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Monday, October 29, 2012

Mandocello begins

I have finally started the mandocello. I have not tried anything on this scale up to now, and I'm also working more or less from my imagination! In the photo is the start of the mould/form. This is 12mm plywood, and I will be filling the 'spaces' with lime wood (lime is quite soft and easy to shape). This instrument will have a scale length of 680mm (a bit longer than the 'Gibson') which I hope will make the bottom 'C' string play better.

I am also planning to use carbon fiber as neck reinforcement, and also laminated into the belly bracing (a bit radical, this one - any comments welcome!).

Meanwhile, the fifth rib of the lute went on much more smoothly than the fourth one. I think it was a case of taking a bit more care!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The fourth rib of shame

Here is the fourth rib fitted to the lute. I am finding working with the yew much more tricky than the walnut I used for the bowl-back mandolin.  The grain is REALLY wavy, and this means that I can't use a plane to trim the edges of the ribs to fit them together - there is too much tear-out. Files and sandpaper are the only things that work. I have also found that the black stained veneer that I am using for the spacers is difficult to bend accurately.

So why the shame? Well, I tried to fit the fourth rib with conventional Titebond wood glue, using tacks to squeeze the joint together and rubber straps to hold the ribs flat, as I had done before and...disaster! Gaps everywhere, nothing stayed in place properly and there was glue all over the place. So in the end I took it off, cleaned up the mess, improved the fitting and used Zap-a-Gap cyanoacrylic glue to stick on rib number four. I did this by working in short sections and started by gluing the black spacer on, followed by the rib.

It looks fine now, after a pass or two with a cabinet scraper, but I don't think that this is a good way to proceed. I guess in the end, that it comes down to the mould - this needs to be perfect in order to get the ribs to join properly.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


I have had a first stab at turning pegs for the lute. It's only a practice run - the wood here is sycamore, rather than the pear wood that I will use in the end, and the peg is too large. But overall, not a bad first try!

When I come to the 'production run' I will probably make a jig for my lathe to follow a template in order to keep all thirteen the same size and shape.