Archive for the 'Uke Building Logs' Category

July 2012: A Summer Plan

July 2, 2012

Welcome to summer.  I am making plans for making progress.  This summer, I have few commitments and grand plans.  I spent several hours cleaning and organizing in preparation for dedicated building time.  Over the past months, I have allowed my workshop to gather clutter and for the garage to collect dust and debris.  The shop has been decluttered and I have located and made an inventory of all things which are required for the 5 guitars and 1 uke which are under construction.  I gutted the garage, loaded the truck for a dump run, swept and vacuumed and repositioned all the power equipment.

120702garagewas

Rob Girdis Parlor – The snakewood bridge has been rough shaped and awaits finishing.  The tuners have arrived and all additional components for completion have been procured.  Once Guitar 1002 is ready for the spray booth, this guitar will be sealed, filled, then lacquered.

120520gotohebony

120520snakewoodbridge

Guitar 1002 – Frets are installed and finish sanding has begun.  Every day I do a bit more, until I can’t stand it any longer.  It’s oh so close to being ready for the spray booth.  I’m at that stage where I think I’ve got it fair and square, but there’s always more sanding to be done.  I must resist the urge to finish it as is, yet dogged by future regret.

120702fairandsquare

Guitar 1201 – Necks for 1201 and 1202 have been chanelled for truss rods and graphite stabilizers have been epoxied in.  The top has been braced, and braces (mahogany) for the back have been preshaped for installation.

120702topbracing

120702carbonneckinserts

Guitar 1202 – Top joined after planing down to .110″.  Next step install rosette and cut soundhole.  Then bracing then box construction.

120702topjoin

Guitar 1203 – Top join is next.  Awaiting ordered graphite bars for the neck.  Once the Myrtle (1201) comes out of the mold, I’ll be able to thickness the sides and bend.  This will be a double cutaway, and my thinking is I’ll build inserts for the mold.

Uke 1201 – Only the neck has been tackled.  I’ll look for idle gaps between steps of above guitars to thickness/join the back and top followed by thickness/bend the sides.

There’s no end to what I can work on additionally.  I have a dovetail repair, some ziricote screaming to be a guitar, some master grade walnut, some bubinga for a uke, and some ovangkol.  And….there’s several exploratory repairs that I owe to friends.  All this to do before Guitar Camp Week 3, August 11th.


Uke 1001 – Wrapped Up and Ready to Play

January 18, 2012

It’s a snow day, a day before my son’s 19th birthday, and the birth of my second uke.  The finish is KTM9, a water based lacquer which I believe I will continue to use for future instrument finishes.  I took several months to apply, knockdown and buff the finish, and I believe it improved the results.  Also, 24 or more very thin coats proved to be the right approach.  I avoided drips and orange peel effect, and the knockdown was more straightforward.

120118finished

There’s nothing like a fire, dog and uke to complete a snow day at home.

Uke 1001 – Home Stretch

January 15, 2012

Tomorrow this uke will be making music.  The finish is all knocked down and polished, and today I mounted the bridge.  After setting overnight it will be a quick transition to get the strings installed.

120115bridgemount

Uke 1101 – Delivered

November 25, 2011

The uke has been delivered.  Here are the final images.

111125frontal

111125top

111125back

111125endcap

111125ukeincase

Uke 1101 – Strings On

November 20, 2011

It was May when I added the label, which is why it’s dated May 2011.  Boy am I slow.  The strings are on.  It sounds lovely.  Monday and Tuesday I will:  Fill a few minor gaps with lacquer, remove the strings and tuning machines, lower the height of the nut and the saddle, clean up the fretboard, knockdown the sides and neck, wet sand the entire uke, buff it to a glorious sheen, glue in the nut, reinstall the tuning machines and strings, then play it until my fingers fall off.

111120strung

Stunning Myrtle and Koa Uke Nears Finish

November 19, 2011

After joining the myrtle back for Rachel’s parlor:

111119back

Yum.

Four more days before we load the dog in the car and trek to SLC for family Thanksgiving.  I’ve finished applying the lacquer and have started knockdown.

111119knockdown

The lacquer is still a wee rubbery, but hell, I can’t let that stop me.  440, then 800 grit on a sanding block, and I have the top and the headstock knocked down.  I finished with 1200 grit wet sanding, then buffed (top only) in preparation to mount the bridge.  I figure I can mount the bridge, and while it is clamped up, I can proceed to knockdown the rest, clean up the fretboard, and start to shape the nut and saddle.

111119bridge

I’m absolutely sure this will be a playable uke by Tuesday, and it will ride with us to SLC.

Uke Lacquer – Uke Cure – Myrtle Join

November 6, 2011

Devin dropped by today and we polished up his frets, nut, saddle, and installed a pickguard.  Looks like it’s really done.

I’ve been applying lacquer to the Bubinga Uke and the Koa Uke.  The Bubinga is fully lacquered and is sitting in cure mode for a couple of more weeks.

111106curing

The Koa uke has 16 coats, and I think 24 will be the cat’s pajamas.  I should be able to get the 24 applied by Tuesday evening.

111106coat16

Between lacquer applications (wait one hour please) I’ve been bracing the Myrtle Parlor (for Rachel) and I joined the back plates.

111106myrtlejoin

111106myrtlejoint

I’m liking this myrtle, and it seems like it will be nice to work on.  It planed easily while preparing the plate joint.

