Workpage 2015

Steve's  Mandolin

Arrival pics
My good buddy Steve Helme in the U.K. donated this beautiful little vintage mandolin to me and it arrived today.
It is maple and Spruce, very well made but with no makers marks or labels.
I would say early 1920s.
It has a few issues, someone plugged some holes, it has a few very small seam separations on the wall, and a few top cracks to seal.

I plan on making it a 4 string mando which will put less pressure on the soundboard and be easy and fun to play around on in GDAE tuning.

The Mando came from a WAY different Climate so I want to get some things done now, before they get a chance to realize "Hey, Im not in England any longer"

Sealed the top cracks, took the mahogany pick guard to a "faux Rosewood" appearance.

Cut the old locating pins for the fixed bridge to level, Added a coat of sealer for now.

All sealed up
Starting the second tint on the body
Fade will deepen when I get the full 3 color sunburst onto it.
Neck comes later

I think I will use Celluloids to hide all of the old peghead repair and this sheet is from that same era.
Have had it for years myself. from someones Grandma's old Kitchen table I suspect.
Extreme care must be used using any power tools on this highly flammable substance.
It is Nitrocellulose, anyone knowing about smokeless gunpowder should be able to relate.
This is a solid sheet of it.
I use water cooled saws if it is to be of any length.
In this case, a razor knife will do.

Will do rear, drill put peg holes and deco notch, then the same on front side.

Back done, holes done ,drilling out the periphery so I can file it clean.

3rd color applied, clear coats from here on put.
Shaded the peghead to make it all work together, I like it.

I will stencil a star on, the peghead just looks long to me

Peghead edge scraped back to a lighter color to give an appearance of binding.
Also a tad  of tint at the bottom by the nut.

Scraping away the color off the purfling on the edge and around the soundhole

Old frets were too low, and plain stock, no barb, will go in with modern wire

Radiused board, right at 16 inch so im cutting it at 16

Need to add one missing abalone dot.

Ready to deepen slots

I'm going a few at a time, when there is time.
Oiling board as I go


After fretwork, nut "Bart" bridge and finish /buffing were completed I set the instrument up on these gauges.

Cutting the new nut slots to proper gauges
I will slowly lower them down close to the radisu'ed board

Painted the rusty tailpiece black and wooled the ends back to brass, new screws.


Plays nicely, clear tone on the Bronze.
Actual bridge placement is way up from where the pins stuck out  of the top so if it was bridged there, it was FL---at!

4 coats of Mohawk Nitro, not "Overfinished", I want it to still be able to open back up quickly

I reused the modern Sta tite Friction tuners, if someone wants geared I can change for a fee.

Now both Acoustics are done, they can settle in as I adjust them on out.
Steve, thanks for the project, now for the Abbott!
So until then....back to Banjos!
Thanks for looking,