Mandocello - Projects - Audio Artillery


  1. Intro
  2. Design
  3. Top plate carving, exterior
  4. Top plate carving, interior
  5. Body construction
  6. Side bending
  7. Neck construction
  8. Headstock
  9. Body construction II
  10. Bracing
  11. Neck joint
  12. Back plate
  13. Body assembly
  14. Neck, meet body.
  15. Neck shaping
  16. Tailepiece
  17. French polishing
  18. Finished

16: Tailepiece

I had planned on using a standard mandolin tailpiece but it turns out my body is a wee bit lopsided at the tail end, so it wouldn't point straight. So I decided to fabricate a Benedetto-style tailpiece. It's two pieces of 3/16" wenge laminated together. The pockets were hollowed out with a dremel tool. The hooks on 1/16" brass rod which ought to be epoxied in but seem to hold fine with no adhesive.

(click for full size)

(click for full size)

(click for full size)

I realized after final assembly that this tailpiece design has a fatal flaw: you can't change a string without loosening all the strings. It's easy enough to do, just loosen the strings and pop the tail pin out, but it's pretty sub-optimal from a player's point of view.


17: French polishing

I don't have any photos of this step. I used the garnet color shellac from Stew-Mac, olive oil, pumice grit, and denatured alcohol as a solvent. It turned out well enough but filling the mahogany and wenge was only moderately successful. I made a key mistake: I didn't do a complete job at the filling stage. Later, after much bodying, I attempted to do some more filling. It worked, but since the pumice was abrading the shellac instead of the wood it somehow filled with a light tan color instead of a dark black. I also didn't sand everything perfectly, which showed up in several spots later.

Despite the mistakes made, I'm happy with the finish and it looks nice.


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