Uke Lacquer – Fretboard Markers – Lava Light

November 30, 2011

Let’s start with the Lava Light.

111030lavalight

After William left for UW, several items which I coveted were left behind.  Lava Light (or Lamp)!

I mapped out a schedule for the completion of Uke 1101, and it is possible to complete before I go to Salt Lake for Thanksgiving.  It will be a bit tricky to continue working on the uke while the lacquer is curing.  Today, I finished the 8th coat of lacquer, with an intention of putting on 20 coats.  Tomorrow I’ll add 4 more coats.  Coincidentally, I am adding coats to the Bubinga uke, and after tomorrow’s application, it will have 24 coats.

111030backlacquer

This is the back of the Bubinga.

111030toplacquered

111030headlacquer

Between coats I attached the fret markers to the Hybrid’s fretboard and the Thorn and Vine to 1202 (Bob).  The shell is glued to the surface with white glue.  I will score a border around the glued shell, then pop off the shell in preparation for routing a channel.

111030thornandvine

Uke 1101 – Resumed

October 24, 2011

Teaching has been wiping me out.  I have been immersed in such a way that my building opportunity was minimal.  I will be visiting Salt Lake for Thanksgiving, and I would like to have my sister’s uke finished by then.  It is completely possible as I am at the finishing stages.

The original uke has been sitting waiting for additional lacquer coats, so it’s part of the deal.

111024ukestosprtay

The koa is ready to accept the first coat (sanding sealer) and the bubinga is ready for coat number 15.

111024porefiller

The pore filler is a brown base so initially alters the color.  After it is applied a squeegee is used to scrape it off, hopefully leaving behind a smooth surface.  It will be scuffed down to remove any haze on the surface of the wood/purfling/binding.  It may require a second application if the pores are not fully filled.

The koa with its first coat of sanding sealer.  After scuffing the finish smooth, pore filler is applied.


Regroup – Laying Out What’s Next

August 22, 2011

The past year has gone by rapidly and I have engaged in many endeavors which little resembled guitar building.  I started and completed a program which garnered me a secondary teaching certificate.  I have accepted a job as a High School math teacher, and my first day with the students is September 7th.  All my concentration on becoming a math teacher has eaten into my time building guitars.  My 2011 output has been well below my previous years, yet I still continued to gain commissions for guitars and ukes and have created quite a backlog.

I realize that I need to analyze and prioritize my pending work and set out a semblance of a plan to organize.

Uke 1001 – Bubinga Tenor: This, my first uke, has been sitting with 12 coats of lacquer, waiting to accept more lacquer.  My original intention was to piggy back on the lacquer work for Uke 1101.  Once the lacquer has been applied and cured, I will be able to quickly finish with the following:  Install bridge, saddle, nut, end pin and tuning machines.  Level frets and do setup.

Uke 1101 – Koa Tenor: I have taken this uke on a grand tour, displaying it at a cousin reunion and guitar camp.  It needs minor filing of the binding, a bit more neck shaping, then aggressive final sanding before the sanding sealer, pore filling, and application of lacquer (together with Uke 1001).  This uke, for Cynthia, is priority number 1, and I intend to start back on Tuesday of this week.

New:  Uke 1201 – Koa Tenor 2: I have all components on hand to build another Koa Tenor Uke.  A man has to build himself a uke.  This lands as priority number 5.

Guitar 903 – Walnut OM: Devin’s guitar (my apprentice).  Devin took the summer off and only recently has returned to finish his guitar.  The bridge is mounted, and the remaining work includes saddle shaping, bridge shaping/notching/installing, fret leveling/polishing/truss rod tweaking culminating in stringing and setup.  He is days away from walking home with his finished guitar.

Guitar 1002 – Hybrid Cutaway: I have been ignoring the ukes by dabbling away with this Macaferri style nylon string cutaway for Jim.  I have been shaping the neck and heel and dreaming of bending the cutaway side for the past months.  Before I proceed I need to resolve the dimensions of the neck, and how the cutaway will join and transition into the neck heel.  The top and back are braced but still need further shaping/sanding before I’m ready to join the neck to the top for insertion into the new workboard.  This work is priority number 2.

New:  Guitar 1201 – Myrtle Parlor: I have a gorgeous piece of California Myrtle which will be the showcase for a new parlor for Rachel.  I already have an Engleman Spruce top which has been joined with rosette installed.  I have all components on hand and still need to decide appointments.  Priority number 3.

New:  Guitar 1202 – Indian Rosewood OM: This guitar has been commissioned by Susan as a gift for Bob.  Gonna get that name Bob into the fretboard inlay design somehow.  I always wanted to inlay the word Bob.  This, along with guitar 1203 are priority number 4.

New:  Guitar 1203 – Devil Parlor: I call this the Devil Parlor as it will have a double cutaway.  This is a commission for Emily and shares priority number 4 with Guitar 1202.  I’m using Peruvian Walnut and Engelman Spruce.  I’m considering a black lacquer back and sides and am going to attempt a sunburst top.  Ivroid binding.  Somebody tell me how I’m going to do that please.

I have numbered the new instruments with a 12 prefix, anticipating that these will be completed in 2012.

Still on hand, and available for future guitars:  Sitka Spruce, Bearclaw Sitka Spruce, Ziricote, Ovangkol, Master Grade Claro Walnut (2 sets).

« Prev - Next »