While researching mandolin history for The
Mandolin Project, I came across mention of a book entitled
Violins and Other Stringed
Instruments - How to Make Them, publsihed by Cassell & Co, London in
1904 and edited by Paul N. Hasluck. He was the editor of numerous manuals
how to make things, incluing various aspects of woodwork, bootmaking,
electic dynamos, and my favorite, motor bicycle building, which involves
your own one-cylinder engine from cast iron. (it is available as a pdf download on
the web) Violins and Other Musical Instruments covers building the violin family,
a Japanese one-string violin. the mandoline, guitar, banjo, zither and
dulcimer. As this book is now out of copyright, here is the chapter on
'Mandoline Making'. It is ten pages and I have scanned them in two at a
time and spread them over five web pages. Eventualy I will get the rest
of the book scanned as well and made available. A fascinating English
look at instrument making from a century ago. The link is on the left.
I started playing around with moulded soundboards in the 1980s and worked out some interesting ways to to form, by heat, moisture and pressure, an arched soundboard. These could, with a minimum of carving and graduating, be a very functional soundboard for bouzoukis and citterns or for that matter guitars, though I was never able to get one to work for a mandolin. My friend Scott Wise in Western Australia was making mandolins in this manner, but seems to be concentrating more on ukuleles these days. Moulding soundboards can be more economical with timber, especially the finite resource which is old growth spruce, but it does require some set up to have it work properly. The second link link on the left takes you to a pdf of an article written for American Lutherie in 1998.