Sunday, May 10, 2009

Shaping the Peghead

Sunday, May 10, 2009.

Well, yet again, a setback. Looks like I am going to be starting on my third soundboard for this first mandolin.

If it didn’t hurt so much, it would be funny. Ah, but them’s the breaks.

As I was working on roughing and then smoothing this second soundboard, I noticed that the glue joint in the center was remarkably noticeable. At first, I made myself believe that this was simply the glue near the edges and that, as I carved and sanded, it would disappear. Then as I went on, I decided it was just the coloring of the glue since this is a different batch than I used on the first soundboard. Finally, as I began working on getting the thickness graduations uniform, I held it up the a light bulb and noticed some gaps. Dangit. My best guess is that even though I went to lengths to get the mating surfaces flat and parallel, I probably put too much glue on and then didn’t get clamped up well enough (three of my four clamps are old ones that give me fits - I replaced them this weekend).

So - I have my third set of soundboard lumber on order and I am awaiting its arrival. For this effort, I am going to get myself a squirt-bottle for the glue, make sure to apply only as much as I need, and then clamp it using my new clamps. If this doesn’t work.....

Aside from that, I got to work on the neck and peghead some more this week. For this go, I managed to cut the peghead to shape. If you haven’t looked into building an F-style mandolin before one of the features you may not have noticed is that the edges of the peghead are cut perpendicular to the face of the fretboard rather than the peghead. This means that while cutting, the pehead has to be held at an angle so that the fretboard is parallel to the bandsaw table.

Obviously another jig is required!

One of the few things that is not very clear in Mr. Siminoff’s book is just how to make this jig. Yes, he mentions it and shows a picture of his jig with a peghead clamped to it, but the picture doesn’t show much and he chooses not to go into detail about its design. So once again I turned to the folks at the Mandolin Cafe and was able to get several suggestions and pictures of the jigs that some of those guys use. From that, not only did I find that this can be a VERY simple jig but I was able to use one of the pictures as my guide and got-‘er-done.

All it is, is a simple wedge with a notch on each side to allow for a clamp. The corners are rounded off a bit to keep it from getting in the way while cutting.

Here I am actually in the process of cutting the peghead.

These show how I used a 2” spring clamp to hold the peghead to the jig and the clearances I have all the way around. The last photo shows how the fret board is held parallel to the top of the workbench.

In these pictures you can get a better look at the peghead itself now that it is cut. You should be able to see that the cut lines are not perpendicular to the peghead but are to the fretboard.

And this photo shows the back of the peghead after I sanded it down to make the peghead and veneer blend into the neck.

Finally, I finished the week by practicing carving a scroll on the second soundboard.

I think it looks pretty good.

Next week, if my new wood arrives, I will start again on the soundboard, but in the mean time I intend to get started bending some wood and building my new sides.

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