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Pete Howlett
10-27-2015, 05:13 PM
This might be a fun thing to do.... not sure if I could squeeze it in but I am looking for a suitable 8ft length of pine :)

DPO
10-27-2015, 08:24 PM
Got some 4 X 2 Rimu In the shed, what's the challenge?

orangeena
10-27-2015, 10:16 PM
If it is what it sounds like, I am up for it too. My first attempt was largely from a lump of knotty pine from B&Q and if I'd known about bridge compensation at the time it would still be ok.
Max

Vespa Bob
10-28-2015, 04:04 AM
I don't know what Pete has in mind, but I might have a jump start already!;)

Bob

Pete Howlett
10-28-2015, 04:37 AM
I think it's buy a piece of 2 x 4 from Home Depot or B&Q and see if you can make a half decent uke out of it. I think we can set a rule that the main body of the instrument and its constituent parts need to be made from this plank with the exception of the bridge, fingerboard, fretwire, nut and saddle material.

orangeena
10-28-2015, 06:25 AM
Is there any specification as to what type of uke: soprano, concert, tenor, cigarbox, pineaapple?
I would imagine soprano, but need to know the rules.
Pictures and sound clips will be needed of course. Maybe the best efforts could be raffled somewhere?

ksquine
10-28-2015, 07:06 AM
Hmm...been meaning to try an all softwood body someday. Maybe this is a good excuse

Timbuck
10-28-2015, 07:10 AM
You can make a bridge and fingerboard out of it if you bake em like I did on the Pallet uke.

resoman
10-28-2015, 07:17 AM
Your Pallet uke is what came to mind when I read this. :)

Pete Howlett
10-28-2015, 08:25 AM
Great idea - that would be a much more demanding challenge. If we stick to the 2 x 4 and use Ken's idea for baking the fingerboard and bridge I think we could have some fun. Any size would work for me since I am not competitive and would not want to get into a spitting contest over this... I will hunt out a piece at the weekend and do some research on that Japanese scorched finish... Nice little holiday project :) Mine will be a ditson style concert I think, naturally with no binding or rosette.

lauburu
10-28-2015, 09:33 AM
Nice idea. I wish I had the time to participate. It will have to go on to my (long) list of future projects.
Miguel

dave g
10-28-2015, 12:38 PM
Allow a 2 x 6 - you can get (book matched) concert size tops out of that :)

saltytri
10-28-2015, 12:51 PM
Allow any wood purchased at a big box building supply store such as Lowe's or Home Depot. Hardwood stores and outfits that cater to cabinetmakers would be off limits. That ought to keep things plebeian enough.

Hmmm.... Western Red cedar back and sides, hemlock or CVG Doug fir neck and a maple board? :) That could turn into some real fun.

Andyk
10-28-2015, 11:08 PM
Allow any wood purchased at a big box building supply store such as Lowe's or Home Depot. Hardwood stores and outfits that cater to cabinetmakers would be off limits. That ought to keep things plebeian enough.

Hmmm.... Western Red cedar back and sides, hemlock or CVG Doug fir neck and a maple board? :) That could turn into some real fun.

You guys in the States are so lucky if you can find that in you local DIY store. Here in the UK we have it slightly different ... Just take a look at the wonderous selection in B&Q: http://www.diy.com/departments/building-supplies/timber-woodwork/DIY763398.cat/category-27004=DIY570361/Thickness-cc_4120=47mm/Width-cc_4116=100mm?pageSize=12&categoryToFilter=DIY570361
Makes me want to relocate ... although the cost of living in the US and all those guns puts me off a tiny bit :)

RPA_Ukuleles
10-29-2015, 02:35 AM
Love this idea. And I think just keeping it to a pine/fir 2x4 *is* the challenge. 1 stick, 1 uke, good luck!

Gentlemen, start your bandsaws!

Pete Howlett
10-29-2015, 04:11 AM
Interesting isn't it how people always want to change the rules - those ideas are great but are simply another concept. You want to do that then go ahead. No-one is stopping you :)

However for the 2x4 ukulele challenge I therefor propose:

Purchased 2" x 4" x 8' from local supplier of pine/fir. Can be rough sawn or prepared
Any style of ukulele
Baked pine fingerboard and bridge - see Kens instructions
Fretwire, nut and saddle, tuners - bought 'non-pine' items
Any finish you want
Photo documented or other

RPA_Ukuleles
10-29-2015, 04:44 AM
Cool by me!
Now, all I need to do is spend the rest of the day sifting through six thousand 2x4s at the Depot to find the "one" quarter sawn 2x4 that somehow made it into the stack. Wish me luck! By the way, in the US, at least, a 2x4 is actually 1.5" x 3.5" so the question is, book matched Soprano? or 3 piece top- Concert or Tenor?

Gyozu
10-29-2015, 04:55 AM
Just a quick bit on the "Japanese Burned Finish" also called "Shou Sugi Ban".

I just used this finish for the first time on a Japanese style toolchest (toshio Odate plans). Wood was Flat sawn Ash flooring that I thinned down from 3/4" to 9/16". This finish does a great job of showing the grain.
A Harbour Freight weed burner was used to char the surface. It worked OK, but it is to much uncontrollable heat. The wood warped a bit and glue lines started to fail. The box was built with glue and screws then burned. If I did this again, I would burn the wood first then build, finally burning the small exposed surfaces after all was assembled. if I needed to keep things tight. After a bit more searching around a video surfaced showing the craftsman heating blocks of metal on a forge and dragging these along the surface of the wood to char it. When wire brushing ( A brass brush worked well-not to aggressive) the surface, go with the grain if at all possible. The finish I used was a wax containing Beeswax and Carnuba. Nice finish for a toolchest, probably no good for an instrument. One of the interesting things was areas that show a variation in heat went from dark caramel brown to ebony black. Also, an decorative method to pursue would be to use shaped metal overlays to protect the original surface while burning to add surface design.

I will be interested in this build. Several years ago I bought an 8'x 2x4 Douglas fir stud at a local salvage shop that was perfectly 1/4 sawn and knot free. Thought of making a uke ala Pallet style leapt to mind.

Pete Howlett
10-29-2015, 10:49 AM
Yes - any 2x4 softwood or pine. If you can get it rough sawn it will be 4". A hunt round an old joiner's workshop would definitely yield a gem or two. Get into the spirit of this. Try to be 'honest' with the build - this is no competition and everyone should have a pop at it. The word challenge is to yourself - see what you can do using your imagination and skill. Since I am very pushed for time, I am going to build one of my boat paddle instruments and use a nice bright wood dye to finish it. If you feel intimidated why not mug up a 'cigar box' configuration or get the plans for a Doan style uke. Let's see how we all do :) Good luck everyone :)

Vespa Bob
10-29-2015, 11:24 AM
I guess mine won't be allowed, as the top, back, fretboard and headplate are not from my 2x4! At this stage it's almost complete and, while I'll certainly build another, I won't use 2x4 pine again! Apart from the knots, the uneven grain makes it very difficult to sand and shape. I appreciate that this is a fun project, but unless you are lucky enough to find a good one, 2x4 pine/fir is not the best for instrument building!:)

Bob

Pete Howlett
10-29-2015, 11:33 AM
I disagree Bob... what inspired me was a YouTube video (https://youtu.be/ug4fQfMRXeI) on this very theme. Of course, you must select the wood you are going to use. I suspect it is going to take me visits to several builders suppliers before I find the right piece. Please don't rain on our parade because you have had a bad experience. Like I say to my children, "You cannot cook a good meal with poor ingredients!" This is about starting from the right place by putting time in with wood selection. If you are going to try this, be sensible. Don't chose a knotty piece of firewood! Look at the end grain and sight down the length to check for wind(twist). Be positive. I am expecting to produce a great sounding uke, nothing less!

Vespa Bob
10-29-2015, 01:05 PM
Apologies, Pete, if you misunderstood my remarks. I support the idea of this challenge entirely, I was aiming my remarks at my experience with my latest little uke. You are right in that I didn't waste too much time in selecting my wood. Actually, our Home Depot has very little choice, most of the wood is poor. I'll be posting pics of my little travel uke soon.

Bob

Timbuck
10-29-2015, 01:53 PM
in an 8 foot length of 2x4 I'm sure you can find a 15 inch section that is suitable for slicing and bookmatching .. Even with a few knots it will look ok. ..it don't have to be quarter sawn either to sound good, as I've already found out;)

weerpool
10-29-2015, 04:55 PM
im in! went to home depot on its closing hours. found the perfect piece.
i will be doing a Kumalae-style island soprano.
84789

Titchtheclown
10-29-2015, 09:10 PM
Pah
you professionals have no hope. To really do a 2 by 4 challenge or palette challenge you have to spend years ignoring the masters, staying away from apprenticeships or anyone that even remotely knows about the history of how to make things. ;) You professionals will likely finish up making something beautiful,stylish and traditional sounding. I may, (this time) permit myself the use of more than a pocket knife. You will be using hide glue and french polish next!

Will the use of a heat shrunk pepsi bottle for the head of the banjo uke be acceptable?

Enjoy.

Timbuck
10-29-2015, 09:38 PM
Pah
you professionals have no hope. To really do a 2 by 4 challenge or palette challenge you have to spend years ignoring the masters, staying away from apprenticeships or anyone that even remotely knows about the history of how to make things. ;) You professionals will likely finish up making something beautiful,stylish and traditional sounding. I may, (this time) permit myself the use of more than a pocket knife. You will be using hide glue and french polish next!

Will the use of a heat shrunk pepsi bottle for the head of the banjo uke be acceptable?

Enjoy. Well said Titch....and remember "Orville Wright" never had a pilots license..Never stopped him! or his brother "Wilbur" ;)

Timbuck
10-29-2015, 09:50 PM
Actually, our Home Depot has very little choice, most of the wood is poor.

It can't be worse than this :D
http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc143/shiregreenbod/PICT0010-2.jpg

Jim Hanks
10-30-2015, 01:47 AM
Well said Titch....and remember "Orville Wright" never had a pilots license..Never stopped him! or his brother "Wilbur" ;)

Yeah but....


http://history1900s.about.com/od/1900s/a/firstcrash.htm
Just five years after the Wrights' first flight, Orville Wright was in the first fatal airplane crash, which left Orville severely injured and his passenger dead.


Not sure what that has to with instrument making. Just sayin. ;)

Titchtheclown
10-30-2015, 02:55 AM
Yeah but....


Not sure what that has to with instrument making. Just sayin. ;)

That's OK I wasn't planning on making a flying ukulele..or at least, I wasn't planning on making a flying ukulele.

jcalkin
10-30-2015, 06:03 AM
I'm with Titch on this one. Insisting on a perfect 2x4 halfway defeats the purpose of the challenge.

Don't know how it pertains, but here's a story. 20 years ago I made some soprano bodies, then decided I didn't want to build ukes after all. A coworker took a body for a friend of his, and together they made a neck and got it to play. The friend played Hawaiian occasions all over, made decent money, and still has the uke. It has the ugliest, most amateur finish on it you ever saw. I don't know how many people he told that it was one of my ukes, but that's how he describes it. Makes me cringe whenever I think about it. The friend is one of my coworkers now, and he's a really nice guy. I keep my mouth shut and try to see the humor in it. So if your 2x4 uke doesn't turn out lock it away safely so it can never bite you.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
10-30-2015, 07:00 AM
I think it's buy a piece of 2 x 4 from Home Depot or B&Q and see if you can make a half decent uke out of it. I think we can set a rule that the main body of the instrument and its constituent parts need to be made from this plank with the exception of the bridge, fingerboard, fretwire, nut and saddle material.

i went through 2 warehouses of lumber at homedepo and found just 1 really nice 1/4 sawn tight grained redwood i could use. I cut it up and its really stiff so im half way there!-

Titchtheclown
10-30-2015, 08:32 AM
I'm with Titch on this one. Insisting on a perfect 2x4 halfway defeats the purpose of the challenge.

Don't know how it pertains, but here's a story. 20 years ago I made some soprano bodies, then decided I didn't want to build ukes after all. A coworker took a body for a friend of his, and together they made a neck and got it to play. The friend played Hawaiian occasions all over, made decent money, and still has the uke. It has the ugliest, most amateur finish on it you ever saw. I don't know how many people he told that it was one of my ukes, but that's how he describes it. Makes me cringe whenever I think about it. The friend is one of my coworkers now, and he's a really nice guy. I keep my mouth shut and try to see the humor in it. So if your 2x4 uke doesn't turn out lock it away safely so it can never bite you.

You agree with me!!!!???

You poor man. Didn't your mother ever tell you not to accept advice from clowns on the internet? Don't you realise that sometimes we are joking?

Build what you like from what you like. I am an eclectic builder. Most of the time when I build I hear the tune they play in my head. Most of the time, for me the tune is my niece when she was 7 playing her self composition "I hate my brother because he" s so mean". With a couple of my nicer tin Ukes it has been Mark Knopfler playing playing Romeo and Juliet. I just wish I had the talent for it to be Chuck Morgan from the Janet Seidel Trio playing his 1920s Martin.

On a completely different topic, I wonder how quickly a piece would start to spalt, or at least stain a little if I put it in the compost tumbler? I might have to find a bucket with rain water to soak it in first.

weerpool
10-30-2015, 08:59 AM
I'll let this sit for a couple of days before I get to the slicin' n' dicin' part lol. 84812
84813

AlaskaTheo
10-30-2015, 09:16 AM
I'll throw my hat in. I've been super busy lately, and was a little on the fence, but found myself going through the studs at Home Depot yesterday so I guess I'm in:).

The studs I was looking at were pretty lousy, it might take a little while to find a decent piece, and I've hardly had the time I need in my shop lately with several projects in the works, but hopefully I'll pull something together in a reasonable amount of time.

I'm glad to see a challenge build on this forum, last year I participated in a local woods building challenge on OLF that I really enjoyed. Thanks Pete for getting this started.

Jim Hanks
10-30-2015, 11:03 AM
It has the ugliest, most amateur finish on it you ever saw. I don't know how many people he told that it was one of my ukes, but that's how he describes it. Makes me cringe whenever I think about it.
That's pretty funny. ;) Compared to your current output, I can well imagine the embarrassment. :p

I'm not a builder but I hope all yall go through with this. Maybe they can be released under a pseudonym if they are below your usual standards. :shaka:

weerpool
10-30-2015, 11:46 AM
Here is my set. 848268482784828

Dougf
10-30-2015, 03:23 PM
I didn't see any good 2x4s, so I looked at the interior grade redwood 1x4s and found this one that I just couldn't pass up. Actual dimension is 5/8" x 3 3/8", and pretty close to perfectly quarter-sawn. I counted 185 grain lines across its width, although I may be off by a few, since some were hard to make out even with a magnifying glass.

