Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: AMB - Apartment Mandolin Build

  1. #1
    Registered User Forestfloor1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    3

    Default AMB - Apartment Mandolin Build

    Hey folks!
    Wanted to introduce myself to the forum.
    Working on what im calling my first AMB (Apartment Mandolin Build) and wanted to share what I’ve learned so far as well as invite other builders to share golden rules of what they’ve learned. If you were talking to a first time builder, what are 5 things you would tell them?

    I'm 32, I've been in Boston for 12 years, went to school for mandolin, worked at a world class shop in Lexington and got my hands on some truly top quality mandos. Talked to builders, took measurements, bought wood and started collecting tools. I've been repairing new and vintage for 15 years.
    When I wanted to get into building a few years back, I wanted to see what it would take to make a high-quality mandolin sans-shop. We're talking basic hand tools and small motors, nothing huge or loud, very clean, reusable, and (relatively) non-poisonous. (ha.) Tall order!
    Tech day job, side performing job, and this build on the other side of that side. (The Far Side)

    Things ive learned so far:
    -Cutting tools need to be SHARP - Spend a great deal of time learning this skill.
    -Take notes and measurements. Dream notes and measurements.
    -Make a dummy piece for pieces/techniques that you need to figure out how to do.
    -Take your time and think through every single step.
    -You will mess up. It’s okay. It’s actually why you’re doing it. There are thousands and thousands (read: millions) of mistakes you can make and it is virtually impossible to catch every single one.

    Working on a website to keep people updated on the build.
    Best,

    Jeff
    Forestfloor Mandolin Co.
    Insta: forestfloormandoco

    ----------------------

    It doesn't matter, as long as you enjoy them

  2. #2

    Default Re: AMB - Apartment Mandolin Build

    My hats off to you. I have no place for a band saw, or most any other power tool. I have a six foot workbench that has to double for household use, but I do have a drill press. No bandsaw is a major reason I went with a kit for my first build.

    Coming to terms with mistakes is the most important thing you need to do. I couldn't believe how much smoother the second scroll binding went. I remember thinking twenty or thirty more tries and I'd start to get the hang of it. In the end I made a good playing, great sounding mandolin, different from but equal to many mandolins I've played. Would someone give me $4000 for it? In my dreams, it looks great on stage and close up in a dim club, but then you take it out in good light and see countless imperfections. I got very good at making the black binding connect using a sharpie. No joke. No one has caught that one.

    Once you accept the limitations of your own abilities, you can enjoy the ride. One thing I hadn't considered was how emotionally invested I'd be in the mandolin. My playing has taken off because I'm playing my mandolin so much, maybe 30% more.

    Sharpening ability is very important, a skill I'm still learning.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  3. #3
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Kentucky
    Posts
    14,286

    Default Re: AMB - Apartment Mandolin Build

    Quote Originally Posted by Forestfloor1 View Post
    ...If you were talking to a first time builder, what are 5 things you would tell them?...
    1. Do not build an F5 for a first mandolin.
    2. Copy a good functional design for a first build.
    3. Do not re-invent the wheel. Any innovation you can think of has been tried already. Stick with what works.
    4. Keep it simple. Save that fancy inlaid wildlife scene (or whatever) for a later project.
    5. Pretend you have never heard the words "tap tuning".

    That's 5, I'll stop now.

  4. The Following 9 Users Say Thank You to sunburst For This Useful Post:


  5. #4

    Default Re: AMB - Apartment Mandolin Build

    A+ John; some of the best advice I've seen here....

    Remember that Stradivari would have been awe struck by the "limited" amount of tools that you have in your apartment!

    Back in the day, about 25 years ago, I build a few guitars while living off the grid in the high desert in a teepee with a funky hippee chick. All of my tools fit in a simple shoe box and I heated hot hide glue on a woodstove....
    Last edited by grandcanyonminstrel; Feb-10-2019 at 2:42am.

  6. #5

    Default Re: AMB - Apartment Mandolin Build

    Kudos to you for building with such minimal tools and resources. I am also in the middle of a kit build, and I have the benefit of a workshop and all the tools I need. And it seems I'm making every mistake that is possible, even after studying Siminoff's book. That said, I'm enjoying it thoroughly and hope that it sounds acceptable. I hope your build goes well, and I look forward to seeing how yours turns out.

  7. #6

    Default Re: AMB - Apartment Mandolin Build

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    1. Do not build an F5 for a first mandolin.
    2. Copy a good functional design for a first build.
    3. Do not re-invent the wheel. Any innovation you can think of has been tried already. Stick with what works.
    4. Keep it simple. Save that fancy inlaid wildlife scene (or whatever) for a later project.
    5. Pretend you have never heard the words "tap tuning".

