View Full Version : StewMac kit

Mark Franzke
Oct-30-2005, 4:47pm
I am buiding a Stew Mac kit with custom features. I have some prior experience so I went with the Stew Mac because it is more customizable. I would like to see about getting one with an unshaped peghead next time, so that I could use my own shape. Otherwise I have been very happy with the quality of the kit. I will be able to string it up as soon as the tuners arrive.
More photos of the kit in progress can be viewed here:

Oct-30-2005, 7:19pm
I looked at your web page. Elegant headstock design and well-planned and unusual inlay. Looks terrific.

Oct-30-2005, 7:33pm
If the stain/finish comes out as nice as the rest of it is up to here, You're gonna have a really nice mando on your hands! The peghead mods are really clean! Nice job so far!!!

What do you have in mind for the rest of the project?


Mark Franzke
Oct-30-2005, 8:05pm
I plan to do a sunburst stain and probably french polish. I am doing this fairly traditional so I can learn all the steps and techniques. I may do some things differently on the next one, assuming this one turns out OK. I'll keep you posted.

Lane Pryce
Oct-31-2005, 9:08am
Congrats on a really fine little A style mandolin.I know you must be pleased with your work. Lp

Oct-31-2005, 11:18am
That looks really nice, I can't wait to see it once you get the staining and finishing done.


Oct-31-2005, 11:34am
Fine job!! - Also, thanks for sharing those pics!! Moose. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Oct-31-2005, 11:37am
I am buiding a Stew Mac kit with custom features. ....http://www.banjodog.com/mando_build.html[/URL]
Beautiful job Mark....clean out the garage and start production. Anxious to hear about sound qualities. regards Mike (calif)

Celtic Saguaro
Oct-31-2005, 11:54am
I built my Stew-Mac A Kit 25 years ago. It's always been loud. Maybe not the best bargain ever. But, at least I can point and say I built it. Nice Job, Mandodog.

Steve Davis
Oct-31-2005, 4:27pm
Very nice work. How have you customized the kit beyond what was included?

Mark Franzke
Oct-31-2005, 5:42pm
The customized items that weren't included in the kit were the laminated bindings, the heel cap, made from the fingerboard scrap, the radiussed fingerboard, the white fingerboard binding, and black side dots, black fingerboard underlay, smaller pearl position dots, and larger fretwire. The bridge, tailpiece and tuners are also not included. The video that comes with it is excellent.

Oct-31-2005, 9:47pm
Both the mandolin and webpage looks very nice. I am glad to hear that the video is good. I have completed an IV kit and have pretty much decided to get an f body kit from them with the video. The video is pretty expensive so do you or others recommend getting it?

Mark Franzke
Oct-31-2005, 10:57pm
I highly recommend the video if you are learning on your own. I know I would have made a lot a mistakes. I'm sure you could do it without the video because there is a lot of info out there, but I am a visual learner, so I got a lot out of it.

Darren Kern
Nov-01-2005, 8:12am
I just recently bought a set of the MacRostie/Stew-Mac videos, and I highly recommend it to new builders. I would consider it worth the money, as it will probably pay for itself by preventing you from making costly mistakes.

Nov-03-2005, 9:09pm
Ok this is good to hear. I too learn much easier if I can see something being done rather than reading about it.

Mandodog what did you use to cut out for the inlay on the peghead?

Mark Franzke
Nov-04-2005, 3:57pm
I use the technique described by Roger Siminoff. I print out the design and glue it to a pearl blank with Elmer's school glue and glue that to a piece of basswood about the same thinckness as the pearl. Then I cut along the line with a jeweler's saw. After I cut it, I drop it into warm water and the glue dissolves, separating the pearl. The basswood adds rigidity to the pearl so it won't break cutting the fine shapes in the lettering.

Nov-04-2005, 5:25pm
That is super. I would never tackle anything like that. Looking at those templates and the thought of cutting out those F holes is pretty scarrie stuff. Good eyes and lots of patience, Ill bet. Nice job and congrats! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Tom C
Nov-04-2005, 6:02pm
How about the extended fretboard? It does not show it in the pic of it assembled. I guess they give you the enough length to leave it up to you?

Do you think this can accommodate an oval hole?


jim simpson
Nov-04-2005, 6:28pm
Love your 1st photo. I see that you're going to do a sunburst but the photo says, Blonde, Blonde!
Tom C,
I don't know why you couldn't do an oval hole. You would need to decide on what type of bracing to do.
I re-topped an f-model and cut an oval hole for it. I ended up doing an x-brace and it still had that round-hole sound.

Tom C
Nov-04-2005, 8:21pm
I'm seriously thinking of getting one and i want to see what I'm up against. Looking at your web pics, was there graduating to do on the top of the top plate or just on the inside? If so, How high do you leave the highest point (in the middle around bridge area)? Just "as is" and you carve out from there? Or follow blueprints of that height from the top of rim? Thanks

Nov-05-2005, 1:45am
I like what you did with the headstock, a little dip in the top, and bound. I just looked at the rest of your photos, looks like you do very clean work, great job, lets see it after it stained and finished. JD

Mark Franzke
Nov-05-2005, 1:40pm
The blueprint that comes with the kit shows both the f-hole and oval hole placement as well as the x-bracing. The fingerboard is plenty long to make the extension as long as you like. I don't like a long extension because it interferes with the pick, even scooped. I made it the same length as my Flatiron because I really like the look. You just have to cut it off at one of the precut fret slots and then shape it as you like. The plates come carved on a machine that leaves grooves on both sides. I used a round orbital sander to remove the grooves on the outside and then shaped the inside with a curved scraper. I checked the thickness with a dial caliper that I made from pictures in a previous discussion, and a dial I got on EBAY for $10. I used Siminoff's plans as a guide for my thickness, since I don't have any experience telling me otherwise. One other tip, wear magnifying glasses for inlaying and binding joints. If it looks nice and smooth with the glasses, it will look near perfect to the naked eye.