Learning Ukulele 50 Sites Top 50 Ukulele Sites Argapa Ukuleles - one size louder: 2/1/18 - 3/1/18

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Onwards, and an apology

Let’s get the apology out of the way. I fear my blog posts are the worst - the pics are messy to the point of being impossible to interpret, the chronology is jumbled and I’m not a very good example of a disciplined luthier. 

That said, brace yourselves. 

Today’s first pic is me sawing the neck block of the mock lute to height and, hopefully, angle. I’ve settled at last upon the way in which I’ll build the back. 

Then I turned to the mahogany piccolo I hope to get ready for MUMF in May. I chose to use a popsicle brace above the soundhole. I’ve done that before and it felt right. Beside lie the bodies for the cavaquinho and the mini guitar. 

Then I glued the back on the reso, and made the half uni-brace on the mock lute. That will aid me in building the back. 

I didn’t find the mahogany neck blank I thought was kicking around, but I did find a couple of Spanish cedar neck blanks in piccolo size. Cedar is way too soft to be a fingerboard, so as an experiment I’ve glued cocobolo scraps from that reso to the upper surface on them both. The cocobolo is thinner than a normal fretboard but could work as a harder surface. I’ll try one and see if it looks corny or cool. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Bracing and rosette work

I have had some odd hours in the workshop since the last post. Progress is steady but scattered over several instruments. The mahogany piccolo got a neck block and lining strips glued into the rim, and then I made a rosette and the soundhole in the top. 

After making the channel I bent the thin black maple strip for the rosette. Two full rounds in a spiral, with the ends feathered to zero. 

I usually glue rosettes with superglue but that stuff is nasty. So I went with regular Titebond. The acrylic caul causes the black strip to squish a bit, filling the channel completely. With superglue the strip turns rock hard right away and it’s harder to wing it. 

Then I helped Johan to carve and plane the braces for his mini guitar. He does some fine work when he wants to. 

Not shown: the reso got a neck. Johan’s guitar got the top glued to its sides. See you next weekend, I’m off to Ouagadougou for a bit. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Reso under way

The new resonator uke I’m building is clad with a dark wood that I got from my friend Stuart. He told me what it was but I get confused, maybe it was cocobolo. 

I’ve learnt the hard way the proper order in which to do things, but that didn’t help me avoid all mistakes. I’ll get back to that. But cutting out the large hole for the soundwell and the two wee soundports must be done first. The wood was extremely hard to cut. 

My rosette and soundhole cutter is from Micheal Connor in Australia, a great but somewhat pricey tool. 

Lining it all up, and adding tiny blocks around the edge to keep it in place while glueing. But before glueing...

... you’d better glue the mesh screens in. There is no way to do that cleanly once the top is on. 

And it would be even better to sand the edges of the soundports before glueing the screen in, don’t you think? I swore I’d never forget that, again. But what do you know. I forgot. I’ll take care of it. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Piccolo 104 done

Hiya! It’s been a while but I’ll blame a trip to Sudan. The piccolo is finished but we’ll start with pics of the last steps. 

The first pic shows me shaping the pegs in the, well you guessed it: peg shaper. When wooden pegs dry after being turned the can go a bit oval in cross section. The shaper takes care of that and ensures a perfect taper. 

A taper that matches the one of the reamer, if all adjustable parts are set correctly. I do the pegs first and then holes into which they’ll fit. My equipment comes from www.metmusic.com, one of my favourite webshops. 

Then I cut the pegs to length. The guide sets the height above the headstock, on the backside I let the pegs vary in length. The pegs for the G and A strings are longer because of the angle of the headstock. 

Note the leather saw stop, and think for a while of my poor thumb and the state it was in before I made the stop. 

Then the top of the pegs are filed round and smooth. I start with a pencil sharpener but a file does most of the work. 

The bone nut is cut to length, filed to height and marked with the divider for slots. The vise is from Stewmac, a great buy. 

After drilling the string holes I counter sink them with a round engraving bit. Looking at piccolos of different ages I can see each of these steps as the processes have evolved. I think the instruments get better all the time. 

Weighing in at 196 grams. If you ate it you’d want another one. 

Here it is, a full frontal!

I stamp them only after playing them for a while. This one is approved and a 100% Argapa.