The Rim/ Joining the Neck
Attaching the sides and the neck are the first big glue ups of the project. This is really getting into the exciting bit where random pieces of wood start to look like a mandolin.
Glueing the Sides
Before I started with the gluing, I had to cut down the sides for length in order to butt up to one another cleanly at the tail end. I glued the sides onto the tail and head blocks using epoxy. Epoxy was used in order to fill the gaps left by the imperfect fit between the sides and the head block. To hold the sides while they dried, I used a central dowel to wrap smaller ruberbands around the edge. This method made it very easy to secure the sides without an extra set of hands. It also let me more easily position the sides.
Roughing the Neck Angle
Shape the Neck
At this point, I was able to partially carve the neck. I shaped the peg head to its final shape, but left the heel and neck oversized so they could be carved to their final dimensions when attached to the rim, top, back and the fretboard.
Leveling the Rim
To get the sides to thickness on the top, I used a plane as shown in the picture. For the final smoothing and leveling, I sanded the rim using the flat surface of a belt sander that wasn't running. The back can't be flatened until the neck is attached since the base of the neck needs to be level with the back of the head block.
Attaching the Neck
The neck was glued into place with wood glue. I had to use a very small amount of glue. Any more caused the joint to lock together to the point where I counldn't push the neck all the way in. Once I attached the neck I was able to flatten the entire back surface as I had done with the front. The body ended up being slightly thinner than I had planed. The angled design of the sides requires a compound bend, which costs some width, so I had to sand down the entire back to about a 1/16th of an inch thinner than the planned 1.625 inch body depth.
The Finished Rim
Here is the completed rim ready for the top and back to be attached. I was originally going to finish carving the neck at this stage, but decided it would be best to wait. In fact, it would have been easier to just leave all of the carving until after the top, back and fretboard were in place. That way, everything could be carved at the same time since all of these parts flow together.