84835
84836

printer2
10-30-2015, 04:29 PM
Have not built a uke yet and I really should not be building anything at the moment (reasons being withheld). But I just dropped in here today and this challenge is right up my ally. I have a perfect 2 x 4 but it is too good to use. Will have to go out shopping tomorrow.


Looked downstairs, found a four foot 2 x 4 that I used to make a T with to put up drywall (which I really should be doing instead) and a 4 foot pine 1 x 4. Not sure if you would allow the 1 x 4 (not sure if it is enough either, will have to do some calculatin'), if not the 2 x 4 will have to do. Don't know how up I am to looking for wood.

http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/pp142/printer2_photo/Guitar%20builds/2015%20Guitar/2%20x%204%20uke%2001_zpsfgggm6lq.jpg

Not really sure about the baked bridge though, I don't think the stuff is strong enough.

Pete Howlett
10-30-2015, 05:16 PM
It's a 2x4 challenge... I saw some excellent 4x4 today that I had to pass up. If you areg going to play the game, stick to the simple rules please :) Part of the fun is finding the wood and working within a generous set of constraints.
.

Dougf
10-30-2015, 10:18 PM
So are you saying my 1x4 is disqualified? It's okay if it is, but I think a 1x4 would be even more challenging than a 2x4. In any case, thanks for the idea, I'm really glad I found this piece, it wouldn't have happened without your inspiration.

Pete Howlett
10-31-2015, 12:12 AM
It actually says '2 x 4 challenge'. That is pretty unequivocal I think. It's not a 'pallet build' challenge though we ought to do that next year or any other. The whole point of my proposal is you get out there, hunt down a suitable piece of lumber from a general lumber suppliers and make something out of it. It's open to all comers and is not a beauty/skill contest. Honestly folks, it's meant to be fun, not a competition to see who can select the best luthier grade stick from a pile of rubbish and create a $3000 piece from it! I cannot for the life of me understand why this simple idea needs to be embellished and made more complicated. And quite frankly, I much rather believe Ken who has empirically tested 'toasted wood' than someone with a mere opinion... Now I'll get back to work on a $2000 baritone ukulele and save my energies for the more testing build - 'The 2 x 4 Ukulele Challenge'!

:rulez::deadhorse::stop:

Benscience
10-31-2015, 02:54 AM
Hi all,
I too would like to join in this build (will be my first). My questions are, I do not own a bandsaw would a jig saw be accurate enough? Also, I have no drawn plans to make measurements from, any suggestions where I should begin other than measure my current ukuleles and attempt to make some plans from there .
Thanks for the challenge Pete.
Ben

Timbuck
10-31-2015, 03:10 AM
Hi all,
I too would like to join in this build (will be my first). My questions are, I do not own a bandsaw would a jig saw be accurate enough? Also, I have no drawn plans to make measurements from, any suggestions where I should begin other than measure my current ukuleles and attempt to make some plans from there .
Thanks for the challenge Pete.
Ben

The answer to all those questions is yes!

Benscience
10-31-2015, 03:14 AM
Hi Ken
Thanks for the reply, now where's me tape measure?

jcalkin
10-31-2015, 04:27 AM
You agree with me!!!!???

You poor man. Didn't your mother ever tell you not to accept advice from clowns on the internet? Don't you realise that sometimes we are joking?

Build what you like from what you like. I am an eclectic builder. Most of the time when I build I hear the tune they play in my head. Most of the time, for me the tune is my niece when she was 7 playing her self composition "I hate my brother because he" s so mean". With a couple of my nicer tin Ukes it has been Mark Knopfler playing playing Romeo and Juliet. I just wish I had the talent for it to be Chuck Morgan from the Janet Seidel Trio playing his 1920s Martin.

On a completely different topic, I wonder how quickly a piece would start to spalt, or at least stain a little if I put it in the compost tumbler? I might have to find a bucket with rain water to soak it in first.

Is this really a challenge or not? Looking for a primo stick of wood to start with seems pretty spineless to me. What can you hope to learn? What's so clever about making your same old model? If we don't see some innovation and risk taking this is going to be a boring challenge.

Dougf
10-31-2015, 04:53 AM
This is the kind of stuff I usually start with, so a 2x4 actually makes it easier.

84845

printer2
10-31-2015, 05:47 AM
Is this really a challenge or not? Looking for a primo stick of wood to start with seems pretty spineless to me. What can you hope to learn? What's so clever about making your same old model? If we don't see some innovation and risk taking this is going to be a boring challenge.

I have no doubt I can make a uke from a 2 x 4, the question is how long you want it to be playable for? Wild grain and knots will make a neck unplayable after a while, back, top and sides might fair better. Easy enough finding quartered stuff (relatively speaking) along the 4" side, makes for a better one piece neck. Not as good for top and backs as you have glue joints less than every 1.5". Not that you can't do it just that if the grain goes 90 degrees from this you have a conceivably prettier top and back. A soprano uke would be easier but I want to do a tenor, a little more of a challenge.

I am sort of laid up and won't be doing any running around looking for wood, use what I have around the house. May have to grab another short if I have one around here for the neck. The four foot piece I have would do well for top back and sides (even with screw holes), not sure if I can get the neck out of it also. Going to try.

Pete Howlett
10-31-2015, 05:57 AM
So you joining us Mr Calkin? Show us how it's done?

DazW
10-31-2015, 06:27 AM
Perfect excuse to get building my first uke!
Just bought my 2x4, 5ft redwood pine from my local timber merchant.
Grain looks as straight as I could hope for and minimal knots.

84847
84849

Plan is -

Cigar box style.
Sopranino 11.5" scale.
Everything will be made from this plank except frets and tuners.
Basic hand tools and a load of grit and determination. Should be fun!

jcalkin
10-31-2015, 06:33 AM
So you joining us Mr Calkin? Show us how it's done?

I'm in, Mr. Howlett. I just got back from Lowes with my 2x4, the second one I looked at. For better or worse I'll post pix and hopefully a video. I feel that uke longevity and cosmetic refinement are irrelevant to this challenge. In fact, I built dulcimers and electric guitars like this 40 years ago when the cost of even the plainest prepared set was more than I could afford. It was my experience that instrument longevity was never a problem. In fact, the reverse was true. They were still hanging around long after my chops and income outgrew them, and I was embarrassed to have them around. A few I gave away, a couple landed in the dumpster. and my 1986 pine camping dulcimer (Little Blue) just got swapped away two years ago. I need a tenor uke of my own, and this will probably be it.

Timbuck
10-31-2015, 06:51 AM
If you are worried that the neck could warp , Don't worry just saw the timber into three 1" wide strips and glue them back together with the grain on the middle one running the opposite way to the outer two that will make the neck stable "thats the way I did the pallet job and it's still fine"..I dropped in a couple of carbon fiber rods as well just in case :)

JesterBlod
10-31-2015, 07:37 AM
I'm going to give it a go for a winter project. I hope to finish by May, so I can take it with me when I will be heading along to Snowdonia to make a Ukulele with Mr Howlett. PS Can't wait :)

Wildestcat
10-31-2015, 09:15 AM
It's a 2x4 challenge... I saw some excellent 4x4 today that I had to pass up. If you areg going to play the game, stick to the simple rules please :) Part of the fun is finding the wood and working within a generous set of constraints.
.
I'd like to have a crack Pete .... but I'll be using some scrap bits of J.C. Dykes DIY emporium 2 x 3 rescued from my old go bar deck. Apart from the fact that's all I can find, 3" is right at the limit for my bandsaw, so 2x4 isn't going to happen without cutting back to 3" first! I'm aiming for three piece top & back on a concert. This is the wood pile so far - I think it is pine, and the resin has already gummed up the bandsaw blade and the drum sander......
8485684857

I've got two days to bake the fingerboard & bridge before my wife gets back from holiday!

printer2
10-31-2015, 09:29 AM
Nice piece of Redwood Pine, going to make a cool instrument. For me CF might be a little excessive for an instrument made out of a 2 x 4. Not too concerned of the neck going wonky as I did go out and got me a shiny new 2 x 4 that does not look too bad. If I could avoid the knots I should be fine. I feel all warm and legal now.

http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/pp142/printer2_photo/Guitar%20builds/2015%20Guitar/2%20x%204%20uke%2001_zpstawjml2q.jpg

RPA_Ukuleles
10-31-2015, 03:22 PM
This is already fun. I found a fine 2x4 at the Depot. Gave them $2.25, and headed off to the saw. The moisture content is however a problem for this "Kiln dried" stick. Measured 14%, so I'm giving it a go in the oven on the nifty "dehydrate" mode. Haven't really tried this on thinned wood before, so just gonna go low and slow. Like pot roast, only lower- and slower. I'll see what the MC is in the morning. Check that moisture content! If you don't have a meter, find a friend or cabinet shop. If the wood is not well dried (typically around 6%), it might not be worth your effort to build with it.

So I've decided on a Martin soprano build. I drew up and laser-cut some pattern pieces this summer, as well as built a form. This will be my first Martin soprano "copy". Not sure what "style" it'll end up (0,1,2,3,or 5 even!) but it's gonna be a P -for pine.

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/martemps_zpsuzxt6vp9.jpg

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/dehydrate_zpsek51enxo.jpg

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/dehystack_zpsoobmyqpe.jpg

Will give it a few days to chill before I start building. Tho I might put the fretboard, bridge, and peg blanks in the toaster oven tomorrow. See how that goes. And with any luck I won't be down at the Depot buying another 2x4 after all this.;)

printer2
10-31-2015, 06:10 PM
Nice drying rack.

Changed my mind on how I want my grain. Almost impossible to find a spruce fir pine (SFP) 2x4 with the grain going up and down so you can use the 3 1/2" width. The 2x4's like this are cut around the pith of the tree (center section). Probably the most unstable part of the tree. Going to have to trim the pith out of some of my pieces. End up not much wider than the 1 1/2" width of the board. Good to know for next time and much easier to find acceptable wood to work with.

I surfaced both sides on my drum sander, low buck dust control, an old vacuum cleaner. Go through a few extra bags but well worth it not having the dust fly around. This way I can cut a sheet, sand the cut side flat to put through the bandsaw again, repeat. So when I am done I only need to sand one side smooth.

http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/pp142/printer2_photo/Guitar%20builds/2015%20Guitar/2%20x%204%20uke%2002_zpsj1ratei6.jpg

Need to get my dust control system built, bandsaw kicks up a little. First cut, looks good.

http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/pp142/printer2_photo/Guitar%20builds/2015%20Guitar/2%20x%204%20uke%2003_zpsi0xjxcgh.jpg

Have mor than enough cut for my sides, might just use the rest of the thickness for my neck. We'll see tomorrow.

http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/pp142/printer2_photo/Guitar%20builds/2015%20Guitar/2%20x%204%20uke%2004_zpsni1qcad1.jpg

Pete Howlett
10-31-2015, 10:38 PM
So Paul you are not going to chose a piece of 2 x 4? This isn't about getting the perfect piece of wood. It's about accepting limitations and working with them. When I get to that stack of scantlings I saw the other day I'll pick the best of what I see. I know it won't be perfect or ideal. I am certain it will have a very high m/c so it will be cut, stack and conditioned for 4 weeks. Unlike most of you I will be building a simple design (I've given away all my soprano forms since I don't make these any more). If you take this too seriously, it will not be fun. Remember please to document the purchase/acquiring and build. :)

Wildestcat
11-01-2015, 01:10 AM
Hi Pete - Sadly no, it will have to be 3x2. I would love to be able to stick to the exact rules, but my hobbyist benchtop bandsaw simply won't take a slice off a 4" width (it was painfully slow progress through the 3") and I am far too old & rickety to contemplate hand sawing! I hope I am still operating within the spirit of the challenge (if not the letter of the law), and fear not I definitely won't be taking it too seriously.
In mitigation, it is genuine builders timber from the local DIY store, and other than the fact I always select straight pieces of timber whatever the intended use, I haven't done any special wood selection at all. The three 600 mm lengths I am starting from were literally just what was lying around in the workshop, having originally been used for a roof access platform strut, and more recently as a dish support for an old go bar deck. Quarter sawn it isn't, and it would have probably gone on the fire this winter. Using 3x2 forces me to use a three-piece top & back, so even more limitations to work round. I guess the only advantage might be that the moisture content is already down to ~8%.

Anyway, I'm determined to have some fun with this, be it 2x4 or 3x2. As I write, the fingerboard & bridge blanks have just finished cooking in the oven for the third time. The first attempt was nominally 200C for an hour, but the result was not so much a torrefication as a very mild tan. I gave it another hour at a nominal 220 C, now another hour at 250 C. Seems my wife was right all along about why her cakes sink in the middle! The temperature control is useless, as my thermocouple now bears witness. Seems I have been cooking at about 180 C max, which even though fan assisted, clearly isn't enough. It actually smells quite pleasant in the kitchen - fortunately no trace of Kens kipper aroma!
The oven won't go any higher, so I guess this is the end result:
84872

jcalkin
11-01-2015, 03:10 AM
Yesterday I got the sides assembled and the neck blank made. No mold, no bending, true outlaw lutherie. Looks like the body will be a shade large for a tenor. I haven't got time for such niceties as wood cooking. If I actually play this thing enough to put wear on the pine fingerboard I will be well pleased. Today I hope to resaw the plate stock, then the project will have to sit around for a week. I shouldn't even be working on this now, but I got sucked into the challenge. This week I have to put 45-style trim on an H&D as well as some other tricky stuff. This challenge is supplying exactly the informal kind of work I should do at home. Thanks, Pete!

printer2
11-01-2015, 04:53 AM
Well there goes my reply, poof! away into the either. Try to reconstitute part of it while still sort of fresh.

I have been wondering about the baked wood for the fretboard. When I have baked wood I found it turned out stiffer but not stronger. Actually easier to cut, more crumbly rather than tough. So much for the memory, caint remember what else I was writing about.

