Construction - Rims
Body Blocks
Making patterns for body blocks and other components, and then tracing the patterns onto the wood, used to be standard practice.   Going to the copy shop down the street and running a handful of copies of the pattern instead, and gluing them onto the wood with washable glue sticks results in a much higher level of accuracy and consistency. It’s also much easier to see the black on white lines. A couple passes with a damp sponge is generally enough to remove the paper.

Body Points

The material below is fossilized walrus ivory, buried in Alaska for hundreds or thousands of years. It is not truly fossilized in the sense that the ivory has been replaced with minerals. It’s in the early stage of fossilization and is just slightly harder than fresh ivory. This particular material came from a friend, whose mother purchased it from a member of the Inuit tribe more than 20 years ago.

Fossilized ivory—whether walrus, wooly mammoth, or mastodon—may be collected on private lands with the permission of the land owner, and is not regulated under the Marine Mammals Protection Act.

Gluing the odd shapes and angles can be a challenge. As with kerfing (described below), fingers and a bit of patience work as well as anything. A spindle sander is a wonderful tool for shaping the points, assuming you can get past the smell, reminiscent of the dentist grinding your teeth.

Points Points2

Body Jig

There are many styles of jigs to glue up the body blocks and rims. The notches around the outside edge help square-up and line-up clamps when gluing.


Clamping the incongruent angles of the rims and the kerfing is a challenge. No clamp seems to work as well as my fingers. By clamping the jig shown previously to the workbench, it is relatively easy to apply a good deal of pressure by simply locking one’s fingers and leaning back. Anyone who has done a bit of rock climbing will recognize the grip. Using a quality glue and listening to a good bluegrass radio station, five minutes of pressure is generally adequate.