View Full Version : And another Tas Blackwood and a Lace Sheoak + WRC long neck soprano

Paul Henneberry
12-13-2015, 12:57 AM
Hello again
Some pics of the other ½ of this year’s batch of four. All four are the same size and specification with the only difference being the material of the sound board, back, sides and neck. This pair is Tasmanian Blackwood and Lace Sheoak with Western Red Cedar.
Style: long neck soprano
Scale: 14 ¾ 14 frets to the body
Fretboard and bridge: mulga
Rosette: ebony, boxwood and paua
Finish: Wattyl stylewood precatalysed nitrocellulose lacquer.

So, how different do they sound? Of the two Tasmanian blackwood ukes the one featured in this post sounds a bit stronger in the midrange which surprised me. The curl is extreme and the soundboard wasn’t as stiff so I didn’t expect it to sound great but it probably the pick of the four. The other TBW from the previous post sounds good but maybe a little high. Early days maybe it will change. The cherry one is a nice solid player and physically the lightest. I had previously made a normal neck cherry soprano for my daughter which is almost identical to this one. It was interesting to get her to play the long neck and the normal neck to me. Indistinguishable, so the long neck is a nice convenience but doesn’t affect the sound much, at least to my ear. The lace sheoak + WRC - wow, what a big sound. Clear and balanced but loud. You can hear every time your fingers touch or slide on a string which makes me concentrate on technique when playing it. I have made a few heavy bodied ukes with sitka soundboards and I haven’t really liked the sound, too much like a banjo – no mid or sustain. I was about to give up on softwood tops but this has made me think again.

Lace Sheoak: very few of you have probably ever seen this stuff. Sheoak is a Casuarina native to Australia. Normal sheoak in Western Australia is about as fine grained and heavy as maple. It is a gorgeous burnt umber orange with darker and extremely pronounced leopard spots. Very stable and takes a great polish. Not used as much as it could be for furniture because it can look very busy. One tree in a 1000 has this unusual grain and medullary ray pattern and is called Lace Sheoak, the cut timber looks like yellow lace on a red background. Its not a burr, the whole tree can be like it. The timber in this uke is much darker than normal. I'm not sure if this grain pattern happens in the sheoaks from the east coast of Aus. It was a big challenge to bend (meaning I broke the first set) because it was very crumbly.

I have started a hobby uke making blog with more photos and technique details at https://jarrahdalestringinstrumentcompany.wordpress.com/ for those with an interest or nothing better to do.

Paul Henneberry
12-13-2015, 01:04 AM
A few more pics. The head stock veneer on the sheoak uke (original post) is a single piece and the weirdest piece if wood I've ever seen.



12-13-2015, 01:23 AM
Paul, your work is very beautiful. Best of luck.

Jim Hanks
12-13-2015, 01:33 AM
Another great pair. Yeah, that headstock is wild. It does look very much like a burl.

Looks like you have a winning design here. If you ever decided to sell any, I'm sure there were would be a market for your work. Keep up the good work!

12-13-2015, 01:53 PM
Yes very nice looking and the wood is certainly exotic... One of the things that strikes me is your tortoiseshell binding. The stuff I've gotten (direct from China and some from LMI) has very little fire in it and ends up looking like black plastic binding. Where do you get yours?

Paul Henneberry
12-13-2015, 02:46 PM
Yes very nice looking and the wood is certainly exotic... One of the things that strikes me is your tortoiseshell binding. The stuff I've gotten (direct from China and some from LMI) has very little fire in it and ends up looking like black plastic binding. Where do you get yours?

Hi Sequoia,
l always enjoy your posts and comments.
I get it from eBay China. LMI charge a hefty premium to internationally freight it because of the hazardous goods risk which prices it out of my shopping basket. I used to get it from them before they attached this extra cost and I couldn't see much difference with the Chinese stuff when I started using it instead. And it's cheap. I'm tempted by some of the wild pearloid colours they do.I back it with white 0.010 LMI fibre which really increases the contrast. I tried a number of different acetone based glues on the last batch without much success but used cyanoacrylate this time and it was perfect. I even managed to glue a white/black strip to both edges of the celluloid and cold bent it into the rebate without any delamination at all. About my favourite step in the whole build process is scraping this stuff back. It's just an enjoyable job to me when done with a sharp cabinet scraper.

12-13-2015, 06:42 PM
Yup. LMI charges an hazardous shipping charge on this stuff because it is highly flammable. Kinda dumb, but it is what it is. The nice thing is that I live just 90 miles from LMI in Santa Rosa California. However, there are two big mountain ranges in the way and it takes me 2 hours and 40 minutes to drive and it not a fun drive. Beautiful, but can make people sick. So I pick up my "deadly" binding with no hazardous shipping fee. The product though doesn't send me. I'm sure they get it from China too and probably from the same place I've ordered before. I like the stuff and it is so much easier than wood, but it has no flame and really, what is the point?