Wildestcat
11-01-2015, 05:51 AM
I have yet to try cutting it after baking, but it certainly feels harder, stiffer and has a nice ring to it (yes, I know but how else to describe?).
After baking (albeit several times - see above) my concert sized pine boards have lost ~1mm off the width, ~2mm off the length and ~0.3mm off the thickness. Moisture content was about 8% beforehand. The boards are still outside all my finished dimensions, but that might not have been the case had there been more moisture content to start with. Perhaps wise to be a little more generous with shrinkage allowance!

Doug W
11-01-2015, 06:45 AM
Well I had pretty much decided that in my early sixties I should just concentrate on my uke playing, but I think I should build one uke from scratch before I leave this planet, which could be tomorrow or thirty years from now.

The neck/frets business is a little intimidating for a total amateur but I guess I won't know until I try.

jcalkin
11-01-2015, 06:55 AM
Well there goes my reply, poof! away into the either. Try to reconstitute part of it while still sort of fresh.

I have been wondering about the baked wood for the fretboard. When I have baked wood I found it turned out stiffer but not stronger. Actually easier to cut, more crumbly rather than tough. So much for the memory, caint remember what else I was writing about.

Baking turns red spruce into western red cedar. Courser, softer, darker, fluffier. Maple seems to be less changed, physically, though baking really makes any figure much more prominent, especially under finish.

printer2
11-01-2015, 09:06 AM
Courser, softer, darker, fluffier.

Good selection of words to describe it. I have done some pine which made for a nice little guitar. Also done some Cherry, went from ho hum to lovely. Some Oak where the darker color took it from dishwater to, well darker. Did some spruce and cedar, if baking turns red spruce to cedar what does cedar turn into? Not sure yet a oak/cedar classical is a guitar I have planned. I have yet to do maple, way too many guitars on my list so far. They do tap much nicer afterward don't they? Oh yeah also some walnut that I used as a fretboard for the pine nylon string guitar I did. Maybe I'll try the spruce for the fretboard, maybe some baked cherry?

dave g
11-01-2015, 11:29 AM
OK, I'm in :D. Haven't built a proper wooden uke for some time now (in favor of banjo ukes), so I'll be a bit rusty... But my assistant Wayne and I have selected a nice piece of wood, and we'll get started before too long here.

84891

It's "SPF" with freakishly wide growth rings, but straight as an arrow and 10% moisture content. $2.72 US.

I'm thinking a pear-shape concert.

Edit: Well poop - that picture should be rotated... It is here at home. &^%$#@* Windows 10 :mad:

Dougf
11-01-2015, 02:30 PM
The 1x4 that I bought at Lowe's was labeled as redwood, and it showed up on the receipt as redwood, but after cutting into it, I'm pretty sure it's not redwood. Looks more like western red cedar to me. The surface had been given a red stain. So I checked out the comparable product at Home Depot, and it's definitely redwood. I wonder what the deal is, maybe somebody make a mistake, or maybe their system doesn't have a code for red cedar.

Whatever, it's still a really nice piece of wood, so I'm making a uke out of it anyway.

Jim Hanks
11-01-2015, 02:43 PM
my assistant Wayne and I have selected a nice piece of wood, and we'll get started before too long
Ooh wee, Wayne is freakin me out with the googaly green eyes. :eek: :p

PereBourik
11-01-2015, 04:09 PM
I'm loving' this thread. Thanks everybody. I may try to build one day so I'm taking notes. If I do try to build it will be a project along these lines.

sequoia
11-01-2015, 04:51 PM
The 1x4 that I bought at Lowe's was labeled as redwood, and it showed up on the receipt as redwood, but after cutting into it, I'm pretty sure it's not redwood. Looks more like western red cedar to me..

Yeah, buying wood can be a lot like buying fish: Labels can be misleading and buyer beware. Sometimes smelling the stuff can tell you alot be it fish or wood. Redwood should have almost no smell. Cedar yes. Regardless, either one should make a fine uke.

Vespa Bob
11-01-2015, 04:57 PM
I'm getting close to finishing my on going projects, so tomorrow I'll have time to start searching for some decent wood. Will probably build a larger version of my travel uke, just completed.

Bob

orangeena
11-01-2015, 11:06 PM
I have started this weekend with a visit to Wickes where I found a reasonably straight bit of 2x4 with some longish knot free lengths. I used the bandsaw to re-saw two bookmatched sets from the most quarter-sawn section for the front and back and have planed/sanded those down, glued them and left them sticked to dry a little. Yesterday I used my homemade framesaw (and the wonderful Record 52E vice I got on eBay for 21!!!!!! that arrived Saturday) to cut two 40cm lengths for the sides. I thicknessed those down to 1.9mm and spritzed the first before wrapping it in foil and applying heat with my light-bulb bender and an iron. All was going well until I got to the front bout when there was a horrible cracking and my worst fears were realised. Back to the drawing board on that. Maybe take it down to 1.6mm next time.
I have also been baking fretboard blanks. My house now smells vaguely of kippers too! I think my oven must also be running cold as it took four goes to get the colour into the wood. In the end gas mark 8 and top of the over for 60 minutes seemed to work. I have run them through the sander now and they are a gorgeous golden-syrup colour and smell good enough to eat. The wood chimes now and behaves almost like a ceramic in the sander. very odd.

I am really enjoying this challenge so thanks mr h.

http://i367.photobucket.com/albums/oo118/orangeena73/my%20ukulele%20stuff/Collage_1.gif_zpssv15k8dc.png

http://i367.photobucket.com/albums/oo118/orangeena73/my%20ukulele%20stuff/Collage_2_zpsdiwpbxyx.gif

printer2
11-02-2015, 02:22 AM
Don't know if anyone has built with softwood for the back and sides before but I have built a few guitars using some. You might have some trouble bending tight curves, not sure what is the best method to use yet. The wood may crack of crush causing a crease. My latest guitar has a crease at the waist that I mostly sanded out. Try a test piece before using your rare hard to find clean of knots piece.

orangeena
11-02-2015, 02:43 AM
Good advice. The second piece has soaked overnight and was subjected to a longer spell under the iron before going into the bender waist first rather than butt first. It appears to have bent fine (at least there was no audible failure) although it is still cooling in its foil currently.

Doug
11-02-2015, 05:51 AM
That's a nice looking frame saw you have there orangeena. Did you build it?

printer2
11-02-2015, 05:57 AM
I wanted to try bending mine first before offering this up, only tried it once so I would like to have more bends under my belt before saying something works. Had some wood that I baked and it broke when bent. Then I soaked some in a fabric softener and water solution for a while then bent after rinsing and patting dry. Seemed to help. The fabric softener is said to help but it might have been the long soak of water. Once bent I cooked it till I did not hear any more water hissing. Take it for what it is worth.

printer2
11-02-2015, 05:58 AM
That's a nice looking frame saw you have there orangeena. Did you build it?

Oh yeah, never noticed it first time around. May have to make one.

orangeena
11-02-2015, 06:20 AM
Yes I made it after I was inspired by one I saw on Sven's site. It is the blade from a mitre saw (you can get them in Wickes here in the UK) with a frame built around it. I used my welder and some steel to make the blade holders, but only because I have them. Pretty sure you could do without. Cutting this pine is a piece of cake with the frame saw as long as you kerf first (I also followed Sven's advice on making one of those), but a decent hand saw would work just as well. It really comes into it's own with an oversized lump of something hard like the walnut. You can get as thin as about 4mm if you are patient. Here some (bad) pics of the kerfing saw in action. I used a bit of a broken 1/2 inch bandsaw blade to make it.

http://i367.photobucket.com/albums/oo118/orangeena73/my%20ukulele%20stuff/IMAG0040_zps7ffgqpu5.jpg

http://i367.photobucket.com/albums/oo118/orangeena73/my%20ukulele%20stuff/IMAG0041_zpsiw2liibh.jpg

Max

greenscoe
11-02-2015, 06:59 AM
For anyone who wants to see what's involved in making a uke from a 2 x 4 , I see there's a guy on Youtube who has already done it and filmed the whole thing. There are 3 videos each about 15 mins long. He uses other wood for the bridge, fretboard, bridge patch and neck reinforcement, but the whole build is shown.

Here is the first part, the other parts can be easily found.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ug4fQfMRXeI

printer2
11-02-2015, 08:02 AM
That does it, I'm doing a 2x3!





Anybody in for a 2x2? ;)

Titchtheclown
11-02-2015, 09:26 AM
Popped out to bunnies and invested $8 in a quarter sawn 90 by 45 2.4 m seasoned MGP10 building stud of species 'baltic' ( an 8 foot 2by 4 dar in the old money, or is that a dar 2 by 4 I forget where the dar goes to indicate start or finish measuring). Plenty of tight little knots and the drive home made the car smell like I was transporting a fresh cut Christmas tree. By seasoned I think they meant they had sprinkled salt and pepper on it.

Time to try a carved bowl back I think. Now where did I put that axe?

Farp
11-03-2015, 01:20 PM
I'm with Jim on this thread--watching it with great anticipation. I am planning on building my first, and have a luthier willing to show me the ropes. I have watched and appreciated the MyaMoe tenor building video series--they did a great job with those videos. It might even be a good idea for each of the 2x4 builders to start their own thread and post their progress, such as "John Doe's 2x4 build," etc. If everyone building with SFP and cedar boards would post their photos of building along the way, this thread, or group of threads, could be absolutely classic!

I can't wait to see and hear more about the trials and successes of the builds, complete with a play-by-play of what works and what is frustrating as time allows for each of the builders. This thread is the one to which I look forward the most to seeing each day as I get on my computer.

Great work getting this off the ground, Pete!

printer2
11-03-2015, 03:38 PM
I kind of like the idea of keeping it all in one thread. Might be a little harder following one person but I think it would be best for helping out people with things that pop up, learning from others and their methods. More of a community thing rather than a bunch of threads going their own separate ways, not that they would not be interesting either. I took part in a build a guitar amp for $100 challenge and it ended up over 100 pages long (not expecting this one to be). Was lot of fun and it became a sticky in that forum.

orangeena
11-03-2015, 08:54 PM
Well it is becoming like The Great British Bake Off at our house now as following the successful bake of the fretboard blanks I have had a second batch of pine in the oven for an idea I have for the neck. I have a goatee so I am trying to channel Paul Hollywood here rather than Mary Berry.

The second attempt at bending a 1.8mm side went a little better but still getting a bit of creasing and a small crack. Hopefully I can use it though.

Max

Wildestcat
11-04-2015, 01:06 AM
My side bending experiences:

Firstly, I'm not sure exactly what my wood is. It is pretty resinous, so possibly pine? Anyway, I started by thicknessing to 1.9 mm for hand bending on an Ibex iron. I set the thermostat to ~5.5, which is where I set it for rosewood and most other woods I bend. I didn't bother strapping on a thermocouple, but from previous calibration that's probably around 160 deg C (320 F).
Taking a lead from an earlier post and wishing to gain maximum insurance against breakage, I soaked the wood for a couple of minutes in what I thought was water plus fabric conditioner .... except it seems it was actually Marks & Spencers Summer Dreams delicate laundry liquid (lovingly formulated for lace, silk, wool, cashmere and pine). Never delve into the under-sink cupboard without your glasses on as bottle shape itself is no guide. This will be one nicely scented ukulele!

Encouragingly, the side started to pre-bend itself in the water tray and felt really flexible. I made a tentative start on the upper bout bend, but it actually bent really easily - no cracks no fuss at all ... except by the time I had finished on the waist the upper bout had straightened itself out. I did the bout again, then the waist again then the bout again ... a picture was emerging. I fell back on Plan B (which to be fair is becoming my normal practice - apologies Pete) - I whizzed through all the bends one last time, soaked the side and clamped it into the mold. No dramas - with the texture of damp cardboard it conformed to the mold with no nasty cracking noises. Out with the heat gun and a good blasting on maximum heat, allowed to cool and hey presto - one completed side.

I did't mess around with the second one - just got the bends somewhere near and whacked it into the mold for the heat gun treatment again.

I'd say the softwood holds onto water longer than the typical hardwoods when on the iron. I was amazed by the fact the wood didn't scorch or discolour, and there are no folds or creases at the waist and no cracks anywhere.

The bent sides are a lot more flexible than hardwood, so I will probably add stiffening ribs inside as i do with guitars.
84971849728497384974

All in all, much easier than I feared. Good luck with yours!

SkiAloha
11-04-2015, 03:21 AM
Paul - that looks like SYP (Southern Yellow Pine) - a catchall term for a group of yellow pines from the south-east U.S. Resinous, and often used for pressure treated lumber. Quite dense for pine, and due to the extra resin, the late wood has a tendency to extend proud of the surface - it doesn't seem to move as much as the early wood. With the growth rings so visible, I think it'll make a great looking Uke!
Edit: You can really see the early/late difference towards the tail in the first photo - it's what made me think it is SYP.
Edit #2: Now I see that you don't live in the U.S. Still looks like SYP - does anyone know if yankee dimensional wood gets shipped across the pond?

Wildestcat
11-04-2015, 04:16 AM
I've done a git of Googling, and I reckon my wood is Pinus Sylvestris, otherwise known as Scots Pine if UK grown, or European Redwood if imported from the continent. Very similar in appearance to SYP. As an aside, I'm told by a local builder who knows a lot more about the subject than I do, that a lot of the softwood grown in the UK is actually Sitka spruce. The reason you don't find it listed as a "tonewood" is that it grows far too quickly in the climate prevailing on the Welsh hillsides, and is very wide grained as a result. It is then harvested before the tree reaches any degree of maturity. My wood is not Sitka, but it was an interesting conversation!

Back to the side bending, the wood was so flexible that it might well have been possible to coerce it (well wetted) into a mold half by gentle progressive clamping alone - no need for the bending iron. Then simply finish off with a heat gun. It might be an option for a first time builder put off by the hassle of having to make a bending pipe, but I think you would still need to get the wood down to 2mm or preferably below, which presents its own problems. I don't have any wood left over, otherwise I would have given the idea a try for posterity.

printer2
11-04-2015, 03:55 PM
Glad your bending experience came up smelling like roses, or at least pretty. Speaking of side and top dimensions, what do I shoot for as a top thickness for a tenor?

Cut a few guitar sets today, four oak and two maple. One set of sides was not long enough so I might have to do an oak uke yet.

orangeena
11-05-2015, 10:28 AM
I am noticing that the materials in the neck and sides is very prone to marking and bruising. Will this problem be reduced with shellac or some other finish? At the moment I am worried this uke will mark very easily.

