View Full Version : Not a first uke...a mandolin

06-28-2012, 05:12 PM
In order to get some experience in building I am taking some advice and doing some repair. This is my first extensive repair. While its not a uke I did learn some things that apply.

This mandolin is an early Harmony cheapo mandolin owned by a friend who has several very nice mandolins but this one has some sentimental value. From the pictures you can see how bad it was. HHG allowed it to be taken apart (more than it already was) for repair.

I can't seem to get these in order so imagine them in the correct order...

06-28-2012, 05:23 PM
The inside revealed a very poor HHG job. It also revealed something that looked like MDF used for tail and neck blocks and kerfing. The owner said he hit his dog over the head "lightly" and heard the mandolin explode. The right f hole was wallered out so he could put a mic inside back in the 60s. He also refinished it with about a quart of amber varithane.

The previous crack repair was some sort of white putty and a similar glue was used to fix cracks and the sides at the tail joint. I think it was probably half a quart of what ever that was.

06-28-2012, 05:31 PM
After a lot of gluing, fitting and triming it looks like a mandolin again. I decided to not make the cracks disappear or fill in the hole in the f hole. Those have some stories to tell. It would have involved some wood removal due to the cracks having stains from dirt and coats of stain.

06-28-2012, 05:47 PM
Here the body is finished except for the final sunburst finish. The original binding could have been used but wasn't in good shape. I made new binding from a piece of 4" PVC pipe I had lying around. It was free, immediately available and worked great. I can get it in black, white, green, yellow,orange and grey.

I have read several times to be careful with CA glue and not glue yourself to the work. I'm a fairly smart guy and no one needs to tell me that. On the other hand, medium CA makes a very unforgiving glue up. By the time you realize you stuck to the binding its too late. Didn't have anything to disolve the glue so with one hand permanently attached to the binding, I found some MEK (I know my children will have three arms) and after drizzling on my finger for a few minutes, liberated the mandolin. I would have hated to have to cut off a finger to save the mandolin. Would have made an interesting pick guard bracket.

I bought a set of finger planes from Harbor Freight and after doing some extensive sharpening, they work great. The scraper plane was perfect for the binding. Paid $11 for the set of three.


I forgot to take a picture of the pick guard I made. I'll add that tomorrow. The plan is to put a dark brown/black to orange/dark amber sunburst. The original had some faint black striping to simulate figured maple. I would also like to put the Harmony name back on the headstock if someone knows an easy way to do it.

06-28-2012, 06:26 PM
Repair looks good. Maybe you aught to thump the guy on the head with a 2x4.....lightly

06-29-2012, 04:40 PM
Here's a pic of the pick guard I made. couldn't find black plexi but I found a black clip board at an office supply. Cut the shape out and put on a matching binding of Pvc. Just need to make a bracket to attach it. Now on to applying the finish.

07-05-2012, 11:31 AM
finished the mandolin restoration. Used EM6000 and tinted it with Rit Dye. I really like the product and was able to take small amounts in plastic water bottles and have several tints available to do the sunburst with. I airbrushed with a siphon and gravity feed gun with great results. After putting on a wet coat of clear there was a noticable blue tint, however is was gone the next day. Now the bad news...my test board was and is perfect. Looked great with no issues. The mandolin however came up with a significant efflorescence. Sanding removed most of it but with every new spray is still came back. I ended up with a rubbed finish that looks acceptable. I'll use it on my uke. I really like using it and again had no problems on my sample board. The headstock picture shows the white efflorescence before I removed it. It also shows the nice black that I got with the Rit Dye. Target Coatings thought there was some trapped moisture from the compressor. I drained it and added a dessicant dryer but still got some minor problems. But the practice board looked great.