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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Backs and faceplates

Just a quickie to tell Andy and Bernard about tonight's progress. 

Building two at the same time is a good thing when it comes to resos, each one is the perfect glueing caul for the other. 

And what of that thin strip of maple I bent in the kitchen, with the beer opener? Well it was for Bernard's faceplate. Like so, a wee stylized uke innit. 

And for Andy I went with straight lines so no bending there. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Fitting the necks

I have posted before about how I fit the bolt on necks on my ukes. But I haven't posted about fitting these necks to these ukes, so here goes. I will give away all my tricks and secrets, and in the process I'll probably show some terrible mistake I'm not even aware is inherent in my process. But hey, this isn't an instructable, it's my diary. 

First I hollow out the face of the heel a bit so it'll be possible to get it nice and tight against the body. The recess is about a mm but will be reduced during sanding. 

On all my models the bodies are quite flat at the neck joint. And on the resos I make sure it's flat and 90 degrees to the top since the neck angle is crucial because of the metal parts. I went at it with my Veritas apron plane, a very nice block plane for smaller tasks. 

The neck I drag on the sandpaper board of thick aluminium. I can't drag it back and forth, only forth. Going in two directions causes the neck to rock and that's not good.*

I check the angles with squares and what's it called, a protactor square. 

I shoot for an angle of 1.5 degrees, a number I have reached through trial and near-errors. 

I wrote before about how great it is to work with one piece tops, and even one piece rims. No pesky centre lines to worry about. But checking the alignment of the neck, well there's a step where a centre line does come in handy. So a temporary line is found and drawn with a centre finding rule, a favourite measuring tool. 

And now the scary part - drilling for the screw and the barrel nut. The jig should make it easy to succeed and nigh impossible to fail, but after carving the heel to a more delicate shape than usual I was afraid of simply bursting through the wood. 

The body gets a corresponding hole for the screw. (This is not scary.)

Dry fitting and final fitting turned out be the same process tonight, on both ukes even. I use that flexible wee shaft that's been kicking around since I was a kid, I've never had use for it before I started making resos. 

One thing I did before this final fitting was I gave the heel a quick rub with some sandpaper. These are not zero sanding ukes but this was the first sanding of the necks. And I regretted it at once - I hate the dust it makes. Flies around for ages and gets in my nose. 

And here they are, glued, screwed, scraped and laid to rest. I could accept someone doing that to me, bar the scraping. 

* Later, however, the neck should indeed rock like a severly rocking thing. Along with the rest of the uke and its owner. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Necks and rock'n'roll

Well what of those necks? Andy and Bernard, your necks are carved. Sorry for not being quicker about it but further down you'll see one of the reasons. 

My workbench needed some love. The end vise has been through some cross cutting before I bought it and was a bit shot. So I chiseled out a recess and put a piece of maple in. Record breaking shavings.

And while I was at it I strengthened the legs and the undercarriage. I added a massive plywood board to the back to address some racking, but the board was also the perfect surface to mount a couple of speakers. Video below if all things work. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Demo of two finished ukes

Well I got around to finishing and stringing up the two acoustic ukes I've had on the bench for a while now. They're for Steven and Stephen and I'm very pleased with them both. The piccolo is very shallow, much like the original which I saw a few years ago. It belongs to my mate Phil and he let me take the measurements I needed for my wee ones.

The soprano has a cedar top and walnut back and sides. It'll be one of the few I've sent off to North America, most of them has gone to Sweden and the UK. I'll chuck in some pics in a while but I've got a video for now.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Finish, necks and inlay

After a very quick excursion to Argentina I'm back, and yesterday I continued in the workshop. The walnut soprano and the cherry piccolo are almost done, the French polishing process is well under way. 

On to the resos. I'll get to carve the necks soon, the blanks are prepared and the cut lines are laid out for sawing. 

But what is this? It's the world's smallest bending iron. To bend a strip of maple roughly 1x3 mm I soaked it and used a bottle opener to get the radii small enough. 

I'll show you why I'm doing this in a bit, it's for Bernard's resonator.