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Roughing the Neck

Firstly a rough shape of the neck is marked out on a plank of Queensland Maple.  The plank selected is flat sawn so that the growth lines will be vertical or close to vertical in the finished neck.  I use Queensland Maple because it is a local species and readily available and is moderately light and very stable.  Other timbers of course can be used and I have also used Tasmanian Blackwood, Queensland Walnut, Tasmanian Myrtle, Jarrah and Ash.

 

The neck is cut from the plank on the bandsaw.  Usually I do a number of necks at the same time.  Here you can see 4 mandolin necks marked out on the plank.

 

The headstock is planed

 

and one side of the neck is planed flat.

 

The plank is a bit too thick so the neck is narrowed on the bandsaw.  The planed surface goes against the fence of the bandsaw.  If it is left too wide, the wings will be too thin and it is possible the glue line would be visible from the side, which is something we don't want.

 

Here we have a batch of neck blanks ready to be routed.

 

The groove for the carbon fibre rod is routed on the routing table.

 

Here the slot has been routed.

 

Here the neck blank is ready for storage or for gluing the wings.

 

Here the wings are clamped and glued to the rough sawn neck.

 

Once the glue is dry the upper side of the headstock is planed flat

 

and sanded completely flat on the linisher.

 

I get Ebony headstock veneers from Luthiers Mercantile, but you can cut your own if you have big enough pieces of Ebony.  They come just a bit thick for mandolins so I thin them down a bit on the drum sander.

 

The headstock veneers are a bit too long so need to be cut to size.  Here I am marking to size.

 

Cutting to size on the bandsaw.

 

One end of the Ebony headstock veneer is sanded to an angle so it will be parallel with the end of the fingerboard when installed.  The nut will fit in between the end of the fingerboard and this end.

 

This end must be square.

 

Here I am rough sanding the bottom surface of the headstock.

 

Now we prepare the Ebony headstock overlay ready for gluing.  First drill 4 holes.  These will be used to position the Ebony and to stop it sliding around when it is clamped.

 

Hammer a small nail through the 4 holes into the headstock.

 

Snip off the nail heads.

 

Dry fit the veneer.  Here we are using a black stained Maple veneer followed by a Maple veneer, then the Ebony.

 

Trim the ends of the veneer to size.

 

Apply glue

 

and spread out the glue.

 

Press on the black veneer, apply glue, and spread out the glue.

 

Press on the Maple veneer, apply glue, and spread out the glue.

 

Press on the Ebony

 

Apply a piece of paper to make sure when clamped it does not stick.  Sometimes glue will seep out of the nail holes.

 

And clamp.  I use a hefty piece of Jarrah on the upper side of the headstock to make sure everything is perfectly flat.

 

24hrs later the glue is dry.

 

Trim off the veneer at the nut position with a sharp chisel and it is now ready for the dovetail joint.