The Craftman's Journey: Part IX

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Michael Shirley

I nearly had a heart attack!

I’m not sure about other musicians, but I want an instrument that appeals to the eye as well as the ear, so the color and visual tone of the Master Mason’s Mandolin mattered a lot to me. Fortunately, it mattered to Joe too. We both like the look of old wood, and we both wanted the mandolin to have a vintage look, so a stain with wood tones was the logical choice.

The first picture he posted once he started the staining process was after he’d sanded and wetted (and sanded and wetted, and…you get the idea) the body, and it just looked beautiful. The maple back just shone. Then he posted the first step in the staining process. It didn’t look beautiful. He said he posted it to give me a heart attack, and he nearly succeeded. It was black.

Apparently, he needed to put that on and then wipe off most of it so that the gradations in tone would work. Who knew?  The black didn’t last long, and the first pictures of the stain he posted after that looked great. But Joe had a picture in his head and the color didn’t quite conform to that vision.

So he removed the stain and started over. The pictures he posted when he was done had the caption, “Finally got it where I want it.” Me, I was too amazed to be able to use words. All I could do was stare. I didn’t know then that I’d have to get used to staring. A lot.

This is the ninth installment of Michael Shirley's Mandolin Series.  To be continued . . .


W.B. Michael H. Shirley is Past Master of Tuscola Lodge No. 332 and Leadership Development Chairman for the Grand Lodge of Illinois. He's also a member of the Illinois Lodge of Research, the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star, and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. He's also a member of the newly-chartered, Illini High Twelve No. 768 in Urbana-Champaign. The author of several articles on British history, he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.

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