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Thread: Mandocello build thread

  1. #1
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Mandocello build thread

    There have been a few "built threads" lately, and people seem to find them interesting, so I figured... what's one more?
    I debated starting this because this will probably be a long term project (I'm busy with a lot of other things and the customer wants plenty of time to get the money together to pay the balance on completion, so it could be a year or more before it's done), and there could be considerable periods of time when there is no progress to report, but here goes anyway.
    A friend (and great musician) has been talking about having a mandocello built for a couple of years, and he finally pulled the trigger and made his deposit, so work has begun. He particularly likes the look and sound of Mike Marshall's mandocello, so that was the jumping off point for designing this one. I decided to stick a little closer to the K4 than to Marshall's Monteleone, but I started drawing with a set of dimensions and little else. Points and scrolls and an oval hole were in the plan from the beginning, so after several days at the drawing table, and half a dozen modifications, I finally decided to consider the outline acceptable and start some actual wood work.
    I had this red spruce top stashed away. It might have been big enough for an archtop guitar, but it had a large spike knot in it, so a portion of it was not useable. I found that I could slip the center joint a couple of inches and it would easily accommodate the outline of the 'cello, scroll and all.
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  3. #2
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    The back is hard maple. I forgot I had this wood, but I found it buried in one of the less tidy areas of the shop. I think I bought it for an octave mandolin project that never materialized sometime in the past. It is just big enough for this project, and it is quartered sugar maple. Looks like it probably came from Old Standard, judging by the hanging holes in the corners.
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  5. #3
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    I sawed the out on the bandsaw, and so far this is about all the actual physical work I've done.
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  7. #4
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    A drawing is one thing, but when you get these things sawed out you start to realize just how big they are! ("from when giant mandolins roamed the earth") The partially carved mandolin back helps put it in perspective.
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  9. #5
    Registered User kwerry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    Very cool much different from the simple guitar bodied one I did looking forward to watching this..

    Kerry

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    Certified! Bernie Daniel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    Looking awesome so far -- this should be a monster thread! Hurray!
    Bernie
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    Due to current budgetary restrictions the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off -- sorry about the inconvenience.

  11. #7
    Resonate globally Pete Jenner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    Looking forward to this one.
    The more I learn, the less I know.

    Peter Jenner
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  12. #8
    Registered User Mike Conner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    Very cool. And thank you for sharing the process and your thoughts with curious lurkers and wanna-be luthiers like me! //mike

  13. #9
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    John: This may be obvious, but I assume that this will have an oval soundhole from your mention of the Monteleone and K4. Is that so? Also what kind of bracing are you planning to use and what scale will this be?
    Jim

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    Registered User Ken Olmstead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    Shazam!!! This is gonna be sweet!!
    http://www.youtube.com/user/tenorbanjoguy

    "Gettin' by" with the imports!

  15. #11
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    Jim, yes it will have an oval hole. It will be X-braced, and John Monteleone assures me that an extra transverse brace between the sound hole and the head block is needed, so I'll put something there.

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  17. #12
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    Excellent, John. I am looking fwd to the progress here. Scale length?
    Jim

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  18. #13
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    25" scale length.

  19. #14
    Registered User bernabe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    Always a treat and way too infrequent when you post your builds, John.

  20. #15
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    I will be watching this one.

  21. #16
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    OH YES.....subbed!

  22. #17
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    A little progress, not of the glamorous variety, but things that have to be done: blocks.

    Corner blocks, as usual, from paulownia.
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  24. #18
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    Even though I have stock big enough to cut the head block from a solid piece of wood, I decided to make a laminated head block to help prevent splitting. A mandocello has a lot of string tension and a lot of leverage with the long neck, so an impact to the neck is more likely to cause failure at the neck joint than it is with a mandolin. Failure at the joint is likely to be from a split head block, so lamination from pieces with opposing grain makes the block more split-resistant.

    I prepared a piece of 2" thick stock then ripped it to two just-under 1" thick pieces.
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  26. #19
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    Why would I rip that stock on the table saw when there is a 30" bandsaw a few feet away, you might ask? It's because there is a 1/4" blade in the bandsaw right now, and I can change the blade in the table saw and make two passes to rip the piece in less time than it would take to get the blade off of the bandsaw, let alone put a rip blade in and set up the saw. Also, I'll be needing the 1/4" blade in the bandsaw soon, so I'd just have to change it back.

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  28. #20
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    I cut three squares, then set them under a heat lamp to warm them for gluing. I'm laminating with hot hide glue, and since the surfaces are about 6" square, and I need to glue two of them, I'll need some extra working time. The heated parts give me plenty of time to spread the glue, assemble the parts and clamp them.
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    Heating doesn't, however, give me time to stop in the middle of the procedure and take pictures, so you'll just have to visualize spreading the glue with the glue brush, stacking the slippery pieces and assembling them in the clamps... all with only two hands!

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  30. #21
    Registered User tree's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    I would guess that you scrounged and prepared your Paulownia from scratch, since you probably can without too much difficulty. Thanks for going to the time and effort to post this, John. I love this stuff.
    Clark Beavans

  31. #22
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    Clark, you would be correct about that.
    Most of this came from a tree that was cut to clear a power line right-of-way just down the road, and left to lie on the ground.
    Click image for larger version. 

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  33. #23

    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    All that and recovered wood! I can't wait to hear how it sounds!

    If it sounds anything like Mike Marshals, please say you will sell patterns!

    Bob

  34. #24
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    A few hours have passed since gluing up the head block laminate, so it's ready to saw out.
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  36. #25
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello build thread

    After a little work at the spindle sander, here is the set of blocks for the rim of the 'cello.
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    The edge of the laminated head block looks like this.
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    Here's the shape at this point. After I bend the sides to form the rim I'll fit it to the sides in the form.
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