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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Workbench assembled

Next post will contain an instrument, I swear! But this’ll be another one of the bench. We put the structure together and it was quite square and plumb. The long diagonals differed only a few millimetres. And it is heavy. 

Then we flipped it up onto the underside of the top, drew the mortises and chopped them. We were eager at this point, seeing the end draw closer. 

And what do you know, it fit perfectly! Makes me look tiny doesn’t it, as I sweep in the background. 

Then what I have looked forward to most of all; scrub planing the top to make sure it’s flat and with no twist. This is a modified Stanley no.4 with a heavily cambered blade and the frog backed for a large mouth opening. 

And a shot of the larger surroundings. The roof structure makes the bench look more modest I think. Next time, instruments. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Mortises and tenons, and stuff

To get rid of the bulk of the material we brought the legs into the workshop and put them on the drill press. Four holes per mortise made life easier. 

Then we hacked away at the mortises, making them quite square and sort of perpendicular to the surface. The rubber mallet is one of the first tools I ever got, I think I was seven or eight years old. The chisels are much newer, I got them from Lee Valley a couple of years back. 

We secured the tenons with pegs in offset holes, look up drawboring to learn all about it. The stretchers are square and one of the assemblies is planar. The other one is ok but not perfect. I told my brother we aim for strong and stylish but we’ll settle for strong. 

Before we connect the leg assemblies with each other I started on the top tenons that will go into the underside of the benchtop. We’ll make them quite beefy. 

Sunday, July 14, 2019

On to the legs and stretchers

Well, here it is. The completly assembled top before clean up and planing. It weighs a lot now. 

We glued up the legs and thicknessed them in the machine to roughly 120 x 120 mm, then picked out boards for the stretchers that will connect the legs. 

Early this morning I marked out all tenons, saving a bit at the end...

... to facilitate finishing the tenons off with the router plane. Tomorrow we’ll start making the mortises in the legs. Not a whole lot left to do now! And using the top to work on the tenons showed us that it will be a good, hefty workbench. 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Progress on the big ass bench

Before any instruments are made (maybe apart from a couple of fugly travellers) we must crack on with that bench don’t we. I ran all boards through the thickness planer before cutting them to length and laminating them. 

Mid glue-up. A LOT of glue was harmed in this operation. Like five bottles at 125 SEK a piece. 

We (I had help from my brother) made four blocks that were 7 to 9 boards thick, they still fit in the thickness planer and that was a great advantage. We could make both faces flat and parallel before glueing up the entire top. 

This is a block going through the thicknesser. It is a good planer but a bit short, so one came out with a bow and one with a twist. I will handplane the top after glueing it all up. 

Two pairs are glued up, they will all come together tomorrow. 

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Luthier on the run

You know the drill, you all know the score... try to do what’s right (song reference). Every summer I pack up some essentials and leave the humble lair of the Argapanator to do some creative woodworking on the road or at some cottage. Today we left for the summer house and I brought tools, a couple of instruments, a large chunk of mahogany, some fugly traveller blanks, a rifle, and a Morley fuzz wah pedal. 

In this pic you see the slab of mahogany on the thickness planer, before running it through. In the bottom right corner are three of the travel uke blanks. 

Problem is, and it should be apparent already, that the summer workshop is crammed with stuff and crap. I need a large and preferably empty workbench...

... and I want it now. So I gathered a load of boards from a rack where they’ve been drying a few years. They will form the workbench slab. 

I coerced my son Johan to help me carry the thickness planer out. Tomorrow I will prepare them and start glueing them together. Wohoo! And the weather is set to be shite all week! 

But what’s this then? Remember that I mentioned a strange monstrosity bass I’d finished, asking if anyone would like to see it? Well none other than Howlin’ Hobbit said, yeah show it. So here it is. 

Before you judge me, look up Vox Winchester basses and guitars. I got the idea from those. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

More holes!

The connection points between wood and strings; holes. On my first couple of travel ukes I made ferrules but those were very fiddly to get right. Often a small burr on an edge would tear the string without being seen. So I think this is a better way. 

I’ve been away last week so there’s not a heap of progress to show today but some. First is me chamfering the edges of the holes through the bridge, with my wee pin wise. 

Then I made holes in the pegs. I forgot to take pics of fitting the pegs but I’m pretty sure I did that with the last one. 

And last, the most tricky holes. The ones at the nut end, going through to the round back of the neck. I can’t drill them straight down, then the outer ones would burst out on the sides of the neck. And if I aim towards the middle I’m afraid they’ll collide. So I aim the outer ones towards the middle, and the middle holes are slanted to exit a bit further from the nut. If all works they should form a nice arch at the back. 

Well, here’s the front. 

Friday, June 14, 2019

Bridge and holes and stuff

I finished pressing the frets in, after a wash coat of shellac. I must be doing something right, it only took me 45 minutes or so. 

