Meet and Greet

  1. Altar
    Introduce yourself, and welcome newcomers.

    My name is Preston Rice, and I'm 14 on the 8th. I've been interested in instrument building, and while I repair and restore furniture and musical instruments, I've been too scared by my lack of knowledge and skills to take the plunge. I play guitar, bass, drums, blues harp, minimal piano, and now mandolin. I want to build an f style mandolin, jazzbox, and a replica of my dad's Gibson J-45. Another dream is to build a jagdolin, similar to this:

    I hope to one day soon work for a distinguished luthier, and eventually become one.
  2. Wilbur Tabacsko
    Wilbur Tabacsko
    Hi there, my name is Wilbur and let me say that I'm older than Preston! I started building about two years ago and have finished eight of them. I am currently working on numbers 9 and 10. I have made two f models and have no desire to make anymore of them. I like making two pointers.
    I was also scared at first but only because I spent a lot of money for fancy wood that I shouldn't have bought. But now I build them out of wood I get mostly for nothing. If I screw it up, I just start over and try not to make the same mistake twice.
    I got website, it ain't much but I have a few pictures of my mandolins there.
    Still a beginner...
  3. Pete Jenner
    Pete Jenner
    I'm Peter Jenner and I'm 54 :-)
    I started 2 years ago restoring a cheap Vietnamese mandolin. I virtually rebuilt everything except the neck and made many many mistakes along the way. On my current build I have also made a couple of errors but nothing major so far.
  4. Pete Jenner
    Pete Jenner
    Wibur, that's some fantastic work you've been doing - you obviously have a talent for building mandolins.
  5. Pete Jenner
    Pete Jenner
    Preston, living in Austin I guess everyone is getting excited about the formula one coming to town this weekend. Wish I was there I'm a huge F1 fan.
  6. otterly2k
    Hi all-
    I am an aspiring luthier with a day job and a lot of other things going on. I have built a few instruments with help-- did one of Don Kawalek's workshops and built an Octave Mandolin there which was my first build. I totally recommend that! Especially for people with limited woodworking background. I started but never finished a saga mando kit. I also went to Galloup School of Luthiery in Michigan and did their 2 month program in which I built an electric and acoustic guitar... these were my 2nd and 3rd builds. I learned SO much from that program and process, and now I do some instrument repair work on the side. I'm not really set up for building, but there's so much overlap with repair work, and I enjoy the ongoing learning about both building and repair. So count me in... I'm not sure yet how much I can participate. I lurk on the Builders forum and occasionally ask for help, but don't consider myself expert enough to chime in too much there.


    oh, and since people are sharing this.. I'm 47, and have had a long standing interest in building and repair work, but didn't start doing it seriously until my 40's
  7. AaronVW
    I'm currently just finishing up my first instrument build, a two point mandolin. I've been on the Cafe for a while, mostly with the Song-a-Week social group. I'm 31, studying to be a dentist and am interested in playing and building instruments as a hobby. So far I have built everything from scratch from non-instrument grade wood. I'm happy with the results so far and already looking forward to a second build and seeing what everyone else is doing! I also just bought an old tenor banjo that I plan on repairing and stringing up as an Irish tenor. It has been amazing to me how much information I have been able to get online and how many builders are willing to share and offer help. The Cafe has been a great resource for me and I would love to be able to participate and continue to learn and share.
  8. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    I have been hobby building since I retired from being a teacher of English here in the west of Scotland in 2003. I am a frequent contributor to the SAW group and a few other social groups on this great site and also enjoy reading and posting on the forum.
    My website is at: and I enjoy swapping ideas with any other builders and learning how other folk cope with whatever problems are thrown up in our efforts at achieving high quality instruments.
  9. AaronVW
    John, good to see you over here. Your instruments look great! Once my build is done, hopefully I will have time to post some more on the SAW group, although with a baby due in January I may only get a few weeks in!
  10. Pete Jenner
    Pete Jenner
    Hi Aaron, I've been following the progress of your build and I'm mightily impressed by what I've seen. I look forward to reading of the agony and ecstasy of the process.

