Putting it all Together: The Body

The Big Glue Up

AddThis was the most stressful glue up of the project. I used every clamp I had that was small enough. The spool clamps where made with long 1/4 inch bolts and toy wheels from a craft store. I glued both the top and back of the mandolin at the same time. This assured that everything would fit together, but it also made the job a bit tougher. There's a lot to line up between the three pieces.

Shaping the Fretboard

Add AddWhile the body dried, I cut out the fretboard on the band saw. The fretboard started as a blank with precut fret slots. I used the belt sander (not running) to smooth and straighten the sides. I made the fretboard as accurate to the template as possible so the neck and body could be carved using the fretboard as a guide. To attach the fretboard, I drilled small holes through two of the fret slots where they would later be covered by fret. I used thin copper wire to align and attach the fretboard to the neck for carving.

Carving Everything Flush

AddI used a rasp and file to carve down the overhanging edges. At this point, it was finally time to carve the neck flush with the fretboard, carve the transition to the peghead, complete the final carving of the heel and carve the transition from the neck to the sides. The base of the neck was the trickiest as far as carving. Matching the sides to the sides of the neck was difficult as far as keeping everthing straight and even while not carving the parts that don't need carving.

Installing the Tuners

AddI really like these tuners from Grover. They are very smooth and small enough to work well with a mandolin's size.They aren't excessively costly either, which is always a plus. I got them from International Luthier Supply, which sells them in sets of eight for mandolins, even though Grover sells them as mini guitar machines in sets of six.

The Tailpiece

AddWith everything carved flush, I could drill the holes for the tailpiece system I came up with. I really put this step off as long as I could. I spent a couple of days just coming up with other designs for the tailpiece so I could put-off/ avoid drilling into my newly minted body.


Add AddThe body, ready for finishing.

Next... finishing the mandolin.