And after the frets are in place I can position the bridge lengthwise and sideways. 

Another of the many advantages of this design; look at the easy clamping of the bridge!

Then I made the hole for the carbon fibre tube around which the strings will go, and drilled the slanted holes for the pegs. 

This last pic is to serve as a reminder of the bridge profile. In case I ship this before I make a longer blank. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

More prögress on the travellers

I finished the travel uke you’ve seen me working on, but instead of taking pics I wrapped it up for shipping! Stupid, I know, but it meant I had to crack on with the other I have on the bench. Starting out by carving the neck, I opted to skip the entry point carve and go directly for some spokeshave action.

In the pic you see my Miller’s Falls cigar spokeshave, a cylindrical kind that is extremely fiddly to sharpen and set up. In fact I haven’t had that much success with it before, but this time my mindset must have been just right because it worked wonderfully. The point of the cigar shape is of course that you can do very tight inner radii curves.

And it leaves a fine surface. This’ll go into the zero sanding series.

The straight Stanley spokeshave and the Little Victor plane also helped, can’t remember if the small wooden spokeshave saw any action. In the pic it’s hiding under the wooden rule.

But later that day I thought better than I did in the morning and unravelled the packing on the finished Argapa 114. Just to show you.

The hollowed out backside is a bit rough. I need a spear point blade for my Record router, I imagine it would cut more cleanly.

The last two pics were taken at the office btw. You won’t find carpet like that at home. 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Bridge and tuners on travel uke

The first travel ukes I made had a fairly intricate arrangement for passing the strings through the soundboard behind the bridge. I used bits of a tiny brass tube and made ferrules. It was hell. So for this I quickly invented a new bridge with a thin part behind the ridge to double up the wood there, hopefully eliminating the need for ferrules.

It’smore visible here. The small ledge is for aligning the holes and to avoid having a visible super thin edge meet the soundboard. I don’t know. I’m making it up as I stumble along.

Then I made holes for the tuners. I even made a guide block to steer the drill. To the right of the clamp you might be able to spot the carbon fibre tube that’ll turn the strings.

The inside width determines how far in I can push the reamer. It’s not very far so I have to shave the pegs down more than I would on a regular headstock, the thickest part of the pegs is only 6.2 mm. 

Here the carbon tube is more visible as well.

Buy quality, cry once - my Juzek peg shaver made short work of taking the pegs down. Only one caught and shattered, I guess the batch was good with fairly straight grained pegs. I need to get more of them, and would you have guessed: it’s cheaper to get them from metmusic in New York than in the violin store here in Stockholm. The reamer and shaver are both from there too.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

More Fugly Travellers

I’m away on a work trip right now but wanted to share a few pics from last week. I started shaping the neck on the first of the walnut travel ukes. No jig is necessary because of the body ’shape’. 

I finally got me a Shinto saw rasp. Incredibly efficient and the smooth surface it leaves behind belies the aggressive wood removal. But I mostly used the spokeshaves that I’m so used to. 

I slot the neck with the piccolo jig, using it in the same way. But on the piccolos the 12th fret is at the body joint, on this uke I look more at the space at the nut end, getting it long enough. The bridge placement is less of an issue on these. 

I prepare the first fret end, filing off the tang at an angle and shaping the end to a parabolical shape. 

Then I measure it, doubling the distance I want at the edges at one end and cutting it flush at the other side. 

Then I take care of the newly cut end, careful not to shorten it too much. I always start at the 12th because if a fret gets too short I just use it in the next slot toward the nut. (I made a few ukes before coming up with this idea and wasted many frets.)

And then I place it in the slot, trying to get equal distance to the edge at both sides, and press it in with my Stewmac Ripoff fret press. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Li’s soprano finished

We decided it was shiny enough but way too quiet. Time for bone bits and fishing line!

First pic is me getting the height of the saddle dialled in. A 3 mm drill bit at the 12th fret gets it there, along with a Hultafors wooden rule. 

Then laying out string positions and string holes through the bridge. Divider by Ken Timms, natch. 

Filing the saddle for compensation. Vise from Stewmac. 

I had a set of Wittner fine tuning ukulele pegs to try out, that I got as a promo gift from Wittner. I decided to spoil my daughter with them. They have no thread like Pegheds, just a press fit taper. My reamer from Metmusic had the exact taper. 

And here they are. The mahogany grabbed them fine, so I went without glue. I was considering Titebond, not CA. I really like the Wittners. The thread on Pegheds can be tough to fit - ream too much and it won’t grab, ream too little and you’ll be forced to grab the peg with pliers to turn them, and the pliers can easily crush the thin wall of the peg. [Don’t] ask me how I know. 

Note the scruffy side of the headstock. That is intentional. Li often teases me for my scruffy sideburns and I wanted her to have a uke that is similar to me. 

And here she is. My wonderful daughter. I am so proud to be her dad.