Frank Marshall not only produced great faces for his figures but he was a great craftsman on his bodies. I have been fortunate now to inspect and own nearly 40 different bodies that were constructed by this genius and he did do some different things to them. I will try to cover some points.
First it is rumored that he would use orange crates for scrap wood to build his bodies. I think that is a misnomer because none of the bodies that I won were made from so called orange crates. In fact I have found that for the most part the perfectly shaped shoulder boards are made of Maple which is a hard wood. There are 3 pieces of maple laminated together and cut on a band saw to make the shape of the shoulder. I can certainly let you know that was not scrape wood which was used.
The base board as well as the side boards were made with poplar or pine. After this the entire front is crisscrossed with reed which is then tied and then the front is covered with a quilted material. This made for a very sturdy body and a very comfortable fit for the hand. The reed is bent into place forming the front of the body and was attached by small brads and glue.
The hole for the headpost is a 2″ in diameter hole and if the body was used for a flat bottom neck the hole remained just like that a plain circle but if the neck was ball and socket, the hole had a carved by hand route around the hole about 3/8″ wide and about 3/8″ deep. Perfect size. Marshall did it perfect.
If you check back on the Marshall article by Bob Isaacson (click here to see article) there are some great photos of Marshall in his shop creating one of his bodies as well as some great shots of him working on his heads.
P.S. If you’d like to know more about Frank Marshall, check out the DVD that we created at Ventriloquist Central: A Frank Marshall Tribute DVD
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Marshall called the shoulders the yoke, as did Lester and Berger, because shaped like an oxen’s yoke. For possible orange crate use see Chubby Cub photo http://tinyurl.com/2zn8f5 (bottom left) which has that look and feel.
Lee thanks for the info on the yoke. I checked the body on Chubby Cub and it is poplar and not orange crate material. The cracking is due to age only and band saw cutting.
Frank Marshall told me he put candle wax on the socket.