Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: building a cigar box mandolin

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    22

    Default building a cigar box mandolin

    Hello, members of the mandolin cafe forum community. This is my second time posting on this forum, so I suppose I'll start with a bit of an introduction. My real name is Pierre, but you can just call me "pie", or "le chef", they're my nicknames, and I live in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Currently I'm 19 years old, and I play bass and ukulele as my main instruments, but can also do some stuff with a drum set, piano, and I'm trying to learn mandolin and harmonica. I play mostly rock styles of music - prog. rock, black metal, punk, psychobilly, ska/punk etc..., but I'm starting to get into some folk stuff. I've been lurking these forums for a while now. I'm just a little bit of a beer geek and borderline beer snob. I've got a bit of history building instruments, my first being a saga strat kit. I've quickly moved on from that to making cigar box ukuleles from scratch - it all started in high school shop class, when I thought making a ukulele was an awesome idea. It was, and now I'm approaching completion of my 5th cigar box uke. I'm also inspired by my family's history of woodworking - we've got furniture made by my forefathers that are approaching a hundred years old, and the furniture of the church I was baptized in was made by my various forefathers as well (I'm not turning this into religious discussion, as far as I'm concerned it's not what you believe but how you believe it).

    TL;DR - I'm new here, you can call me "pie" or "Le Chef"

    Anyways, I'm going to be building a cigar box mandolin as my first mandolin. I'm going to be making a mando. for a friend out of an IV kit, so I'll use it for some dimensions like the graduation of the soundboard, and the scale length and neck dimensions. I've got a punch cigar box, made with "mahogany" ply measuring 9"x7"x1.75". Since I have a fetish for oak, I'm going to remove both the top and bottom and replace them with quartersawn curly oak (or just quartersawn oak if I can't find it) for the back, and a spruce billet from Stewmac.com for the soundboard. The neck will either be maple or birch (possibly with wenge or purpleheart lamination) and the fretboard will be purpleheart. I've got a basic shop with very little bench space, as well as only some experience, so don't expect this to turn out to be like one of the vintage gibsons or martins.

    I'm going to be posting pictures of the progress as soon as I start, and this is going to take a while - I'm in two bands and working full time this summer, as well as having a girlfriend, so I can't devote ten hours a day to this. I'm also wondering - how is it that most people "graduate" the arches on their mandolins? I'm hoping to make some "stencils" for the graduation and route them out and then sand or plane it down to an arched shape and a thickness of between 1/10" and 1/8".

    TL;DR - I'm making a cigar box mandolin, stay tuned for pictures.

  2. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    21,406

    Default Re: building a cigar box mandolin

    Welcome Pie! I am sure many of us would be interested in the progress you make on this. You can also get some info on cigar box and cookie tin instruments on this site forum.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook

    Playing lately:
    Ca. 1923 Washburn (L&H) Pro A -- Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- 1904 Embergher Type 3 -- 1937 Gibson L-Century -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo

  3. #3
    Café habitué Paul Hostetter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Santa Cruz, California
    Posts
    6,102

    Default Re: building a cigar box mandolin

    Bear in mind that the sheer tension of the strings on a mandolin is many times greater than any ukulele. I think it's possible to beef up a cigar box, but there's no basic joinery in a typical cigar box that's up to the task of eight strings. You may end up with a replica of a cigar box as the body.
    .
    ph

    º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º
    Paul Hostetter, luthier
    Santa Cruz, California
    www.lutherie.net

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: building a cigar box mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Hostetter View Post
    Bear in mind that the sheer tension of the strings on a mandolin is many times greater than any ukulele. I think it's possible to beef up a cigar box, but there's no basic joinery in a typical cigar box that's up to the task of eight strings. You may end up with a replica of a cigar box as the body.
    yeah I kinda figured, I'm going to be heavily reinforcing the corners and the soundboard, particularly at the corners and the edges between the soundboard/back and the sides. I also forgot to mention that I'm going to be reinforcing the neck with steel. I'm actually not quite sure how much to reinforce the sides. I'm probably going to have to reinforce the sides with plywood, but the neck will be dovetailed on.

  5. #5
    Registered User billkilpatrick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    europe
    Posts
    4,774

    Default Re: building a cigar box mandolin

    pieman - i've been this route - please buy yourself the mandolin you can afford (made by people who really know what they're doing) and improve accordingly. yes.

  6. #6

    Default Re: building a cigar box mandolin

    I would suggest giving some consideration to doing a neck through like you would for a cookie tin. That would help alleviate the problems of too much string tension on the box.
    Here is a photo of a cigar box mandolin built by Bill Bussmann (Old Wave Mandolins).
    He and Julian Barton built a few inexpensive instruments a few years ago and posted to a thread at mimf.com.
    You can join the forum over there for free and search for Bussmann and find the thread pretty quickly.
    Bill Snyder
    Vintage Tools, etc

  7. #7
    '`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`' Jacob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Posts
    736

    Default Re: building a cigar box mandolin


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •