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Sunday, November 29, 2015


On the 31 of May this year, I made a stringholder and regretted I didn't show the process. And knowing you lot you've hardly slept since. But finally we'll get closure on that troublesome matter because here is a post thick with pics, tips and a glue never before seen on an Argapa. 

First I made three wee blanks of two bits of wood. One is Ipe, one is Jatoba and both are samples that came to my office. The Jatoba is from the same piece as the fretboard of my old number one soprano. 

I cut the rabbets on the table saw since it was up and running, usually I make cuts like this with a tiny plane. 

And that tiny plane was still used to clean the rabbets up a bit. It's from Veritas' miniature series and it works great. 

From the same series comes this spokeshave, here I use it to make the bottom of the stringholder concave to match the cover plate. 

Like so. It fits but it slides around like crazy and I got a great idea for drilling the mounting holes from below. 

Look! A glue gun with melt glue. Two dabs keeps it steady, if not rock solid. 

Drilling with my Proxxon and a depth stop on the drill bit. Two holes as far apart as possible in the outer holes. 

After removing the stringholder I drilled holes for the strings, stearing clear of the screw holes. 

And this it what it looks like. Using counter sunk (and cut) screws against flat metal is of course unclean but in this case it helps to keep the stringholder in place when the screws go in. 

And there you have it - three stringholders on the cover plates, which are loosely placed on the ukes. 

And Mary Agnes - I gave your unicorn a black eye. And it's coming for you. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Would ya believe it...

Back from 'Nam, fortunately not in a body bag, I am determined to finish these three resos and ship them in time for christmas. This morning, after catching up on the severly messed up sleep, I polished the shellac with Liberon burnishing cream, put side markers on two of the ukes, and laid out all the screw holes for the cover plates. 

Here's me drilling holes. 

And a close up to bring the number of pics up. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Here they are, the three resos. And a mandobird on which is slapped a tenor guitar neck. That neck has cost me some time away from the resos, but this weekend I thought I could finish the French polishing process. The first layers were applied with a goat hair brush and levelled with scrapers and steel wool. So it was the glaze coats that remained, I thought. 

Here's me doing magic circles with the magic pad. Do not try to understand the process. 

It went quite well, but I have to do some wet sanding before the final final glaze coats are perfect. This puts the completion date a bit further into the future I'm afraid since I have to go to Vietnam the week after next. But I can't hide behind the bad boy image all the time, I want these three to look really good. 

And there are a few other small things to do. Here I'm rounding the fret ends with a small file to make them smooth. 

I'll try to do that wet sanding tomorrow, I promise. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Drilling for tuners

Sorry for not posting any updates for such a long time, you must be starved of my Swemerican musings and tool pics. The fretboards are fretted and glued onto the necks so it's time to consider the tuners. 

In the first pic you can see the tuners I use on the already heavy resonator ukes, and the one on the right is dismantled to show the parts. The post (at the top) needs a 5 mm hole and the bushing (second from top) needs a hole just under 8 mm. It should be a press fit so an 8 mm hole won't do and a 7.5 mm will be to small. 

But the post goes through the bushing of course so we need a counterbored, or stepped, hole. This is fiddly to do with drill bits so I bought a few new tools. 

A couple of step drills and two different countersink drills. They're a bit rough but they will do. 

Measuring all the parts of the different drill bits I found that one of them was a combo of a 5 mm brad point drill, and... (wait for it)... a countersink of just under 8 mm! What luck. Although I was hoping that one of the yellow Devo hat looking ones would fit the bill, they're so much better looking. 

Onwards with my favourite drill. 

First hole sorted. No depth stop needed since the countersink doesn't grab and pull itself down. 

But aiming with the cast iron drill isn't easy so I dug out the drill guide I never use, and made 5 mm pilot holes with the cordless drill. Then I used the countersink thingie and all holes turned out perfect. 

But why do we need the holes already? Easy - without holes I can't hang the ukes to dry when I put the finish on. Wait, finish? Really? Where are the pics of that, I hear you ask. Or is it the voices in my head...

The first layers are drying, and I will show you in a bit. Stay tuned, as they say, for more rock'n'roll.