My current lockdown project is building a Resonator Mandolin. I've never built any kind of instrument before, so Pete (1951) is kindly helping me if I get stuck. I've gather a pile of parts including a neck which was given to me by a Forum member, and I'm in my Cabin making some sawdust.
I've owned just about every make of Resonator Mandolin and lots of Resonator Guitars so I generally know what they look like inside.
Pete also has the makings of a Resonator Mandolin, so it looks like we're both having a go. I suspect his woodwork skills are more advanced than mine but it's not a competition.
My build was supposed to be a metal body, but have lost contact with the guy who does the ‘rubber press’ work. So the mould for the back ( see above) is now redundant and I will be doing something like Davey. Pete
Here is the ply for the template. The top line in the centre of the body is the scale length, the second one ( with the circle marked on the centre line) is where the bridge will go, and it gives me the centre of the cone. I measured the compensation on a mandolin with action, scale and strings similar to those I intend to use to get the correct place. Pete
I've been a bit boggled for a couple of days as my French polish didn't dry. Eventually I took it off with Meths and started again. I'm using acrylic varnish in a spray can now instead.
I spent today fitting the tuners. What a nightmare. I'll make a metal drilling jig if I ever do it again, the slightest error and they just don't work. I'm using Stewmac restoration tuners which look great but are a bit bendy, also the bushes are a very tight fit so the holes have to be spot on.
g Here is the finished template. The edges need to be square and there are 2 locating dowels on the centre line. The dowels are pushed into holes in the body, 1/2 the body is routed,then the template is flipped and the other side done. This ensures both sides are the same. I will probably be using 2 layers of wood for the body and as they are made from the same template they should glue together with little sanding needed. Pete
Day seven and I've got a string on. The next bit, i.e. doing the setup, makes me wary. The intonation seems good though and I've got room to move the cone if I need to. I'm using a cone from a cheap Chinese resonator which I had last year & re-coned. Funnily enough it sounds good in a wood body, sounded terrible in the metal one.
The tuners are a mystery. I bought them from Stewmac last year but one side turns the wrong way, so I guess they sent me two right hand strips.
Step one is to remove most of the wood with the pillar drill ( my router is not very large) , this is the lower half of the body.
Then the body is routed out , one half at a time using the template.
The ring of holes will ( hopefully) take the sound from under the cone to the top. Pete The X of wood left is there to support the router , it will add a little strength to the back but not nearly as much as glued in braces,they may removed when I have no more router work to do.