Max

printer2
11-05-2015, 10:45 AM
Yeah, the stuff is not a hardwood. Have to treat with care and not just dump somewhere. About the care that you would give the top of a spruce guitar. On the flip side, not really going to devalue it much with a dent or two. I have a all softwood guitar that I like a lot and what I do when leaning it against my desk is I face the front of the fretboard towards the desk. The strings and the tuners same it from getting dinged. You could always try to steam out the dent if you are so inclined.

http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/pp142/printer2_photo/Guitar%20builds/2015%20Guitar/2%20x%204%20uke%2005_zpscjkrzlj4.jpg

My body wood, decided to do a hardwood companion to go with it. Oak with a pine top to the right. Have to decide on a neck. I thinned everything to about 0.072" . I am guessing that is OK, let me know if not and I should go thinner, thicker might be a little harder.

Vespa Bob
11-07-2015, 10:22 AM
Bought today at Ace Hardware, the best 2x4 I could find. It has a nice straight grained section with a change of colour running down one side. It seems pretty wet, though, which brings me to the question, should I dry it in the oven before or after re sawing, or both? I have read of people using an instrument for measuring the moisture content in wood and would like to know what it's called and how expensive they are to buy. Without such an instrument, how does one tell whether a particular piece of lumber is dry enough to use?
Time to get working on a design!

Bob

printer2
11-07-2015, 12:59 PM
I would cut it and sticker it then then use a fan to blow air over the surfaces. It takes softwoods very little time to dry out. When you think it is reasonably dry, hopefully not more than a couple of days you can drive out the rest of the moisture in the oven. if you put it in the oven while still wet you might get some potato chipping. In my above picture the oak pieces on the right side hase the grain taking a detour around a knot that was in the area. When I baked them this is the area where they curled up on me. The set of 2x4 sides to the left of the oak sides has a waver in the grain about a third of the way down. Another knot shadow I guess, it curled a little in that area. The rest are flat even though they were pretty much loose in the oven. A little trick I used before is to use an old clothes iron to flatten curled wood. Will do some ironing on those.

Titchtheclown
11-07-2015, 01:13 PM
Boat builders seek out green wood for its ease of bending. Given the thicknesses the drying times should be minimal.

RPA_Ukuleles
11-08-2015, 01:50 PM
Finished joining plates today and cut the kerf linings and blocks. I think I got lucky with this 2x4 I found. It's well quartered and remarkably stiff. So I guess I'm aiming to build a fine uke here, but really would have been just as fun to build a knotty pine "character" uke.

The plates are about .070", and the sides.065". I bent them tonight on a hot pipe and one -was less than cooperative, the other one was "meh". So I have them severely clamped in the mould to teach them a lesson. Probably leave 'em in a few days. I originally had planned on making a 5' radius dish for my Martin soprano copy, but never got around to it so all I have is a 7.5' dish (yeah don't ask how I ended up with that) but it should be close enough for this build. I do plan to hand cut a dovetail for the neck join.

I baked my fretboard for quite a while at 450F but it didn't really darken much (maybe i didn't baste it enough), and I don't think it's actually any harder than when it went in, so I'm planning to give it a soak of thin CA to help harden the surface. I'll likely stain the fretboard, tuning pegs, and bridge a few shades darker to give the whole thing at least some contrast.

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/2x4ukeparts_zps4ag74yrk.jpg

:rolleyes:

sequoia
11-08-2015, 05:16 PM
Looks like a nice set. I notice that your top and back are really scary thin. I would have been sweating bullets taking down pine to 70. Or is it Doug Fir? Anyway, I can just see this is going to make a great uke. Look forward to seeing the result.

Vespa Bob
11-09-2015, 04:23 PM
Beautiful set of wood, looks far better than mine!

Bob

Vespa Bob
11-09-2015, 04:26 PM
Working on it!

RPA_Ukuleles
11-09-2015, 05:04 PM
By Jove, I do believe I've got it!

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/sirclampsalot_zpsnbajxapm.jpg

"Who says spruce is hard to bend?"

-Sir Clampsalot

Doug W
11-09-2015, 05:51 PM
Found 2x4s in the basement. Guess I'm almost done.
85160851618516285163

weerpool
11-09-2015, 06:11 PM
I'm rooting for you!! that is a cool looking design.
Working on it!

sequoia
11-09-2015, 06:13 PM
By Jove, I do believe I've got it!

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/sirclampsalot_zpsnbajxapm.jpg

"Who says spruce is hard to bend?"

-Sir Clampsalot

By Jove, I do think you have tamed that piece of wood! Ukes in bondage! All clamps on deck! Love it.

Vespa Bob
11-09-2015, 06:32 PM
I'm rooting for you!! that is a cool looking design.

Thank you, you are very kind. I must confess, I "borrowed" the idea from a kit That I built from Music Makers in Minnesota. Mine is slightly different and will be a soprano, not a concert.

Bob

Vespa Bob
11-10-2015, 01:19 PM
Neck carving while waiting for a new band saw blade to arrive. For some reason I didn't mirror the two halves!:o

RPA_Ukuleles
11-11-2015, 10:07 AM
Have made some progress this lovely Veterans Day. A big thanks to you if you are a Veteran !

My old next-door neighbor Bill was a veteran of WWII and a fist full of others, he had a tradition of sticking a small flag on Veterans day in the front yard of every house on the street. When he got to 93 he just couldn't do it any more and he persuaded two kids that lived at the far end of the street to go around and plant and pickup the flags for him. He would direct them every year on just how to do it. Well Bill's been gone over 3 years now, and I looked out the window this morning and the flags are all there. Just like always. Those boys are young men now and still honoring the tradition.


So with this great weather I got out in the shop today and profiled my 2x4 sides, and glued up the end blocks. Will likely get linings glued in a little later. And what the heck, I'll brace the top and back. I wish I knew what kind of rosette I wanted.? Be nice if you could put those in last. :D Hmm, maybe I oughta go for red white and blue.

I'm kinda liking working with spruce, everything seems so tidy.

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/IMG_2673_zpsrwpb52rl.jpg

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/IMG_2674_zpssgnmiel0.jpg

RPA_Ukuleles
11-12-2015, 05:11 AM
Linings glued in last night. I like to clamp the linings in with long clamps on the form rather than clothespin type spring clamps just to the side. Once the linings have dried it really helps to lock in the shape of the rim to the form. Typically a small amount of asymmetry is unavoidable, but this certainly helps. I am thinking about maybe routing a channel in the form all along the perimeter of the shape so that I could use spring clips/clamps on the linings and set the shape to the form. The channel would only have to be as deep as necessary for one side of the spring clamp to drop into.

One thing about working all softwood like this is that it's indeed quite soft, and in areas where you otherwise would not have to be sooo careful about clamp pressure, you need to be with spruce.

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/IMG_2675_zpswn3vhefs.jpg

Doug W
11-12-2015, 10:58 AM
Rodney,

Just in case you were wondering, your pictures are very clear and for a non-luthier like myself, very helpful.

RPA_Ukuleles
11-12-2015, 12:51 PM
Thanks Doug! That is exactly what I'm aiming for :)

orangeena
11-14-2015, 08:49 AM
Blimey this 2x4 stuff is soft. Even when I used scraps to protect the front plate from the clamps, the scraps left marks. However a little application of a damp cloth saw them off. I should be fitting the back on tomorrow.
Max

jcalkin
11-14-2015, 10:46 AM
I have to put this project away for awhile, so I guess this is a good time for an update. The body is finished, the neck about half way. No slots in the fingerboard yet.

Jim Hanks
11-14-2015, 11:00 AM
The body is finished, the neck about half way. No slots in the fingerboard yet.
Double cutaway is looking sweet! Kinda begging for a pickup, innit?

Tom Snape
11-14-2015, 11:38 AM
Hello everyone! I hope it's not to late to get into this challenge. I just found this forum and signed up a week ago. This is my first post.

I picked up a douglas fir 2x4 at the local Lowes for my project. It has very wide grain lines, and seems quite dense. I've got the sides bent, and the neck blank is glued and clamped up as I type.

I'm building a pretty conventional concert size uke, which means I'll have to use 3 or 4 pieces for the top and back.

85330

jcalkin
11-14-2015, 12:38 PM
Double cutaway is looking sweet! Kinda begging for a pickup, innit?

It would be cool to add a pickup. But I intend to keep it around, and I sold my amp to help re-shingle my shop roof. I haven't missed it.

printer2
11-14-2015, 12:50 PM
I have to put this project away for awhile, so I guess this is a good time for an update. The body is finished, the neck about half way. No slots in the fingerboard yet.

Looks great, feeling mine is going to seem rather plain compared to it.


Hello everyone! I hope it's not to late to get into this challenge. I just found this forum and signed up a week ago. This is my first post.

I picked up a douglas fir 2x4 at the local Lowes for my project. It has very wide grain lines, and seems quite dense. I've got the sides bent, and the neck blank is glued and clamped up as I type.

I'm building a pretty conventional concert size uke, which means I'll have to use 3 or 4 pieces for the top and back.

85330

Don't think there is an official start and finish (maybe I missed it), think it is more of a keeping-in the-spirit-lets-have-fun challenge. At least it is for me.

Have cut the bending form and half a mold. Not much else done yet. I am closing off my work area from the rest of the house so I can make dust to my hearts content. Nothing is straight or level in my house! As soon as I get a door and some drywall up I'll think of doing some bending, hopefully soon.

ukuloonie
11-14-2015, 01:45 PM
I'm working on mine I just finished building the forms for the Ukulele as well as the other bits and pieces a newbie to making a ukulele has to make. The Sides, top and back plates have been glued, planed and sanded to size.
next week I should be bending the sides.

UncleElvis
11-14-2015, 01:47 PM
It can't be worse than this :D
http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc143/shiregreenbod/PICT0010-2.jpg

Too soon! I still regret not buying that uke!

RPA_Ukuleles
11-14-2015, 02:57 PM
More work in today. Linings completed and the plates marked for bracing. A simple koa rosette, 1.75" sound hole. Braced the top and back and let-in for the bracing on the rim. This is the first time I've used the Dremel to route for tucking the braces. It's a little squirrly but I think it'll be my new method.

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/IMG_2688_zpsydor3dyv.jpg

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/IMG_2704_zpsezhig30j.jpg

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/IMG_2705_zpsylvj8qew.jpg

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/IMG_2703_zpsoryyv0nh.jpg

Vespa Bob
11-14-2015, 03:48 PM
That is some neat work you're doing there!

Bob

Timbuck
11-14-2015, 09:14 PM
So it's going to get binding as well I presume :D

orangeena
11-14-2015, 09:55 PM
A Koa rosette? I thought that appart from frets and tuners it was all supposed to come from the one piece of 2x4!

Clarification required
Max (the Pedant)

SweetWaterBlue
11-15-2015, 02:05 AM
That's a nice looking frame saw you have there orangeena. Did you build it?

+1 on that frame saw, and the fact that you are re-sawing at least some of your build with it. I'm loving all the great work on this thread. What a great way for some to get into uke building for the cost of some hand tools and a 2x4, plus hardware of course. Thanks for the thread idea Pete.

SweetWaterBlue
11-15-2015, 02:12 AM
Hi Ken
Thanks for the reply, now where's me tape measure?

You could also use the Grellier free plans that have been around forever

http://www.grellier.fr/plans/Soprano_ukulele/Soprano_ukulele_en.pdf

jcalkin
11-15-2015, 02:17 AM
Looks great, feeling mine is going to seem rather plain compared to it.



Don't think there is an official start and finish (maybe I missed it), think it is more of a keeping-in the-spirit-lets-have-fun challenge. At least it is for me.

Have cut the bending form and half a mold. Not much else done yet. I am closing off my work area from the rest of the house so I can make dust to my hearts content. Nothing is straight or level in my house! As soon as I get a door and some drywall up I'll think of doing some bending, hopefully soon.

Half the point of my uke is to demo some construction techniques that might appeal to others and aren't often seen. When finished this project is going to look pretty low-rent compared to the every day work of many builders here. I'm recording a build sequence that I'll put together when the project is completed. Likely it won't be up-town enough for American Lutherie, and will end up on my website.

Long ago I commandeered an upstairs bedroom of a rented old farm house for a shop. A shop vac was low on my list, and I walked saw dust all over that house. Its best to vacuum the floor after every session with machine tools. I'm just sayin', so's to keep peace in your home.

RPA_Ukuleles
11-15-2015, 03:10 AM
I'm trading in my "tuners" card for bindings and trim. Will turn a set of pegs from the 2x4. Definitely wanted some bindings to help protect the soft spruce. Plus hopefully it will help cover the bit of unfortunate tearout on the top plate :( That wee bit of Koa is the magic this little snow bird needs to warm her soul. Heck, every uke should have at least one bit of Koa in it somewhere.

Timbuck
11-15-2015, 03:33 AM
With this kind of wood prone to shrinkage ..I would leave a small gap at the end of cross braces...cos I have come across some ukes built like this where the ends of the bracing pushes the bindings out of the channels....I think Beau mentioned this in another thread.

RPA_Ukuleles
11-15-2015, 04:12 AM
Ah, thanks for the hot tip Ken. Will trim the brace ends back a bit then.

Doug W
11-15-2015, 07:10 AM
What thickness should I saw the 2x4 for top sides and back? This would be before scraping and sanding.

Let us just assume that I have no idea what I am doing and I will follow your advice. From searching the Internet, my conclusion is that just shy of 1/8" is the right thickness to start with. Is that about correct?

Pete Howlett mentioned the Japanese scorched wood (Shou Sugi Ban) method of finishing wood. I have been messing with scraps of wood and a propane torch. Burning stuff is entertaining.

Wildestcat
11-15-2015, 10:06 AM
This weeks progress:
85342

One near-disaster when clamping the headblock ....
85343
Luckily for me it was the back edge, and all the damage was removed by planing the back taper ... phew!
The blocks are laminated and have long grain splices to hopefully counter any tendency to split.

Given the flexibility and possible fragility of the sides, I opted to stiffen the structure with reverse kerfing and some OTT side reinforcement strips. Overkill? Who knows!
85344

I thinned the back to 2.5mm and took the front on down to 2.0mm - in the process I had a "senior moment" and forgot all about stopping at ~3mm to inlay the rosette. At 2.0mm the top is very floppy and too thin for me to risk the damage I normally create with the rosette. I'll fall back on plan B and try using a baked pine ring insert in the soundhole which overlaps the top.

