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Monday, October 26, 2015

Fretboards slotted and trimmed to size

But most importantly, each have landed on a ukulele. The one on Paul's uke will get some fretmarkers, and all of them will get side dots. And frets. But this morning, this is how they look. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Inlays on fretboards

My pal Tony is a kind and cheerful man. He asked for the Swedish word for Joy inlaid in his fretboard. Offsetting the uke's reputation of being a happy instrument, I made a design inspired by my favourite band. I routed thin lines with my Proxxon router table, turning the board so I only needed to turn one crank for every line. 

And you have listened to Slayer's new album, right? Repentless is their best in many years, and a bloody good one. Buy it, or... well repent. 

Here it is. Slightly runic too. The diagonal lines will save it from being mauled by the frets. 

And another one, the end result of which will be a secret. I'm carving a piece of maple with one of my new chisels, the "perfect pattern" chisels from Lee Valley. 

Routing the cavity with my miniature router plane (also Lee Valley / Veritas).

And here I'm notching two minuscule pieces of ebony to make a half lapped joint. Finger is included to give a sense of scale. 

The tiny cross is assembled and I shave it down before inlaying it. Stay tuned, folks!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Shells complete

For some reason my resonator sides tend to get a bit hairy during bending and glueing. It's most likely because they're so fiddly to get a good and snug fit - maybe I should build a bending form based on a skeleton. Or who am I kidding with "maybe", of course that's what I should do. If I ever listened to reason. 

On these three I tried brown paper tape across the butt joint to hold the sides together during glueing, it worked but man did that tape stick to the wood. I didn't want to soak it through to get the residue off because I was afraid it might affect the wood or the glue so I went for mechanical removal. 

So the outcome was they required some scraping and sanding. Thanks to the rolling pin sander I got from Dominator it wasn't too hard, but I had to do it on the balcony since it has no dust collection. 

Now that they're done up to this stage it's time to choose fretboards and start on the inlay that a couple of them will get. The one with the bird holes will have a strict and simple job with fret markers (don't want to overload it with shapes) but the others will get their embellishments as inlays of some kind. 

In the pic are boards of ebony, rosewood and bubinga. Maybe they'll each get different as in the pic, or I'll choose one or two to work with. It'll depend on the inlay plans I come up with. 

But what of Chris's koa soprano? Well it's not been fast has it, but the level of humidity in the workshop has dropped to levels where I'm more comfortable with larger glue-ups so the sides went on (or the top went on depending on how you see it). And I picked out a neck blank too so I have some carving to look forward to!

Now I'm off to a troublesome corner of the Earth for a couple of days, then I'll get cracking on the fretboards. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Backs on

The cast iron book press is back at the summer house and I won't be there for a couple of weeks. But it's possible to glue the backs without it, don't worry. 

Glueing the same small cleats as I used when I put the tops on saves me loads of  trouble. A drop of superglue and broken off pieces of kerfed lining strips, we could call them tentalones. 

The first two went together as a sandwich, each uke being the perfect caul for the other one. A cheap mouse mat lies between to even things out. 

The third one got clamped against a piece of plywood, and is still drying as I write this. 

Now I'll start with the fretboards, the bodies are close to done. I will trim the backs and sand and scrape them in preparation for finishing.