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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Bar frets

You should be able to see the bar frets clearly on this pic.

Finished! And high res pic!

So it's done! It could use a couple of layers of extra oil, and the frets need crowning (that means I need a new tool!), but I am really really proud.
It sounds awesome. Maybe I should find a way to post some soundclips.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Strung up

Here it is, next to my Brueko (which is to the right...)

Already it has a warmer, fuller voice than the Brueko. Less punch
though. I should let the strings settle, and more importantly, let the
oil finish dry completely.

Finish drying

I will try and post some high-res pics when it's done. Hope you get
some idea.

Applying finish

Look what the oil does to the wood. What a difference.

Almost there!

Can you believe it? Now where's that oil...

Glueing bridge

Lousy pic - sorry!
An old c-clamp was suitable as bridge clamp. Also the reamer through
headstock. I'm in a hurry as Jukka and a few others are coming by
tomorrow. It would be sweet if it was nearly done by then.

Must find the oil!


I'm ready to file the bar frets. Hopefully it will be ok, at least
they're all perfectly level from the start.

In the pic can also be seen the bridge (not glued yet) and the nut.
Both are bone - that was really hard to work with.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


The 0.5 mm blade for the table saw naturally had the teeth set so the
cut was 1.2 mm. So I took the 1 mm blade and went with bar frets. It
worked like å charm - the slotting jig, the fretting, the shaping of
the ends, and the glue-up. This is a pic of the dry run, without
clamping blocks.

Bridge tomorrow?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Boxed up!

Ok the back's on! It did slip around a bit though, so I'm not sure
what I'll see through the soundhole once I get the chance to look.
Could be a small mess in there.

I'm considering a jatoba fretboard. A dense and quite heavy wood of
almost the same colour as the rest.

It's coming together

Well yesterday was obviously the "it's gonna look like a ukulele soon"-
day of this build. I put the neck and back braces on, but forgot to
take pics. Now I'm getting ready to put the back on, then it's
fretboard time!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Progress on neck

This is a bad, blurry pic of a nice crisp neck about half ready. I
tend to use the small planes more and more - along with the knife and
the chisels. So far no files or sandpaper.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Clamps removed

The overnight clamping went fine. Joints are tight and the neck's
gonna be fun to plane and carve.

I must consider fretboard material. And try my jig!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Glueing sides to top, and neck

I thought I was going to put the neck on hold until I could get to my
bandsaw, but during childrens hour on tv I cut three pieces with a
couple of japanese hand saws - in the pic you can see them laminated
together lengthwise. And I finished shaping the braces and the bridge
patch, so I glued the sides to the top.

It's a wound no-name string, probably C. And as I was wrapping the
string it struck me that I forgot to put a dozen small screws around
the edge of the solera... I will do that before fitting the back.

I think progress has been good this week. Hopefully I can get the neck
going during the weekend.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Braces and bars

Glueing bridge patch and braces. Still everything comes from the same
piece of wood, but I'm not sure the neck will.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Yup, it's enough for tonight. I should start on the neck soon.

Preparing soundboard

With the top under the jig, I begin to cut the soundhole.


Glueing top linings. The solid linings were easy to bend with the
StewMac bending iron I bought second hand. That is, they bent easily,
but they were a big hassle to get right. I got them sort of right.

Sanding sides

With the radius dish clad with sandpaper, the bottom of the sides get
the spherical radius. I forgot exactly what the radius was though...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tail block

So the tail block is in place, and I put it with the grain "standing
up". But it struck me that it would be easier to shape together with
the sides if it would have been turned 90 degrees. Must ask about this
on some forums.

You can see the scorching on the side to the left, or if it is a
miscolouring from the metal on my bending form.

And I need to decide if the lining and braces should be from the same
board, or if bass wood and spruce are better.

Sides cut to length

Side number two, which I bent yesterday, turned out fine but a little
scorched on the inside. This surprised me as the heat blanket was on
top. But it is possible to sand so now I've cut the sides and aim for
glueing the blocks after the kids have gone to sleep. Or maybe tomorrow.

Glueing continued

So, the string is tied across the halves and the wedges are pushed in
to tighten the string. Hopefully it works, because then it's quite
easy and straight forward.

