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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. 

Friday, May 3, 2019

A quick update on the polishing

Too much going on at the day job I’m afraid, but every other day I put on a coat or two of shellac. Soon that’ll be done and I’ll move on to saddle, nut and tuners. 

The rolls in the background are paper pots to grow plants in.