    That's 5, I'll stop now.
    #1 is so true, but in hindsight I'm glad for my ignorance, plus the whole impetus was I wanted a scroll on the cheap.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  8. #7
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    25,729

    Default Re: AMB - Apartment Mandolin Build

    Quote Originally Posted by Forestfloor1 View Post
    Things ive learned so far:
    -Cutting tools need to be SHARP - Spend a great deal of time learning this skill.
    -Take notes and measurements. Dream notes and measurements.
    -Make a dummy piece for pieces/techniques that you need to figure out how to do.
    -Take your time and think through every single step.
    -You will mess up. It’s okay. It’s actually why you’re doing it. There are thousands and thousands (read: millions) of mistakes you can make and it is virtually impossible to catch every single one.
    Sounds like you have learned quite a bit already, Grasshopper. Keep up the good work and the excellent attitude. I look fwd to seeing the results.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- 1937 Gibson L-Century -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  9. The following members say thank you to Jim Garber for this post:


  10. #8
    Adrian Minarovic
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, Europe
    Posts
    2,290

    Default Re: AMB - Apartment Mandolin Build

    I made my first 10 (all F-5) mandolins in apartment (living with my parents). I did some rougher dirty work in basement in some 12 square ft. space, (barely place for a seat at a small table) and did the cleaner work at home. I remember I once glued bass top halves (double bass) out on balcony. Back then my toolbox was something like 2 chisels, one sharpening stone, flat file, axe, small metal plane and small handsaw. My dad had handdrill that I borrowed. And don't forget trusty bowie knife and folding pocket knife. The rest of tools and fixtures I made myself during builds. There are so many things that can be done without any power tools or with bare minimum (look for my thread on turning endpins without lathe).
    I would add one rule to those mentioned above:
    make friends with local joiner or other woodworker with shop... if you don't want to do everything by hand you can "visit" him with a six pack and ask him to use his bandsaw for few minutes... Or his router table...

    Here is my basic set of tools (around my build #5 or so 15 years ago, few jigs and fixtures were ommited)
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	pic05.jpg 
Views:	55 
Size:	173.5 KB 
ID:	174776
    and here are some pics of me working at home... don't tell my mother I borrowed her clothespins!
    I had to put 70lb of lead on the basement table so it won't rock too much.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	DSCF0372.JPG 
Views:	53 
Size:	116.0 KB 
ID:	174777   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	DSCF0364.JPG 
Views:	47 
Size:	118.1 KB 
ID:	174778   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	DSCF0007.JPG 
Views:	57 
Size:	769.3 KB 
ID:	174779  

    Adrian

  11. The following members say thank you to HoGo for this post:


  12. #9
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Kentucky
    Posts
    14,286

    Default Re: AMB - Apartment Mandolin Build

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    ...I would add one rule to those mentioned above:
    make friends with local joiner or other woodworker with shop... if you don't want to do everything by hand you can "visit" him with a six pack and ask him to use his bandsaw for few minutes... Or his router table...
    When I built my first instrument (not a mandolin) I had a friend who was teaching "wood shop" at the local high school. I'm not sure how common it is these days for a high school to have "industrial arts" classes, but back then it was common. I was able to borrow not only the tools in the shop, but my friend's expertise also! I learned a lot, and the administration at the school was behind it all the way. They said it was a good lesson for the students, seeing how long it took, how many steps, how much dedication was involved in making something as complicated (relative to foot stools and 'tater bins) as a musical instrument. Maybe I could have finished my first instrument without that connection, and maybe it would have turned out nearly as good, but I doubt it. Access to the tools and the shop was a huge help!

  13. #10
    Registered User Forestfloor1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: AMB - Apartment Mandolin Build

    Thanks! Yes, this kit is the Stewmac Kit. I am using a combination of Siminoff's book, the Stew Mac Plans (I think a cherry pick of both together really give you the neighborhood of the Loars as they too were extremely variable from piece to piece) and some measurements strategically taken from a few respected makers' builds. However, I am not navigating the build to a truly classic F5 - having a bit of fun and creativity using the wood I recieved, space and the vibe. Curious Rdean - Have you assembled the body? I have gone the Top/Sides route to be able to still get in there and clean up the glue joints and obcess over the room inside, and pay special attention to the maple back... After really thinking it through I dont suppose it really matters what order one does it in!
    Last edited by Forestfloor1; Feb-11-2019 at 1:34am.

  14. #11

    Default Re: AMB - Apartment Mandolin Build

    I got a Saga kit from International Violin, which came with sides and top joined. I had less trouble graduating the back than the top. Having the sides already attached made it dicey to get to the outermost graduation zone without messing with the sides' integrity. I was using cabinet scrapers which worked pretty well except next to the sides, where it was a challenge. I think having the top unattached would be easier, provided you had the sides joined already with the end blocks and you have some kind of frame to assist with the top, back and side glue up. I am considering doing a Stewmac kit next year and hope whatever skills and lessons learned will translate well to a F style kit.

  15. #12

    Default Re: AMB - Apartment Mandolin Build

    Quote Originally Posted by grandcanyonminstrel View Post
    Back in the day, about 25 years ago, I build a few guitars while living off the grid in the high desert in a teepee with a funky hippee chick. All of my tools fit in a simple shoe box and I heated hot hide glue on a woodstove....
    Finding a really good 'funky hippee chick' is going to be hard these days. Although I'm sure that are some among the Café habitués, I suspect they're busy with other pursuits and may not be available for teepee living.
    BradKlein
    Senior Producer, Twangbox®
    Twangbox® Videos

  16. The following members say thank you to BradKlein for this post:


Posting Permissions

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