The 3x2 fell just short of yielding 3-piece top & back plates, so I had to add some extensions cut from the upper bout area.
85345

And finally, the neck has gone to plan and given me the reason to try using carbon reinforcement for the first time. Again, two 6 mm square hollow section rods may well be overkill ... This is how I thickness the headstock:
85346

Thanks everyone for your commentary & photos - much appreciated.

printer2
11-15-2015, 01:00 PM
What thickness should I saw the 2x4 for top sides and back? This would be before scraping and sanding.

Let us just assume that I have no idea what I am doing and I will follow your advice. From searching the Internet, my conclusion is that just shy of 1/8" is the right thickness to start with. Is that about correct?

Pete Howlett mentioned the Japanese scorched wood (Shou Sugi Ban) method of finishing wood. I have been messing with scraps of wood and a propane torch. Burning stuff is entertaining.

Think 1/8" might be too thick to bend. You will probably get crushing at the tight sections.

RPA_Ukuleles
11-15-2015, 03:18 PM
What thickness should I saw the 2x4 for top sides and back? This would be before scraping and sanding.

Depending on how accurate your resaw cuts are, you could aim for 30 or 40 thousands over your target thickness. I'd do a quick test and see how it goes.

Doug W
11-15-2015, 04:26 PM
Printer 2 and RPA,

Thanks for the replies. I have never bent wood so I will make the cuts thinner and see how it goes.

Thanks

orangeena
11-15-2015, 08:25 PM
I took my sides down to about 1.8mm. One bent ok with minor rippling at the waist. The other snapped over the upper bout and I had to make another. I didn't want to take it below 1.8mm as it was getting flimsy across the grain.

My back plate is on and I have started the laborious job of sanding off the excess. I don't think a flush cut router would work with this soft stuff.
Max

Sven
11-15-2015, 10:17 PM
Ahem, that's of course a job for your wide chisel.

Wildestcat
11-15-2015, 10:25 PM
What thickness should I saw the 2x4 for top sides and back? This would be before scraping and sanding.

Let us just assume that I have no idea what I am doing and I will follow your advice. From searching the Internet, my conclusion is that just shy of 1/8" is the right thickness to start with. Is that about correct?


Hi Doug. If we assume your finished thicknesses will be in the range 1.8 to 2.5 mm, then I think aiming for 3.2 mm sawn thickness is actually cutting it a bit fine. It depends to some extent on your sawing method and exactly how you plan to take the wood down to final dimensions (I have the luxury of a drum sander), but you need to allow for getting rid of all the saw marks and any thickness variations between pieces. I have had several commercially sawn sets that have only just yielded the last saw marks before achieving final thickness. I aim for nearer 4 mm sawn, as I believe I can get a more reliable seam joint on my rudimentary wedge clamping system with wood that is less prone to cup under pressure, and I know I have enough meat there to get a good finish on both faces. On the down side, thinning from 4 mm is obviously more tedious to do by hand, though before the drum sander I used a plane to good effect. I guess planing the sawn face of the billet flat before taking the next cut would help.
In my experience, softwood is quite difficult to work with a scraper.

I agree with Max about side thickness - I stopped at 1.9 mm but the pine bent well at that.

RPA_Ukuleles
11-16-2015, 06:35 AM
Closing the box. I glue the top and back while in the form and in the radius dish. The back of the form is radiused to fit the dish as well. I put a temporary brace to spread the sides while gluing. This can be removed later thru the sound hole. I spread glue on the top of the rim and set in the top plate (perfectly sized) on top, and place a compressible foam board caul in, then place a thick plate on top of that. I then "clamp" with 156lbs of (me) weight. Quick check for glue squeeze out , then weight the stack and let it dry. Same procedure for the back plate, although they could be done at the same time.

Now time to fire up the binding jig. But I also got a big order coming from Stewmac today, so might be distracted with new toys. Am giving their version of the Safe-T-planer a try.

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/IMG_2718_zpsnvzo998h.jpg

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/IMG_2720_zpscoz054ty.jpg

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/IMG_2723_zpsxv5r6hhv.jpg

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/IMG_2725_zpsom1ilbs2.jpg

Wildestcat
11-16-2015, 08:20 AM
That's looking very nice Rodney, and many thanks for sharing your construction methods. I'm intrigued by the fact you seem able to display more than 5 pictures at a time. When I try, I get a message to the effect only 5 pictures are allowed per post, which has stopped me showing more details.

RPA_Ukuleles
11-16-2015, 08:36 AM
Hmm, lucky you Paul, I get a message that limits me to 4 pictures. Anyway, what I do is double them up in a pic editor so two images are in one jpeg.

It is fun to see different methods and ideas. Sometimes I borrow ideas from others, but usually it leads me to an idea for a modified technique that suits me and my shop.

printer2
11-16-2015, 12:16 PM
Hi Doug. If we assume your finished thicknesses will be in the range 1.8 to 2.5 mm, then I think aiming for 3.2 mm sawn thickness is actually cutting it a bit fine.

Oops, missed the before finished thickness.

printer2
11-16-2015, 12:17 PM
http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/IMG_2725_zpsom1ilbs2.jpg

Darn that's cute.

Vespa Bob
11-16-2015, 02:02 PM
Beautiful work, RPA
Here's my latest progress. Top and back plates made, sides bent and supports that connect the side pieces carefully fashioned. I also made a simple form to keep things lined up, based on the one suggested in the Stewmac ukulele kit, but I came up with a method of adjusting the clamping pressure by offsetting the holes in large dowels so they act like cams. Probably has been done before, but I thought it was rather neat. Apart from my bad mismatch of the neck pieces, I made another boo boo when cutting out the sound hole. I used a circle cutter with a 3/32" router bit, but measured to the wrong side of the bit, making the sound hole to big! Will have to deal with that later.
Having fun!

Bob

Doug W
11-16-2015, 03:35 PM
Hi Doug. If we assume your finished thicknesses will be in the range 1.8 to 2.5 mm, then I think aiming for 3.2 mm sawn thickness is actually cutting it a bit fine. It depends to some extent on your sawing method and exactly how you plan to take the wood down to final dimensions (I have the luxury of a drum sander), but you need to allow for getting rid of all the saw marks and any thickness variations between pieces. I have had several commercially sawn sets that have only just yielded the last saw marks before achieving final thickness. I aim for nearer 4 mm sawn, as I believe I can get a more reliable seam joint on my rudimentary wedge clamping system with wood that is less prone to cup under pressure, and I know I have enough meat there to get a good finish on both faces. On the down side, thinning from 4 mm is obviously more tedious to do by hand, though before the drum sander I used a plane to good effect. I guess planing the sawn face of the billet flat before taking the next cut would help.
In my experience, softwood is quite difficult to work with a scraper.

I agree with Max about side thickness - I stopped at 1.9 mm but the pine bent well at that.

Well I will aim for whatever you say, 4mm. I am not exactly sure what I am going to do to make the original cut. I have a neighbor with a table saw but we haven't met up yet. It will get it sawn one way or another.

Thanks for chiming in.

jcalkin
11-16-2015, 04:12 PM
Thought I'd go ahead and share some pix from during the build sequence. You can see that it involves no bending and no mold. All the stock came out of one 2x4.
A block of 2x4 was glued up to the size I needed. I already had the template from previous mandolin builds. Then the block was cut to shape.
.85401
A second layer of scraps was added to get more depth
85402

The block was bandsawn to to form the rib assembly, complete with end blocks.
85403

The sides are thick enough that no lining was necessary. This is a good way to get a shape that would be a real pain in the butt to bend. The assembly is on the heavy side, but the sides are super stiff, and the weight doesn't go into an area that will hurt the tone or volume.

orangeena
11-16-2015, 08:24 PM
I am not exactly sure what I am going to do to make the original cut. I have a neighbor with a table saw but we haven't met up yet. It will get it sawn one way or another

If you have a good sharp hand saw you should be able to cut plates from this soft wood pretty easily. Make a 5mm kerf cut all the way round first to guide your saw and take it slowly.

Max

DazW
11-16-2015, 10:11 PM
If you have a good sharp hand saw you should be able to cut plates from this soft wood pretty easily. Make a 5mm kerf cut all the way round first to guide your saw and take it slowly.

Max

I was planning to use this method. Yesterday I cut my 2x4 of redwood pine in half and found the sawdust to be quite damp. Would you recommend cutting the 5mm plates then leaving to dry out or leave the plank to dry out first?

orangeena
11-16-2015, 11:38 PM
There are wiser folk on here than me, but I cut mine about 5mm and then stacked them separated with sticks and chucked a loaded toolbox on the top to keep them flat. They dried out over the next week or so.
Max

printer2
11-17-2015, 01:07 AM
I was planning to use this method. Yesterday I cut my 2x4 of redwood pine in half and found the sawdust to be quite damp. Would you recommend cutting the 5mm plates then leaving to dry out or leave the plank to dry out first?

Cut and sticker it and use a fan to blow across the pieces.

Wildestcat
11-17-2015, 01:50 AM
I made another boo boo when cutting out the sound hole. I used a circle cutter with a 3/32" router bit, but measured to the wrong side of the bit, making the sound hole to big! Will have to deal with that later.


Hi Bob. Sounds familiar ....:o A possible solution I've used in the past: 85412 85413 85414

This time in baked pine to counter the fact I forgot to put in the rosette before the top was too thin to risk it :o:o

Doug W
11-17-2015, 05:10 AM
If you have a good sharp hand saw you should be able to cut plates from this soft wood pretty easily. Make a 5mm kerf cut all the way round first to guide your saw and take it slowly.

Max

Max,

I may just follow this idea otherwise I will never get started.

Thanks,
Doug

Vespa Bob
11-17-2015, 05:41 AM
Hi Bob. Sounds familiar ....:o A possible solution I've used in the past: 85412 85413 85414

This time in baked pine to counter the fact I forgot to put in the rosette before the top was too thin to risk it :o:o

Hi Paul, thanks for the tip! I made a vain attempt at hot bending a 1/8" strip of wood, but quickly realized that wasn't going to work, I then briefly considered cutting a 1/8" thick circle, knowing that it would be dicey. It never entered my mind to enlarge the sound hole even further and then cut a wider doughnut! Of course, I will cut that first, before enlarging the sound hole! Thanks again.

Bob

Wildestcat
11-17-2015, 08:26 AM
Hi Bob, You shouldn't need to enlarge your soundhole if it is already ~3/16" (2 x 3/32") oversize. It may not be clear from the first photo, but the ring that actually fits in the soundhole is only 3 mm wide. If you accept a soundhole a tiny bit smaller than you were aiming for, you could do the same. It would probably work OK with just a 3/32" wide inner ring. The wider portion outside the inner ring is cut back to less than 1mm thick, and sits proud of the top when the ring is inserted. I'll chamfer the outer edge down a bit and will only fit the ring after finishing the uke. I'll mask it off with ultra-thin parcel tape beforehand, as I do for the bridge and fingerboard extension.

Vespa Bob
11-17-2015, 12:39 PM
OK, Paul, now I see what you did. You routed a lip that would fit inside the sound hole, while the larger, thinner piece will sit proud of the top. Very nice! I'm not sure whether I could route a 3/32" ring on it's own, so I might try your idea. Thanks for clarifying that.

Bob

Wildestcat
11-18-2015, 02:24 AM
Well its pretty foul weather in the UK at the moment - the upside is I get to spend more time in the workshop. :) While I wait for glue to dry, here are a few more construction details that might be of help to fellow hobby builders - mostly gleaned first hand from the teachings of our 2x4 challenger Pete. Occasionally I add my own variations!

I use a jig to drill the 10mm hole for the 20mm long dowel nut that will attach the neck. The drill guides came from Axminster Power Tools in the UK, and I use a depth stop on the 10mm drill to get proper alignment with the 6mm bolt hole. Sven has an absolutely beautiful dovetailed version of such a jig, which makes my dowels look a bit sad.
85467

I square up the end of the headplate and angle it to meet the back of the nut in one operation using a block plane on its side. The headplate is left oversize, so that any chipout is in the waste wood. The plate is slid up the headstock far enough to engage with the plane blade, and then clamped after checking with a square.
85468

To ensure the headplate is then glued on dead square and in the right place, I temporarily clamp an engineers square to the neck, mark the centre and ensure that the headplate is hard against the square as the clamps are tightened. The perspex caul aids visibility.
85469

I shape all my brace ends by template routing them in this simple jig. Important to do this after the bottom of the braces have been profiled and the brace cut to length. The big advantage is that you have brace ends of consistent thickness, which makes excavating the brace pockets with a Dremel (see Rodneys earlier post) so much easier. I set the Dremel depth of cut using the routing jig as a gauge. When gluing the braces in the go bar deck, the brace ends are protected by offcuts shaped to match the profile. And yes, I have been known to forget to re-tighten the router pillar clamps after adjusting the depth of cut ...
85470

I create the headstock shape (before gluing on the headplate) by screwing a routing template to the neck blank and trimming roughly to size on the bandsaw. The profile is then created using the router cutter shown above. After gluing on the oversize headplate, I trim it close to the headstock profile and then use a panel trim bearing guided cutter in the router table to trim the headplate to the headstock. I would have liked to bake the headplate wood to match the fingerboard, rosette & bridge, but permission to use the oven was denied. :(
85471

Wildestcat
11-18-2015, 09:35 AM
Top & back braced & ready to go earlier today:
85483 85484 85485 85486 85487

Wildestcat
11-18-2015, 09:50 AM
And now all boxed up:
85488 85489 85490 85491 85492

All the ukes I have built to date have had top & back binding. I had intended to bind this one too using wood from the same 3x2, until I realised I didn't have any wood left that was long enough. :o. Because I am used to binding, I don't worry too much about the butt joint as I know if its good I can leave it, or if not then I can add a graft. Not sure what to do now! The join isn't good (and the lack of grain match makes it worse), but with no binding I can't just run the Dremel straight through as I usually do. Am I more likely to make it worse by trying to plunge rout up to the edges of the top & back? I think I'll try filling with epoxy & sanding dust, or maybe Liberon shellac filler stick first and see if I can live with the result.

orangeena
11-18-2015, 09:59 AM
Before you realised there was not enough, how were you planning on making the binding contrast Paul? Baking?
Max

Sven
11-18-2015, 11:12 AM
I would cut a 2 or 3 mm wide slot with a knife, stopping at the top and bottom. Then glue in a thin sliver, like those on Martin style 0's. Steel square, sharp knife, five minutes. Ask me how I know.

