I'm gathering materials, making tooling, and starting out on building of two F-style mandolins, which I've never done. I've done pretty extensive repair work -- neck re-sets and the like, but haven't tried building an instrument since the 1950s. Now I'm semi-retired.
I have fancy curly maple for one mandolin back and thin maple for ribs (sides), spruce for two tops at least, ebony for fingerboards and headstock overlays, and bridges. I have roughed out two maple necks and two mahogany, have tailpieces ordered and Grovers one gold and one nickel sets. I have some 3/4" thick black walnut that has been on hand for many years, and that has always been one of my favorite woods. So I'm moving toward one maple b&s, maple neck, englemann top and one black walnut b&s, mahogany neck.
Having never bent anything, I'm very wary when I read that black walnut is difficult to bend. How difficult? Are there any special precautions that will make success more likely? The walnut I have is pretty straight grain, board sawn. I have some round pipe-like things I could torch heat, and a pressure-cooker steam generator of rather low capacity (which I could increase). I wouldn't really welcome a side track to build a steam chamber like I've seen illustrated somewhere, made from pipe, as there's so much work ahead already.