I have a 1918-or-so Gibson A-style mandolin in my shop. It's in relatively good shape aside from one major issue: the back was being held on by a few strands of old hide glue to the head block after the sides had warped and expanded over the decades. I have removed the back entirely and cleaned up the glue joints, but the sides wont fit the outside perimeter of the back. Any time I try to put some pressure on one side to get it to fit the back, it pushes another area of the sides out of alignment.

Any thoughts on how to take care of this issue? I made a cutout in a piece of plywood to fit the body shape and tried inserting some softwood wedges in between the plywood mold and the side to hold the extended sides in place, but its really fighting me and I'm still struggling to get a good fit. Should I introduce heat/steam into the equation? I was even considering removing the endblock, making a small relief cut at the butt-joint by the strap button to relieve some pressure and reglue it, but I'm very reluctant to go this route.

Looking forward to your responses!

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Here's a method I've used for a couple of decades now - it's a tricky bit of business, but it absolutely does work:

Be sure to read the follow-up article linked at the bottom.

WOW, it's not every day you see an answer laid out that well.  Chad, take it to the bank.

I've made the L- bracket jigs, as described by Frank- they worked beautifully on an old Gibson archtop, and am old Epiphone archtop. Don't delay, make yourself a set of those brackets!


Beautiful method. Thanks a ton!


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