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Thread: Time to build?

  1. #1

    Default Time to build?

    How much time does it take a builder to make a mandolin? Nothing ornate, just a handbuilt mandolin?

    Regards,
    Frank

  2. #2
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Time to build?

    Carved body or flattop? A-style? F-style? Type of finish? All are factors.
    Doug Brock
    2018 Kimble 2 point (#259), 2019 Silverangel Econo A (#446), Eastman MD315, 2020 Morris Oval Flattop A, Eastman MDA315
    Pisgah Wonder open back banjo, cheap old German fiddle, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

  3. #3
    Hands of Pot Metal
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    Default Re: Time to build?

    Experience, skill level and tools might also be factors.
    Play it like you mean it

    Not all the clams are at the beach

    Arrow G
    Clark 2 point
    Ratliff CountryBoy A
    00-21 (voiced by Eldon Stutzman)

  4. #4

    Default Re: Time to build?

    Carved body A style?

  5. #5
    Registered User belbein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Time to build?

    It doesn't take me any time. I walk into my shop and time disappears.

    Anyway, you're asking the wrong question. "It" doesn't take any time. You take the time. If you want to build one in 3 days, you can. If you give yourself a year, you'll take your time and get it right and be proud of the result.
    belbein

    The bad news is that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. The good news is that what kills us makes it no longer our problem

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  7. #6

    Default Re: Time to build?

    belbein has it right. A build will take as long as you want it to depending on the quality you're shooting for. My first build took 18 months (working on it on weekends), but subsequent builds get faster. Expect to make a lot of jigs/fixtures/shop tools/etc. on your first build too.

  8. #7
    Registered User belbein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Time to build?

    Quote Originally Posted by hawthorn1213 View Post
    belbein has it right. A build will take as long as you want it to depending on the quality you're shooting for. My first build took 18 months (working on it on weekends), but subsequent builds get faster. Expect to make a lot of jigs/fixtures/shop tools/etc. on your first build too.
    My current project was built in 2013, came back to my workbench in 2015, and been in process since (long hiatus, many spasms of work, volumes of shop notes as I figured out what to do) and it's now ready for closing it up, refinishing and stringing. How many years is that? I don't care about the time spent: I care about the time wasted not spending time on it.
    belbein

    The bad news is that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. The good news is that what kills us makes it no longer our problem

  9. #8
    Registered User amowry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Time to build?

    I average 160 hours per instrument. An F5 is around 250.

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  11. #9
    Registered User
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    Default Re: Time to build?

    Quote Originally Posted by amowry View Post
    I average 160 hours per instrument. An F5 is around 250.
    I wish more people realized this when they see hand-made instrument prices. Hand-made anything prices really...

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  13. #10

    Default Re: Time to build?

    Quote Originally Posted by SammyV View Post
    I wish more people realized this when they see hand-made instrument prices. Hand-made anything prices really...
    Amen!

  14. #11
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    Default Re: Time to build?

    I found when I told someone I made mandolins or showed them one almost always the first question was "how long does it take?" to which my stock answer was "too long".

  15. #12
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    Default Re: Time to build?

    took me 18 months for my first build, but learned to replace a top right off.. after almost 20 years now, I've got a little faster.. A styles take about 120 hours , and F styles take about 150 hours...
    kterry

  16. #13

    Default Re: Time to build?

    Quote Originally Posted by amowry View Post
    I average 160 hours per instrument. An F5 is around 250.
    ^^ this man is taking a significant pay cut to make instruments for y'all. Just saying.

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  18. #14
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Time to build?

    I count I'm damned near 400 hours with my latest builds... But I worked strictly with hand tools this time, no routers, tablesaws, bandsaws or such and do all the tinny Loar style details most folks don't even care for. Oh, I lied... except modest help of electric handdrill.
    Adrian

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  20. #15
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Time to build?

    Quote Originally Posted by amowry View Post
    I average 160 hours per instrument. An F5 is around 250.
    ^^^^This from one of the best folks in the country who is an absolute jedi master with a cnc!

    The irony to me is that when confronted with these numbers, most people would run from the idea of attempting to build an instrument, yet if you told them they were only allowed 400 hours of facebook /insta / twitter / et cetera or mandolin cafe a year, they would claim it is not possible to limit oneself so much!

    I remember working back "in the $#@@!%^&* factory" when I got fired for being too slow because I was only able to make 2 full mandolins a day BEFORE lunch; the beancounters wanted me to make 3, while still only paying $7 per hour!!!!!

    Here is a build timesheet from about 9 years ago, before I decided it was better to NOT keep track of those details, after I had built approx. 120 mandolins with no cnc in the workshop.

    Building is easy; finishing is where the real challenges start!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  21. #16

    Default Re: Time to build?

    Being an amateur builder I have no time frame. I don't do a step until I have it worked out in my head, and every step is a new skill set. When I get to finishing, that's when I least want to rush it- if I feel it's sanded adequately, I know it needs a lot more. I appreciate all the advise I read from the experts on this forum- they are an invaluable resource.
    Rob

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