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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Stringing up the cavaquinho

After stressing out over the finish for a couple of weeks I decided to leave well alone and intall tuners and stuff. First up was dressing the fret ends. 

Then I made the nut, marking the rough height with the half pencil. It’s still one of my favourite tools, so stupid yet indispensable. 

Sometimes I’ll plane the nut and saddle to minimize dust, but it is tough on the plane irons. So I used a file instead. 

The bridge pins came with a small gemstone at the top, I removed those with a soldering iron and a needle. Since I have a piezo pickup I made a step in the bottom edge of the saddle, to get it to look better at the ends. I could have recessed the piezo element a bit, or made a slot that didn’t go across, but remember I made the slot with a saw and not the router. 

Full body shots coming soon! It sounds, as they say, amazeballs. 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Fretboard on

I promised Dafydd an ebony fretboard for his patience, and that means I have to ship it before that brain dead shit scenario of Brexit. I slotted the board and made marker dots of 1.6 mm styrene rod. Next pic will show the advantage of this. Frets went in with a bit of force, ebony is quite unforgiving. I made sure the profile was exactly how I wanted it before placing it on the neck, I prefer to whittle the neck down to match the fretboard than the other way around. 

Actually when I think back now I profiled and placed it before istalling the dots, I drilled into the neck through - wait, let’s go to the next pic shall we. 

Like I said, I placed the fretboard and clamped it. Then I drilled through two of the holes into the neck. Installing the dots I let two of them stick out as you can see, making for two anti-slip brads. It went nowhere during glue-up. 

And the glue-up can be seen here. The bead of squeeze out glue hides the very tiny ledge of the neck edge sticking out. I took that down with my sharp knife. 

The advantage of taking the neck down to fit the fretboard rather than the other way around is that the fretboard will have straight sides. If it’s wider than the neck you could trim it down but it’s tricky to do so at the overhanging end on the soundboard. That’ll result in a slight splay past the neck joint. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Prögress on Dafydd’s reso

Believe it or not, there’s not much left on the mahogany reso I’m building. So much is set in the skeleton and the hardware so setting the wooden parts in between feels a bit like an assembly task. 

But it is a fun task. In the first pic I’m trimming the overhang with my widest chisel. Having the uke in the vise really helps the precision. 

The heel is trimmed flush, also with the chisel. You know by now I really dislike abrasive methods and much prefer edge tools. 

Glue is applied. Since it’s a one piece back I don’t have to fret too much about center lines and stuff, as long as it doesn’t slide around too much it’s an easy glue up. 

I ought to make a caul for reso backs. Usually I use another skeleton as one but as y’all know this is my last one. It worked though, I have enough clamps.*

Then I needed to plane an ebony fingerboard. Most planes sort of skidded right off but my toothed plane with the steep iron angle chewed away at the board as if it was paid to do so. The plane is a gift from my friend Chris who builds ukes in his shed in Suffolk. 

Getting rid of the tooth marks was easier than I thought. I first tried my scraper plane but this wee offering from Stewmac was actually better. 

Once I was pleased with the thickness and the consistency I gave the top side a coat of renaissance wax. It’ll be a very nice fretboard once it’s in place. 

* Famous last words...