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 Post subject: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:27 pm 
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First name: George
City: Seattle
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Status: Amateur
My participation in the 2012 challenge will lead me in a new direction. My goal is to build a simple mandolin based on the plans for the "Campfire" kit sold by Stew-Mac. I have some extra spruce materials from guitar projects that I will use to make the soundboard, braces and kerfed linings. I'm hoping to use walnut scraps leftover from a recent kitchen remodel to make the internal blocks and neck, and maybe even the back and sides. I'm not sure about the fingerboard. Perhaps I can make the walnut work for that too. Time will tell.

I've never built a mandolin before--in fact, I've never even played one! However, I've always thought it would be a cool instrument to noodle around on and this seems like the perfect opportunity to give it a shot. I'll post a few pics as I make my way through the building process.

Have fun everyone!

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George :-)


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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:37 am 
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First name: Big
Last Name: Jim
State: Deep in the heart of Bluegrass
Country: usa
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Mando's are fun little instruments to build . you will enjoy this im sure

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The Shallower the depth of the stream , The Louder the Babble !
The Taking Of Offense Is the Life Course Of The Stupid One !
Wanna Leave a Better Planet for our Kids? How about Working on BETTER KIDS for our Planet !
Forgiveness is the ability to accept an apology that you will probably NEVER GET
The truth will set you free , But FIRST, it will probably Piss you Off !
Creativity is allowing yourself to make Mistakes, Art is knowing which ones to Keep !
The Saddest thing anyone can do , is push a Loyal Person to the point that they Dont Care Anymore
Never met a STRONG person who had an EASY past !
http://wiksnwudwerks.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/groups/GatewayA ... rAssembly/


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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:29 pm 
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First name: George
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It's going to take a minor miracle for me to get this project completed before our deadline, so I'm jumping in with both feet. After building a couple of guitars I've discovered that the only way for me to learn is to actually complete a task and see if it works--or not. I can read and study pictures until I'm dizzy, but until I take the plunge and try something, I can't fully grasp exactly what it is I'm supposed to be doing. This tends to result in my having to go back and repeat things, but I guess that's just the way this hobby is going to be for me.

Anyway, in the spirit of the financial and geographical constraints of this competition, I dug through my pile of wood scraps and pulled out a chunk of an old maple butcher block that my wife once dragged home from a local thrift store and some walnut cutoffs from our recent kitchen remodel. Total value so far is probably about a buck.

George :-)

Here's a pic of the the neck and tail block blanks that I cut from the maple butcher block scrap:
Attachment:
maple_blanks.jpg

Here I'm starting on the neck blank by laminating some walnut scraps:
Attachment:
neck_clamped.JPG

I've never done this bit before, so after scratching my head a while I cut a scarf joint to make the 15 degree headstock angle:
Attachment:
scarf_joint_clamped.JPG

Now I have a basic walnut neck blank that I think is ready for shaping, routing, wings, etc.:
Attachment:
neck blank.JPG


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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:37 pm 
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Looks Like a great start to me George

_________________
The Shallower the depth of the stream , The Louder the Babble !
The Taking Of Offense Is the Life Course Of The Stupid One !
Wanna Leave a Better Planet for our Kids? How about Working on BETTER KIDS for our Planet !
Forgiveness is the ability to accept an apology that you will probably NEVER GET
The truth will set you free , But FIRST, it will probably Piss you Off !
Creativity is allowing yourself to make Mistakes, Art is knowing which ones to Keep !
The Saddest thing anyone can do , is push a Loyal Person to the point that they Dont Care Anymore
Never met a STRONG person who had an EASY past !
http://wiksnwudwerks.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/groups/GatewayA ... rAssembly/


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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 6:45 pm 
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First name: George
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Managed to find the time earlier this week to glue the wings on my neck blank and started working on roughing out the shape. I don't have a bandsaw so I went after it with chisels, a rasp, and sandpaper. It was fun, but my arms are a bit tired. I don't think I'd want to do it this way with a guitar neck. :-) Today I finessed the shape and I think it turned out pretty well. So now I'll set that aside and move on to another part of the project. I ordered orphaned back and side materials from Bob and Peter at RC Tonewoods and those should be arriving in a couple of days.

George :-)

Here's the neck, almost ready for headplates:
Attachment:
neck_final_ruff.jpg


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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:51 pm 
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First name: George
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My day job is keeping me pretty busy right now, which is cutting into my fun time. But I'm not complaining!

