rosewood but I don't really like it so I will buy some bits of Indian instead.

I am currently on holiday in Skiathos which I recommend. There is some great walking, and I've heard some fine bouzeki playing in a couple of tavernas. I have just finished reading 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance' which I have been hankering after reading for ages. I was not disappointed - it was fantastic and I hope it will influence my woodworking positively

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Out of the mould

Well, it's out of the mould, and I've trimmed the overlapping edges of the bottom, and cleaned up the ends. All together, I'm very pleased - it's starting to look like an instrument, and the wood has a certain resonance when I tap it. The next step is to make the two fretboards and fit the top - I really don't think I will get it ready by the 5th July, but you never know.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Gluing The Back On

The weeks are flying by, so I was quite pleased to have the Bank Holiday to try and make a bit of progress. I fitted the back and glued it into place - I had to wrestle a bit with the peg-heads, so I used epoxy resin to glue these to the back, and Titebond for the rest of it.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Starting to come together

The Easter holidays have allowed me to sneak off into the garage and at last I seem to be getting somewhere. I have wrestled the bent sides into the mould and glued the whole thing up. I have also made some kerfed linings (a first for me), and you can see them in the picture, held in by part of my clothes peg collection. The next job will be to fit the back.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Twist in the Tale

Nothing to do with musical instruments, but congratulations to my Dad (and my Mum) on the publication of some of my Dad's poems in his book: "A Twist in the Tale". The ISBN is 0-9552614-0-6, it is £6.95, but I don't know yet how it will be sold and distributed. I think it's fantastic!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Bending the sides

At last a bit of progress - I've prepared and bent the sides - here is one drying in the mould. And 94 days to go...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


The wood for the sides and the fretboards has arrived, as have the bindings and some more mother of pearl. I have just read a fantastic little book, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, which has reminded me that I must keep striving for quality. So, time to tidy up the garage....

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Why so long

I haven't added any posts for a while, mainly because I have made little progress over the past month. However, I am about to order wood for the sides, and some of the other bits and pieces I need.

I have also being giving a lot of thought to my next project. I have decided to make another minature solid body mandolin, my 'microlin TM'. This time I intend to build in an amplifier and an MP3 player into the body, with a loudspeaker or headphone to listen. It will be strung with double course metal strings so will need more neck strength than my previous one. The idea is an instrument for silent practice with a backing track (MP3 from a midi).

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Back and front

I made and fitted some beech braces to the back. These are really for strenght rather than improving the tone (the instrument will sit on a table or a lap, so the back won't resonate). I have also joined the two halves of the front together and cut out the rough shape.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Days to go

One Hundred and Seventy Seven....(and counting).

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Some of this year's Christmas Cards

My oldest lad gave these cards to us this Christmas - I think that there may be a whole series here... (see these one, two, three)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

An Unsymmetrical Mistake

A bit of a near disaster today. I finished off cleaning up the back, and then cut out the shape based on my template. However, I should have turned the template over before drawing the outline. My dulcimer is not symmetrical (it has rotational, but not mirror symmetry), so I ended up with the best surface on the inside. Blast! Anyway, I had to sand and scrape the other side and it turned out fine.

I have now made and started to fit the cross braces - I am using four in a simple ladder arrangement.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The pickle has gone

Everything seems to be sorted out now, and I have been able to include a picture of my mandolin (scroll down, and it's on the right).

Monday, January 02, 2006


What's a ''? It's getting my blog in a pickle....

The Back & a museum trip

I made a bit more progress over the Christmas break. The two pegheads are now more or less finished, and I tried fitting one of the pegs for fun. I also made a start on the back. My two pieces of rosewood were too narrow, so I have included a laminate of oak with a narrow central strip of mahogany down the middle to widen it out a bit. It's still not as wide as my original plan, but it will have to do (i.e. the design has now been modified!). The rosewood is proving difficult to get a completely clean finish on, scraping and sanding both leave rough patches which you can see in the picture above.

On a different note, I took my older lad to the British Museum today to see the 'Lost Kingdom' Exhibition of artifacts from ancient Persia. It closes on the 8th of January, but we both thought that it was excellent.