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June 17, 2016--Howdy folks! Today marks the day that I have started on my first F4 mandolin build. I have built a new mold for the F4 shape of my template and bent the sides to fit.
The sides are figured red maple and I have thickness sanded them down to about .060.
This model F4 will have a Carpathian spruce top and Red maple back & sides. It will be "X" braced with adirondack red spruce bracing. I also plan to add a Virzi tone producer to the soundboard.
July 2 2016--It's good to be back in the shop. Today I carved out a backplate for my next F5. This is a one piece Red Maple back that I purchased from John Preston at Old World Tonewood in Lewisburg, VA. This one has some nice "wavy" flame figure and it should look really cool once it's stained. I have rough carved it on the duplicator, but there's still a lot of hand carving and sanding to get it finished. I'm using a 10mm finger plane to carve out the recurve.
July 6, 2016--With the outside of the F5 backplate finished, I have started graduating the thickness of the inside. I drill holes into the plate at a set depth and then carve from there until the holes disappear and the inside is even and smooth. At this point, I pay close attention to the flex and tap tone of the back as I graduate the thickness down to a point that I'm satisfied with.
July 9, 2016--Today I cut my "blocks" for both the F5 & F4 mandolin and glued those into both mandolin rims. Also glued up a Carpathian Spruce top for the F4 soundboard.
July 10, 2016--Last month, I ordered an F4 sound board from Dave at Smith Creek mandolins & parts. The F4 is unique in that the fretboard rest on the sound board....like an acoustic guitar. It also has an oval sound hole in the center of the plate instead of "f" holes on each side of the bridge. Now that my Carp. spruce is glued up and dry'd overnight, I can begin cutting out the F4 sound board on my pattern carver. I use a small pin router bit for the scroll area and a larger bit for the rest of the sound board. So far so good, and now it's time to get busy sanding, carving, and scraping to get this top looking just right!
July 15, 2016-With the outside of the F4 soundboard shaped, I've now started carving out the inside.
July 25, 2016--Well, it's good to be working on the F4 again...my day work has kept me busy lately. I now have the inside top plate of the F4 graduated to an thickness that I'm satisfied with. It's showing a springy flex across the grain and with the grain. From there, I begin laying out the x bracing pattern. After much researching on F4 tops, it seems that the best placement for the x brace to cross is just in front of the bridge.....with each bridge foot positioned over the bracing. I've got a good variety of red spruce perfect for the bracing, but I'm thinking that a wide grain, light in weight red spruce will respond best.... being that the F4 top graduations are just a little on the thick side compared to my F5's. I want this top to flex and respond well with a good voice but not come out sounding tubby or too boomy. Once the bracing had been shaped to fit the top, I have glued them in and begin shaping them the next day. I have now thinned them out quite a but and scalloped the ends until the tap tone of this top begins to ring out well. From there, I stop and give the bracing a final sand down and smoothing out.
Dec 2016 .....Merry Christmas to all! The F5 and F4 mandolins are coming along well so far and I hope to be in the staining and finishing stages in early 2017.
Jan 2017.....Happy New Year to all! Today I routed 2 channels in the F4 neck and glued in the carbon fiber rods. In the past, I have used only one rod per neck, but decided to go with 2 because I'm using mahogany for the F4 neck.....which isn't as strong as the red maple that I use for my F5 and A5 mandolins. The dovetail has been cut and fitted and I have also made a bound fretboard and bound ebony veneer for the headstock. The backplate is also finished and ready to be glued on. Final assembly is just around the corner!
July 2017....The F4 has been strung up in the white for over a month now. It has a strong resonant sound and I'm very happy with the way it came out. I have since disassembled it and getting it ready for stain and finish. However, I have 2 F5's almost ready for inlay, stain and finish as well....so I plan to do all 3 at the same time. I have posted new pics up top of my progress. Thanks for checking in!!
Oct 2017---a new batch of mandolins just finished...2 F5's and my first F4. I'll have pics up soon and some sound clips. Also starting my first octave mandolin build. Flat top and back, 20" scale, Spruce and Cherry with snakehead headstock.
Octave mandolin build. Click on image to change picture.