Originally I thought I might be able to make my back and sides from scrap walnut I have here, but that's not going to work. New plan! I surfed over to RC Tonewoods and picked up some orphaned back and side pieces and an oversized uke set. (Thanks Bob and Peter!) Not sure which I'll use on the mandolin. Either way it will add about $25 to my total cost.

Jointed and glued the curly maple uke set last night. It's just large enough for the mandolin. Hmm... I think this would look pretty cool.

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:36 am 
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First name: George
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Even though I had to work a few hours on Saturday and wasted Sunday afternoon watching the Superbowl my mandolin project took some major steps forward this weekend.

George :-)

Broke out my fancy side bending unit...

Image

Pretty simple to bend this shape, although the maple was surprisingly stout. Probably could have gone a but thinner. Live and learn...

Image

Affixed the linings...

Image

Back brace is on...

Image

Started with the top braces...

Image

Even made a walnut fingerboard (and some binding strips) out of more of my scrap...

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:09 am 
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First name: Big
Last Name: Jim
State: Deep in the heart of Bluegrass
Country: usa
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Status: Amateur
Its looking great George , Looking forwward to seeing more. [:Y:]

_________________
The Shallower the depth of the stream , The Louder the Babble !
The Taking Of Offense Is the Life Course Of The Stupid One !
Wanna Leave a Better Planet for our Kids? How about Working on BETTER KIDS for our Planet !
Forgiveness is the ability to accept an apology that you will probably NEVER GET
The truth will set you free , But FIRST, it will probably Piss you Off !
Creativity is allowing yourself to make Mistakes, Art is knowing which ones to Keep !
The Saddest thing anyone can do , is push a Loyal Person to the point that they Dont Care Anymore
Never met a STRONG person who had an EASY past !
http://wiksnwudwerks.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/groups/GatewayA ... rAssembly/


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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:24 pm 
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First name: George
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I've been busy working away on nights and weekends, making steady progress on my little mandolin. I managed to get the body closed up and the headstock veneers in place... then I screwed up. Dang it! Got lazy and didn't clamp the workpiece properly before drilling the tuning peg holes. First hole went fine. Second hole went fine. The third? Not so fine. All that effort building and shaping the neck ruined in a split second and my cool bookmatched curly maple headplate, too! Why do I do these things to myself? Now I have to go back and make a new neck. Well, every mistake is an opportunity to learn. The good news is that I have plenty of scrap walnut and maple laying around, so it won't cost my anything more than my time. All in all, things are coming along nicely.

George :-)

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 6:30 pm 
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First name: Trevor
Last Name: Gore
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That's unfortunate George, but not beyond saving. There will probably be a few more ideas coming up from the other guys, but here's one:

Drill out oversize with a forstner bit, plug the hole, re-drill. The tuners may cover the plug, if not, before you re-drill, plane off the peg head veneer and re-do, and maybe a thin veneer on the back of the headstock. Whether that's a time saver depends on how much of that sort of stuff you've done before and whether you have the tools; but it will deepen the experience set!

Looking good, though!

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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 7:22 pm 
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Thanks, Trevor! Actually, just last night I decided I might be able to salvage the neck in a manner as you described. I figured I had nothing to lose in trying, so I dove in today. I'm relieved and happy to say that I think it's going to be okay. Looks like the tear out in the front veneer will be covered by the tuner bushing. So, after a bit of hand wringing, a fair dose of self-criticism and some creative thinking, we're back on track!

Thanks again,

George :-)

P.S. I laid everything out and snapped a few pics after making the headstock fix. I'm planning on walnut binding with thin b/w purfling. I've never made a mandolin before--never even played one--but I'm really enjoying this project. Thanks for spurring us all on, Wud! Great idea.

Image

Image

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:36 am 
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Looks great to me , if you never tell anyone there was a tear out it will never be seen . I like the build so far and am looking forward to seeing more . great work [:Y:]

_________________
The Shallower the depth of the stream , The Louder the Babble !
The Taking Of Offense Is the Life Course Of The Stupid One !
Wanna Leave a Better Planet for our Kids? How about Working on BETTER KIDS for our Planet !
Forgiveness is the ability to accept an apology that you will probably NEVER GET
The truth will set you free , But FIRST, it will probably Piss you Off !
Creativity is allowing yourself to make Mistakes, Art is knowing which ones to Keep !
The Saddest thing anyone can do , is push a Loyal Person to the point that they Dont Care Anymore
Never met a STRONG person who had an EASY past !
http://wiksnwudwerks.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/groups/GatewayA ... rAssembly/


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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:43 am 
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First name: George
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Looks like I'm going to be pretty busy with work for the foreseeable future, so I stayed focused on the mandolin project today. It was time to create the channels for my binding and purfling. Like many amateurs, I hate this part.

