For Builders

F5 topographic contour maps:

While I no longer use the "topographic" method for carving my own plates, I still have these contour maps for F5 mandolins here. They are also available on the Musical Instrument Makers' Forum.  The contours do not include the recurve, which I carve after cutting the steps with a Safe-T-Planer.  The diagrams show the structure of the block/rim assembly as well as the contours.

Click here to open the PDF  (56kb).

The Neck Geometry Calculator:

Update 7/14: The Calculator is now available as a web app as well! You can still download the Excel version (below) if you prefer to be able to save your calculations. It's also faster running it in Excel than it is on the web.

I designed this Excel spreadsheet so I wouldn't have to construct scale drawings whenever I wanted to build a carved-top instrument with new geometry.  It calculates:  Bridge height, neck angle, height of the neck surface above the headblock, string break angle, downward force on the bridge, and a few other odds and ends.  Although I made the spreadsheet with mandolins in mind, I believe it should work fine for many other types of instruments.  I do not guarantee its accuracy, but my tests show very good results.  I'd love to hear from anyone else who uses it. The documentation includes a diagram and the formulas describing the relationships between all of the variables (believe it or not, there's one for every letter of the alphabet, plus a few Greek ones!).  New 10/06: Version 3 allows the user to enter custom string gauges to calculate string tension and downward force for any mandolin-family instrument. Enjoy! Right-click the links below and select "Save Target As..."  Version 3 contains a few macros that add minor interface functionality.  You may have to tell Excel to "enable macros" when you open the file.   If you download both the Excel and Documentation files to the same directory on your computer they will remain linked and you will be able to launch the documentation from the spreadsheet.

Download the Neck Geometry Calculator v. 3

Download the Neck Geometry Calculator documentation