Learning Ukulele 50 Sites Top 50 Ukulele Sites Argapa Ukuleles - one size louder

Monday, April 15, 2019

Finishing Li’s uke

I got sidetracked fixing the last details on my wahwah bass*. But now it’s time to make progress and wrap this one up. I spent an awful half hour yesterday sanding this with my Festool ROS and today I grabbed a bottle of shellac. 

I can’t help it, I take this pic every time I start shellacing an instrument. The grain pops and I let out a sigh of relief - only the rest left!

*leave a comment if you want to see that monstrosity. 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Travel ukes, a new way

I made a jig for laying out the contour of a travel uke a while back. Now I have some pieces of walnut that want to be turned into ukes. One of the ideas behind the jig is to make the hole and recess first, while there is still a lot of wood surrounding it. If I cut the outline first the endgrain by the but is very fragile. 

So the jig is made from two parts, one is for laying out the hole. 

And this is something you don’t see often in the dungeön, me testing on scrap!! I tell others to do that but rately can I be arsed to follow my own advice. I drill using a drill stand, lacking a drill press in my home workshop. 

Once the depth is dialled in I go for the real piece. The drill is modified to leave a smooth bottom in each hole, I shortened the brad point and the spurs. 

I roughed in the upper edges of the hole, screwed the jig back together and pressed the small part into the hole. Then I can scribe around the large part to get the outline of the instrument-to-be. 

And here’s the router plane smoothing out the bottom, and making it deeper in small increments. My thought is to get the hole nice looking then thinning the soundboard with a smoothing plane from the front face. 

At this moment the thickness was 2.3 mm, I went to around 1.8 in the end. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The bridge for Li’s soprano

The work is slow but steady, as always. I had a spot of trouble when I fractured my kneecap and lost some momentum, but some stuff I’ve managed to do. 

Grabbing a chunk of mesquite, I hogged off a piece for the bridge. 

After making two sides parallel I planed a face flat. Mesquite is quite tough so some light oil on the sole of the plane really helps. 

And as I have on a few bridges recently, I cut the saddle slot with a handsaw rather than my small table saw. Less setup, less noise. 

I saw two cuts and clean out the waste with a narrow chisel, it’s ground as a mortise chisel with flat sides. 

After a wee bit of fiddling the bone saddle slides in. You want to cut the slot before final shaping of the bridge, it’s much easier to make the edges parallel to the slot than making the slot parallel to the edges. If you work with hand tools. 


Laying out, masking, marking, drilling, clamping. (Of course after making sure the bottom matches the radiused soundboard.)

I secured it with a guitar string I had on the bench, just to stop it sliding around in the glue. 

And clamping. I get the wedges out to control the pressure, checking all edges for squeeze out. It’s not perfectly straight forward, clamping something with as many angles and facets as this.