    John, it's terrific to see experienced builders like yourself joining the group. I'm sure we novices will learn a lot.
    I have also been a member of the SAW group for a while but haven't spent nearly enough time on it.
  11. Rosemary Philips
    Rosemary Philips
    I'm working on my first instrument--a Don Kawalek octave mandolin. I've got no real woodworking experience and am really enjoying the process--although it certainly has its stressful moments! I just glued the top and back on. I've got some trimming and sanding to do, then I'm going to try to tackle binding...
  12. otterly2k
    Rosemary - good luck with the binding... in my experience, this is one of the hardest bits. Getting the binding ledge routed correctly is challenging (although not as hard as with a carved top instrument!). Be sure to let us in on the process - what method are you planning to use?
  13. Rosemary Philips
    Rosemary Philips
    Ok, I chickened out on the binding. No, wait, I decided that no binding would be more aesthetically pleasing! Yeah, that's it. I was going to use a dremel with the Stewmac binding attachment but, in the end, my practice attempts frightened and discouraged me. So, no binding this time.
  14. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    The Stewmac accessory is not the best tool for doing bindings, Rosemary. There is the router base, which I use mainly for inlays and it is fine for this, and there is a small attachment, the binding router guide (which is the one I am referring to) and I have found that the routing bit can actually slip in the collet/chuck - I had this happen and managed to rout rather more than I meant to and the bit came away off its line and cut into the side much deeper than I had set it to. The Dremel itself can be a little on the lightweight side and I am never too happy to tighten the chuck or collet too much, so now I generally use my slow but safe chisels, after initially marking the line with a purfling cutter then using a new scalpel blade to deepen this cut as I work with the chisels. Slower but I feel so much more in control, and as a Scot I just love not using power tools!
  15. Rosemary Philips
    Rosemary Philips
    I did consider just cutting by hand, but in the end I opted for the beautiful look of no binding. I agree that it's fun to not use power tools!
  16. Pete Jenner
    Pete Jenner
    Cutting binding channels worries the life out of me. Getting a router next week and will set it up as Aaron did under a router table with the rounded guide set up - *gulp*. Might ruin all my good work so far.
  17. Jim Baker
    Jim Baker
    Hi fellow beginners. I have read this forum and occasionally posted for a number of years. I've built one mandolin kit, an octave mandolin and a bouzouki from scratch and I'm working on a Graham MacDonald mandolin. I've done binding and use a router with a home made router jig and have only had one incident. I learned to take my time and not do it all in one cut. I have not done perfling, other than a simple rosette nor have I done inlays other than fret markers.

    My biggest issue is finishing. I've tried shellac but prefer using non traditional finishes like varathane.
  18. Rob Zamites
    Rob Zamites
    I'm Rob, I'm almost 51 and starting on my second instrument. I still have to get some tools to do work from (nearly) unfinished wood stock - things like a band saw and a drill press.

    I do IT work to pay the bills, but have discovered that I like woodworking and particularly luthery. As soon as I can, I'll attend Galloup Luthery School just about 80 miles from where I live, then try to sell myself as an apprentice to an experienced luthier for gaining further experience. If I can manage to make the same meager salary I make now, but do it making instruments, I'll call my life a huge success.

  19. BJ O'Day
    BJ O'Day
    Hi all,

    I'm new to the mandolin. I wanted to try making a mandolin about 2 years ago. I thought, maybe I should learn to play one first. So at 55 years old I bought a flat-top and started taking lessons. I'm a slow player but I like it very much.

    Last week I purchased some lumber. I've got Graham McDonald's book, I'm going to try his arch top and back model. I'm also hoping this group can be a source for questions that pop-up. I've got experience doing woodworking, but I've never attempted anything that is this difficult.

  20. Ron Cox
    Ron Cox
    Just ordered an A style Kit from International Violin. Came a day late for my 51st Birthday, and the top had a crack. IV did make it right and now I await my replacement kit.

    My build will have (I hope) a custom sound hole. I've gotten inspired my Marty Jacobson and his wonderful instruments.

    I will post pics on the board in builders forum. There will also be pics in my online album.
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