So today I decided to forgo the noise, cold sweats, and clenched-jaw terror of routing the channels. Instead, I used my LMI gramil. It took me a while, but it was a very pleasant experience and the end results are better than any that I've achieved to date with my pathetically low-tech router setup.

An added bonus was the bluegrass and Celtic music that I enjoyed while working. I pre-bent my binding and purfling as well, and hope to have time one night this week to glue those in place.

George :-)

Image

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:41 pm 
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First name: George
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I managed to get into my workroom a couple of nights this week and my mandolin is moving right along. I really like the way my LMI gramil cut the binding and purfling channels. This is the best result I've had yet. Of course, I've only made four guitars prior to this, so I'm not exactly an expert.

At this point I think I have about $35.00 into this project. The funny thing is, I'd be just as happy if the total was 10X that amount. I'm very pleased with how things are looking so far and pretty darned proud of the mitered corners on my end graft.
bliss
It's the little things in life, right?

George

Image

Image

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:53 am 
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Location: chicagoland, illinois
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very nice....what is the top thickness? it appears very thick from the photos
cheers


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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:23 am 
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Location: LaCrosse WI
First name: Jason
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Zip/Postal Code: 54601
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Focus: Build
Status: Semi-pro
George, i'm totally impressed. What a nice mando. Very clean work for a beginner. Just a couple things that might help you along. Your sides were to thick, just like you thought. By the way it looks, you could have gone down by 50%. Good thing it was an easy shape to bend. The top too is a little thick. At least this mando should last forever! Nice job using hand tools. Using them gives you a feel for the wood. You did a heck of a job on the binding using a gramil. You got some nice wood from RC tonewoods too. I love their woods. Bob Cefalu has treated me well in the past. I can't wait to see what you come up with next. Nice job! Jason

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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:44 am 
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First name: George
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Thanks guys. Yes, it is indeed a stout instrument. I have no idea how it's going to sound, but I think it will be tough enough to play around any campfire. :-) The strength of the curly maple continues to surprise me. Before this I'd only worked with mahogany, East Indian rosewood and spruce. Compared to those woods this stuff feels like steel. I actually love it as I can go about my work without undue fears of causing dings and scratches.

The back and sides are .140. Does that seem way too thick for a mandolin? I searched the Interwebs for comparable measurements and thought that was a reasonable starting point. I was a bit overzealous while scraping and sanding on my last guitar, which probably made me gun shy. I can't imagine taking things down by 50%, but I'll be the first to concede total ignorance in this area.

The top is .120. Again, too thick? I don't know. The plans I'm following call for a cross-grain soundhole patch, so that may be making the top appear extra thick in the photos. Quite a while ago I bought a stack of seconds to practice my plate jointing and made up a bunch of tops. This was the floppiest of the bunch and at full size it wobbled in my hands like a rubber band. I would never have the nerve to use it on a guitar, but I thought it might do on a small instrument like this mandolin. Again, lacking any personal experience, I started with a number that seemed reasonable and am hoping for the best.

One interesting observation is that the top is exhibiting a significant increase in resonance (or vibration, or tone, or whatever you want to call it) since I cut the binding and purfling channels. Gluing things back in place brought some rigidity back, of course, but the box definitely feels looser and has a more musical sound to it than it did before. This is far more pronounced in the mandolin than I have noticed in any of my guitars.

Whatever happens this is really quite an interesting project. I'm working far faster than I ever have before and am finally starting to face the various steps in the instrument making process with a greater degree of confidence, which is a nice feeling.

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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:07 am 
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Most of my " Hybrid Mandos" are .90 sides and back " Approx" and a top of .110 or slightly less . The telling factor will be the sound . If its got the tone quality you want and like , it really doesnt matter if its .140 or .5 thick as long as it works for you. [:Y:]

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The Shallower the depth of the stream , The Louder the Babble !
The Taking Of Offense Is the Life Course Of The Stupid One !
Wanna Leave a Better Planet for our Kids? How about Working on BETTER KIDS for our Planet !
Forgiveness is the ability to accept an apology that you will probably NEVER GET
The truth will set you free , But FIRST, it will probably Piss you Off !
Creativity is allowing yourself to make Mistakes, Art is knowing which ones to Keep !
The Saddest thing anyone can do , is push a Loyal Person to the point that they Dont Care Anymore
Never met a STRONG person who had an EASY past !
http://wiksnwudwerks.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/groups/GatewayA ... rAssembly/


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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:27 am 
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Hmm... looks like I planned my top okay, as I fully expected to remove some material prepping for the finish. But it seems my back and sides are indeed way too thick. I figured I'd scrape and sand them fairly significantly as well, but not that much. Well, I guess I'll just give my scrapers a good edge and see if I can't thin things down a bit. :-) I won't mind standing over that lovely maple for a while. The pic below shows it off with a little naphtha applied.