Glueing top halves

This is a setup inspired by the pics on the True North Guitars website.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bending sides - progress and failures

In the pic you can see the first crap attempt with 1.7 mm wood, the
second decent one with 1.4 mm (bent with the wrong side out though!),
and the third piece that I'm gonna bend tonight. I had to wrap the wet
wood in tin foil to stop it from drying out too quickly during the
bending process.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Planed wood

So I tried the planer on the top halves. It worked perfectly, a crisp
shining surface. I must try to avoid sanding. The machine was easy to
use, relatively quiet and it's made for really small dimensions. As
for scale - the pieces in the pic are 80 mm wide.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A very nice plane

The 'Little Victor' plane from Lee Valley Tools has proven itself to
be a really good buy. It is easy to use and gives a super result.

Resawing mahogany

Who said you need a motor on the bandsaw? Found an old saw for 4€,
did a crap job at sharpening it - and I'm on my way! This was just a
small piece enough for a (or just maybe two) bookmatched top, it's
been around since the 1960s when my dad bought it.

More updates will follow, if the dayjob allows.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fretboard jig

And a little jig for slotting fretboards. An unholy alliance of MDF and really old honduran mahogany...

I bought a couple of different blades, I plan to try bar frets as well as fretwire.

Power tools

And here you can see the extremely small german machines I expect so much of. A table saw and a thickness plane for small dimensions. Remember, these are to be used in my apartment. Bigger things will still be made at my dad's workshop where my full size equipment is checked in.

I must fit them with some old vacuum cleaner for dust and shavings.

Tool parade

Nice tools are hung on the outside, so they'll be seen. And I also tried to take into consideration which ones will be used most often.

The only problem so far - how do I make nice holders for the Ibex finger planes?

Workshop report 2

...and here you can see it with the cabinet open. An extra pair of swinging "doors" provide capacity.

This has taken me so many hours. Most of the tools have custom made holders and hooks. And on the tabletop you can see a jig like one of the many Pete Howlett shows in his excellent instructional videos on youtube. If you haven't seen them, close this window and go directly to youtube!

Workshop report 1

Well since the iPhone has such a nasty camera I took some photos with a real one, so these are posted from the computer. I feel like such a novice.

But anyway, on the pic you can see the small ultra compact workshop for building ukuleles that I now have in the basement. Workbench with drawer from Clas Ohlson, cheapo wooden cabinet from IKEA.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Workshop nearly done

I am so sorry for not updating for such a long time. Building has been
on hold as we try to complete the shop in the newly expanded
apartment. It will however be worth the wait, and if I have any
readers left I promise to give you some exciting but low-res pics of
the Soprano project!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Packed up

I'll be away for a while and have evacuated the shop. Dad's building a boat and needs the space.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Soprano project this far

Ok the forms are done. And on top of my miniature table saw is a jig for cutting fret slots on the finger boards. And in the mail is a new custom ordered heating blanket that turns out cheaper than the one I bought for the tenors.

Wood supply

I was considering taking the kids to the lumber yard tomorrow. But when I checked the stash I found some that needs using first. But if the kids insist...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Holding form

So, bending form and holding form are almost ready. I'm actually considering a different neck joint on my sopranos - the concept of a soundbox closed up and separate from the neck is quite appealing.

Bird robot 2

Benefits of a band saw: second bird robot took 10 minutes while the first took an hour.

Bending form 4

...and it's clad with steel. An old paint bucket got a nice afterlife.

Bending form 3

What a little cutie. Hope I can find a steel slat to cover it with.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bending form 2

Almost done. I like the soprano already - even the jigs are so much smaller.

Bending form 1

This is of course the bending form taking shape. I'll make the sides in two pieces like everyone else this time.

Soprano, start

Getting ready for takeoff. I made a narrow body shape in order to use a few machines I don't even own yet. You'll see when I get them. Also, I like them small.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Another tool post!

So I got a band saw, a fairly good one from what I can tell so far. On it can be seen a piece of ash that I sliced. Maybe a bookmatched back.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

2 hours later...

Normally I wouldn't want this much wood to fall out of the ukulele. But I'm optimistic. Tapping the top now seems to produce a different and louder sound. Maybe there's a real tool for doing this?

Post mortem

Well I'm back and I finally have decided that my only option is to thin the bracing to get a better tone out of 002. On the pic is the microplane I'll use.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


The little thingy at the back of the headstock.


I'm trying an aluminium saddle and nut on this one. Can't publish the nut yet, it has to be adjusted some more. It was easy to shape and I think it looks quite cool.