View Full Version : Radius Sticks and veneer Strips for purfling and circle cutter

03-18-2016, 10:37 AM
Hello everyone I am new to the forum and to building and I have really enjoyed all of the information on the site so far.
I am seeking some advice on a few things. I want to have a go at making rosette tiles and I need some veneer strips cut to size for the purpose. The only place I have seen that sells such strips so far is LMI which is no good for me as i am based in the UK. I know most people just buy veneer sheets and cut them up themselves but I have no way to accurately cut them by had. I tried using a Ruler and Stanley knife with little success. So I just want to buy the strips.

Second thing is radius sticks. John Bogdonavich sells a 15' and 25' radius stick for marking braces. I don't have a dish so want to use the braces to arch the top and back.

I have very limited hand tools hence not having the dishes or ability to make them and i have no workshop so I am just working on a coffee table.

One other thing, has anyone successfully made a stew Mac style circle cutter by hand? I really want one as I currently use a hand made (not by me) Wooden circle cutter which is more for scoring the out line. When I chisel out the waste I am left with an uneven channel no matter how much I try to take out. I know a router plane is another option but I don't have one of those either and if I could find an affordable way id rather the Dremel style circle cutter.

Thanks everyone

Michael N.
03-18-2016, 11:17 AM
Good evening. I think we've met before.

As for your circle cutter. Don't just mark the outer and inner diameters, do a series of cuts (maybe 4 or 5) between these too, with the cutter set to the depth that you wish to go. That way the waste will come out in a series of chips, just with a very sharp chisel held bevel side down. If you want to get a truly flat channel then make a sanding block, shaped like a segment of the channel, a little smaller, perhaps an inch long. Stick 180G to it. Off you go. Before buying a router plane that's the method that I used. In fact a lot of the old time guitar makers used that method.

You can make the arch of each bar on the back exactly the same for all 3. I just mark it with a pencil and cut with a block plane. It can be quick. Normally the upper harmonic bar on the soundboard is dead flat. The one below that has a slight arch. It doesn't have to of course. Countless instruments have been made with flat soundboards and flat backs. They sound perfectly well.

03-18-2016, 12:36 PM
Miche, if you look on the Bluestem Strings website( "Rudy" on here), you'll find templates for the various radii which you can print out and use to make either a dish or stick. I used the 15' one to make a router sled to rout an mdf dish. Good luck , Mike.

03-19-2016, 03:54 AM
I can't help thinking that you will be far happier if you build within the tool limitations you currently have, then add tools as you may.

A hand veneer saw is fairly cheap, and will cut veneer without wandering as a knife will. Clamp your straight edge in place, also. A very convenient accessory is a small work table placed on your coffee table, like this one:


Though the table is barely visible, you can easily grasp how easy it is to make and how convenient it is for small work like a uke. I've made several of these and use them all the time for different operations. All use plywood tops and dowel legs. Some use Tee nuts in the tops and threaded rod set into the legs, others have shallow holes drilled in the tops with the dowel segments simply glued in place.

As Michael N. suggests, forget about arched plates for now. I'd also forget about rosettes. Bending sides, slotting fretboards, and carving necks lie ahead of you, all formidable tasks. If I stood in your shoes I'd study the techniques of cigar box builders, then get more sophisticated as I added more work space and more tools. Making and playing ANY instrument of your own right now will be more satisfying than extending the building process into an infinity of learning and fiddling about trying to make a uke comparable to the ones shown on this forum.

03-19-2016, 08:01 AM
... I know most people just buy veneer sheets and cut them up themselves but I have no way to accurately cut them by had. I tried using a Ruler and Stanley knife with little success....

Cutting thin sheets into narrow strips is a routine operation and it's actually really easy by hand. An 1/4" aluminum Xacto handle with a #11 blade and a decent straightedge is all you need. By decent I mean 1) genuinely straight, 2) at least 1" wide ( so you have room to hold it down with your fingers and 3) at least 1/16" thick.

Hold the straightedge firmly against the veneer with your off hand, pressing firmly with your finger tips. The PART YOU WANT TO KEEP should be under the straightedge, so no matter how badly your cut goes astray, it can't mar the strip you care about. Keep your fingers behind the path of the knife and absolutely behind the business edge of the straightedge or you could remove some fingertips. Draw the #11 blade along the straightedge to "score" the veneer. Make sure the blade's edge is "pointed" along the cutting path and not cutting into the straightedge or pointing outward, where it will wander. Not too deeply, this first pass is to make a sharp, very narrow indentation for the blade to follow on the next pass. Keep the handle vertical in the left-right sense and cut just with the tip.

Make successive passes. Be deliberate and focus, looking out for your safety and for the quality of the cut. If you are too forceful, the veneer will split and you really want a sharp cut. If it were me and I had a block plane, I'd then make a quick temporary shooting board and shoot the edge. You can make a shooting board out of a couple pieces of very thick card stock simply stacked on top each other, or tacked together with a bit of glue.

In college I built several instruments...a mountain dulcimer and a fiddle, and used this method to cut 1/8" thick walnut into sides and top. (I also used the feet of the breakfast bar to clamp stuff.) Why not? It takes ten or twelve passes to cut through 1/8", and pretty much uses up a blade, but it works.

I was saying, this is a routine operation. There are many occasions in woodworking where you need to cut a clean edge like this. Perhaps cutting a piece of card stock into a template. Or making a throw-away ruler or short story stick. I would always take this approach rather than trying to submit a thin piece of wood ( and my FINGERS ) to a power tool. And while I have dozens of special-purpose knives that are world-class sharp, for this operation, I always defer to an Xacto #11. They are not as sharp and precise as they were 30 years ago, so I'd suggest buying a dozen or even a hundred so there's no inhibition about pitching out that blade with the broken tip ( you can hear it snap ).

If you have a veneer saw, you can do all this same thing but you use the saw instead of a knife blade. But I'd suggest you master this simple skill. It leads to many others.

Happy stripping!

03-24-2016, 12:50 PM

buy stuff in uk from these......... they seem quite good I got few bits from them..