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bt93
03-29-2009, 01:10 PM
hey, i had this idea and wanted to se if it would work. i decided that i wanted to build a uke, so i was thinking of ideas. if i just carved one block of wood into the whole body including neck and head without having to glue anything together, would that work? and also, how much does a huge block of koa cost?

Renaissance-Man
03-29-2009, 01:45 PM
...how much does a huge block of koa cost?
Ah, 1 million dollars!

http://www.affordablehousinginstitute.org/blogs/us/dr_evil_one_million_dollars.jpg

grappler
03-29-2009, 02:46 PM
lol@ Renaissance-Man !
not sure about that question

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
03-29-2009, 02:56 PM
If it's a huge block I'm guessing a million and a half. (BTW, I have one for sale.)

dave alexander
03-29-2009, 03:48 PM
OK guys, he's serious, so we should also be serious. I once carved an acoustic ukulele from a block of wood over a very long weekend. This involved hollowing out the entire body of the instrument with a sharpened spoon, and required hours of painstaking work. I don't suggest it.

Oh, you mean electric. Yeah. I've seen that. :rolleyes:

ukeatan
03-29-2009, 03:58 PM
If it's a huge block I'm guessing a million and a half. (BTW, I have one for sale.)

I'll go $1,499,999 AND throw in a free toaster.

dave alexander
03-29-2009, 04:10 PM
No, seriously now. Does he need Koa for the whole body? And wouldn't it be easier and more efficient to glue/fasten woods together as opposed to building from a big block of Koa?
:o

ukeatan
03-29-2009, 04:14 PM
And wouldn't it be easier and more efficient to glue/fasten woods together as opposed to building from a big block of Koa?


I dare say, I think you may well be onto something, old chap... ;)

koalohapaul
03-29-2009, 04:23 PM
Definitely possible, but judging from your questions, sounds like you're a beginner. I would suggest getting a kit from Grizzly or Stewmac to start. It's not that hard, but the first time you do anything, the process can be overwhelming.

bt93
03-29-2009, 04:23 PM
i plan on taking a piece of wood, about the length and width of a tenor, and carving that into a uke. once im done, i will cut off a top layer, and then hollow the uke out and then glue it back one. seriously though, does anyone know where i can get the wood?

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
03-29-2009, 04:35 PM
OK, It's time for us to be serious now. It's impossible IMO. Or it's Ripley's Believe It Or Not stuff. How do you carve the end grain 1/16" thick in the lower bout? And you really think that after removing all that wood that what is left won't move at all? It's going to curl, cup, check, warp, etc. I even cut all my neck blanks out six months in advance because I know the necks will move a bit after they are roughed out.
Maybe Pete has done this?..........Pete, you sleeping over there?

dave alexander
03-29-2009, 05:16 PM
Paul,
You really were talking about an acoustic? OK, I suggest burning out the center portion, as the Iroquois would do with their log canoes. This will both cure the remaining wood and give a pleasant smoky odor.

This actually was a scene from Meet the Parents where Kevin Rawley (Owen Wilson) carves an altar -- from a single block of wood. I'd hoped you got that reference in my last comment.

I can mail you a cigar box, if the solid block of Koa is too expensive.

bt93
03-29-2009, 05:20 PM
I can mail you a cigar box, if the solid block of Koa is too expensive.

thanks for the offer, but i want to just take solid wood and carve it. if its not koa, then ill try and get something related but cheaper. thanks for the advice
brad

JTY
03-29-2009, 07:04 PM
i plan on taking a piece of wood, about the length and width of a tenor, and carving that into a uke. once im done, i will cut off a top layer, and then hollow the uke out and then glue it back one. seriously though, does anyone know where i can get the wood?

You can do it similar to the Akulele.

http://www.akulele.com/photo.html
http://www.akulele.com/6_string_backs.JPG http://www.akulele.com/6_string.JPG

koalohapaul
03-29-2009, 10:15 PM
I probably wouldn't do it, for a number of reasons, but I do know that it's possible. Might be a fun project. I've seen a couple of really old ukulele that were done in that fashion, but I can't remember who made them.

The pro to me, is that it would be one heck of a cool instrument.

Unfortunately, with koa being so scarce these days, I don't think I could stomach the waste. The block would have to be 8/4" thick and 9+" by 26+". I could get 12 sets of tenor tops and backs from that. Or three tenor necks, plus some standard tops and backs. Or 18 tenor sides. Not enough cool factor for me to sacrifice that much koa.

My father actually started making mini ukulele, before the traditional sizes. They were 5 1/2" in total length, and fully in scale. He made his own tuners out of brass jewelery parts and the fret board was in tune. The neck and body of those were actually carved from a single piece. Only problem is that they didn't have Worth or Aquillas back then. Ha ha!

ukantor
03-29-2009, 11:58 PM
I've played an Akulele soprano and liked it a lot. Neck and body all carved from the same piece of wood; separate soundboard. Not Koa though. Start saving!

