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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Another neck...

My friend Robin, the famous Baron K, has asked me for a uke of
mahogany and cedar. He got a thin slice of swedish ash as well, I
think it will look good. And sort of fast.

I got a little too much to do really! Orders will take time. Or I
won't be participating much in family life.

But... it's fun.

Thickness sander upgrade II

In order to fasten the paper better, I made the groove and fitted an
aluminium profile with threaded inserts. A piece from the mini drill
press holds the drill far better than it was before.

I took some pieces down to thickness. In one hour it was as follows:
- Top, sides and back for a mahogany soprano
- Back and sides for a mahogany sop that will have a cedar top
- A one piece rim of wenge for a tenor
- Three cherry sides for piccolo ukes
- One walnut fretboard


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mahogany soprano for Thomas (no. 7)

And here are some scrap pieces of really nice honduran mahogany being
glued to a top for Thomas at the lumber yard. He gave me a discount,
started an account, AND ordered a ukulele! I promised him it during
the autumn, so it has sort of jumped into the queue.

Cherry soprano

I haven't posted any lately, but I have been able to build some. The
cherry sop is coming together. Some springback caused the body to be
slightly wider than my others, luckily it was symmetrical and it will
maybe lead to some benefit soundwise. It looks good and I consider it
this uke's destiny (Darth Vader voice).

I'll get it a nice fretboard of african walnut.

Piccolo, nearly done

With a lot of help from my son Johan, his piccolo is almost done. This
prototype has shown me the need for a couple of jigs before I attempt
to build more.

We have high hopes for it, taptone is good and the size is just right.

Big thanks to Phil and John Colter.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Yesterday I made more lining strips in the apparatus I got from Ken
Timms. It took a while but they turn out nice. So now the cherry sides
are fitted with basswood linings, and the little piccolo prototype got
some as well.

I then realized that I should make the bridge patch before lining it
completely, so I made a nice patch of spruce.

I sometime complain about making more than one at the time, but find
that a couple of (different) ukes is perfect. Gives you something to
do while glue is drying.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wood supply resawn

Spent some time on the big bandsaw equipped with a new blade. I cut
the newly bought cherry plank into neck blanks and material for sides,
tops and backs.

So the piccolo project is about to gain some momentum. You can see the
prototype in front, got the neck almost done.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cherry sides bent

The shop-made (ok, home-made...) bender is in the vise, and the sides
were soaked in warm water for about 10 minutes and bent one at the
time with my small heating blanket. I had it made to my specs as my
larger one was to big for my soprano mold. Rather cheap, and it works
with a voltage regulator my father-in-law made for me from some
"tyristor control unit" that was made for a lamp.

And for the first time I prepared myself thouroughly. I marked the
wood with the word IN on the proper side, measured and marked out the
waist line, soaked the wood, wrapped it in tin foil and made sure the
markings got on the foil as well.

And then..!

It was a piece of cake.

Planing sides, super tip of the day

I'm getting along better and better with my block planes. On pic is a
low angle Stanley block plane. And the tip: when planing for example
sides that are bookmatched, turn one of them around (horizontally)
instead of "seeing the bookmatch". This way you avoid tear-out on one
of the halves. And check thickness often.

Compensated saddle

The bone saddle is compensated and appears to do the job.

And how does it sound? That's hard to say yet, really, but it sounds
different than the mahogany one next to it. Walnut is a pleasure to
work with but not a classic choice for soundboards. It seems to have a
slightly hollow barky voice, but volume is good and it is a pleasure
to play. No doubt it will mature a bit when strings settle and I get
used to holding it more firmly.

I'll get some friends over I think and let them listen, and they
should bring some ukes for comparision.

I'm really pleased with this my 4th soprano and 7th ukulele. Joints
and alignment and surfaces are getting better, and with the thinner
saddle and nut I think this one looks almost very good.

Thanks for reading!

Back side up

And from the back.

Walnut uke done!

Here it is next to no. 1, my reference.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Piccolo, some progress

Also kerfed linings are put in the first piccolo. A bit of a mock-up,
or a full scale test really. My son wants it, and he's constantly
asking me how long it will take to get it done. Some jigs must be
made, I'm thinking perspex. 'Cause it looks cool.

Bridge glued

With a newly built bridge clamp, the bridge is set for an over-night
drying. Made the fretboard earlier today, this is shaping up to be the
best weekend for years!

Apart from Hollesley of course.

Oh, and when I went away with my wife. Of course.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fretboard for walnut uke

Fretboard is prepared and awaiting dot markers and, of course, frets.

But I have to glue the back first, and that means fitting the back

Neck attached

Although every step takes about the same amount of time as before, my
experience allows me to cut down the idle time in between. So I
hesitate a lot less.

Sides glued

Last night I made the bridge patch and glued the sides to the top.
Also please note the inlaid maple strip by the end block - my first
attempt at inlay (to conceal a less than perfect joint). And it will
look good with the matching strip in the neck.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Status this morning

As you can see, the parts are done for the little walnut uke. Back
braces and bridge patch will be made tonight.

Oh I completely forgot fretboard... Could come in handy you know, for
playing. I have some nice wood for it though.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Progress on walnut uke

What a great evening. Put the kids to bed, then had almost three hours
to myself. So kerfed lining strips were cut and installed for both top
and back, then I cut the soundhole, fixed the edge with funnel thingy,
and lastly; soundboard has been braced. The braces are still square
since I like to do the shaping afterwards.

With miniscule planes.

I promise to post some pics of the shavings.

Workshop clean and tidy

Spent four hours yesterday cleaning the shop and sorting tools and
supplies. At least I (and after a bit of persuation; my wife) can
notice a huge difference. Just cut some kerfed linings for the walnut
uke, now I'll install it!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Impossibly sharp chisel

This really old chisel was in a dreadful state when I found it. Handle
was splintered and the edge was chipped and bent. But I shortened both
the handle and the blade, and now it cuts through anything with it's
razor sharp edge. On the pic one can (barely) see a neck block that I
shape across the grain direction, getting a smooth shining surface.

Everyone loves these shavings pics, right?

It's not just me, is it?


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Walnut sides

I got so confident, and the pipe was still hot, so I bent these walnut
sides as well. It was harder but went ok. This was the thickest wood
I've bent on the pipe and I expect some spring-back.

Sides bent for piccolo

I'm gonna build them of cherry, but I had some mahogany ready at hand,
so I had to try!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Piccolo original

And here's a pic of my soprano next to that little vintage sweetie I
met last weekend.

Piccolo uke - it begins!

At Hollesley I saw a beautiful little "piccolo ukulele" from the
1920's. I have to try and build some. Here is the first step, sawing
the forms on my new little toy; a very small but good band saw. The
cut is thin and clean, I should be able to use the parts both as a
bending jig and a holding form.