I built this mandola a few years ago from a nice Cohiba box. Turned out well; the neck is bolted-on and it's held the tension of the full eight strings for several years.

I've started in improving it, however. I've removed the glued-on copper-wire frets and I'm going to install real frets.

I would like to experiment with thinning the top down. It's solid cedar, and about 7mm thick. I do have it cross-braced.
I'd like to take that down to about 4mm to see if the sound improves.

I don't have access to a surface planer... I considered just putting sheets of sandpaper on a glass surface and starting to sand, but that's going to be tedious.

Anyone suggest a more efficient method?

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Coupla ways:

1) Go to your local hardware store, Home Depot or Lowes, and rent a plunge router. You can thin a top down to the exact depth you want very quickly, and just keep mak9ng passes until it's all thinned. You can even leave the bracing in-place, and just thin around it.
2) You can even laboriously remove wood with a power drill and a Forster bit. Drill holes all over the areas you want thinned, then chisel out the remainder and sand.
3) Plunge routers are pretty cheap; you might be able to afford one...

Thanks for the reply, my local hardware store does have a nice tool-rental area.

Mark,
Here's an example of a top thinned with a plunge router:

http://www.cigarboxnation.com/photo/cbg-002-7?commentId=2592684%3AC...

Very cool.  I just realized that I actually have a plunge-router.  Sort of.

Years ago my wife bought me a "spin saw" kit from QVC.   I stuck it aside and forgot about it until I was cleaning out a storage space.

Thing looks rather like a large Dremel with a bunch of accessories including a plunge router base.  Takes standard 1/4" router bits, apparently.

Sears sold the same thing under their Craftsman brand.     No bits, however, guess I have to buy a surface-cutting bit.

Yep, you can use standard router bits with it' I have both a Dremel, and a Roto-Zip that can do this, as well as a plunge router.

Hi, if the top is still glued to the rims I would use a 3 or 4 inch belt sander. I cant visualise how a router with the base resting on the work surface can work. It would start off ok while you have enough flat surface to reference the depth off of, but that's going to get less and less as you move across the top.

I suspect the router would have to be jigged up so as to be suspended above the work surface.

Ok, I see the link above now. It shows not only thinning the top [in places] but also maintaining much of the stiffness in  the braces by making them higher. Better to remove timber from the other side [outside] maybe?

I also have a planer fitting that goes in a drill press, works like a large Forstner bit. 

Cheers Taff

I did a llittle searching on YouTube... Lot's of woodworking stuff.
Guy just built a little framework to hold the work, and mounted the router on a board that slides around on the framework. Looks quite acccurate.
Yep, that's how I envisioned it being done.
Taff

 Just make the rest of the guitar thicker    :-}

(sorry  ... ill see myself out ) 

  ;-)

I like that......but Pick, pay attention it's a mandola, not a guitar.
Taff

Let it hang out with thicker boxes...

Look at it through a fun-house mirror...

stop buying cheesy-poofs for its mid-day snack...

(sorry...I'll queue up behind Pick at the exit)

On a serious note, I would use a belt sander.

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