Mandolin Cafe News

Maplewood Center for Common Craft

Macica Workshop-October 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marty   
Wednesday, 08 October 2014 16:51

Greetings from the Workshop!  I have just returned from a weekend of Salmon fishing with my oldest son and a few friends...


We caught some great fish!  I'm happy to have a good amount of fish meat in our freezer now...

In the workshop, I am finishing up a lot of projects.  I have mainly been working on the A-style mandolins (three in all) and the bouzouki that I blogged on last post.

I am really enjoying using Burl wood in a few parts of this instrument.  Burls yield a highly figured wood that can be prized for its beauty and rarity. It can be sought after by furniture makers, artists and wood sculptors.  I am using it for the binding and the rosette on the bouzouki..I think it adds a beautiful touch to this instrument.

I have just finished the tuning of the plates and the shaping of the tone bars on the mandolins.  Now, I will close them up and it will be time for the binding and putting the necks in.  I'll keep you posted!

I wanted to give a little plug in this post for an event happening tomorrow evening (Thursday) October 9th at 7:00. The Northeast Woodworkers Association is having an instrument maker forum at the Shaker Museum near the Albany airport.  I will be talking about violin making and invite you all to please feel free to come!

I look forward to visiting and talking with those that come out to listen/learn from a few of the local luthiers in the area.

Until next time,






Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 October 2014 17:46
Vacation/Making a Bouzouki in the Workshop PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marty   
Friday, 12 September 2014 11:55

Greetings from our Workshop! We have just returned from a vacation to the Connecticut shore...

We had beautiful weather and the ocean water was a perfect temperature..

Best of all....lots of fishing which made for good eatin'...

Great Vacation!  In the Workshop, I have been putting most of my time into making a Bouzouki....

I am making this instrument for singer/songwriter Andy Gullahorn from Nashville, Tennessee.  He is hoping to use this instrument on the "Behold the Lamb" tour this upcoming Christmas season.  Here is a link to his website...

This Bouzouki is an Irish Bouzouki which looks like half mandolin, half guitar.  It was originally a Greek instrument and was brought into being in the 60's as an Irish instrument.  Creating a mold for this instrument was the first part of the process...

I then began work on the top and back of the instrument.  I like to scrape the tops and backs because it keeps the pores of the wood nice and open.  An advantage to making a handmade instrument is that I have better control over varying thicknesses.  Not to mention the bracing glues up stronger with the open pore wood as well.

A favorite part of the process for me is cutting the rosette.  After I scribe the circle, I pull out the wood with my hand router.

I use Burrow wood for the inlay.

Here, it is just glued in with the inlay..

As you can see, the instrument is starting to take shape...

I will keep you posted on the continual process of the Bouzouki as I get farther along.  I look forward to hearing Andy play this instrument in his upcoming tour dates...

Hope you all had a good summer and are enjoying the fall!

Until next time,




Last Updated on Friday, 12 September 2014 12:37
2014 Two Week Guitar Making Intensive Class PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marty   
Tuesday, 12 August 2014 16:34

Hello once again!  For those of you who are interested in a pleasurable shop experience along with making your very own guitar, this blog post is for you. It will center on the upcoming "Two Week Guitar Making Intensive Class" (September 15th-27th) offered through Maplewood Center for Common Craft here in upstate New York.  This class is unique in that the entire process is a hands-on experience using hand tools.  So, grab yourself a cup of coffee and let's get started.....

Day #1

The class begins in the timber frame wood shop at Maplewood Center for Common Craft. I consider it an honor to work in such a beautiful space.  We will begin by gluing up the top and back of the guitar using the shooting board method.

We will join and glue the top and back, and then scrape later.

We use a scraper to smooth everything. This will keep the reeds in the wood open and doesn't fill the pores of the wood with dust which adds weight and is not conducive to sound.

We will then construct the sides.  This will entail bending the sides using a natural flame over bent metal.

The guitar molds will hold the sides in the correct shape.

After this, you will plane your sides to the correct height.  We will then end the day with gluing in the blocks and linings on the back.

The model that I have chosen for this class is based on the Martin D18.


Day #2

We will start off the second day of the class with a cup of coffee or tea if you prefer. (Actually..we will start off each morning in this way)  We can gather together and talk about the days work.  Next, we will begin by doing a little smoothing out of our top and back with the scraper.  Now, we will need to plane and put the radius on all the tone bars.  I use a method that works great and makes a perfect radius tone bar every time.

You will then glue the bar for the back in.

Now we can switch our attention to the hand cut dovetail the way Martin used to do it in the beginning.  Its going to be fun!


Day #3

We will work on the roset using hand inlay tools.

You can choose your own design based on the assortment of inlay we have.

This is a really nice detail that we will take the whole day to do.  Before we are done, we will shape the bracing.

Lastly, we will glue the back on.


Day #4

We are now well on our way in the process of making a guitar.  We will start the morning gluing the upper support bracing on your top.  We can then concentrate on fitting the X bracing together.


Day #5

We will glue the finger bracing and bridge plate.

Basically, we have a lot of bracing to do at this part of the process.  We will then cut excess off the back.

We will then glue the linings.  We use lots of clothes pins!


Day #6

We will spend this day carving all the bracing.

We will carve the linings and clean up the inside.

Now, it is time to close the box.


Day #7

First thing this morning (after our coffee of course...) is to cut the excess off of the top.

We will then clean up the edges.

It is time to do the binding using a violin purfling knife, marking gauge and a chisel for a little clean up.

Now, we fit our wedge in.


Day #8

We are now more than halfway through the process.  We are going to clean up the box and smooth everything out.

We are now ready to carefully apply our first coat of sealer as to not let it sink into the pores of the wood.

We will continue this process in between the stages of building the neck.  We will end the day cleaning up the mortis for the neck recess.


Day #9

The hand dovetail joint.  This is a very satisfying and I feel better joint, because it is pressure fit.  A very tight fit is good for tone.  We will start with a neck blank and map it out.

The knife wall line is for where the neck fits to the upper bout.

Cutting the dovetail.


End the day with varnish.


Day #10

What is nice about this dovetail joint, is that there is little excess on the top of the neck where the fingerboard is glued.  This makes it easy to calibrate our neck angle to the bridge height.

We will now tack glue the fingerboard and start shaping the neck.

Lots of shaping to do.

At the end of the day we will glue on the head stock veneer.


Day #11

We will begin with planing off the head stock veneer that we glued on Day 10.

There will be a continuation of filing and sanding.  We will end the day gluing in the neck, fingerboard and heel.


Day #12

Today we will position the bridge and saddle for intonation.

Next, we glue.

The rest of the day we will set up for the hardware.


Day #13

The last day we will string it up and enjoy its sound!

This guitar class will take you through the whole process of building your own guitar using hand tools.  In the end, you will not only have learned the process, but will have a beautiful, handmade instrument to enjoy for many years to come.

You can register for this "Two Week Guitar Making Intensive Class" at

Take Care,














Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 August 2014 07:17
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

Page 1 of 16

The Macica Workshop: Maker of Fine Stringed Instruments

166 County Route 338, Schuylerville, NY 12871 518.695.3029