RPA_Ukuleles
11-18-2015, 11:23 AM
Looking great Paul! Go ahead and bind that thing with other wood or plastic if you want. It's not breaking the rules only bending. I'm putting Ivoriod on minez. :o

Vespa Bob
11-18-2015, 11:35 AM
So I thought I'd try this baking wood thing, but from what I head read so far, it took some folks hours to get a good result. Being the impatient guy I am, I thought i could speed up the process by turning the oven onto broil, then placing the pieces of wood on the top shelf of the oven. I knew it wouldn't take too long to see some result, but I had hardly turned my back when I smelled something burning!
Fortunately, I used scrap pieces for testing, but on the downside, after trying to set the kitchen on fire and stinking the house out, I don't think my wife's likely to let me try it again!

SweetWaterBlue
11-18-2015, 11:43 AM
It (trying to speed up cooking) doesn't work when I cook either, and I can't tell you how much garlic bread i've burned turning my back on the broiler for a few seconds.

Timbuck
11-18-2015, 11:53 AM
Wrap wood in foil..set Oven at 200C and bake for 1 hour 45 Mins on the middle shelf then check....it should be a nice even brown ...if not give it another 20 mins..if black throw it in the bin. ;)

Doug W
11-18-2015, 12:18 PM
So I thought I'd try this baking wood thing, but from what I head read so far, it took some folks hours to get a good result. Being the impatient guy I am, I thought i could speed up the process by turning the oven onto broil, then placing the pieces of wood on the top shelf of the oven. I knew it wouldn't take too long to see some result, but I had hardly turned my back when I smelled something burning!
Fortunately, I used scrap pieces for testing, but on the downside, after trying to set the kitchen on fire and stinking the house out, I don't think my wife's likely to let me try it again!

This is a feeble attempt to get out of any cooking duties!:D

printer2
11-18-2015, 12:27 PM
And now all boxed up:
85488 85489 85490 85491 85492

All the ukes I have built to date have had top & back binding. I had intended to bind this one too using wood from the same 3x2, until I realised I didn't have any wood left that was long enough. :o. Because I am used to binding, I don't worry too much about the butt joint as I know if its good I can leave it, or if not then I can add a graft. Not sure what to do now! The join isn't good (and the lack of grain match makes it worse), but with no binding I can't just run the Dremel straight through as I usually do. Am I more likely to make it worse by trying to plunge rout up to the edges of the top & back? I think I'll try filling with epoxy & sanding dust, or maybe Liberon shellac filler stick first and see if I can live with the result.

Might be heresy but the binding does not have to be one piece.

sequoia
11-18-2015, 04:22 PM
So I thought I'd try this baking wood thing, but from what I head read so far, it took some folks hours to get a good result. Being the impatient guy I am, I thought i could speed up the process by turning the oven onto broil, then placing the pieces of wood on the top shelf of the oven. I knew it wouldn't take too long to see some result, but I had hardly turned my back when I smelled something burning!
Fortunately, I used scrap pieces for testing, but on the downside, after trying to set the kitchen on fire and stinking the house out, I don't think my wife's likely to let me try it again!

Yum. Looks tasty. Rack of Ukulele... Sorry, can't make it over for dinner tonight. Maybe some other time.

Farp
11-18-2015, 05:00 PM
This is the BEST THREAD on UU. Thanks, Pete!

Wildestcat
11-18-2015, 09:19 PM
Before you realised there was not enough, how were you planning on making the binding contrast Paul? Baking?
Max

Hi Max. My original plan was to bake it, but I was forced to drop that idea after the imposition of an oven embargo ...
Also I'm not sure how the baked wood would have responded to bending, so I was just going to rely on the grain differences for cosmetic effect. After sleeping on it, I will attempt to follow Svens suggestion, though probably using a 2mm cutter in the Dremel, an alignment jig of some sort and more care than I usually seem to muster!

Sven
11-18-2015, 09:26 PM
You're braver than I am, my fear of screwing up with a router is greater (and probably far more justified) than any precautions I have about knives, chisels and steel rules.

Wildestcat
11-18-2015, 09:54 PM
I've been getting braver with the router Sven - initially wary of router chipout etc on this wood, I found I was doing more damage trimming the top & back overhang with knife, chisel & sandpaper. I switched to the laminate trimmer - no problems!

A couple of things have just dawned on me whilst in the shower:
1) It would probably make more sense to bake the bindings after you bend them.
2) The reason I don't have any long enough wood left was the decision to switch to reverse kerfing after making a set of the standard stuff!

orangeena
11-18-2015, 11:51 PM
The baked wood I have made is quite brittle and I don't fancy trying to bend little strips of it. And it shrinks a lot in the cooker. Maybe use a dye?
Also I am a complete whus (spelling?) when it comes to binding as the risk of screwing up the nearly finished uke is more than I can take.
Maybe I will draw them on with a sharpie ;-)

Max

Andyk
11-19-2015, 12:10 AM
Maybe I will draw them on with a sharpie ;-)


If you fancy the sharpie for the binding then perhaps a DIY purfling tool (patent pending) would be useful to go with it:

85526

orangeena
11-19-2015, 12:30 AM
Now that is fancy!

Wildestcat
11-19-2015, 01:26 AM
Sorted! Just needed to square up the slot ends with a chisel. I gave the entire uke a good covering with shellac first, to try and protect against scuffs & scrapes and maybe assist the creation of a good edge from the cutter (2 mm downcut spiral from Smallwonder Music).

85527 85528 85531

Also drilled the bolt hole for the neck using the drill jig:

85529 85530

stevepetergal
11-19-2015, 01:37 AM
Can't remember when I was this excited by a thread.
I find myself waiting with bated breath for the next post.

Wildestcat
11-19-2015, 02:12 AM
Looking great Paul! Go ahead and bind that thing with other wood or plastic if you want. It's not breaking the rules only bending. I'm putting Ivoriod on minez. :o

I'm already in enough trouble for using 3 x 2 :)

orangeena
11-19-2015, 11:45 AM
Here is a little teaser of the thing that is growing in my shed.

http://i367.photobucket.com/albums/oo118/orangeena73/IMAG0204_zpsu3cldc9r_edit_1447972164468_zpsceckzsa h.jpg

Dreadful HTC phone has no flash hence the poor pic, but you can see the general effect.

Max

Wildestcat
11-19-2015, 12:18 PM
Nice one Max - a baked pine sandwich? I'm hoping to use a pinless strings-through style bridge as well. I've impregnated my bridge plate with CA glue where the string holes will hopefully appear, and will use 4 mm glass beads on the string ends.

printer2
11-19-2015, 01:00 PM
I'm already in enough trouble for using 3 x 2 :)

You can make amends by using a 1 x 2, bringing you up to par. I was trying to decide what to do tonight, think I have an idea.



Well that is disappointing. Cracked a side bending it. Pretty sure I cut three just in case but I can not find the third one. I don't have time right now to go out and find another 2 x 4 and resaw it. Oh well, really should not have been building right now anyway. I'll make one yet.

Vespa Bob
11-19-2015, 04:59 PM
Oh, how I know what you're going through, I'm still looking for bits and pieces that I KNOW I made! Perhaps better to wait until the morning.:rolleyes:

Bob

Wildestcat
11-20-2015, 09:27 AM
You can make amends by using a 1 x 2, bringing you up to par.

:):)

Some steps along the way to finishing the neck:
85574 85575 85576 85577 85578

I'm finding baked pine quite difficult to work with - unsurprisingly it is far more prone to damage than Ebony or Rosewood, and it has a particularly nasty tendency to chip out from the most innocuous operations. I've taken to saturating it with CA glue, but even then there are problems as will be outlined in my next post.

Wildestcat
11-20-2015, 09:42 AM
I've had some issues with chip out from minor drilling operations - firstly when drilling 1.5 mm diameter holes through two fret slots for fingerboard alignment pins. On the second hole, as the drill started to cut, a deep sliver flew off the fingerboard from between adjacent frets. Fortunately, the bench had just been vacuumed, and I found it and glued back in place. Then when using a relatively new 2 mm twist drill to drill holes for the white plastic dot rod side markers, a much larger lump chipped off. I'm sure that with such small diameter holes this would not have happened to unbaked wood, and the CA glue did nothing to prevent it. Somewhat ironically, I don't usually bother with side dots above the 12th fret!

85581 85582 85583

I've just finished fretting the board, and have been ultra careful with the dead blow hammer. To give maximum tang to slot engagement I didn't chamfer the fret slot as I would for ebony and have used white glue in the slots, but still I sense the frets are not gripping that well.

85584

Vespa Bob
11-20-2015, 11:34 AM
Thanks for relating your progress along with photos and also your problems with baked wood. I'll have to take care when the time arrives, that is, if it does!
This is my progress so far on the body. I have been going at it full blast up to now, but neglected duties are starting to catch up with me, so I will have to put the project on hold for a short while. You seem to be close to finishing!

8559285591

Wildestcat
11-20-2015, 09:14 PM
I love that shape Bob!

My rate of progress is purely down to bad weather - if it brightens up next week then all my neglected gardening duties are going to take over, and I might even manage a bike ride or two.

Wildestcat
11-22-2015, 05:41 AM
Here are some shots of my fret finishing process. I like to do as much work on the frets as I can whilst the neck can still be held securely in the vice. I tried to combine these into a single jpeg to get around the 5 picture limit and reduce the number of messages I need to post, but the resulting picture is too small. Is there a way of posting larger images?

85692 85693 85694 85695 85696

Wildestcat
11-22-2015, 05:53 AM
I prefer to use geared machine heads on my ukes (Leader Banjo Co geared machines from Eagle Music), but for this softwood headstock I decided to use tuning pegs on the grounds they only need an 8 mm hole instead of 10 mm. Because of the risk of the tuners crushing into the softwood on the back of the headstock, I also decided to drill stepped holes (8 mm & 5 mm) which I haven't bothered to do in the past on Sapele necks. To hopefully minimise drill chipout, I taped the front face, drilled 1.5 mm pilot holes, ran the 8 mm brad point drill to 6 mm depth and then went through with a 5 mm drill, relying on the pilot hole for centreing. Seems to have worked OK.

85697

Wildestcat
11-22-2015, 06:02 AM
I also managed to get the neck carved today. Hopefully the picture sequence is self explanatory, but again I will need to post another message to get all the pictures in. Apologies if I seem to be hogging the thread!

85698 85699 85700 85701 85702

I tried my normal technique of using a scraper to remove the rasp marks and finesse the profile, but because the grain lines are so much harder than the rest of the wood, it was producing a badly rippled surface.

Wildestcat
11-22-2015, 06:08 AM
Last one!

85703 85704 85705 85706 85707

I converted a couple of vintage Sheffield cast steel firmer chisels into skew chisels for neck carving. I prefer chisels to knives as they are about 5 mm thick, which gives my thumb an easier time! The blades were annealed by heating to cherry red and allowed to cool, then sawn & ground to the required shape before re-hardening by oil quenching from cherry red and tempering to pale straw. Mostly used upside down.

I fill the fret slots with Liberon shellac stick applied with the aid of a narrow pointed soldering iron.

You have to be so careful when handling this wood - I keep finding fingernail marks and having to re-sand.:(

Shame I glued on the neck heel extension block upside down and the wrong way round - the grain mismatch looks awful.

Farp
11-22-2015, 06:28 AM
Keep it coming, Paul--"hogging" is welcome in this thread!

printer2
11-22-2015, 08:25 AM
Found the other side. Tried to bend them on a hot pipe instead of using a blanket as I could at least feel the wood softening. Still cracked them. I'll bend the sides before I bake them when I get around to finding another 2 x 4. Since I had the hot pipe and the form out I thought I might as well try bending the oak that I baked also. It turned out to be quite stubborn and it took two to three times longer than it should have but at least I managed to bend one side so far. Get the other side done this afternoon and probably will join the back. Wasn't expecting to build this one yet so I did not pick out a top wood yet (or if I did I forgot, quite possible).

Doug W
11-22-2015, 01:22 PM
Decided that the messy basement was preventing me from getting going on this project. The former owner didn't clean out the basement. In trying to make my way down to the work bench I discovered a router.

I have never had a router before. Are there a few sizes of bits that I should get initially to complete this 2x4 uke? I have looked at some designs to make a table router out of this hand router, looks pretty simple.

The router is a "Black and Decker" 7614

Here it is on youtube - that isn't me:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuCRQ8c6d9Y

RPA_Ukuleles
11-22-2015, 01:53 PM
So I wondered if there might be some potential builders out there who would like to participate in this 2x4 build but lack the tools to resaw and thickness plates. Those were the tools that took me a while to acquire and develop the skills to use well. So, I decided I'd put together a full "kit" of pieces from a single 2x4 and offer for sale. This is for a soprano with a 13-5/8 scale. Top and back are thicknessed to .090" and the sides are .070", slotted fretboard and profiled neck. There is enough wood at the heel of the neck to use any join style you prefer. Also kerfed linings, bridge, bridge plate, bracing, and end blocks. Fretboard and bridge have been treated to harden. Will include an outline drawing for the shape and bracing placement. Will also include several cut-offs to practice bending. Asking $50 plus shipping. US only. Please know that this is not a kit that will guarantee you'll build a nice uke, just all the parts to get building and join in the fun. I've had a great time participating in this build.
I hope it doesn't seem like too much to ask for 2x4 wood, but there is a significant amount of work in putting this "kit" together. If no one is interested, I'll be building two! :o

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/S1_zps7ffvrenv.jpg

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/S2_zpsldkcfvn3.jpg

Wildestcat
11-22-2015, 10:48 PM
I have never had a router before. Are there a few sizes of bits that I should get initially to complete this 2x4 uke? I have looked at some designs to make a table router out of this hand router, looks pretty simple.

Hi Doug. These are the bits I use on ukuleles: 85713

From L to R, 9.5 mm dia template trim, 6mm dia panel trim, 6mm dia spiral downcut & 3.2 mm straight flute.

I'm not saying you actually need any of these, and you might find a larger template trim bit more useful for mold making.

The template trim is used on brace ends, profiling fingerboard to a template and profiling neck to fingerboard.
The panel trim does the headplate to headstock and the top/back overhangs (I use it freehand in a laminate trimmer, though might well be OK in a table application).
The spiral is used for binding channels, though they are expensive bits and a straight 2 flute is fine. I now do these freehand with a laminate trimmer, but previously used the router upside down in the rig shown below. I also used it for the carbon rod channels in this uke.
I have used 3 mm metal cutting slot drills for the last 12 years to cut bridge saddle slots in my pillar drill, but have just bought the 3.2 mm router bit to try a different technique.