Thanks for the feedback and comments!

George :-)

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:46 am 
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Leave the sides as they are and after / or before the challenge is doen you have a great thickness for some sweet carving around the sides ! [:Y:]

_________________
The Shallower the depth of the stream , The Louder the Babble !
The Taking Of Offense Is the Life Course Of The Stupid One !
Wanna Leave a Better Planet for our Kids? How about Working on BETTER KIDS for our Planet !
Forgiveness is the ability to accept an apology that you will probably NEVER GET
The truth will set you free , But FIRST, it will probably Piss you Off !
Creativity is allowing yourself to make Mistakes, Art is knowing which ones to Keep !
The Saddest thing anyone can do , is push a Loyal Person to the point that they Dont Care Anymore
Never met a STRONG person who had an EASY past !
http://wiksnwudwerks.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/groups/GatewayA ... rAssembly/


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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:36 pm 
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First name: Patrick
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Hey, George, that's a pretty little thing! Very tasteful!

Patrick


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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 11:11 am 
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Thanks, Patrick! I picked up the curly maple from Bob and Peter at RC Tonewoods and it's really great looking wood. My original plan was to cobble the mandolin together with random scrap pieces, which may have resulted in a nice looking quilt-like effect--or not. :-) I'm glad I decided to go this route as I think this is going to end up being a more traditionally handsome instrument. Peter found me some nice cherry as well and I can't wait to start making something with those pieces!

Thanks again,

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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 1:26 pm 
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I've been really busy with work, which has been slowing my progress on the mandolin project. I did find time to mess up the edges of the neck joint, which required some creative thinking as to how I might turn a mistake into an opportunity. I decided to use a cosmetic fix to cover the slightly inelegant fit where the shoulders of the neck meet the sides. The picture below shows what I devised. Actually, I like how this adds a bit of style to what is otherwise a pretty spartan looking instrument. You can't see it here, but it compliments the front and back headplate veneers rather nicely. I've started wiping on varnish, so I'm in the home stretch! Hopefully it will make music and not end up being a wooden box with a long handle.

George :-)

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 3:13 pm 
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I Like it ! [:Y:] Shoulda just posted your " Idea " and not told us it was covering anything laughing6-hehe Great work .

_________________
The Shallower the depth of the stream , The Louder the Babble !
The Taking Of Offense Is the Life Course Of The Stupid One !
Wanna Leave a Better Planet for our Kids? How about Working on BETTER KIDS for our Planet !
Forgiveness is the ability to accept an apology that you will probably NEVER GET
The truth will set you free , But FIRST, it will probably Piss you Off !
Creativity is allowing yourself to make Mistakes, Art is knowing which ones to Keep !
The Saddest thing anyone can do , is push a Loyal Person to the point that they Dont Care Anymore
Never met a STRONG person who had an EASY past !
http://wiksnwudwerks.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/groups/GatewayA ... rAssembly/


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 Post subject: Re: Campfire Mandolin
PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 11:35 am 
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Okay, my mandolin is done! Considering I've yet to complete a guitar in less than a year's time, this is no small feat. :-)

I've never played a mandolin before, so can't honestly say how this one turned out, but I've been having fun plinking away on it and trying to learn a few chords. My wife says it sounds "pretty." I don't expect it to compare favorably with more refined instruments, but I think it will be a hit around the campfire. I'm going to try and get together with a mandolin player friend of mine and make a short video. I'm really busy with work right now, so I might not be able to make that happen. Could be tough as he lives on an island. We'll see.

This was a super fun project and I really want to thank you for making this happen, Wud. Awesome idea!

Here's my cocktail napkin cost calculations:

Top wood: $10 (scrap from second grade tops purchased for jointing practice)
Back, sides & headplate: $25
Neck, fretboard, bridge, bindings: $0 (scrap walnut from kitchen remodel)
Purfling, rosette: $5 (scrap pieces from previous guitar projects)
Barrel bolt for neck joint: $2
Tuners: $20 (Stew-Mac economy style)
Tailpiece: $13 (Stew-Mac)
Strings: $7 (GHS)
Varnish: $2 (portion of a small can from ACE Hardware)

Total: $84.00

George :-)

And here's what it looks like strung up:

Image


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