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Sunday, May 31, 2015


First time in ages I made something in an interesting way, and I forgot to take pics of the progress. I'll do that next time, since this will be the method from now on. 

So lacking pictures of it half done, we go straight to the end result. 

It's ebony from an fretboard offcut I found. I bought a couple of guitar fretboard blanks and ripped them to width before slicing them, so this was a decent chunk to work with. 

Here it is with more light on it. 

The holes for the strings are angled so they miss the screws. What screws, I hear you ask. These, that hold it from beneath. 

I also prepared the biscuit, the saddle and drilled all the holes for the coverplate. Not much left now! Just tuners, a nut and a final polish. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

On the subject of pores

I'm on the fence about going for a flat shiny finish, or a shiny finish with semi filled pores. A flat finish could quite easily be achieved by rubbing with powdered chalk, my alternative to pumice. But the nooks and corners are hard to get to and might be more visible against an otherwise flat surface. Oh well, pics will show this better won't they. 

As it was this morning. 

You can see the subtle V-shape of the neck which I now prefer. 

And then a couple of close ups in an attempt to show you the pores. They are a bit more visible in reality. 

What do you think? Beautiful enough? Or should I go for a more professional job on this one. I honestly don't know what I prefer anymore. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015


Sorry for not posting, the day job's been intense. Here's a report on the finishing procedure. 

As you might remember, I now give my ukes heavier first coats of shellac. And then I scrape most of it off again. Sometimes this will fill the pores, if not it's an excellent base for filling said pores with chalk (which I use instead of pumice).

At this time I have yet to decide if the mahogany soprano I'm making for the raffle at Hollesley will get the chalk treatment. But it did get scraped yesterday. 

Looks bad now, but this is only in preparation for the polishing. 

The top. Note that the bridge and the fretboard is also mahogany, from the same board as the rest. 

Simon's resonator does show promise I think. It's had three base coats but isn't scraped yet. 

And the top side. Thanks for looking!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fretting and glueing fretboards

The all mahogany soprano doesn't get a fancy inlay. It's destined for the raffle at Hollesley (inshallah) so I lack a name of the future owner and I did want a clean minimalist look so mother of pearl shards were out too. 

But it will get frets (I have a cunning plan for a uke without fretwire but that'll require an ebony fretboard).

So, first step is drawing a triangular needle file along each slot to knock the edges off. This will let the frets be seated both easier and better. 

With my jerry rigged fret press I press the fretwire down, cutting the length off after each slot is taken care of. 

Then I clamp the board in a wooden vise and use a single cut file to get all the ends down to the edge of the board. I think the technique is called draw filing and it is faster than the way I did it before; dragging the fretted board across a sanding board. It's important to keep the pressure on the file uneven, more is required at the high end where there are more frets. 

Clamping with a rubber hose, easy and a lot more fun than clamps. And we're only in this for the fun, remember? Drugs and money seem scarce. 

A maple caul with grooves for the frets keeps the pressure on the fretboard rather than on the frets. 

The only downside to the hose is it presses out, smears and distributes excess glue so I had a lot of cleaning up to do. Ideally I would have removed the hose after an hour, cleaned the glue before it set hard, and then put the hose back on. But by the time that first hour had passed I was at the office. 

But they're good now. Next up is holes for tuners, a bridge for the acoustic, and then finishing with shellac. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Fretboard report

A shorter than usual post, just a pic of the slotted and tapered fretboards for Simon's reso and the raffle soprano. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Routing for inlay

Forgot to print at the office? Don't have a printer at home? Stop whining. Need a printer, be a printer! But don't post pics of it online, that would be stupid. 

I'm doing a fretboard inlay for Simon inna old skool stylee. I glued the drafting paper on and traced the contours with a scalpel. Then I drilled corners and ends. 

Hog out the bulk with a 3 mm router bit. I put my Proxxon drill in my home made base. 

Then finer details and closer to the scribed lines with a 2 mm bit...

... before final detailing with a 1 mm bit. It has less a will of its own, something to do with diameter dependent leverage I suspect, but it can go off at a tangent. I keep a firm grip on the base, even foresaking the need of holding the hose from the shopvac. 

And it's almost done. NOWIS. Looking good. Now is, indeed, the time for...

... refining the cavities with chisels and patience.