85714

orangeena
11-23-2015, 12:02 AM
This cheap pine absolutely drinks the shellac!
Max

printer2
11-23-2015, 01:01 AM
Hi Doug. These are the bits I use on ukuleles: 85713

From L to R, 9.5 mm dia template trim, 6mm dia panel trim, 6mm dia spiral downcut & 3.2 mm straight flute.

I'm not saying you actually need any of these, and you might find a larger template trim bit more useful for mold making.

The template trim is used on brace ends, profiling fingerboard to a template and profiling neck to fingerboard.
The panel trim does the headplate to headstock and the top/back overhangs (I use it freehand in a laminate trimmer, though might well be OK in a table application).
The spiral is used for binding channels, though they are expensive bits and a straight 2 flute is fine. I now do these freehand with a laminate trimmer, but previously used the router upside down in the rig shown below. I also used it for the carbon rod channels in this uke.
I have used 3 mm metal cutting slot drills for the last 12 years to cut bridge saddle slots in my pillar drill, but have just bought the 3.2 mm router bit to try a different technique.

85714

What does the tape do?



RPA_Ukuleles
So I wondered if there might be some potential builders out there who would like to participate in this 2x4 build but lack the tools to resaw and thickness plates.

That is some nice wood coming from a 2 x 4.

Doug W
11-23-2015, 08:06 AM
Hi Doug. These are the bits I use on ukuleles: 85713

From L to R, 9.5 mm dia template trim, 6mm dia panel trim, 6mm dia spiral downcut & 3.2 mm straight flute.

I'm not saying you actually need any of these, and you might find a larger template trim bit more useful for mold making.

The template trim is used on brace ends, profiling fingerboard to a template and profiling neck to fingerboard.
The panel trim does the headplate to headstock and the top/back overhangs (I use it freehand in a laminate trimmer, though might well be OK in a table application).
The spiral is used for binding channels, though they are expensive bits and a straight 2 flute is fine. I now do these freehand with a laminate trimmer, but previously used the router upside down in the rig shown below. I also used it for the carbon rod channels in this uke.
I have used 3 mm metal cutting slot drills for the last 12 years to cut bridge saddle slots in my pillar drill, but have just bought the 3.2 mm router bit to try a different technique.

85714
"I'm not saying you actually need any of these"

Paul,

Thanks for the info. I am too ignorant concerning routers to pick anything else. I appreciate the suggestions and will just follow you blindly at this point.

Doug

Wildestcat
11-23-2015, 09:58 AM
What does the tape do?

Precisely nothing! It used to hold the screws for mounting the whole thing to the bench so I didn't lose them ... but they seem to have gone missing ...

Doug - when I say you don't actually need them, I mean most of these operations can be carried out perfectly well with hand tools. I'd wait for some more replies before blindly following my suggestions - you may get some better ideas from the experts.

Doug W
11-23-2015, 01:42 PM
Precisely nothing! It used to hold the screws for mounting the whole thing to the bench so I didn't lose them ... but they seem to have gone missing ...

Doug - when I say you don't actually need them, I mean most of these operations can be carried out perfectly well with hand tools. I'd wait for some more replies before blindly following my suggestions - you may get some better ideas from the experts.

Well I got a free router by cleaning the basement and I will need to use the router for the bridge and other stuff. You fit the definition of an expert because you answered me. I do need one for sure or the router is just a boat anchor and I don't have a boat and if there is another 2x4 challenge involving a boat, let me just say for the record, I won't come out to play!

Vespa Bob
11-23-2015, 05:03 PM
I've enjoyed your progress pics, wildestcat, I learn new things all the time! After getting a few chores done, I managed to sneak back into the shop and made some progress. Braces are glued on, and the top attached without too much drama. Photo shows rosette laid in place, thanks to your idea, it turned out OK. Need to attach label before gluing on the back. Trying to decide whether to add bindings.

Bob

Wildestcat
11-23-2015, 10:17 PM
Looking good Bob - I really like the way you have used the different shades of wood in the top. To bind or not to bind - big decision! I'm leaving mine unbound, but as mentioned earlier I don't have any wood left.

Vespa Bob
11-24-2015, 04:44 AM
Thanks, the top alternating shades came about by accident when I discovered the original was not wide enough so had to add wings! Same goes for the light stripe down the center of the back plate! I have wood for bindings, but I don't think I have the patience to bend it. All my bindings have been plastic.

Bob

orangeena
11-24-2015, 06:13 AM
47th coat of shellac going on (or thereabouts). I think the cost of the shellac this stuff has soaked up is more than I paid for the 2x4

Wildestcat
11-25-2015, 01:10 AM
47th coat of shellac going on (or thereabouts). I think the cost of the shellac this stuff has soaked up is more than I paid for the 2x4 :D

After an unusually difficult session setting the neck and finessing the heel joint, I have made the bridge. Throughout this build, because of uncertainties about the wood I have been leaving more meat than usual on components, including the fingerboard. With the neck set at 90 degrees (i.e. flat) to the body I am left with slightly more space to fill with the bridge than usual, so will be targetting an 8 mm thick bridge which will hopefully leave me with around 4 mm saddle height - I need some wriggle room for action adjustment!

85815

I have my doubts about the strength of baked wood, so opted for a strings through the top pinless bridge design with a closed end saddle slot, which I think will keep stresses on the bridge to a minimum.

85816 85819 85817 85818

I use my pillar drill as an overhead router for the saddle slot, an idea I lifted years ago from the Cumpiano book on guitar building. The bridge is double side taped to a sliding carrier with a well faced square edge. This slides along a similarly flat & square fence clamped to the drill table. The cutter depth is set with the drill spindle clamp, and since that takes two hands I use the quick clamp to hold the sliding carriage whilst I do it. If you take it easy with the depth of cut advances then it can give pretty good results. Until now I have used a metal cutting slot drill at low speed, but having sorted out some issues with my drill drive belt alignment I decided to try a proper router bit at full speed. No better than the slot drill to be honest! Next step when I have the time is a proper router based jig.
I have impregnated the bridge with CA as a precation, though I don't think it penetrates far enough to be much use.

Wildestcat
11-25-2015, 01:25 AM
The final steps before deciding what finish to use.

85820 85821

The first attempt at fitting the bridge didn't go at all well - the baked wood just didn't want to sand evenly :(. I ended up flattening it off and gluing on a shim of unbaked wood, which sorted things out.
The second picture shows my bridge clamping caul. This is carefully shaped to fit between the fan braces and up against the soundhole brace. The cutaway shape allows it to be fed in and out through the soundhole and after insertion it is retained by the rare earth magnets.

Doug W
11-25-2015, 02:01 AM
Ukes are looking great. I decided to throw my 2x4 in the car as we head out to Michigan for Thanksgiving. I am going to cut the wood up at some In-Law's house. I keep thinking of just putting this wood away and going back to an earlier decision to just play the uke and leave the building to others, then all the ghosts of former football, hockey coaches, art teachers, theater directors come to haunt me and say "Suck it up bucko and finish what you started!"

I suppose some of those early mentors are doing fine and might resent being referred to in the past tense.

Wildestcat
11-25-2015, 03:34 AM
I've got some left over bits going free to anyone in the UK who might be interested. I'm just asking 4 for1st class or 3.50 for 2nd class to cover my postage & Paypal fees.

85822

I am reasonably confident the wood is Scots Pine (European redwood).

1. Concert size (just) baked fingerboard 249 x 52 x 5.8 mm. This has developed a slight twist along the length since baking, but should clamp down OK.
2. Baked bridge blank 168 x 39 x 10 mm
3. 9 assorted lengths of standard kerfing 10 mm deep x 5.5 mm wide This is my first (and probably last) attempt at kerfing. The blocks are a little too wide and despite using my widest bandsaw blade the kerfs are a little narrow. I would not recommend for use on anything below concert size.
4. 2 lengths of reverse kerfing. I made the switch to reverse before building and these are more uniform than the others. Same size though.
5. A bundle of oddments including a length of 9 mm square bracing.
6. The remainder of the wood I used for back seam reinforcement strips.

All the wood was sawn to the best grain orientation I could achieve.

Drop me a PM if interested.

orangeena
11-26-2015, 08:32 PM
So half a bottle of shellac later the finish is as good as I think I can get it. I have fine sanded with 800 grit wet and dry and then polished with T-cut. Today I need to think about toughening up my stripey bridge. If I can get to the model shop for some CA I might experiment with that.

Two questions: has anyone thought about which strings might work best and any ideas on finish for the baked fretboard? Just lemon oil?

Max

Wildestcat
11-26-2015, 09:36 PM
If I can get to the model shop for some CA I might experiment with that.... any ideas on finish for the baked fretboard? Just lemon oil?Max

Hi Max. For toughening up surfaces I have been using cheap CA from Poundland - 5 small bottles + micro applicators for you guessed it, 1. It has the consistency of the super expensive Titebond CA I sometimes use for joints, but maybe there are thinner formulations available from a model shop that might penetrate better. After my experiences with fingernail damage on the baked wood fretboard, I wiped it with CA before fretting. Didn't stop it chipping out though. The finish is acceptable, but I had the option of sanding off if necessary. Not so easy after fretting!

I've got one more coat of Minwax wipe-on satin poly to apply today before gluing mine together. I've seen it recommended on this forum, but it didn't seem to be available at all in the UK. I eventually found it listed on Amazon UK, but when it arrived a few weeks ago it had been sent from a firm in the USA!

I'm just going to use my usual Living Water strings from Ken Middleton.

orangeena
11-26-2015, 09:54 PM
I rushed ahead and fretted without thinking about this. The small amount of Titebond I used to help seat the frets stained the baked pine a little. I really should have sealed it first.
Good tip on the Poundland glue. I have not tried Living Water strings. maybe I will give them a go.
Max

Wildestcat
11-26-2015, 10:41 PM
Hi Max. The Poundland glue is great value for general purpose use (the micro nozzles are worth the outlay) even though I think it may be only 4 bottles in a pack, not 5 as I said earlier. Having said that, for impregnating wood to strengthen it I would recommend the thinnest stuff you can find - model shops should stock different grades. The Poundland glue is a medium consistency, and may be why my impregnations haven't been as successful as I hoped. I don't have a local model shop, and baulked at the cost of thin glue when ordered on line for a job I will probably never do again. False economy!
If you haven't used CA before, then be sure to invest in some "debonder" as well. It has got me out of some embarrassing situations in the past:o

orangeena
11-26-2015, 11:28 PM
... be sure to invest in some "debonder" as well. It has got me out of some embarrassing situations in the past:o

Stuck to the lavatory seat eh?

Tip duly noted
Max

Wildestcat
11-27-2015, 12:54 AM
:D
Close! Apart from the inevitable fingers stuck together, I have inadvertently attached myself to a variety of household objects. I now wear nitrile gloves, though whilst treating this fingerboard the heat generated by the glue on the paper towel I was using and/or the glue itself melted a hole in them.

orangeena
11-27-2015, 02:33 AM
The model shop I went to had never heard of thin CA glue. They just had Superglu Gel. No use whatsoever. I should have gone to the poundshop

Timbuck
11-27-2015, 02:49 AM
If you're based in the UK I find this to be a great company to buy CA glue from http://www.glue-shop.com/ ...the thin stuff they supply is way stronger than the Poundland glue ..Ive had my fingers glued to the bindings a few times and had to use a sharp blade to release them, leaving some of my skin on the uke.:(

Wildestcat
11-27-2015, 04:47 AM
Hi Ken. I tried placing an order with them earlier this year, but they have been moving factory and didn't get back to me about payment for the order. The Post/Payment tab on the site says they will be back to normal 2nd week of December 2015. I shall try again next month.

Timbuck
11-27-2015, 05:07 AM
From what I remember you can Order stuff from them receive it and they send an invoice at the end of he month.;)

Vespa Bob
11-27-2015, 06:53 AM
I'm making progress, albeit a little slow. The body is complete, the hole and the threaded brass insert in the heel is installed. I knew that trying to drill a straight hole in the centre of two pieces of pine glued together would be nigh on impossible for me, so I went at it very slowly, first with a fine pilot hole using my Dremel tool, then again with a larger bit until I could safely use the correct size drill. It paid off and the insert went in straight and true. The hole in the heel block presented no problem and on first try, the neck to body joint turned out OK. I'll have to do some fiddling to get a perfect fit, but so far I'm happy with it. Still to be made are the bridge and head plate. I've decided to laminate two pieces together using epoxy, hoping that will add some strength to it, but I'm not sure whether it will! My fretboard turned out well, after spending half a day upgrading my little table saw which I originally set up for the purpose of cutting slots alone. The slide rails weren't too smooth, so I replaced them with drawer slides, well worth the time spent, as now it glides beautifully!
Lots of finishing off to do still. I find using scrapers, spoke shave and my plane work better than trying to sand this pine. The corrugation effect, especially on the neck, is driving me nuts!

Bob

Wildestcat
11-27-2015, 08:02 AM
That's looking very nice Bob.

sequoia
11-27-2015, 04:49 PM
Just a little tip: We are conditioned to always sand with the grain. Sometimes with softwood it is ok to sand against the grain. What happens is that if you sand grainwise with softwood like this, it takes out the soft interstices between the grain called the... I forget what it is called but it is much softer than the growth ring grain. Thus the corderoy or corrugated effect. I know, it makes a messy sanding, but get close to where you want to be and then even out your sanding marks and then do some grainwise sanding at the very end to smooth things out. Hard to explain... This is also one reason instruments are not made of pine although spruce will do this too.... Also a scraper works good here as it takes down the grain and doesn't pull out the stuff.

Michael N.
11-27-2015, 11:20 PM
Scraping softwoods produces the corduroy effect because the tool tends to compress the spring growth (the soft grain) but cuts the summer growth (the hard grain). Violin makers actually aim for this effect because they don't want the wood surface to be perfectly flat and homogeneous. Sanding usually lessens the effect considerably, which is why violin makers finish with the scraper rather than sandpaper.

