My very first F5 mandolin

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Project by Tomy Hovington posted 03-16-2015 04:31 PM 3016 views 5 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This Mandolin was the moment in 2011 where I realized I wanted to push my woodworking passion a notch further.. I always love playing guitar and wanted to make a semi hollow body. After looking at how much this endeavour would cost me, and without knowing If I could pull it off, I decided to scale it down and make this f5 mandolin. This project has all the same features as a hollowbody would have, carved top and back, side bending, fretboard, binding, inlay… The major difference between the 2 is that the mandolin is a acoustic instrument and the hollow body is electric. I took it slow and made sure that when I had to leave it aside I did. (sometime…you just have to walk away).

I really love the Inlay work on the fretboard, My daugther had made a drawing of a flower cluster for art class, and I really like it. I ask her if I could use some part of her drawing to make this inlay. I took 3 of her flowers and then I spaced them and drew stems and leaves in between.

Top is sitka spruce,Maple back and side , ebony fretboard, and Mother of Pearl inlay.

It was so addictive that Ive made more f5 since and I also made a hollowbody.

-- Tomy Hovington

20 comments so far

View oltexasboy1's profile


257 posts in 2621 days

#1 posted 03-16-2015 04:42 PM

WOW That is as pretty as any Anderson or Kentuckian I have ever seen. How is the volume after it warms up.
I know my Martin sounds better after it has been played for a few minutes. Good work dude. I wish my old fingers could still play , I would love to have one them, just to say it is mine. Keep up the good work.

-- "The pursuit of perfection often yields excellence"

View PaulDoug's profile


2394 posts in 2620 days

#2 posted 03-16-2015 05:08 PM

That, sir is a beauty!! A little more advanced than my cigar box guitars!!!:)

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3404 days

#3 posted 03-16-2015 05:16 PM

Simply beautiful and elegant.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View a1Jim's profile


118144 posts in 4494 days

#4 posted 03-16-2015 05:25 PM

Amazing workmanship a true work of art,Beautiful.


View handsawgeek's profile


663 posts in 2312 days

#5 posted 03-16-2015 05:45 PM

That is one nice mando!!!!

-- Ed

View JustSomeGuy83's profile


15 posts in 2435 days

#6 posted 03-16-2015 07:24 PM

Very impressive!

-- -Excuse my work, it's my first day.

View Tomy Hovington's profile

Tomy Hovington

169 posts in 2104 days

#7 posted 03-16-2015 08:31 PM

Thanks everybody, It was a fun built and very rewarding…

oltexasboy1, The tone and volume sure has improved with time as it become easier for the soundboard to move.. But after making a few more I realized that it was possible to improved, so I openned up the F holes to change the voicing from a C4 to a D4. It’s also back in the shop for some improvement on the neck, The prints were showing a U shape and after having built both U and V shape neck I’m changing the shape of this one for a V.

I’m sorry your fingers don’t allow you to play anymore, I keep telling myself that I should take the time to learn it properly, but I spend all my spare time in the workshop…

Fell free to visit my website to see more mandolins..

-- Tomy Hovington

View Texcaster's profile


1293 posts in 2590 days

#8 posted 03-16-2015 08:49 PM

Top Job! Especially for a first instrument. I like your site as well.

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

View ColonelTravis's profile


1976 posts in 2811 days

#9 posted 03-16-2015 09:45 PM

holy poop!

View Chris Cook's profile

Chris Cook

336 posts in 3198 days

#10 posted 03-16-2015 10:47 PM


First, that is a magnificent bit of work against any standard. As a guitar player (played a little mandolin too) I think guitars and stringed instrument are the epitome of craftsmanship and, in some cases, technology!

As a woodworker, I have always wanted to build my own guitar. Granted, I have done the kit thing and even built a bass body last year that turned out pretty okay, but I would love to try my hand at an acoustic. Honestly, it looks like an amazing amount of skill and talent involved at every level. Can you suggest a good starting point or path? In my mind, I see that I would probably have to make about 2 dozen really bad guitars before I could get anything presentable.

Again, great work!!

-- Chris, "all we are is sawdust in the dust collector""

View Tomy Hovington's profile

Tomy Hovington

169 posts in 2104 days

#11 posted 03-16-2015 11:54 PM

Hey Chris Cook, thanks for your kind words…

For your question about a good starting point, mine was a lot of literature before I made any instruments or in this case my first acoustic guitar… then came the construction ( I wanted a dovetail joint at the neck) probably a woodworker thing, I couldn’t get myself to bolt it in… In any case, if you fell like you are ready I think you should go for it… I make every part of this project as their own, instead of the instrument itself… So when I make the rosette, its not the guitar rosette i’m making but “The rosette”. and I proceed this way for every part. Each part deserve your full attention.

There was one book I really liked, by Jonathan Kinkead, Build your own acoustic guitar. full size prints and options during the construction of power versus hand tools. ( I only use hand tools on my first build, they allow more control), I think…

The other thing is I do not get the cheapest material, even on the first built, because it keeps me more focus. That being said there is some wood that are easier to work with for bending for example… Indian rosewood is one of them and I’m working on a Myrtle wood acoustic right now…

and the sides were a breeze to bend. The smell of this wood is amazing too…

Hope this helps, feel free to message me if you have more questions…And good luck!

-- Tomy Hovington

View Chris Cook's profile

Chris Cook

336 posts in 3198 days

#12 posted 03-17-2015 12:22 AM

Awesome!! Thanks for your quick response. I may message you later. I am going to get that book, just looked at it on Amazon. Probably spend several months with that and noodle it over. I have to have a clear plan to-the-end all worked out in my head before I start something like this. Not a ‘how to’ plan, but more of a ‘can I really pull this off?’ plan.

thanks again!

-- Chris, "all we are is sawdust in the dust collector""

View Tomy Hovington's profile

Tomy Hovington

169 posts in 2104 days

#13 posted 03-17-2015 12:27 AM

No problem Chris, I’m happy for you… But be careful, it’s addictive. I would also suggest to read the whole book before you make any saw dust… that way you won’t get a surprise on the next chapter…

-- Tomy Hovington

View bobasaurus's profile


3707 posts in 4101 days

#14 posted 03-17-2015 07:01 AM

That is amazing work, great job. I like the inlay design and white border accents. Also, your Myrtle picture is incredible, I might need some of that wood.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View Ken90712's profile


17910 posts in 4105 days

#15 posted 03-17-2015 08:11 AM

WOW, A wok of art! Great job!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

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