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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If you can take the top off, remove the bracing and simply reduce the thickness with a hand plane.  It's quick, clean and accurate - no fancy power tools needed, just a good sharp blade. Using a router just makes the job more complicated and it's the wrong tool for the job. Sorry, but it really bugs me when people suggest power tools instead of more appropriate hand tools for a simple job like this.

I would use a trim router harbor freight has one for 30.00 pre drill  your depth and go crazy on that lid. clean up wit a sharp chisel or razor knife sand if needed

Sharp chisel and tap with a light hammer.

Hi again, I would like ask two things. What is meant by "go crazy with the the router"? What technique jigs are used? And, even if you use a very sharp chisel it's blade would have to be long enough to span at least half the box width. I would suggest a plane as it it is what is used traditionally for thinning tops by hand.
And I would imagine having to finish off with a sander, sanding block and/or cabinet scraper.
As the top is cedar you could use a sanding block. Hog off cross grain until close then go finer with the grain.

I do my acoustic guitar tops final tuning/thinning using sanding block and cabinet scraper, after it is glued to the rims.
Just wondering how you used those methods, not saying it's wrong.
Cheers Taff
I agree with taff. Every one has a cabinet plane in their shop to work on their Stradivarius. Just a little humor.

So, here's what I ended up doing:

As I said, I realized that I had a "router" of sort, one of those side-cutting drills which takes router bits.

So I bought a surface-cutting bit and built this jig:

Here it is with the top in place:

And finally the mostly-finished top:

What a mess... Should have used my shop vac as I was cutting....

Now to re-fret.

That will work. Great job with the jig.

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