Monday, August 24, 2009

Mandolin Post # 7 ITS DONE !!

Well the time has come my good friends , to talk of other things. Of many hours making parts for Mandolins with Strings !
The next few pics are all of the Mando finished and tuned.
I made a pearl pick guard from a sheet I purchased from Stewart MacDonald and since I didn't want it actually touching the top surface I purchase the smallest rubber O rings I could find and put 1 under each screw so the pick guard is approx 1/16" off the top surface.

You can see parts of the Label in the pic through the sound hole . It says " WudWerks Inc. Serial # 0001 Manuf Date 7-9-09"

The tail Piece and tuners are all Polished Brass With Pearl Knobs on the tuners . The Pick Guard is pearl. The Fret Dots are Pearl. The Bridge and Fret Board are Ebony . The sides neck and back are Hard Maple and the Top is Mahogany

Remember the tension rod in the neck. I covered it with a Mahogany wood block and set it with polished brass screws the same as the pick guard. I purchased a leather strap and it is complete.

I really hope you have enjoyed my small project as much as I have in making it.

Next post will be a Vid ( if I can figure it out ) with it being played so you can hear it.

Have great day everyone

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mandolin Post # 6 Some Assembly and Lacquer

I start this weeks post by stepping back a couple pictures to the top assembly. As you can see from the following Pic , the top is being glued down. However what I wanted to point out here is the head and tuner peg holes. I have laminated a face piece on the head approx 1/16" thick of Hard Maple wood .

The following picture shows the head being laminated around the sides with the Mahogany to match the stripes in the neck and the top. Notice the fine precision clamping mechanisms that are keeping everything aligned while the glue dries ? I tell ya nothing but the best for this WudWerker.

After that was glued and trimmed I finally was able to do some assembly I have screwed in the tail piece and the Tuning pegs in the head . I set the bridge in place and put strings on it. I wanted to see how well the sound was at this point before I started the Lacquer. If sanding was needed now is the time to do it. As you can see through the sound hole , one of my braces is visible ! ( mistake # ...... lost count )

The unit is tuned and checked for sound. I have spent a little extra and purchased the better quality tuning pegs and tail piece in a polished brass . The tuning keys have pearl knobs. Notice the location of the ebony bridge in relation to the sound hole . Remember I said earlier in a post the distance from the fret with the (2 ) pearl inlay dots to the nut ( bone piece at head ) is approx same distance from same fret to bridge .

The sound is actually quite good considering its my first attempt at a mandolin. I am rather happy at this point and quite relieved. Time for disassemble and Lacquer . The first pic is the back of the mandolin . The wood grain is quite beautiful and I am glad I found that particular piece.

I have taped off the fret board with 3m paper tape and have started spraying at this point . There are ( 9 ) coats of Lacquer on this mandolin , each sprayed , allowed dry time of 3 hrs , sanded lightly, and sprayed again, etc.... etc... 9 times

The top during spraying and below the neck . You can see the mahogany strips are showing quite nicely .

I hope you have found my project enjoyable . Next post I will show you the final assembled mandolin . Thank you for stopping by.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mandolin Post #5 Fret Board and Bridge Fitting

I begin this week with the " Fret Board" this is a strip of Ebony Wood . It is rectangular in shape and has to be cut to fit the Mandolin neck that was made. Better Luthiers will cut the fret slots personally. However since this is my First attempt. I chose to purchase a "pre-Cut" fret board. The Board Came to me Rectangular with the narrow slices for the wire frets already cut in place. The distances are extremely crucial to a good sound and I wasn't ready to tackle that aspect yet.

As you see in the pic below I have cut the fret board to length and shape . I put it on a solid piece of Oak wood and Hammered the Fret wires into place , This needs to be done with ( 1 ) blow of a Hard Plastic Mallet , excessive blows will bend the wire and then allot of sanding is required to fix them.
Each Fret wire is cut over sized and hammered into the pre-cut slots. Then they are trimmed to length. The fret wire has a tang that has teeth that will grab i the slots and hold. this is not and easy job. it took me a couple hours and several messed up frets to get it right.

In the Pic below I have drilled and glued in the pearl inlay dots I chose for my fret board. These are set in the center of the # 3 / 5 / 7 / 10 / 12 / 15 frets . You will notice the 12th fret has 2 dots . This is the octave fret. As you can see they are smaller than a pencil eraser and I drilled the holes with a 5/32" mill bit to get a flat bottom hole .

In the pic below I have fitted the fret board to the neck of my Mandolin and have it glued in place . To the left end you can see the access hole to open and tighten or loosen the tension rod nut if the neck needs adjusting. Yo will also notice that I have chosen to make this a flat top Mandolin , moving away from the basic shape of most Mandolins made today.

The below pic shows the Bridge that set at the back of the Mandolin and holds the string spacing properly. The distance from the " Nut" of the Mandolin ( the white bone glued in the neck at tension rod end, see last pic) to the 12th fret ( two dots ) is the same dimension as the 12th fret to the bridge . When I measured it out you will see that the bridge ended up being approx 1 inch from the sound hole.

What I am checking here is the height of the Bridge in relation to the Fret Board. I had to sand the bottom of my Bridge down quite a bit and modify the top so that i could get the desired height of my strings . This is called the " Action" and I will get into that more later. The desired height I am working for is approx .100 above the frets.

