Yesterday I made bent the bouts or sides into shape and clamped them in place so they would retain their shape ready for gluing.

I realised I would need more luthier clamps so I decided to make some more. They are easy and cheap to make. In my case, the ones I made for the violin project were too small for the mandolin which has a deeper body.

Making luthier clamps
I bought two lengths of 3/16-inch threaded rod and packs of washers, nyloc nuts and wing nuts for that size. I already had some 3/4-inch dowel.

I cut the threaded rod with a hacksaw into 12 equal lengths of 100mm (4 inches), cleaned up the cut ends with a file and threaded on a nyloc nut – just enough to bring the thread flush with the nut. The nylon inner coating will hold it in place as the fixed end.

Then I drilled a 3/16-inch hole in the end of the dowel to the full depth of the drill. It doesn’t have to be precisely centred but it helps to be reasonably vertical.

luthier clamps

I then ‘salami’ sliced the dowel into half-inch or 1.5 cm lengths. I then re-drilled the next batch and so on until I had 24 dowels.

luthier clamps

I then took the threaded rods and slipped on a washer, then dowel, then dowel then washer and finally wing nut to make the completed clamp. The dowels will not damage the instrument and will gently draw the top and back plates together against the bouts.

luthier clamps

And here is the instrument glued up and clamped in all directions – a woodworker can never have too many clamps!

luthier clamps

I also made a maker’s label and attached it where it would be visible through the sound hole.

maker's label

What you won’t see is the hidden wish on the underside of the top plate – that will only ever be seen by a future repairer or someone with a dentist’s mirror 😉