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ASAT
11-19-2015, 10:33 AM
Hi, I am starting a build thread here as I am embarking on my first ever instrument build and I am going to rely heavily on this forum for your expertise and guidance. I have some woodworking ability and have built a few wooden ship models so I have a fairly good supply of hardwoods and a few nice wood working tools although they are small and suited for model shipbuilding. I also have a friend that owns a cabinet shop and is gracious to let me use his extensive line of tooling. I thought about acquiring a book or two but I also am a member of a model ship building forum and there is more information and willing people to help throughout a model build and I am confident that UU is the same way... so I am hoping my thread will be a venue for instruction.......
I really wanted to build a guitar but thought a uke might be a bit easier and my wood supply is more suited to a uke build and I feel that most of the processes will transfer over well.
I am going to build a tenor ukulele using the plans set from UltimateGuitar.com but with a few deviations where my research so far has led me. One example is the plans show a radius on the neck block to match the body outline but I am planning on squaring the neck area off (like the Mya Moe videos) so that the neck joint,neck block and neck areas are all square.
I will be using makore for the back and sides and anigre for the top and neck, haven't decided on the fretboard and bridge wood yet.... I re sawed the back and sides and top wood and thicknessed them to .100 + or - .005, I am taking them to my friends shop to use the jointer and will then glue them up, install a rossette and return to use his digital thickness sander to bring the top to .080 and the back and sides to .090 please advise if I am in error so far and feel free throughout the build to set me straight or provide a better technique or improve any process. I look forward to a great relationship with you guys and this forum.... Pics to follow.....

Lou

ASAT
11-19-2015, 01:03 PM
So here are some pics as promised, the first is a shot of my back, sides and top wood, next are some close ups of the top and back - the top color is more tan/creamy than the pic, the color balance is off but I wanted to show some of the grain and figuring of the wood. The last shot is a piece of 5/8" baltic birch my friend gave me to make the mold with after he ran the uke wood through the jointer. I need some advise on the best way to glue the book matched pieces up - I was thinking using some triangle shims to wedge the sides tight against a straight edge and weight the joint with some steel.....? Also a good way to cut the relief for the rosette without using expensive tooling? Any help greatly appreciated :)85544855458554685547

rudy
11-19-2015, 02:39 PM
Looks good so far, Lou.
You might find a build tip or two that you can use on my uke construction tips page:
http://www.bluestemstrings.com/pageUke1.html

ASAT
11-19-2015, 03:34 PM
Rudy, I have been perusing your site and plan on using quite a few of your tips - Thanks for the many free drawings as well, especially the radius plans and the nut and bridge drawings !!

Lou

sequoia
11-19-2015, 05:27 PM
Sounds like you have done your homework and you will produce a fine ukulele Lou... Squaring off your neck block and neck connection rather than doing a radius is going to make your life a lot easier...Gluing up your back and top plates can be done very easily using the "tape method" and elaborate jointing apparatuses are unnecessary IMHO. There are a lot of different ways of doing things and expect to get a lot of conflicting advice. When in doubt stick with the KISS principle... As to putting in a rosette, I've always used elaborate circle cutting router type tools, but I'm told it can be done with a Popsicle stick and razor blade. Good luck with that. Consider doing your uke without a rosette. Very traditional and they can look great. Rosette not absolutely necessary.

mikeyb2
11-19-2015, 10:23 PM
Lou, I'm like you in attempting my first build(s) although most of my time so far has been spent building jigs, dishes etc. As for joining the top pieces, I used the method you describe with wedges but just lightly clamped a piece of mdf over the joint to prevent it rising. It worked very well indeed and is simple enough. Just remember to place waxed paper over the glued area to prevent the top sticking to the boards. Mike

Hms
11-19-2015, 10:41 PM
Mya Moe has a video up of how they join tops, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCSjGLB8IOc&feature=youtu.be
h

orangeena
11-19-2015, 11:50 PM
Thanks for sharing that Hms, it is a clever and inexpensive method. I have generally used the stretched masking tape method in the past
Max

Yankulele
11-20-2015, 01:22 AM
Here's how I did it. Two drill bits same diameter as (very thin) rosette. Grind one to a cutting edge, and one to a chisel wedge. I honed them on a diamond sharpening stone. Drilled a hole in a piece of scrap acrylic for the pivot point, and another at a distance from the first equal to the radius of the rosette. With the cutting bit oriented to the outside of the hole, score the outside. Turn the bit 180 and score the inside. Then use the chisel bit to excavate the channel. Go slowly, and it works great.855498555085551

Vespa Bob
11-20-2015, 04:39 AM
As my daddy always said, there's more than one way to skin a cat! Although I use Stewmac's circle cutter, it always makes me nervous. Your way seems more controllable.

