After jointing the timber for the back, the next thing was to settle on a design. I wanted to design a shape that will make best use of the timber while retaining a compact shape. I started with an outline of a spoon-back mandolin, and then decided that it needed more body at the neck end.

My initial sketch was done straight on the timber

I used a hole saw to open the sound hole, and then used a wider hole saw to cut an annular groove for the sound hole decoration.


After toying with the notion of purfling, I decided on a different approach – I had earlier seen some fine copper powder and felt that would be a more creative approach. The copper is mixed with PVA and brushed into the groove.


It looks messy, but remember it is going to be sanded back, removing the surface copper, and preparing it to be varnished in place.


I know little of mandolin making, so I was wary of taking the thickness too low. I thicknessed the birdseye maple down to 4mm, and carefully sanded further down to almost half that – about 2.5mm.

And that is where I shall leave it for today.