Building a Mandolin

Another bucket list project was tackled this year in the form of building my first mandolin. I've been tinkering around on the mandolin since I was 13 years old, and building my own was actually the catalyst to start woodworking as an adult, but it took me seven years and a push from my good friend Austin Papp to actually do it. He, our friend Jeremy and I converged at our mutual friend Caleb James (a planemaker you might have heard of)'s shop to see if we couldn't build a mandolin (mostly from scratch) in five days' time. Even with three fairly experienced woodworkers and one very talented instrument maker on the job, it was a pretty hefty endeavor, but one we pulled off with flying colors. All of us finished the five days with a playable instrument in hand, and I brought mine proudly back to Seattle for some finishing touches and many years of playing enjoyment ahead. In this video you'll see a very condensed version of the mandolin building process, from carving the arch top and bottom, tuning the top, shaping the neck, fitting the truss rod, sizing, pressing and filing the frets, and sooooo much more. I couldn't be happier with my instrument and cannot WAIT to build another one.

A HUGE thank you to Woodcraft Gallery for their continued support of my channel. Shop online and find classes at

Another big thanks to for sending specialized tools and supplies for the mandolin building class. For a list of supplies we ordered through Stewmac, see below:

5777 White Plastic Binding 5787 Black Plastic Binding 0735 Mandolin Tailpiece (Nickel) 0321Waverly Ebony Mandolin Endpin 4018-BStrap Button Felt Washers (Black) 4982-SB Ebony button, chrome screw 6181 ColorTone Shellac 6010 Bleached White Bone Nuts, Gibson Style Blank, Mandolin 0764 StewMac Narrow Fretwire - Narrow/Low, 2-foot piece 0767 Adjustable Archtop Mandolin Bridge 0781 Mandolin Truss Rod 0748-N Truss Rod Cover Screw0615Truss Rod Cover for Banjo or Mandolin 2511-N Golden Age A-style Mandolin Tuners - Bright Nickel, w black keys 0991 Peg Head Overlay Veneer - Ebony 0719 Spruce Tone Bar Wood, Set of 20727 Red Spruce Top Wood For Mandolin or Violin 1054Unslotted Fingerboard Guitar - Ebony 4093 Kerfed Lining for Mandolin 0964-IP Pearloid Fretboard Side Dots, Package of 100003-IP Pearloid Dot - 6mm 10917 D'Addario Phosphor Bronze Mandolin Strings - EJ745082 StewMac Z-File Fret Crowning Files - Original 1175 Fret End Dressing File0942 Gauged Nut Slotting File Set for Mandolin - Medium 4323 End Pin Jack Reamer 0344 Peghole Reamers - Standard15643 Aluminum Radius Sanding beam 18" Long - 12" Radius 4577 Fret/Fingerboard Levelers - 8" Length 3770 Fret Rocker 1298 Binding Router Bit Set 5046 Archtop Bridge Fitting Jig 4365 Fret Press Caul with 5 Fret Press Inserts 6159 Pocket Truss Rod Wrenches (5/16")3910Basic Setup Kit 4152 Dragon Hand-cut Rasp - Large/fine4179Razor File - Tapered Curved0331 Ibex Archtop Plane - 47mm 3760 Fret Beveling File (3 3/4") 5767 Stickit Self-adhesive abrasive - 120 grit 0584 Brown Tape (3/4")1976 Bind-All Binding Glue 7000Super Glue Starter Package 0622 Titebond (4 oz. bottle)5030Color Tone Stain (Vintage Amber) 5038 ColorTone Stain (Cherry Red) 5104 ColorTone Stain (Dark Walnut) 5991 TrueChannel Binding Router Jig 2231 StewMac Fret Slotting Miter Box with Fret Saw 0689B ending Iron 0688 Mandolin Side Bending Extension

Posted on August 23, 2019 .