This mandolin was much faster to build than my first one, but still took awhile: I did the majority of the construction in about two weeks with around 40 hours of build time. It took another week and 20 hours to complete the mandolin after a two month hiatus. It cost less than $100 for all of the materials for this mandolin making it a relatively inexpensive project considering the end product.
For more information about my first and second mandolin projects (including plans for both), check out my website: thewidgetforge.com
Step 1: Making the Form
I started by making the maple head and tail blocks that would give the finished mandolin much of its structure and connect the body to the neck. The simple neck to head block joint was made with a tenoning jig on the table saw.
I used an "inside" form design where the bent sides will be attached on the outside of the form using rubber bands. I used 3/4 inch birch plywood for the main body of the form. This type of plywood has many more plies and is a made from denser/ higher quality wood than standard pine plywood. This made for clean cuts and a better looking form. If there is any chance you will make another mandolin of the same design, higher quality plywood is definitely worth it.
Attaching the Head Block
I attached the head block with a sturdy 3/4 inch thick block secured with 2 screws in the block and two more in the form. This system is definitely a weak point in the form design, but I haven't come up with a better way to hold the head block in place. This method works, but it's clumsy to work with and isn't the most stable since the block can bend and therefore let the head block move (although only a little bit.)
Cutting It Out
I first glued on the paper template I would use to cut out the top profile of the form. Next I drilled out the corners of the tail block section using 1/4 inch holes. These holes prevent interference with the corners of the tail block when it is snugly fit into place. I did this before cutting out the area where the tail block would be held. This saved a lot of trouble compared with my last mandolin when I forgot this step and had improvise a way to clean up the corners so the tail block would fit. I also drilled a hole in the center of the form to accept a dowel. This dowel will later be used for securing rubber bands that will hold the sides in place. I cut out the form's top profile on the band saw and smoothed it with a drum sander then friction fit the tail block into its recess. With a template glued onto the tail block, I was able to shape the tail block.