Joining the Neck to the Body
If there was one defining moment in the assembly of this mandolin, it would be on the day of joining the neck to the body. To get to that day, the dovetail had been carved and made ready for a permanent fit to the body. Once the finished dovetail is glued and pressed into the head block, there is no simple reversal. The head block fillet and the fretboard support (shown below) were then carved and glued in place. So few words to describe more than a few hours of tediously satisfying attention to matching contours and surfaces.
The inlays that I am referring to here are rosewood bindings at the points and the tail of the instrument. Both sides of both points have strips of rosewood mitered into (and connecting) the bindings. The tail, likewise, has a mitered strip connecting the bindings, top to back. With the right incentives and abilities some could show tasteful, artistic style at these points of inlay interest and/or dis-interest. Woody's are wood.
Set-up was unique for each inlay, so it took one complete day for each...fixture set up, caul, clamp and glue, then wait 24 hours and do it again. Below is pictured a set up for holding the mandolin upside down to cut, glue and finish the tail inlay. Also pictured are the rosewood points.
Final Assembly (almost)
Woody has been 5 months building this mandolin and will probably have it around the shop for another month dealing with the finish and final set up. There were many significant moments in February and I will try to relate the most interesting ones here. Carbon-Fiber trusses; Joining the neck to the body; Connecting the bindings; etc.
There is a good chance that this mandolin will soon live in a much damper environment than Richmond, VA. The owner is thinking of moving to the Oregon coast and I have been concerned that the neck might move given the nearly constant high humidity. So, in addition to the truss rod mentioned last month, Woody decided to rout the neck for two carbon-fiber stiffeners on either side of the truss rod. (Carbon fiber has 90% the strength of steel at 10% the weight) This neck will be rigid. That's a good thing. A rigid neck not only helps maintain a proper set up, but also helps the instrument sustain tones longer and clearer. The more rigid the neck, the more energy it reflects back into the string when stopped on a fret.
Work at Woody Strings was intense at times in February... a lot of details to finish the assembly and set up the mandolin. Now things slow down with the mandolin essentially finished except for lacquer applications which require time between coats and time to cure before final hardware set up.
Below are some pics from the month of February. Final Assembly, Neck Reinforcement and Inlays are some of the topics covered this month.