Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Two Woodworkers Make Beautiful Music

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Two Woodworkers Make Beautiful Music

Article excerpt

Mike Dulak jokes that he and his partner are professional loiterers.

"This is moron work," deadpans Dulak, owner of the Mid-Missouri Mandolin Co. "Anybody can do it."

But looking at the beautifully sculpted stringed instruments that line the wall of Dulak's central Columbia workshop, one tends to doubt it. Mid-Missouri Mandolins are handcrafted from start to finish, using mahogany, maple and rosewood backs and sides and spruce soundboards. This gives the mandolins the rich, warm sound of a solid wood instrument. Dulak and Keith Angsten are artists of sorts, creating about 10 mandolins a week. They make five versions of the instrument, which traditionally is used in country and bluegrass music. One is made from African mahogany on its back and sides, with an Englemann spruce top. Another is made of maple on its back and sides, with a Honduras mahogany neck and an ebony fretboard and bridge. They offer options for all the mandolins, including a high-gloss lacquer finish or a bound fretboard. They even make left-handed models. And they all sound different. "The way they are made makes them sound a certain way," Dulak said, strumming one of the mandolins. "Each one has personality." Dulak built the wall of his Wilkes Boulevard workshop in exchange for a couple months' rent. His "office," a small section at the front of the shop, is simply a desk occupied by a phone and a few scattered papers. Tools for shaping and sanding the wood fill the shop, and a variety of mandolin parts - from necks to frets - occupy every other space. The exception is a dusty, wooden, modern-art sculpture by Angsten that sits next to a work desk. Not exactly corporate America, but it seems the perfect place for Dulak, the head of the company, a man with a self-deprecating sense of humor who often comes to work in denim shorts and a T-shirt. Dulak is enjoying a certain amount of success: He's got a back order of mandolins, and dealers are clamoring for more. …

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