The below pic shows the unit glued together and standing in my shop. Remember when I said I had let the outer shell of the Mandolin take its natural shape prior to gluing back on. If you will look at the below pic and imagine a straight line down the center of the fret board to the tail piece . You will notice the tail piece has mover and the detail is not on center . I thought it gave it a little more personality.

In the next pic I have made the tension rod cover from the Mahogany left over from the top and am using it to hold the "Nut" in place while it glues. The height of the nut is determined by the fret wire height, so the distance the fret stands above the board + .015 " for String action + approx .030 " for a string grove will give you nut height. This is crucial and required a set of thickness gauges to get set properly.

well that ends this post of the Mandolin Project . I hope you have enjoyed reading and following my little project . Have a great week and stop by again.
Feel free to leave comments , I would love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Mandolin Post # 4 Tone Bars

As we get into post # 4 we are applying the back to the Mandolin outside shell . Remember I said I let the Tension off the unit a bit and allowed it to find its natural shape . You will see that come to the fore later in another post. Below I have cut the back slightly larger than the outer shape and am gluing it in .

If you look closely you can see the notched "Kerfing " that helps to have glue area needed to keep the Mandolin together . The thickness of the back should be no greater than .125" thick . Actually a bit thinner , around .105 is desired at finish for better sound.

Also you can see in the above pic that I have cut the headstock to receive the "Tang" from the neck to create a solid joint. The back is solid an the tang sits down and is glued to the back as well as the insides to make a solid joint.

The Picture below shows the placing of the supports across the back of the Mandolin. I used Spruce , its light and strong and recommended for this area. as you can see the supports are feathered out towards the end. This helps reduce mass and weight , and since you have " Kerfing at the edges it isn't required that the be full thickness.

I place 3 across , and learned that two would have been enough probably . Oh well next time.

The Pic Below shows the placement of the " Tone Bars " this is not a complete pic . After the pic was taken I added another cross bar , the short one approx 3/4" from the sound hole and I scalloped the long ones between those shorter cross pieces so that it reduced mass and added strength and tone. The more material taken out will change the sound of the face as its done.

Again the shape is cut slightly larger than the outer ring and this allows for the best gluing and the remainder can be sanded flush at a later time

Below You can see I have glued the neck into place . Why I didn't get pics of that I Cant remember . I really thought I did. Anyway The tang was glued in and then I drilled 2 holes on either side about 1" deep so that half the hole was in the tang and half in the headstock . I then glued a dowel into that hole , this helps lock the neck into place . Works like a square key on a motor shaft. sorry I really thought I had pics of that.

You can see the top being glued in and the neck set . If you look closely you will see the Hard Maple strip in the neck I glued in to cover the Tension Rod.
The Next Post will show the Fret Board as well as the basic Glued Mandolin.
Thank You for stopping by and looking at my little project.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mandolin Post 3 and Wood Bending 101

Well its time for post 3 on my Mandolin Project . I ended the last post with a contraption I had assembled and asked for guesses as to what it was for. Sadly I got no response . The unit was made to bend Hard Maple wood. If you look closely at the picture there is a Torch pointed into the pipe . The pipe bent on an angle in the vise and the vise mounted solidly to a table.

This was the part that scared me the most and turned out to be the most fun. I cut my Hard Maple sides to the approx size I wanted ( slightly over Size) Then I put them in a PVC Tube I have glued an end on and filled it with water , closed the top so that the wood was completely submerged for a day .

The wood has to be quite soaked. I then took the individual pieces out and fired up the torch , as the pipe got hot , I rolled the wood pieces back and forth over the pipe applying SLIGHT PRESSURE.

This is the hardest part, as the wood begins to steam , I lifted it up and continued spraying the back of the wood with water to keep it wet . It started getting ply able and the first reaction is to press harder BAD MOVE . IT WILL BREAK ! I went through 5 pieces to get 3 Bent as I needed.

After an experiment , and a broke piece , my first part was ready for the mold. As you can see I have made a Plywood Mold from my pattern I showed in post 1. Clamp the part in place and let it set for 24 hours . As the wood drys out it will retain what ever shape you have it molded into .
I strongly recommend the plastic footed claps as you see below , the Quick Grip Type . The others will leave marks that are very hard to sand out , as I discovered the hard way .

After the bending and shaping was done I moved to an Internal Mold as shown below to fit the parts together . I have said they will hold their shape, that's true to about 98% there is slight movement or was on my unit. As you can see I have also put the Tail Piece and Head Piece in to fit the sides to here

These parts are being Glued into place in this Jig at this point , so that when its done you have the outer ring made up of the 1/8" side parts as well as the Tail Piece and Head Stock.

After the Sides and Ends have been glued together I started Gluing the " Kerfing " into place . This material is slotted to bend to the shape your making nicely and is glued in a approximately 1/64" below the surface of the edges . I did this on purpose so that after I had the unit Glued up , I could run it through my Sander and make sure it was Level and flat prior to working on the back.

I suspect most will have the unit in the Jigs until the back is glued in place . I however chose to allow the sides to expand and move to the exact figure that the bends took them to and then applied it to the back. This was a choice I made to let any stress that had been created from the above gluing to be relieved . Good / Bad I don't know , however it did seem to work

If you are going to allow the stress to relieve as I did DO NOT notch the head piece prior to this because then the alignment may be slightly off. It does make the notching a bit harder , however I felt the possibility of relieving as much stress as possible was good on my first attempt.

The Next post will involve shaping and gluing the back and internal supports

Thank You for stopping by and following my little project