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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Finishing concerts, fretboard of juniper

Now how shiny does a uke have to be? If the answer is "glossy", "shiny" or even "rather smooth please", then consider calling someone else. These concerts will sound great, they'll be a pleasure to play and handle. But pores, tool marks and other character marks will make me deduct some.

It usually works like this: I know the price for the ideal uke of each size and configuration. When I'm done building I compare the result to that ideal, and the price drops with every flaw I find. Even though some of the flaws only will be apparent to me.

Then, the next pic. My koa soprano got a juniper fretboard with bar frets. Proper Argapa. Might be so much Argapa spirit it stays with me.

And some one piece tops and backs for piccolos. I got them sanded during the weekend and I'm a-gonna start making them.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bar frets

For the first time for quite some time, I'll make bar frets on the little koa prototype. I use a brass strip from a hobby store, 1x3 mm. In order to make it stick properly in the slots I cut small barbs with a knife.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Back glued on new solera

I have a few other ideas to try when it comes to glueing the back, but this low tech method seems to work. I like tying with string, but it's a pain to wind it back up afterwards.

This little soprano has come together so quickly I'm considering bar frets; that should slow me down some.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Koa soprano on the solera

Or workboard thingie with interchangeable soleras. Anyway. The neck is shaped and sanded smooth and appears to have a good fit already. But the clamp I made to secure the neck needs longer screws - an excuse to go shopping for screws tomorrow!

To make the neck angle I'll put a spacer under the neck when the back goes on. More about that later.

In the back of the pic you can see the little vintage Kumalae (or Kumulae?) that I got from my mate Brian, a beirdo. I am refinishing it after a bridge repair.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Neck carved, sides glued

Have been somewhat confused since we had burglars here during the weekend. But things are more or less sorted now so I did a few things on the koa soprano.

I installed lining strips and blocks, and today I glued the sides to the soundboard.

Then I took ten minutes and carved a neck. Lovely to work with, that Spanish cedar. Carves easily.

The concerts are getting more layers of tru-oil as well, but I have to sync that with the family being out.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Koa sides bent

Just to finish a hectic week on a high note, I bent a couple of sides. I put them in the new solera jig thingie to see if it works, and of course it did.

Couldn't put tru-oil on the concerts as the smell has gotten stronger than I remember, and it disturbs my family. I'll wipe some on tomorrow and let some air in during the day.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New tools and stuff!!

I went on an online shopping spree around christmas, and made four purchases. Today when I got home from Burkina Faso the fourth and last was waiting for me.

So here it is, the fruits of an investment / reckless cash dispersal, from left to right:
From metmusic.com I got bone blanks for saddles, a japanese gouge for shaping braces, and 48 violin pegs.

Then from an ebay merchant I got 40 metal tuning pegs for 72 dollars including shipping.

Bottom right is the fantastic string spacing gizmo from Ken Timms (Timbuck). He had a spare prototype, and now he has my endless gratitude.

And. Top right. Is a miniature shoulder plane from Lee Valley in Canada. It is magnificent. I bought it not only because I'm obsessed with small planes, but also for shaping braces. Since the blade goes all the way to the edge I'll be able to use it right down to the soundboard. Nifty.

The detail pic shows the size, or tinyness.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

First layer of oil on the concerts, and a go-bar deck!

And guess who finally learned to post two pics at once?! It only took four years.
So. The small bridges are on. The string through method lets me keep the footprint down, and therefore also the weight.

I chose tru-oil this time, I tend to avoid shellac every time I work on more than one uke. I don't think I could get equal results on two or more.

But tru-oil is at least as good. The first coat is also very satisfying, as the colour darkens so much.

Then on to the next topic. My workboard for different soleras is almost done, small refinements are made as I go along. I've decided to make a soprano to test it. It's koa, but second grade. And as it is a first for the new method I guess I'll have to keep it.

I made a go-bar deck that is mounted on threaded rods, and you can see the bridge patch being pressed down into the solera's dish, taking care of the domed shape of the soundboard.

I'm excited. But who wouldn't be?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bridge / bridges

Looking sharp! Just the right width.

Bridge blank

This chunk of rosewood comes from the same board that gave me tje fretboards, so the bridges will be a good match. It's raw and irregular in shape, but some time spent with the low angle block plane gives smooth and parallel surfaces.

The light coloured sap wood won't be around in the finished bridges.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Fretboards cut, planed and fretted

Now I just need to file the ends smooth and glue them on.

Bridges will be of matching rosewood.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Workboard with exchangeable soleras

It's not quite done yet, but it's getting darn close! The L-shaped brackets slides to the chosen solera and form a mold that will hold the sides.

On top of it all, a removable go-bar deck will be attached. I'm excited.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Neck blanks, after

Yes, it could! With a new blade in the saw it only took five minutes. And I got six more from a similar lump so that's eleven blanks.

I also got 14 one piece sides and sounboards and backs for about the same amount of piccolos. So production will commence when I've sanded everything to thickness. And finished the workboard with the solera inserts.

And, of course, there are the concerts, the resos, the koa sopranos. Suddenly 2012 feels rather laid out before me.

Neck blanks, before

I had a lump of cherry with good grain direction, it could yield five piccolo necks. Or could it?