Mandolin build #6: Mistake made

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Blog entry by BJODay posted 02-20-2016 07:31 PM 1406 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Carefully carving the sound board Part 6 of Mandolin build series no next part

There has been a long dry spell. I’ve been busy with the holidays and work. So over the last two weeks I’ve been getting some time to get back to the project.

Things were going well. I was sanding down to the depth gauge holes. I had a problem when I checked the curve against the profile guide.

So I made a frame and bolted a dial indicator to it so I can accurately measure the thickness. I found that I am too thin in the transition from the highest area to the slope down to the tailpiece. I could still see the remnants of the depth gauge holes I drilled. I must have drilled too deep.

I was careful in setting up the drill press but it is definitely off. I made a step gauge for setting the drilling depth. I checked the measurements, they are correct. Maybe the adjustable stop on the drill press moved. Maybe I wasn’t holding the piece flat against the drill press table as I drilled.

I’m not going to use this piece. The problem area is where the bridge will be positioned and I don’t want to try and force it to work. So I ordered some new blanks and will start again.

I will continue working the original piece for the practice of shaping the inside. I’m not afraid of screwing up. I just want to figure out how I screwed up so I don’t repeat the error again.

5 comments so far

View bearkatwood's profile


1835 posts in 2165 days

#1 posted 02-20-2016 11:47 PM

That looks like a very useful jig.

-- Brian Noel

View Texcaster's profile


1293 posts in 2827 days

#2 posted 02-20-2016 11:55 PM

It looks like the bridge will not sit as high and the string tension will be less. It looks like there is still enough arch to be strong. Personally,I would just continue on and graduate the inside as per the specs and your ear. I think when you get strings on it you’ll say something like …...” NOT BAD!”

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View English's profile


692 posts in 2630 days

#3 posted 02-21-2016 02:36 AM

This is what I love about this site, everyone is willing to show there mistakes so all of us can learn from it. Thanks. Lessons learned the hard way are the best ones.

-- John, Suffolk Virgina

View Texcaster's profile


1293 posts in 2827 days

#4 posted 02-22-2016 12:20 AM

BJ, this is my first attempt in 2001 at anything, acoustic or electric. As you can see the main arch ain’t like it should be. I got the neck angle wrong, so the bridge is 24 mm high and the body outline is more like a Fender Jazz Bass than a mandolin. In my defense, I started out copying a real cheapie and only bought the Siminoff book towards the end.

The upshot is it sounds and plays fine. It has been lent out to three beginners and my wife plays it once in a while.

A later mando, I like a vintage look.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View BJODay's profile


528 posts in 3096 days

#5 posted 02-22-2016 01:15 AM


Thanks for the advice and pics. I will continue to work the original piece. I will also glue up the back-up billets in case I feel the original is too far off from the plans. It will take the pressure off hollowing out the inside of the sound board. I can work at a comfortable pace knowing I can screw it up w/o consequences.

If I use the original, I’ll have to make a second mandolin because I already have the lumber, right?


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