Vespa Bob
11-28-2015, 06:35 AM
Very interesting, I wonder why I seem to be having the reverse effect, maybe I'm confused! Sequoia, your suggestion has merit, I'll try that in the future. Meanwhile my ukulele's neck has been driving me nuts with waves all over the place! I've finally given up and will say it was done that way intentionally

Bob

Wildestcat
11-28-2015, 09:36 AM
I encountered the rippling problem when attempting to refine the heel profile with a scraper. The grain in the worst affected area was running off into slab sawn, which left wide soft areas between the hard grain lines. I switched to sandpaper used on a rubber block across the grain, and luckily was able to recover the situation before finish sanding. I have to say my recollection of the effect was the reverse of what Michael has described - it seemed to me the softer wood was being cut away, leaving the hard grain proud.

I've just discovered that when I finish sanded the sides using 400 grit paper wrapped around a small rubber block, that my fingertips must have been rubbing slightly on the wood around the waist area. It all looked fine at the time, but after 3 coats of Minwax wipe-on Poly, you can plainly see the marks in the right (i.e. wrong) light. These are issues you just don't encounter with hardwoods - though I thought I was being really careful with handling. It's the first time I have used it, but have learned the hard way that Minwax takes no prisoners when it comes to surface prep! :( I'll be wearing nitrile gloves for all the final build operations to try and limit any more fingernail contact.

Michael N.
11-29-2015, 12:26 AM
This is how I understand it. The hard grain stands proud because the soft part of the grain has been compressed. I'm pretty sure that's what happens but I'll do a test to confirm. I'm referring to scraping only.

orangeena
11-29-2015, 09:01 AM
Disaster.

I glued the fretboard and bridge in yesterday, fitted the tuners and bought some strings. Today I found some tiny beads and strung the thing up. Yuck, it is a pig. Buzzing all the way up the neck and very muted. I made a decision to try and go backwards. I have used an iron and pulled the fretboard off, along with the bridge. They might be savable. Then I have taken a flat MDF board with sandpaper sheets glued down and worked on taking the soundboard down as far as I dared. I probably took if from just under 2mm to maybe 1.5. Hopefully this will help.

Looking at the fretboard now I think it is toast as there is tearout on the back and some frets that are proud (not sure how I missed them, I need to use that Mya-Moe set square technique I think).

Definitely a few backward steps .
Max

sequoia
11-29-2015, 09:11 AM
Disaster.

Looking at the fretboard now I think it is toast as there is tearout on the back and some frets that are proud (not sure how I missed them, I need to use that Mya-Moe set square technique I think). Max

Don't be too quick to give up on the fretboard. Those tearouts on the back can be filled and the thing sanded flat. I steamed off a few fretboards and they always look pretty sad all curled and dried out, but with a little TLC they can be made to come around. Good luck Max.... 1.5 (or 1/16th" or 0.062) sounds pretty darn thin for a softwood top to me. Heck, that is thin for a hardwood top, but should be interesting to see the effect on the sound.

orangeena
11-29-2015, 09:23 AM
In trying to remove the proud frets to reseat them the baked pine has splintered off. I will give it a go but it may be simpler to start again.
Max

RPA_Ukuleles
11-29-2015, 11:44 AM
Well I've made 3 fretboards now from the spruce, and I'm just not satisfied. I've decided to go ahead and use another wood. I've baked and CA hardened, Impregnated with Minwax wood hardener and wasted all kinds of time. Can't get the frets well seated and I'm tired of messin with it. So I'm just not satisfied that the spruce will be a good option for this uke. Forgive me guys for not playing by the rules, but I am putting significant effort into this uke and I want it to last. I'll make another one using all spruce, but it will be a quicker build for sure.

Doug W
11-29-2015, 01:50 PM
So has anyone had good luck with their 2x4 fretboard?

jcalkin
11-29-2015, 02:07 PM
Haven't even slotted my board yet, but driving the frets in seems like a bad idea from the start. I'll grind off the barbs, push them in, then super glue them. Why waste so much time on a uke built on a dare? Expectations should have been low from the get go. There is a potter's philosophy called truth in materials. Something made of clay should show that it is made of clay, and wear it proudly. In this case, the truth is that softwood has its own characteristics and it should be used to demonstrate that. Don't try to force it into being something that it is not. The luthier must adapt because the wood can't. I'll let you know how that works out soon, I hope.

Wildestcat
11-29-2015, 10:17 PM
Max / Rodney - sorry to hear of these problems at such a late stage of the build. :(

Apart from chipping the surface with drilling operations (see earlier), my board currently seems to be OK, though only time will tell! Progress has been set back three or four days as I couldn't live with the fingernail marks under the finish around the waist, and have sanded the sides back to bare wood to start again. Otherwise I might have been able to tell you how mine sounded.
I agree with john though - if I did this again I would glue in the frets with superglue or epoxy, maybe leaving the barbs but using a slightly wider fret slot if I could find the right saw. I would also use wider guitar fretwire (I actually used my usual Stewmac 764) which offers greater surface area against the board, and might help seat the frets more evenly. I mulled these ideas beforehand, but in the end went for standard practice in the hope that the properties of baked wood would be OK.

RPA_Ukuleles
11-30-2015, 03:59 AM
I entered this challenge to build from a 2x4 with the mindset that the wood is not the primary factor in determining the quality of the uke. Many subjective qualities such as tone or visual beauty are fine reasons to choose the wood you use, but here, and I think Pete's original challenge was, to build a worthy instrument from a common 2x4. I think he had it right in his first comments that suggested you would use another species for fretboard and bridge, but somehow we got into the idea whole dern thing needs to be out of the 2x4. So, my intent has been to build a worthy instrument from a common piece of lumber. And I have decided in order to do that, I am in fact going to use a different species for the fretboard and bridge. I don't think this challenge is so much a dare to build some kinda uke from a 2x, and I certainly wouldn't "waste time" on a low expectation uke-like object. So after feeling like I did waste time on trying to get a piece of spruce to look and feel and behave like another wood, I happily move on to another wood. There's no problem building something creative or inventive with this challenge, but for me I want to build a nice uke that just happens to be made of a 2x4. I look forward to showing you all my results.

orangeena
11-30-2015, 04:37 AM
Rodney, I am beginning to agree with you. Even if I do manage to make a workable fretboard out of baked pine, it is going to have a very short lifespan before it shows signs of excessive wear.

I have started to re-shellac the freshly stripped front soundboard and patched up the bridge. Still might give the fretboard one last try, just coz I am too mean to throw out all those dressed frets.
Max

orangeena
11-30-2015, 10:13 AM
I am scrapping that fretboard. It got all crumbly. So now I am going for a three pronged approach. First is another piece of cooked pine, but smothered with some ancient wood hardener that was almost like glue. Second I have cut a new section of pine which I will shape and then stain for contrast. Thirdly is the cop out. Some unidentified hardwook scrap that used to trim the edge of an old door. I am going to shift all those frets I prepared up one so I only need to cut perhaps a couple of new ones.

Max

Vespa Bob
11-30-2015, 12:43 PM
It's small consolation, but but somewhat encouraging to know that I'm not alone in this struggle with wood that doesn't know how to behave, but I guess it's not called a "challenge" for nothing! My fretboard turned out OK, mainly because my saw blade is a fraction wide for for the frets, so they went in easily. I then applied thin CA to the entire board, which not only held the frets, but hardened the surface. My bridge on the other hand, is another story, as I'm on my third attempt. This time I'm abandoning the baked stuff for a double layer of leftover regular pine. That baked wood is just too unstable to work with.
I entered this challenge knowing that my end result would not be anything I would play much, but rather a sort of conversation piece. Nonetheless, it's in my nature to do my best and I find it frustrating when I cannot achieve my goal. I think jcalkin has the right idea and I from now on I'll adapt myself to the wood and let the chips fall where they may!

Bob

Michael N.
12-01-2015, 03:00 AM
I kind of think the original remit was correct, in that another wood type for the fretboard and bridge be allowed.

RPA_Ukuleles
12-01-2015, 05:46 AM
A few years ago I made a concert uke entirely out of redwood - except for the fretboard and bridge. (well, head plate and pick guard too actually) But the whole body, bracing, linings, NECK, kit and kaboodle were made out of some old redwood furniture that was sitting in the back yard. Anyway, it's a wonderful instrument. Quite chimey music-boxy, and perhaps not to everyone's taste, but I love the thing. I expect my 2x4 uke to just as nice.

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/rpashop/redwd_zpsrbdefolr.jpg

Timbuck
12-01-2015, 09:35 AM
I'm not taking part in this, I'm just a referee/observer .
..I wonder how Pete is doing on his uke ;) ????

jcalkin
12-01-2015, 04:18 PM
Pete is probably having a fine laugh at our expense. You know, in my whole life I've never played a single instrument to the point of leaving noticeable wear marks on it. I look forward to the possibility of shredding my pine fingerboard. But I bet it still takes me years to accomplish it.

Timbuck
12-01-2015, 09:48 PM
My main uke has a baked pine fingerboard it's gets used almost every day...after two years there's no noticeable sign of wear...but I have short fingernails :D

jcalkin
12-02-2015, 01:44 PM
My main uke has a baked pine fingerboard it's gets used almost every day...after two years there's no noticeable sign of wear...but I have short fingernails :D

Good to know, Ken. Mine will be raw pine, but I bet it holds up OK.

uke51
12-03-2015, 03:23 AM
I'm impressed with the quality of the 2x4 ukes that have been posted here so far. Here's the progress I've made so far...
The fret board & bridge blank in the pictures are cooked pine from the same 2x4 as the rest of the uke.
86025860268602786028

Wildestcat
12-03-2015, 03:41 AM
Here's the progress I've made so far...

Wow! That's looking good - so many ways to build that I haven't seen before.

I'm almost there with mine - I'll leave it overnight and string up tomorrow. What will it sound like I wonder (my guess is it will sound like a ukulele :)) and will it hold together? Watch this space ...

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The green blobs are rare earth magnets wrapped in tape to aid handling and prevent damage to the top. They are holding the internal caul whilst clamps are fitted/removed.

orangeena
12-03-2015, 05:28 AM
I think you are going to be the first to deliver Paul. Looking fantastic.
My "re-imagining" of the whole top has set me back a week. Still umm-ing and aah-ing about the baked fretboard. Maybe one more try!

Wildestcat
12-03-2015, 08:29 AM
I think you are going to be the first to deliver Paul.

Hmm... not so sure! I just opened my last packet of concert strings only to discover the old set of Hilo strings I took off a resonator a couple of years ago! Ken Middletons Living Water packaging re-seals like new, hence the confusion. Because of the strings-through-top bridge, I have had to cut the knots off the old strings, and what’s left is barely long enough to reach the pegs. I've just ordered some more sets from Ken, but it may be a day or two yet before my uke sounds a chord in anger:(

RPA_Ukuleles
12-03-2015, 09:06 AM
Looks great Paul! a 2x4 was never finer. Glad you were successful with the fretboard. I do like the overall light body color. I dunno guys, if the tone is there, we may be on to something with all spruce ukes! Well done.

Vespa Bob
12-03-2015, 11:13 AM
Uke51, what a great way of using your 2x4 to produce an original design! Good luck with the rest of it!
Wildestcat, good job, apart from the strings your done and I've got to say, compared to yours, mine looks like a dog's chewed it! Nonetheless, I'm still plodding along, one step forward, two steps back. The frets are in, fretboard glued to neck, body almost ready for finishing. What are you all doing for fret dots? I tried punching some out from a thin piece of 2x4 I had lying around and when that didn't work, I tried turning a dowel from a 3/8th strip on my drill press and that didn't work either. so I ended up filling the dot holes with sawdust gathered up after my dowel turning effort and dropping thin CA on them. At this moment I haven't scraped them off yet, so I don't know how they'll turn out!:rolleyes:

Bob

orangeena
12-03-2015, 12:15 PM
I am afraid I have used bits of sawn up plastic chopstick for mine Bob. Same think I used for the saddle.
Max

Vespa Bob
12-03-2015, 02:40 PM
That's a good idea for the saddle, since I'm out of the "real" stuff and don't feel like placing a special order. My sawdust dots turned out a disaster! The CA made the dust darker and although the holes looked pretty round, somehow after the sawdust/CA application the are anything but!

Bob

Wildestcat
12-03-2015, 09:33 PM
Bob - you have my utmost admiration for sticking so closely to the rule book. :worship: I used plastic dot rod!

Wildestcat
12-04-2015, 12:14 AM
Well, I couldn't wait for new strings to arrive, so I managed to get enough string engagement on the pegs from the old set of black HiLos to bring them all up to tension. At least I thought it would give me a chance to cut the nut slots and get the saddle somewhere near right. However I hit a couple of snags pretty quickly!

I thought the fretboard was OK, but clearly the quality control department was on a teabreak when assessing the results of fret leveling and recrowning. I failed to notice that on the 2nd & 11th frets, the first 6 mm under the A string had been driven into the board, and were about 0.5 mm low. No way I could live with the resulting buzz! The rest of the board was good though, so I elected to try and prise up those fret ends and glue them in place.

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I tried to use razor blades taped alongside the fret to take pressure from the nippers and protect the board, but couldn't get any purchase on the fret. In order to be able to grip the fret I had to accept a degree of local damage to the board, but the frets are now level and the buzzes have gone. In the process I discovered that CA melts Minwax quite effectively, and that the frets are actually quite well seated.

I then started on profiling the saddle for intonation.

86094 If you are looking for a Christmas present, I think this is a brilliant device http://www.gmcluthiertools.com/nutsaddleshapingvice.htm

Wildestcat
12-04-2015, 12:24 AM
And here it is, finished barring a new set of strings.

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I'm reserving judgement on the tone. Those old Hilo strings sounded dire on the uke they were taken from, so I'm hoping the Living Waters will improve things a little. As I suspected, it sounds like a ukulele! The only ukes I have available for comparison are the all koa tenor I built on Pete Howletts course and a vintage Kamaka koa soprano, and to be frank the 3x2 isn't going to be in that league.

Once I have the new strings on I will see if I can enlist the help of a mate who can actually play a ukulele to a reasonable standard, and see if I can make a video on my wife's Ipad thingy.

Sven
12-04-2015, 12:50 AM
That looks ace, that.

TjW
12-04-2015, 04:20 AM
That's a darn nice looking 2x3.
And if anyone doesn't like it, adjust their attitude with a different 2x3.

orangeena
12-04-2015, 04:38 AM
That looks really nice Paul, you can be proud of your efforts.

RPA_Ukuleles
12-04-2015, 05:42 AM
And if anyone doesn't like it, adjust their attitude with a different 2x3.

Hahaha :biglaugh: