Quarantine had me playing a lot more mandolin, so I started looking into upgrading from my Loar LM-110-BRB (which I love and will always love). I was looking into high-end F style mandos around the 5k range but had trouble justifying it to myself.
I have also been on a hiatus from woodworking for roughly 10 years due to apartment living and have looked into instrument building on multiple occasions. I watched a few mandolin build videos and realized that if I could find the right kit, I might be able to build one with hand tools and patience. Using the calculation of “how much fun will I get out of this money” I decided that taking some of the cash I was going to spend on a new mando, picking up a new hobby, and getting back into some woodwork would be a better use of my funds.
With the nod from my fiancée to take over our puzzle table for a couple months, I ordered the StewMac F5 Mandolin kit as the majority of the work requiring a woodshop was done but there was still a LOT of work to do.
I ordered a bunch of the recommended tools, knowing I will have to order more later on, but I got what was needed for body and binding assembly. I also ordered a toolbox, apartment building means that after each session I would clean up my workspace and put any tools away. Having a dedicated place to put all my tools has kept this from taking over my apartment. I also picked up a pack of wood carving blocks, contractor shims, and some maple planks, these have all been super useful for testing cuts, clamping setups and supporting things/making cauls.
For learning what to do I picked up the Stew-Mac instructional video from Don MacRostie. That video was pricey but holy crap it is worth it is weight in gold. I supplemented this with Roger Siminoffs book, that thing is the bible on mandolin building and it is excellent, great for getting additional info and perspective of a different process.