View Full Version : Wedge shaped raw top plate

11-04-2014, 12:35 PM
I'm the guy who ordered unsanded sitka spruce top plates and wanted to thickness them by hand using a blockplane, scrapper and sandpaper.

Anyway, I got my plates from the Alaskan suppler and there are two issues:

1)They are not bookmatched plates, but a single monolithic plate for use as a top. Are these types of tops commonly used on ukes?

2)The plates are wedge shaped in the extreme going from 0.33 at one end to 0.18 at the other. This makes my job of taking them down and leveling by hand that much harder. Some complex geometry going on here. Chances of achieving flat/thin/level by hand: Approaching zero I would think.

Are these things normal in raw soundboard tops for ukes?

Thanks for any input.

11-04-2014, 01:36 PM
Sounds like a very rough cut from end to end, or is it side to side? Either way it's not common for a spruce top to be one piece except on a soprano, and in rare cases a concert. Almost never on anything larger. It possible that you have 2 orphaned guitar tops. That is the last slice from a larger billet that didn't make a book match.

If I was to tackle this without a drum sander, I would slice off the excess thickness on the bandsaw to get the dimensions to something more suitable. Then use a hand plane to finish off. If you don't have access to the bandsaw, then just the hand plane will do the trick. Just start removing material at the thickest end and gradually as it comes down in thickness you will be levelling more and more of the surface.

Michael Smith
11-04-2014, 01:43 PM
I single top plate is not unusual. Makes it a little easier, Just a matter of looks. When you are talking you seem like you are referring to more than one plate. Are you sure they aren't sequential cuts? Thus you would cut them in half for your glued up book matches.
I have had a few come that way and I didn't like but then again I have made really nice cedar tops from cedar shingles and they are tapered way more than that.

11-05-2014, 09:30 AM
Thanks for your replies.

I attacked the thing with a variety cutting implements (mostly a plane and a sander with 60 grit), and after about 4 hours of work (pleasant work too), have more or less hit my target thickness of 0.125 over the entire top. It varies a little bit with the waist at about 118 but everywhere else a solid 125. So it can be done (sorta). I'm not going to get perfection, but I guess I'll settle for character.

11-05-2014, 10:14 AM
If that is your finished thickness, as in "nothing more coming off" then I think you have a bit more work ahead of you for a uke top. This is more what you'd be looking at for a guitar top.

11-07-2014, 06:15 AM
No, this was my target thickness before I cut the rosette. Then I planned on taking it down to...??? Not sure yet, but maybe something around 80? I'm a bit fuzzy on this at the moment.

11-07-2014, 09:32 AM
Yes, that would be a better target. Depends on the stiffness of the timbre, bracing and size of instrument, but all things being equal, you'll be good to go.