Uke 1101 – Bracing

April 23, 2011

I completed the bracing for the back and top today.

110423tentalones

The bridge patch is rosewood, and the bracing for the top is flat (not radiussed) using sitka spruce.

110423topbracing

The back is braced with 15′ radiussed mahogany ladder bracing.

110423backbracing

My dyslexic brain allowed me to cut the slots in the neck for the spanish heel at the opposite angle.  The plan for recovery is complicated and will require me to build a jig to hold the neck and accurately cut the correct slots.  First I’ll patch the “bad” slots to return material to the neck block before I cut new slots.  The fortunate aspect of this problem is that the patch will only be visible inside the uke where the heel meets the sides.

Uke 1101 – Soundhole

April 21, 2011

Used a circle cutting bit for the drill press to produce the soundhole in the top.  I usually use a dremel and down cut mills, but the circle jig won’t adjust down small enough for the uke soundhole.  The top plate must be carefully positioned under the circle cutting bit as any off center positioning will show in relation to the installed rosette.

110421soundhole

Uke 1101 – Top and Back @ .100″

April 20, 2011

I enacted my theory to eliminate burning on the drum sander.  First, I replaced the sandpaper with a new roll and mounted it such that there is a barber pole install with a 1/8″ gap instead of butted flush.  Then I slowed the drive belt speed down to the minimum and began thickness sanding the koa back and top (should it be called thinness sanding?).

110420backandtop

I took these plates down from .120″ to .100″ without any burning!  I’m smugly pleased.

Uke 1101 – Headplate Installed

April 18, 2011

Over the past two days, the headplate with a contrasting maple veneer was installed and trimmed.  Tuning machine holes were also drilled.

110418headplate_0

Uke 1101 – Dorky Day!

April 17, 2011

I always wanted to celebrate Dorky Day.  So today, I am.  See The Fan Man for more background.

Anyway, aside from Dorky Day, today was work on the uke day.  The mold for holding the sides is only that:  a holder of the sides until ready to mount to the top and neck.  I’m trying a little experiment, which may or may not prove worthwhile.  Since I experienced a bit of cracking of the sides when I was inserting into the mold, I wanted to ensure that further cracking wouldn’t occur.  I glued in the heel block and a “plug” on the neck end to hold the sides together as I pulled them from the mold to transfer to the workboard.  The plug on the neck side is smaller than the width of stock I’ll need to remove to fit into the spanish heel slots.

110417neckslot

110417neckplug

You can see the top of the plug insert sticking up between the clamps.  This is glued to the sides.  When I am ready to install the sides to the neck and top, I can use this plug as the guide for how much stock to remove before inserting into the spanish heel slots.  And, it will hold the sides in place as I remove them from the mold.

This holds true for the butt end as well.  In addition to gluing in the heel block, I added a plug (or patch) to the sides not covered by the heel block.

110417heelblock

To kill idle dry time, I installed the rosette for around the soundhole.  This is an example of using teflon strips which are removed after the glued purfling dries, then inserting abalam and flooding with CA glue.

110417rosetteteflon

110417rosetteflooded

I further tapered and shaped the neck in preparation for installing to the top, and added ears to the headstock to accomodate whatever shape I decide to put it in.

110417ears

Uke 1101 – Plane sides, bend, mold up!

April 16, 2011

I use a Wagner Safetee Planer to thickness sides.

110416safetyplaner

It’s used with a drill press.  First thing is to calibrate the table it’s parallel side to side and front to back.

110416planercalibrate

The sides are run through and taken down to .070″.

110416planesides

I practiced on a scrap piece to ensure all adjustments to the table were correct, then test bent the scrap to confirm temperatures for the koa.  After planing the real koa sides, I used the new bending mold.

110416bendsides

After bending a side, it was clamped into the holding mold.

110416sidemoldhalf

Next side bend, then inserting into mold (ends were trimmed to butt flush).

110416sidemoldfull

The bends were adequate if not tight enough.  I have an electric bender which I can use to tighten up the bends on future ukes.  It’s tricky to get both sides into the holding mold if the bends aren’t tight enough, and yes, I did crack both sides while inserting.  The cracks were repaired with CA glue and won’t be visible once sanded and finished.

Uke 1101 – Koa Tenor, Neck Construction

April 10, 2011

It’s time to take on the new uke.  The first uke is curing, and will be completed in about two weeks.  I’ve blocked up the neck, and sketched in the profile, taper, and heel cutouts.

110410necknibbled

This pic shows the cutouts for the side insertion and the heel shaped with a nibbling jig on the table saw.

110410necktapered

The heel block portion which is inside the uke has been shaped and trimmed.  The headstock and neck have been trimmed to approximate thickness.  Next step will be to taper.

A Repaired Uke and Some Mahogany

April 10, 2011

I’ve completed the bridge install for the “Fender” Uke.  The experiment with using beads as string ends worked well.  The strings are now fully stretched and stay in tune, and the intonation is quite fine, indicating I mounted the bridge properly.

110410fenderfinished

I ordered three different mahogany neck blanks to see them side by side and hopefully arrive at a favorite.

110410mahoganyneckblanks

From top to bottom:  Honduran, African and Sapele.

Fender Uke Gets a Bridge

March 27, 2011

The Fender Uke, which has been getting some headstock lacquer, came without a bridge.  I have a couple of preshaped uke bridges which I’ve drilled out to take bridge pins (very “not uke”).

I stripped away the lacquer with Stryp-Eze after positioning the bridge with masking tape.

110327fenderstripeze

Scraping and chiseling left a glue-able surface.  Since this bridge will use bridge pins, I drilled two screw holes through each outside pin hole, glued up and screwed down.  These screws are for clamping only, and will be removed after the glue dries.

110327fenderbridge

What is it?

March 19, 2011

Rachel returned from China/India Tuesday and she brought me a present.

110319chinainstrument_0

She’s not sure what it’s called, so what’s it called?  I need to restring, and I’m not sure what the bridge orientation should be.

Today I added more lacquer coats to the koa dreadnought (6 of 12) and the uke (9 of 12).  The uke is a disaster.  It became dislodged from the spray booth bracket and fell to the cement causing a reasonable amount of damage, including pebbles throughout the wet lacquer coat, a chip out of the headstock, and a segment of binding with road rash.  Oh well, file it down, keep going.  Thank god this is just a “test uke”.  I’m sure it will sound lovely, but it will look like shit.

I’m also refinishing a headstock on an eBay purchased Fender koa uke.

110319fenderhead

I have some aerosol nitrocellulose that I am using to refinish this headstock.  It’s got 4 coats now, and I’ll probably go as far as 10.

I devised a little jig for drilling holes in my uke bridges.  I’m going to use bridge pins with strings secured inside the body with bone beads.  I’ll get a picture up later of the string beads.

110319bridgejig

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