Thursday, January 10, 2013

Squaring the neck.
Howdy Folks,
Let me introduce myself. My name is Tony Noordmans. I've been a musician for nearly 25 years, a woodcrafter for more years than that and a country boy for pretty much my whole life.
    When I was about 6 years old, my Pa showed me a few chords on the Tenor Uke. Wasn't to long after that I found a Stella Harmony guitar at a garage sale for $5 and I learned to love to play. Mom had an old Centennial Marine Band harmonica so I started playing around with that. Dad had an old Harmony Monterey mandolin and I picked that up. Well about this time I ran out of instruments in the house so I started shopping. I learned that instruments cost money and I didn't have much of that. I did however have access to my Dads tools and shop and a whole bunch of scrap wood. I built a dulcimer which later got demolished ( I think a sibling sat on it...). I bought a couple of kits and built a banjo and a violin. Now I was getting kind of cocky and decided to try a mandolin... from scratch. I did great, I had the neck all carved to perfection, the back and the belly shaped nicely, the fretboard ready to go, even the pick guard was cut out and sanded smooth. Then catastrophe struck. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to bend the sides. I busted three sets, burned my fingers badly, moaned and wailed. After checking out every book I could get on the subject from our local library (a total of two), I gave up. I donated the tools I had bought to a fundraiser garage sale; I burned the wood and tossed the patterns in the trash. I played cheap instruments and worked "real" jobs for 15 years. So much for my Stradivarius dreams.
      One day I found myself married with a baby and no job. I had sold most of my cheap instruments to pay the rent. Due to an "economic downturn" no matter how hard I searched I landed no job. All I had was a shop full of tools and a bunch of scrap wood... hmmmm, sound familiar? But hope has been added to the mix, something new, the world wide web. The amazing and sometimes mind boggling invention that brings information to anyone who has the ache for knowledge. God bless you builders of all kinds of instruments who have pictures of your shops and jigs and fixtures and processes. You have been my teachers. I have learned to bend wood! In fact, I have in my knowledge bank several different ways to bend wood.
          Three years later I am gainfully employed, still happily married and now with three children, a shop full of tools and (not all)scrap wood, I have built three (almost four) mandolins. I bought a house a half mile from Mosquito Creek, I can almost see it from my shop window. The moment of truth has arrived. The question lies before me, am I to be a great mandolin builder? Or will this adventure merely provide me with a nice mandolin of my own and great lessons learned?
Practice Instruments: #2 f style with mule deer antler points and #3 a cedar topped A style with a sweet woody sound. Below is the rim for the first Mosquito Creek awaiting a bit of hot hide glue.
         The very first Mosquito Creek mandolin is being born in my tiny corner-of-the-spare-bedroom-shop. Sporting a beautiful curly maple back and sides, Engleman spruce top, cast bronze Allen tailpiece, Golden Age tuners (I still can't touch the Waverlys), modified Brekke Bridge, perhaps even a radiused fretboard Its going to be a beauty. I hope/plan to have it finished at the MBOTMA ( festival in March. I will blog the build here at Mosquito Creek Mandolin.  Follow the build, then come to the festival and play it.

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