Bob

ASAT
11-20-2015, 10:05 AM
Great ideas guys thanks! Mike - I am still deciding on whether to make or buy a dish, leaning towards making one (or two) using the thin MDF and shimming it with lots of screws and spacers (I saw a drawing on here but need to find it again) but yes, I will be making lots of jigs and fixtures as I progress. I really like that glue up station that Hms pointed to on the video but I think I may keep it simple for this first build. I also really like Yank's acrylic rosette tool I think doing it by hand allows much more control and being able to see how it is cutting is a big plus.... plus it looks pretty easy to make, also a big plus. I may try to adapt it to a gramil blade maybe? Anyway speaking of jigs and fixtures I'm going to make my body template today and get started on my mold.

mikeyb2
11-20-2015, 10:18 AM
Lou, I made this jig from ideas and templates taken from Rudy's site. The dish is centered in the jig and revolves so multiple passes and much dust later results in a 15' dish. The other side is flat, so both sides can be used.855858558685587

Andyk
11-20-2015, 10:22 AM
The details of the spacer/wedges radius dish construction are found at http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=48252&d=1359550555 I think.

Sven
11-20-2015, 10:24 AM
Ah yes, that's the one. If you for any reason can't save or open just shoot me an email and I will send it directly to you.

ASAT
11-20-2015, 01:04 PM
Man you guys are great! I knew this forum would be a great resource but I am so encouraged by the willingness to share and help others to succeed (well, proclaiming success may be a bit premature, but the heart is there). I have a question on the mold - does the amount of the overhanging material add to stability of the mold? I can save a lot of the baltic birch ply I was given if I orient the mold on the short side of the wood but there will only be about 3/8" of material "overhanging" in the neck and heel area of the mold - would that be OK considering there are 3 layers and then I will cap the neck and heel areas with more BB to form the release/connection area of the mold? Thanks!!

Lou

ASAT
11-20-2015, 08:17 PM
OK - well I decided not to skimp on the mold and just use what I felt was needed, but before that I printed out a couple of the body plans and cut out a few paper templates so I could make the half body shape for fitting the mold. I transferred the half shape to some 1/4" MDF and cut it out on the scroll saw, cleaned it up on my belt/spindle sander and hand sanded it to get it as good as I could.

ASAT
11-20-2015, 08:24 PM
I then used the half template to create a mold cutting template for the multiple pieces that need to be cut from the baltic birch. Used the band saw and spindle sander again to clean up the cutting template, hand sanded it to fit and it fits great!

ASAT
11-20-2015, 08:30 PM
Then I started laying out my final mold pieces and instead of drawing them all by hand I just made another template from 1/4" MDF and traced the outline on to my 5/8" baltic birch. Doesn't look like much when you put it all together but it was a good days work for me.... Tomorrow I will cut out the mold pieces and trim with the router, hopefully get some gluing done....

Lou

ASAT
11-21-2015, 02:59 PM
Well, I haven't been able to work on the uke today - music practice for my worship band went long today and I had a few Honey Do's in between running to Lowes for some router bits and hardware to mount my router to a MDF top. I wanted to ask you guys if three layers of 5/8" Baltic Birch will be thick enough for my mold? The plans show a 2 17/32" side thickness at the heel and 2 15/16" at the neck - so will 1 7/8" total thickness of the mold be OK? The sides need to be proud on the back side for sanding on the radius dish right? Thanks, Lou

Farp
11-27-2015, 01:54 PM
8586685867Hey, ASAT, I'm doing my first build as well. Maybe we can share experiences and there may be others who are laying in the wings, looking to learn from my rookie mistakes, lol. I am blessed to have a seasoned luthier who has offered to help me learn

Today was Day 2 of my baritone build. I messed up with the first back, so had to get two more resawed pieces from the walnut board and glue them up with a curly maple center piece, per ph85868oto. I also added the curly maple binding on the fret board and did some work on the bracing. I'm 16 hours into the build, and a whole lot smarter than I was 2 days ago; but I still messed up my first pass on the bridge bracing. Each day that goes by now, I have greater respect for those masters who post in this arena with their terrific projects.

ASAT
12-03-2015, 09:03 PM
Well I tried to update with more pics but I couldn't because my attachment folder was full - the only way I could figure to post more was to delete the pics in my previous posts? Never had this issue on other forums I belong to - is there a way to keep pics intact and upload more or increase the total allowed?

Anyway here are some updates.... I built the mold, a go bar deck and radius dish860718607086069

ASAT
12-03-2015, 09:09 PM
I glued the top and back on a jig I made up using wedges to clamp them together8607386072

I tried to make a rosette cutter but am not happy with the results using these so I ordered a Dremel base and rosette cutter from StewMac....
860758607486076

ASAT
12-03-2015, 09:14 PM
I then tried my hand at bending - made a pipe bender and am still trying to perfect my technique.... I am getting small flat spots that can be felt more than seen but I am wondering what I need to do to achieve smoother bends? These are not full length boards - could that be part of the problem? I used shorter ones to practice on - also my pipe is only 1.5" as the waist bend is pretty tight for this plan..... Help?

orangeena
12-03-2015, 10:00 PM
not much help, but if you can feel flat spots but not see then, I am pretty sure you WILL see them with some nice glossy finish on.
I am afraid I only use the hot pipe to re-finish bends. The initial bending is done in a mold/former with 2 x 100 Watt lightbulbs providing the heat. Easy to build and it delivers consistency.
Max

ASAT
12-04-2015, 10:57 AM
Is it possible to build a side bender that would do guitar as well as uke sides? Or do they need to be instrument specific?

