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Thread: Mandolin case innards!

  1. #1
    Michael Grady MSGrady20's Avatar
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    Question Mandolin case innards!

    So I was thinking about building my own mandolin case; however, I don't know how to acquire or make the inside of the case (the foam part). Any suggestions or ideas? Thanks!

  2. #2
    Registered User Lefty Luthier's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin case innards!

    Semi-rigid foam is easy to cut to shape and works well. Cover with cloth and it should look nice and wear well.
    Byron Spain, Builder
    www.theleftyluthier.com

  3. #3
    Michael Grady MSGrady20's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin case innards!

    Where can I get some semi-rigid foam? Is this something I could get at Lowes or Home Depot?

  4. #4
    Andrew C. Jerman
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    Default Re: Mandolin case innards!

    I buy it at fabric stores. I get the material to cover it there too.

  5. #5
    Registered User TijnBerends's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin case innards!

    I bought mine at the shop that sells cloth/fabric/curtains/carpets/thatsortastuff.

  6. #6
    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin case innards!

    I've had luck with a couple of different open-cell foams purchased at a place called the Foam Shop that does custom-made beds and futons. Cuts easily with a new utility razor blade and will adhere to velvets with certain kinds of adhesives.

    But research that carefully with the supplier. There are a lot of different foam-and-adhesive combos that are disasterous, too.

    My biggest concerns with foam and adhesives are weird chemical reactions and ongoing off gassing of fumes that are unpleasant/harmful to my lungs and/or to the instruments finish. Here's where some research will be essential.

    If you don't want/need something super plush, you could use a closed-cell thermal pad--like for lightweight backpacking. Again, research/test your adhesives.

    Heat-expanded polystyrene (stryofoam) has some advantages, and with a layer of something softer on top, is pretty hard to beat for lightweight protection.

    Styrofoam and most of the other foams will cut like butter with a hot wire or foam knive, and you can get those here: http://www.hotwiredirect.com/products/hot-knife/ They also carry adhesives.

    A sculptor friend of mine made his own hot-wire cutter for a few bucks, but I can't remember the components.
    Just one guy's opinion

  7. #7
    Café habitué Paul Hostetter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin case innards!

    A small band saw is even neater for cutting foam, any kind. Plain old Titebond works well for an adhesive.
    .
    ph

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  8. #8
    Michael Grady MSGrady20's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin case innards!

    So, how would I go about carving the the foam out to fit my Kentucky KM-150 mandolin?

  9. #9
    Café habitué Paul Hostetter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin case innards!

    You need a block of approximately 3" foam big enough to fill your valise or whatever shell you want to deploy as a case. Make sure there's at least 1/2" inch minimum between the body outline and the shell. Lay the mandolin on the block and trace around the mandolin with a magic marker, and cut that out.

    Then you need suspension blocks so there's a padded support top and bottom inside the case. Study a good suspension case (violin or mandolin) before you do this. No tip of the headstock touching, firm support at the nut, heel and tailpiece.



    You want to make absolutely certain it is protected from impacts that might come from touching the shell in any way.

    Once you have that dialed in, you glue the foam pieces in, and to one another. Then you upholster all the interior surfaces.

    I suspect by the time you get done doing this you'll wish you bought a commercial case. Guardians and the like are a real bargain. But it's great to have a project.
    .
    ph

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    Paul Hostetter, luthier
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  10. #10
    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin case innards!

    From my assistive technology days, I would use an electric knife (turkey carving type). The blades would need to be wiped down (carefully) with a rag and WD-40 occasionaly. It worked pretty well.
    Cabin Fever String Band, National Pike Pickers

  11. #11
    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin case innards!

    Just found this hardware on Ebay:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Case-Latch-l...item3a7192fcc6
    Cabin Fever String Band, National Pike Pickers

  12. #12
    Registered User Terry Allan Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin case innards!

    Built a case for an oddly sized banjitar once, and quickly realized it was a VERY expensive project (about $200, by finish), compared to what cases of similar quality cost pre-made ($100 or slightly less).

    There are a lot of fine pre-made cases for a F-mandolin, that will likely cost quite a bit less than what building one will cost...unless the case I was building was just impossible to find pre-made, I'd never do it again.

  13. #13
    Michael Grady MSGrady20's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin case innards!

    I had planned on making the case out of old pallets, in hopes of not spending much money (since I can get a majority of the materials I need here at work for free).

  14. #14
    Registered User Dobe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin case innards!

    It'll probably weigh alot more as well, but the pride will make up for it. Try Slobby Lobby for foam & Velvet.

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