Ukantor.

thistle3585
03-30-2009, 03:37 AM
There isn't any reason that it couldn't be done, and I wouldn't be too concerned with warpage or such unless you use poor quality lumber. Use the same process you would use to make a semi hollow electric. Rigel cut their mandolin rims from large blocks, leaving them fairly thick. I think you would be disappointed in the tone as weight seems to be a HUGE determining factor in tone. You might do an internet search for "William Cumpiano thinline cuatro" as another approach.

Andrew

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
03-30-2009, 06:53 AM
The block would have to be 8/4" thick and 9+" by 26+".

Your ukuleles are only 2" thick?
And remember, Brad said he didn't want to glue anything. Doesn't "anything" include the top?

koalohapaul
03-30-2009, 07:01 AM
Our tenors are actually 2-3/4" at the widest point, but if I did carve one, I would work with 8/4". Absolutely no way I would use 12/4". Even more waste and I would have to special order it.

I thought he said that he was going to carve out the basic shape, then cut off the front for the top? If nothing was going to be glued, then I would say the difficulty just sky rocketed. Unless you get stuck on an island. In that case, I would devote my time to training termites, rather than trying to carve from the sound hole.

Pete Howlett
03-30-2009, 07:23 AM
This is the problem with this medium - it is really hard to make yourself clear. My Uklectics are machined from the solid with a high figure cap. Despite not much wood being removed they have an acoustic presence. Cumpiano builds a south American instrument using the 'solid cutout' method but then glues a thin back and front on the ribs. Looks like he is cutting to a 1/4" to 3/16" line in the stills I saw. It is possible to do for a ukulele but you would not be following the outside shape for the interior because of the problems identified by ChucK and others.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
03-30-2009, 10:38 AM
if i just carved one block of wood into the whole body including neck and head without having to glue anything together
This is brad's original post in part. The "whole body" includes the top doesn't it? I like your idea about the termites however.

Bradford
03-30-2009, 12:25 PM
If I were to undertake this project, here is how I would do it. Cut the wood into desired shape, then saw off both the top and the back. This will allow you to remove the interior in one piece, using either a band saw (entry cut covered by an end graft) or the hard way with a coping saw. The secret to a nearly invisible glue line is to not disturb the original saw lines when gluing the top and back on. As Chuck pointed out, the end grain portions will need to be left thick. Expanding on the concept, instead of gluing the top on, you could hinge it. Take the off cut from the center and make nesting ukuleles from one piece of wood.

Brad

bt93
03-30-2009, 12:36 PM
If I were to undertake this project, here is how I would do it. Cut the wood into desired shape, then saw off both the top and the back. This will allow you to remove the interior in one piece, using either a band saw (entry cut covered by an end graft) or the hard way with a coping saw. The secret to a nearly invisible glue line is to not disturb the original saw lines when gluing the top and back on. As Chuck pointed out, the end grain portions will need to be left thick. Expanding on the concept, instead of gluing the top on, you could hinge it. Take the off cut from the center and make nesting ukuleles from one piece of wood.

Brad

thanks for the help
and ps. like the name!

Bradford
03-30-2009, 03:49 PM
You are welcome. Let me add that I share some of the misgivings of some of the others from previous posts about the difficulty of this project. My main concern would be neck stability. It takes very little neck movement to render an instrument unplayable. At the very least I would route out the center of the fretboard area and install a carbon fiber strip, and cover that with a contrasting strip of wood. You also asked about koa. A piece of plain koa in the size requested could be several hundred dollars. I recently purchased some myrtlewood about that size for $44.00. You would do well to consider that as an alternative. The variations of color and grain patterns would make a striking instrument.

Brad

bt93
03-30-2009, 04:38 PM
You are welcome. Let me add that I share some of the misgivings of some of the others from previous posts about the difficulty of this project. My main concern would be neck stability. It takes very little neck movement to render an instrument unplayable. At the very least I would route out the center of the fretboard area and install a carbon fiber strip, and cover that with a contrasting strip of wood. You also asked about koa. A piece of plain koa in the size requested could be several hundred dollars. I recently purchased some myrtlewood about that size for $44.00. You would do well to consider that as an alternative. The variations of color and grain patterns would make a striking instrument.

Brad

can you send me the link of where you got the mrytle from. thanks

Bradford
03-30-2009, 06:02 PM
I get myrtle from the Myrtlewood Factory Outlet, in Garibaldi, OR. It is about 30 miles south of me, and I drop by their wood room every couple of months. Their web address is http. myrtlewoodfactoryoutlet.com/. They always told me if I need anything specific, to let them know. If you contact them they should be able to supply what you need.

Brad

Pete Howlett
03-31-2009, 04:49 AM
You do not need carbon fibre - I had a uke back in my workshop, 10 years old, neck straight as the day it left... This was a 6 string tenor as well.