Farp
12-04-2015, 01:17 PM
Well I tried to update with more pics but I couldn't because my attachment folder was full - the only way I could figure to post more was to delete the pics in my previous posts? Never had this issue on other forums I belong to - is there a way to keep pics intact and upload more or increase the total allowed?

Anyway here are some updates.... I built the mold, a go bar deck and radius dish860718607086069

Good looking work!

Here's a pic of my neck getting the head plate glued on. I've only made86111 about 3 major errors in doing the neck so far, lol. The truss rod shows, also. Keep pluggin!

Farp
12-04-2015, 01:22 PM
Is it possible to build a side bender that would do guitar as well as uke sides? Or do they need to be instrument specific?

You can do both. Here's a pic of a bender used for guitars modified for the baritone. 86112

We had to modify the ends beyond what is shown to get down to the ends.

ASAT
12-04-2015, 04:53 PM
Good looking work!

Here's a pic of my neck getting the head plate glued on. I've only made86111 about 3 major errors in doing the neck so far, lol. The truss rod shows, also. Keep pluggin!

Wow! That is some serious good work on a first neck.... binding no less! Nice bender setup too... maybe after Christmas I will make one, I found a source for some blankets on ebay - China made but look OK.... Keenovo brand with a controller for $109 with shipping! $139 with a digi controller, might be doable.

little timber
12-05-2015, 03:19 AM
I have heard that those controllers are for shit. the blankets work but I wouldn't trust the temp control.

saltytri
12-05-2015, 05:05 AM
Good thread! It's always interesting to see how others solve problems.

For a variable blanket controller, a low-tech and robust solution is a Powerstat or Variac variable transformer. These let you control temperature by dialing voltage from 0 to your maximum line voltage. There are no electronics that can go flaky. These show up on eBay at reasonable prices. Mine is a beat-up 10 amp unit that looks like it came through some tough times but works perfectly.

resoman
12-05-2015, 06:26 AM
I have heard that those controllers are for shit. the blankets work but I wouldn't trust the temp control.

You are right about the controllers!! Not good to say the least but I have two of the blankets and like them well enough, they do the job.

Farp
12-10-2015, 01:46 PM
Well, my first neck is sanded to 400 grit. I got the radius on the fret board and inlayed the fret markers today. I'm up to 5 or 6 good blunders in making the neck, but have managed to conceal or correct them mostly., lol. The binding goes on the body tomorrow, Good Lord willing.

86261

sequoia
12-10-2015, 04:39 PM
Wow. Radiused fretboard and binding on your first uke. Pretty impressive. Inlayed peghead too. If this is your first, can't wait to see the second one. Nice work.

Farp
12-11-2015, 11:58 AM
Wow. Radiused fretboard and binding on your first uke. Pretty impressive. Inlayed peghead too. If this is your first, can't wait to see the second one. Nice work.

You are very kind, and I thank you. Here's another view of the neck. All the experienced luthiers here will see the big boo-boo right away. The peghead was trimmed thin, but much too far on the back side. I felt like a dope once I realized what I had done. The solution was to put in an ebony liner and follow up with curly maple stock to get back to the thickness where it was needed. The ebony was utilized to absorb any gaps, as blackened glue can cover a lot., lol.

As long as I had the increased thickness, I put in the added curve (I don't know the proper nomenclature) that is shown. As it turned out, the ebony bent well and the maple fit like a glove. It almost looks like it was planned. And I doubt there's another neck quite like it.........and I'll never make that mistake again.:) 86303

Michael Smith
12-11-2015, 01:05 PM
To each his own, but I hate having a "bump" on the end of the neck like that. I find it very uncomfortable to brace my thumb off something like that.

sequoia
12-11-2015, 06:47 PM
In art sometimes the mistake leads to something new and beautiful. Nice recovery there. I like it. But I can see the scramble you went through. You recovered well. It's all good in the end.

Farp
12-17-2015, 12:21 PM
The ebony bridge is polished, and the first coat of Tru-Oil is going on86527. It will be a through-bridge. Note, there is no finish on the bridge--it is just polished. The Tru-Oil is going on the neck and body.

little timber
12-17-2015, 12:53 PM
that looks amazing! what was your method for polishing it up so nicely?

Farp
12-17-2015, 01:07 PM
Thanks, Little Timber. It was sanded to 400-grit and then polished on a buffing wheel with dry polishing compound. The black horn nut and saddle were done the same way, and they both have a glass-like surface. The saddle in the photo doesn't show the polished sides, just the top; and I still need to shape the top.