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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Neck blank for lute uke

Merry whatever, and a happy another!

I’m making another lute inspired ukulele. Someone asked me nicely and I couldn’t say no. I have some special tuners on the way so I made a neck blank with that crazy lute angle. 

Here’s the piece. I started out by severing the headstock. 

Then I made an angled joint with a straight tenon for some added long grain glue surfaces. 

Checking the fit. Decided to accept the looks of it. I really need to look at a few pictures of real lutes before going far. 

Glued and trimmed flush. The headstock will be an open box, like what you see on a violin. The tuners come from Wittner, internally geared just like pegheds. 

And I attached the neck to the piccolo I’m working on. Not much remaining now; frets, back braces, back, bridge and tuners. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Neck shaping

After making sure the headstock and the upper surface (the fretboard surface, but there’ll be no separate fretboard) are straight, true and parallel sideways, I lay out the width. 42 mm at the heel, 35 at the nut. 

In the first pic you see me transferring the centre line down to the heel with a saddle square from Veritas. It could be regarded as an answer to a question no-one could be arsed posing, but it’s really a useful tool. 

Then I choose the angle for the heel. I might keep these straight, or carve them into concave curves later. I’ll saw them straight to begin with that’s for sure. 

Making a small nick with a chisel helps guide the saw. Going into the end grain like this is tricky at best so I’ll use any technique to facilitate. 

It’s also a good photo op for one of my best chisels. 

With my small rip saw I cut the neck blank to its tapered width. Nowadays I go very close to the final dimensions, which means carving is faster. 

I start at the heel and the nut, roughly making the profile with a carving knife. My kevlar glove helps me keep all fingers attached. 

The headstock was a bit thick (remember the crap bandsaw?) so I took it down with a number 4 plane. 

The neck is actually finished now. I carve way faster than I blog. More to come in a day or so. 

Fanx for reading!

Thursday, December 14, 2017


My customer for the piccolo sent me a small piece of wood he got from a relative. My task is to incorporate it into the cherry uke. It’s snakewood and not totally solid, so I won’t use it for anything structural. 

First attempt is inlaying a strip across the headstock. If it goes south I’ll grap another neck blank. First I used the strip as a guide for the marking knife, then I used chisels to make the groove. 

Had I thought more about it beforehand I would have matched the snakewood strip to a narrow Berg chisel for cleaning the bottom of the groove. Now that chisel was a teeny bit too wide so I used some miniature chisels. Hm. As I write this my miniature rabbet plane. I could have used that. 

Despite tool confusion I got a perfect fit and glued it in. I think it’ll look very nice when it’s planed flush. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Prepping spruce tops

The mini guitar and the cavaquinho will be quite similar, walnut back and sides and spruce tops. The walnut was thicknessed in the drum sander but I won’t miss the chance to hand plane the spruce. It just gets so much better. 

I ended up taking the tops down to just below 2 mm, the instruments will have a greater string tensions than a concert ukulele so I’ll need to think about bracing soon. 

Spruce is soft so I threw on a wash coat of shellac to protect it from dings and scratches, and went on to making the rosettes. Johan did the heavy lifting on the one for the guitar, the groove is 2 mm wide and houses four layers of mahogany purfling strips. When the superglue had set I took it down with a Berg chisel. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Double necker done, on to ukes

Great news - the ekectric guitar is done and as of yesterday; delivered. It’s a tone monster. At rehearsal it really shone. 

The P90 for the tenor neck got a hand cut ring of black acrylic. Horrible material to work with but the result was good. 

Lars chose to go with the natural finish, we’ll see how it holds up. 

Gibson speed knobs blended well with the black and chrome theme we got going. 

And apparently it’s not that cumbersome to wield. 

Then some resawing of wood for future ukuleles. I got this set from my friend Stuart, maybe enough for a guitar back but with some creative parting it’ll be enough for a bookmatched back and front for a reso. 

A matching fingerboard blank will supply the sides, I’m splitting it with one of the saws I salvaged this summer. 

And then a lump of cherry was sliced for a piccolo and yet another lute ukulele. Stay tuned for progress on those. 

Maybe I can wait with buying a new bandsaw. This works ok but it is a lot of work.