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Friday, October 17, 2014

Bridge shaping

I found a piece of really hard mahogany which will make a good bridge. I shaped it with nothing but a chisel and my Leslie Nielsen no.1 plane. Both razor sharp. 

A dry fit, or more exactly; the bridge lying on top of the soundboard. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Improved fretting

Fretting time! On the koa concert. I've decided to try a method reminiscent of the one I use on the piccolos, which are fretted directly into the neck. 

On ukes with fretboards, I've done it like this:

I've cramped the fretwire into the fretboard before cutting it to length, then snipped it off with pliers before filing and sanding the ends flush with the board. It works well enough but I want to minimize the risk of protruding fret ends if the fretboard dries out. 

Since it isn't possible to file and sand the frets on the piccolos I undercut the tang and shape the ends before pressing them in, and it's the undercutting I'm going to do on this fretboard. 

Here you can see what I rant about. The tang is cut at a 45 degree angle. 

To get the length right I measure it at the slot. Always start with the longest ones; if you make them too short just move it a step or two closer to the nut end. As you can see that happened on the first fret tonight, that's why there's a seated one in the 14th slot while I'm working on the 15th. 

Give one end a tap with the hammer. I use a brass hammer on which I file and polish the face regularly. 

Then I use my lowlife cheapo fretting pliers. You can see it in more detail here:

I start at one end and work my way across. It works really well, at least well enough for me to forget about the upgrades between the occasions it's used. 

In the last pic the whole board is fretted and lies on the neck. The slight backbow disappears when it's glued on. 

I will show the file work in a later post, on this fretboard or on another. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Glueing back braces on the walnut tenor

Tonight I did some work on the tenor which is in progress. The first pic shows it clamped on the workboard. You can see the pickup I installed, a K&K twin spot. It's very neat and the cable won't rattle against anything. But I found it irksome to get the nuts tight enough and would not attempt to mount one of these on a completed uke, the back being off was crucial for me. 

I build backwards, putting the braces in the body and not on the back. Here you can see me tracing the curvature on the radius dish. 

With the Veritas apron plane clamped in the Zyliss vise I take the braces close to final shape. The braces are triangular in section, I sliced a longer rectangular profile into three pieces on the mini table saw. Grain direction is vertical. 

Then some super fast sanding in the dish. 

The braces are shaped with a carving knife and the miniature block plane (which is a lovely tool).

The notches in the linings are cut with a model maker's saw, I think it's an Exacto. I used one of these in England this summer and bought one when I got home. I've used a Japanese saw for this earlier but it's too aggressive. The notches are triangular to suit the braces. 

Done. Would you look at those brass clamps? They're available online, I think I got mine from a webshop in New Jersey. 

Also, in the foreground is my friend Tiny Plane, and its friend Wee Shavings.