Chris Devine's Mandolin Project



The "Hand carving" of the top is one of the enjoyable tasks of this build.

And I have all the curly wood shavings too. (Although, I found out they also work great for starting the charcoal for cookouts!)

On to the Neck.. I sliced a thin veneer and then the blank in half in order to accommodate layers of Brazilian cherry for the neck laminate. It is widely known that these sandwiched layers add stability and strength to the neck assembly.

With the laminates in place, I cut the extra from behind the neck to be later used to add the width (wings) to the head stock. This way, the wood will match and you would never know it was several pieces of wood making up the head stock.


About the Back.. Originally, I was thinking I'd make a flat back. This would have been the simplest solution but maybe not a good match for the arched top. My intuition tells me that a semi vaulted back (similar to an arch back) may work better with the arched top sonically, and also provide more stability to the instrument. But, we will see how it goes as I get into it..
By the way, these are book matched strips of quilted, birds-eye maple with alternating strips of Bubinga (African Rosewood). It should look killer under finish!

I pre-bend each strip starting with the middle with heat and water, then glued and clamped them edge to edge until I had the whole back valt shape.

I found I had to sand the edges a bit so they joined cleanly .


Here is the Valt back, trimmed and rough sanded ready to be fine tuned to maximize its sonic potencial.
By the way, I did bring this as a "show and tell" item to the last New England Luthiers Group meeting and the general consensus was that this vault-back should work every bit as good as a carved arch-back plate. It would seem that my intuition is working in my favor, so far.
Although, I still have to "fit" this turtle shell shaped back to a rim, and that could be a challenge.

On side bending. The curly maple is a tough wood to bend as it wants to crack at every curl. I desided It was best to build a mold to help hold the sides into the intended design shape.

Bending the sides with heat and water, I match them up to a drawn outline, trim, and then they go into the mold.

It was necessary to add a few clamps and shims at odd angles to get the front block to sit right.

Cutting a wedge opening for the tail graft.

The tail graft is in.

Gluing liners to the top rim.

After the braces are carved and tuned, the top and sides are finally glued.

A curved and trimed fret wire ready to install.

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