View Full Version : As a new builder...

Pete Howlett
02-08-2015, 12:04 PM
I'm conducting a bit of research you may like to help me with....

As a novice or new builder which processes have you found the most challenging and how could you have been helped through them?


PS: a simple answer is all that is required :)

02-08-2015, 01:21 PM
Neck construction.

02-08-2015, 02:01 PM
Getting a decent finish

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
02-08-2015, 02:13 PM
Any student ive taught had trouble with honing in the neck alignment up/down/left/right.

02-08-2015, 02:42 PM
Cutting and milling down the tone wood was a challenge for me. There is no substitute for correct and good tools to turn blocks of wood into quality tops.

02-08-2015, 05:24 PM
Understanding the musicality of it all. Scale length, compensation, neck angle, fret tuning, setup, everything about playability. I already had my 'chops' as far as creating with wood, and finishing. What is instrument specific, is what makes a good sounding instrument. For me, that is the most difficult bit. Also, how to tune the top to the back, to prevent 'wolf notes'. Still figuring that one out, but I know that there is something there.. I have played some instruments from very well reputed builders, that I thought totally sucked, due to not playing evenly across the spectrum.

02-08-2015, 05:52 PM
Achieving a tight joint with no gaps between neck and body.

02-08-2015, 06:37 PM
Sanding then more sanding. Lol. if its for newbie builders it has to be bending sides, or even before that money to buy the proper tools, most begginers don't have access to a drum sander to thin the woodset which is key to even starting your build at all.

02-08-2015, 11:34 PM
I would agree with Chris_H that it is the techniques for making an instrument that not only looks ok, but sounds good too. For me neck angle was tough, but nut building and intonation were big learning curves.

02-08-2015, 11:58 PM
All the things mentioned above ... it all boils down to right tools for the job..Hand tools or machine....You can't make a decent uke just using a pen knife (I try'd it)

02-09-2015, 12:56 AM
As a budding builder currently getting my tools and jigs together to start my first build, the most useful information to me would be some essential notes regarding grain direction/orientation for all of the components.
I understand quarter sawn is preferable but on tops and backs for instance, must the grain be dead straight, is diagonal (ish) ok? Grain direction for bridges, fretboards?

02-09-2015, 02:18 AM
Binding! More exactly cutting the rebate without dedicated and decent routers.

Habanera Hal
02-09-2015, 07:40 AM
Voicing the soundboard. That's black magic to me.

Pete Howlett
02-09-2015, 07:41 AM
Is to me Hal and I've been building 21 years now!

02-09-2015, 08:01 AM
Learning when the top is thin/flexible/light enough was the hardest part. As a regular wood worker I found thinning below 0.09" almost scary. 0.07" felt like making veneer.

02-09-2015, 09:12 PM
Same as others...
1. Getting a good neck to body joint - aligned correctly with no gaps.
2. Sanding anything to the right, uniform thickness.
3. Routing the binding channel on a radiused back.
4. Drilling straight without the bit wandering.

02-11-2015, 06:55 AM
Initially getting a perfect flush/straight neck to body joint. Now, "voicing" a top with bracing. Total black-magic to me... I thin. I brace. I cross my fingers and... hope for the best.

Oh, also set-up. Not because I don't know how. It is the monotonousness of the whole procedure. I dread it. Boring!

02-11-2015, 07:15 AM
Applying the finish. I prefer lacquer. I wish I knew what would make the learning curve less steep.

02-11-2015, 07:17 AM
Applying the finish. I prefer lacquer. I wish I knew what would make the learning curve less steep.
The right gun really helped me. So much easier so much less sanding

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
02-11-2015, 07:58 AM
The right gun really helped me. So much easier so much less sanding

Yes! And getting the right mixture ratio (lacquer/thinner/retarder) for your setup is critical too.

02-11-2015, 08:37 AM
I started without any useful power tools and only very basic woodworking knowledge. The hardest thing was thinning top, back and sides. What would really have helped was:

1. Explanation about cross-grain planing (I didn't know this was possible, let alone desirable). Advice on basic sharpening would have helped (leave real sharpening until later).

2. How to hold down small plates for planing.

3. Basics of sharpening and using a cabinet scraper.