Sunday, August 30, 2009

Finished Binding and Trimming the Bridge

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I haven’t spent a lot of time on this project for the last few weeks - spending more time with family and work instead - so I have also been lax in updating this blog. But I have made some progress.

I strung up the mandolin and fully tuned it and, much to my pleasant surprise, the top did not collapse or even make any cracking noises, for that matter (as you may recall, I was worried about this since I managed to make my soundboard way too thin at the base and had to reinforce it). But while there was good news about the soundboard, there was also not-so-good news elsewhere; the action (distance from the strings to the fretboard) was WAY too high. Looking at it (sorry - no photos) you would have thought I hadn’t even tried to get it right. That was pretty disappointing. But I figured out how to handle it (I hope).

The bridge that I bought is made of two halves; the lower half that makes contact with the soundboard and the upper half that the strings rest upon. The two halves are then held together (and spaced apart in an adjustable fashion) by two thumbscrews. By cutting down the thickness of each of these two halves, I brought the action down to what I believe will be a workable distance.

In this photo, you can see the mark on the upper half of the bridge where I then trimmed to - a lot of material to take off, I know! Similarly, I took off about half that much material from the lower piece. After trimming, I held a long straight edge between the nut and the bridge assembly and I think the height is just about right. I will have to wait until I string it up again to see for sure. I also have yet to shape the base of the bridge to the soundboard. That will reduce the height a even more.

Aside from the bridge work, I also managed to finish gluing on the remainder of my binding and then trim it to height and width. The final pieces were on the peghead and this is how it looks now.

I still have to do some fill-in work around the binding similar to what I did with the inlay and then a bunch of sanding, but I think it came out alright for my first attempt. Next time I intend to do several things differently (shape and bind the peghead veneer before gluing them in place, for starters) so that one should look much better.

With those completed, it has become time to get my finished sanding done in preparation for staining. I haven’t yet stained my second trial soundboard but after the results I got on my first trial, you can bet I will do the second before committing the mandolin itself to this.

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