Sunday, May 20, 2012

Restoring a c1907 Orpheum 5-String Banjo

The Orpheum is mostly all there. The neck is in excellent shape. I made a new fretboard and will have to match the inlays.

I found some excellent photos of an Orpheum #3 from the same era and copied the inlays. I hand-cut the abalone shell and routed the fretboard.

The peghead is in excellent shape and just needs one small piece of the inlay replaced.

Close up of the abalone inlay and the routed space in the fretboard.

the fretboard inlays in place and sanded flush.

Close up of the first fret I hand cut from abalone shell.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Carving the Top for the Octave Mandolin

I made a chipboard template that use to trace a "topographic map" onto the solid spruce top wood. Each concentric line represents about 5/100" in height difference.
I have a router mounted on a large piece of plywood that rests on form holding the top or back plate. I can set the depth of the router and cut up to each line I have drawn.

The lowest area is cut first. I then raise the router and cut the next ring for 11 different levels.

After all the rings have been cut, it looks like this.

Then I use thumb plane to carve the top plate and blend together the different levels. Then lots of scraping and sanding to get it to the final outside shape.

F- Style Octave Mandolin Prototype

This is my first Octave Mandolin build. Like a mandolin, but much larger and tuned an octave lower. There is no standard size, and no real plans to go by, so I'm developing a prototype based on my personal preference for fret scale and body size. I am drawing detailed plans as I go and making modifications as I go. I made a form for the body and steam bent the maple for the rims. The head block is solid maple and the end block and two point blocks are made from maple and mahogany.

The rims are glued to the blocks and the has taken shape.

 The neck has been cut to rough shape with the ebony headplate and adjustable truss rod installed. The rosewood fretboard has been laid out and fretted to a 20.875" scale, making it easier to play for small to medium hands.

My original "flower pot" design for the peghead inlay. I hand cut the pieces from mother-of-pearl and abalone.