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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Shaping and fitting the neck

I took an hour today and aimed at shaping the neck for the piccolo. Thise of you who's been here a while know that I enjoy neck carving immensely, and today was no exception. The cherry was unusally beautiful too, with rays and a nice chattoyance. 

First I shape the heel and the area around the nut end, so I get entry and exit points for my small contour plane / spokeshave. 

Then I do most of the shaping, trying to avoid flats or divots. A sharp tool will do what you expect of it but I had to go in different directions to handle the grain. 

The profile was cut with my large rip saw so the last bit outside the lines was planed off with a tiny violin plane. Look at that shaving!

At the heel I make a relief cut which helps as I mate the neck with the body. I sand the heel on a thick metal plate with sandpaper on it to get the joint perfect, and also the angles. 

Here's the metal plate in the background. 

With a one piece top and a one piece rim we're at a loss of centre lines, so I put low tack tape at both bouts and find the middle with a centre finding rule. 

Then it's check - sand - check centre line- sand - check angles - check centre line - sand - check joint - and then at last GLUE, DRILL, SCREW. Finish [now cold] cup of coffee. 

Here it is. Next up are back braces and then the back itself. 

Happy new year everybody, hope you stick around in 2016 even if this ain't facebook. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Chris's uke and a piccolo

This morning I put the first coats of shellac on the vise soprano. Strange piece of wood this, but it looks good and sounds really promising. 

And what here? I started on a cherry piccolo, my most common model and one I really enjoy building. I've built so many I can put them together fast and smooth. I sanded the parts last weekend, bent the sides on Tuesday night, braced the top and glued in the kerfed linings on Saturday and glued the sides to the top on Sunday. I may seem prolific at times but I spend more time cooking and doing laundry than I spend building. If only I could cut down the amount of time I waste at the office. 

And here we are tonight; on the piccolo the sides are profiled to the somewhat radical curve I like and the linings are glued around the back edge. 

The soprano then. I spent some time pumicing (but not with pumice, as avid readers of this blog know) to fill the pores, and then I put more shellac on. By now I break all the rules I've sworn by since I learned about French polishing by reading the stellar articles by the Milburn brothers. Find them at www.guitarsint.com/articles

Even though I don't follow the instructions and recipes any more I wouldn't be anywhere without those articles. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Wood inlay

Another post title I had in mind was "shit marquetry" but as I am rather pleased with the result I thought again. 

The ukulele is for my good friend Chris Davies. We have a trade economy going me and Chris; he gives me stuff and I have so far fettled his tenor uke. But as I'm in the red after he gave me a massive vise I am building a uke for him. A koa soprano that I want to make a bit personal. 

So, what better way than inlaying the fretboard. The motif was obvious, the technique not so obvious. I went with wood, and chose mahogany. The fretboard then had to be ebony so the mahogany would stand out. 

Here's the vise, a Record with quick release. I love it. 

Here's the sketch of the inlay. Overly complicated. 

Here's the wee piece after glueing insanely small pieces of wood. The joint between the handle and the screw is a half lap joint with a cut out to make it look three dimensional. I won't do this again.

Hogging out the recess with a router bit. I kept the fretboard on the moving table and turned the cranks.

After much fettling with tiny chisels it went in, and I soaked it with cyanoacrylate glues of different viscosities. 

The caul is covered with masking tape and the tape is covered with wax to stop it from getting caught in the glue. 

Then I made the slots and planed the edges to the desired profile. I won't continue to show you the fretting because I have had a spot of trouble seating the frets. Ebony is tough but it will be ok with a bit more work. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Strung up, tuned and ready

The only thing left is punching in the serial numbers. I never do that until they're done and through quality control. (Which involves some mind-numbing noodling across C-F-G7 and a bit of droning under a blues scale. You'll see in the vid.)

You can also see my square section tuning fork, when I found it it was tuned to 432 Hz. So I filed it off a bit raising it to 440. 

Tony's inlay, Slayer-esque. They're playing tonight, in bloody Gothenburg. Would you believe it, skipping Stockholm when I haven't seen them in 18 months. 

Paul's birds. Sailor Jerry-esque. 

Mary Agnes's unicorn. Grot-esque. 

I kept the headstock ends rough, and Paul gets a ding from the sawmill as well. I hope no-one minds, I like keeping spots imperfect but maybe I'm the only one?