Building the Form

The form was the first thing I built. It consists of a plywood mould and the head and tail blocks which will support and strengthen the sides and top. This form is different from those usually used with a traditional mandolin. Because of the angled design of the sides on this mandolin, the head block and the form have to be carved or cut for clearance to accommodate the twisting sides. An alternative to shaping the form would be to cut out clearance on the mould where the sides curve. This would make for less carving and would save some headaches. I used 3/4 inch pine plywood for the form. I would suggest using some of the nicer birch or hardwood plywood, especially if you plan on making more than one mandolin from the same form. It would be much easier to work with a higher quality hardwood plywood that does not chip out as easily as the pine ply does.

Head Block and Neck Blanks

Add AddThese are the blanks for the head block and neck. The joint was cut out on a table saw using a tenoning jig. The joint is very tight and was easy to make accurately.

The Form Blank

AddThis previosly mentioned head block in position next to the form blank. The form blank was made with two 3/4 inch thick pieces of plywood and a 1/4 inch spacer to make up the 1.75 inch high form (the same thickness as the sides.) Four decking screws secure the plates together.


AddI attached the head block to the form with a piece of plywood screwed into both components. The holes in the head block will be covered by the top so they won't affect the finished look of the mandolin. The pattern was printed out from the plans and then glued with a glue stick onto the form. These paper templates make for a very fast and easy way to layout the design.

Adding the Tailblock

Add AddThe tail block is held in only by a very (very) tight fit. The holes drilled at the corners are there to stop interferece where it is impossible to carve effectively. It is easiest to drill these holes first, then cut out the rest of the opening and fit the opening to the tailblock.

Shaping the Sides

Add AddUsing the patterns on the top and bottom I carved out the final shape on the head block and the angled reliefs on the form. I used a microplane rasp to do the carving. The end result is not perfectly flat, but it is close enough to glue up. Any gaps between the sides and blocks will be covered by the top and back.

The Completed Form

AddHere is the completed form ready for the sides.

Next... bending the sides.