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Fingerboard

 

Firstly the outline of the fingerboard is marked on the blank from a fingerboard template

 

I buy my fingerboards already slotted from Randy Allen.  First they need to be trimmed to size.  Cut one end

 

Then the other end.

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Plane the fingerboard edges to shape.

 

Mark down the centre of the fingerboard.

 

View of centreline.

 

Mark the position of the dots.

 

Punch a hole where the dot positions have been marked.  This is to prevent the drill bit from wandering..

 

Drill out the holes for the dots on the drill press.

 

Mark position of the side dots with a sharp point.

 

Drilling the holes for the side dots.

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Here everything is ready for gluing.  Fresh epoxy is mixed up with ebony dust to make up the glue.  The side dots are made from white plastic rods.  I use Paua Abalone for the marker dots.

 

Here I am gluing the dots with a toothpick.

 

Here I am gluing a side dot in (plastic rod).

 

Trim the plastic rod.

 

Now we wait for the epoxy to set.  I use the high strength epoxy, after a dot came loose after gluing with the 5 minute epoxy, I will never use the 5 min stuff again.

 

After the epoxy has set, the fingerboard is sanded flat (or to a radius) on the linisher.

 

The side dots are trimmed with a chisel.

 

And then sanded flat on the linisher.

 

Here the fingerboard is radiused and I am sanding the radius to the final shape.

 

The back of the fingerboard is sanded flat.

 

The top is checked for straightness

 

The back is also checked for straightness.

 

As final preparation for fretting the fingerboard is sanded with 1200 wet/dry sandpaper.

 

Now we are ready for fretting.

 

First the fret slots are lightly filed with a triangular file.

 

Frets are hammered in the slots with a dead blow hammer while the fingerboard is on a solid base (in this case my sawbench).

 

Each fret in turn is nipped to length as it is hammered in.

 

Frets are now all in and ready for dressing.

 

The fret ends are sanded level with the side of the fingerboard and rounded off with the finest sanding belt I have.

 

The slot ends are filled with melted lacquer with a soldering iron and then sanded flat on the linisher.

 

Sanding the ends of the frets leaves sharp edges which are rounded off with a fretting file.

 

Final step is to polish off the fret ends with 1200 wet/dry sandpaper.

 

And then glue the fingerboard to the mandolin.  A few steps have been missed out here because I forgot to take the photographs.