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pahu
09-16-2016, 05:25 PM
The Renowned Cabinet & Furniture Technology Program has a few Luthier courses, as well as advanced furniture building.
http://www2.palomar.edu/woodworking/
I just started the Ukulele Beginning class.
For a Tenor you get your choice of top woods(Acacia,Spruce, Redwood or mahogany)
Back and sides: Maple, Highly figured Maple, Acacia, Mahogany.
Mahogany neck blank
Rosewood fretboard blank and bridge blank.
Choice of bindings(Maple or Acacia)
Purfling and kerfing
Spruce brace blanks
Headplate, end graft and heel cap (Acacia,Rosewood)
Abalone rosette.
Strings
High quality geared tuners
Corian nut & saddle.
Price for all parts ranges from $85 to $120 depending on choices.
It's a 16 week course(1 day a week all day)

pahu
09-16-2016, 05:40 PM
The first week students were assigned to Teams in order to streamline the process. Teams were tasked with breaking down raw lumber into the individual pieces needed:9429594294

I chose maple back and sides and spruce top. The Top was from a guitar set so I have extra!
First individual task was to cut slots for the frets. Using a LMI jig and thin (.023") blade
Pencil-ed a top outline to see how it fits. There's some nice figuring in this Maple.

pahu
09-16-2016, 05:51 PM
Next: cutting the neck blank into stacks for heel, and cutting the scarf joint.942979429894299

Next I will true up the scarf joint in preparation for gluing.

pahu
09-16-2016, 05:52 PM
This all seems elementary to experienced Builders, but it's my first build and new territory for me-thanks for letting me share!

Kevs-the-name
09-17-2016, 03:57 AM
Thanks for sharing your experiences.
I look forward to your building ventures!
KEV

Vespa Bob
09-17-2016, 04:00 AM
Thank you for sharing, it's always helpful to me, anyway, to see how others go about building a ukulele.

Bob

pahu
09-18-2016, 02:43 PM
Scarf joint after tru-ing with block plane. Pretty labor-intensive...how do you guys do it?94384
Heel stack glued up and ready

tenor madness
09-21-2016, 02:09 PM
I looked at the link and offering, looks interesting. Did they require you to take the prerequisite they have listed for the uke building class?

pahu
09-28-2016, 12:12 PM
I looked at the link and offering, looks interesting. Did they require you to take the prerequisite they have listed for the uke building class?

Yes, the CFT100 Class is a pre-requisite. That class deals HEAVILY with safe operation of the power tools in the Labs. I have been in the construction trades for decades, and found out I was lucky to still have all my appendages, even though I thought I knew all about power tools. Familiarity breeds contempt, I guess. Are you in the So.Cal. area?

pahu
09-28-2016, 12:16 PM
Some updates from the Class: Neck blanks were sawn and scarf joint glued up/Heel stack attached. The scarf joint is by nature a slippery slope, so carefully clamping everything in a dry run is necessary.94637
Simple jig to align everything

pahu
09-28-2016, 12:25 PM
Tops were book-matched and glued together after carefully 'candle-ing' the joint for gaps. This rope jig applies just enough pressure without over-doing it.
After wrapping the rope around, wedges are inserted to get it just tight enough(and avoiding breaking the top with the rope.)94638

pahu
09-28-2016, 12:32 PM
Rosette purflings were offered in bwb and wbw configurations. These were laminated and sliced by the Team doing this operation. Students then
inserted the strips (hot from the water soaking PVC tube) into the circle jigs and left to dry.

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A groove was then routed around the center hole94640

pahu
09-28-2016, 12:49 PM
After cleaning up the edges of the routed groove, the inner and outer purflings were cut, and the Abalone pieces dry-fitted. At '12 o'clock' the fingerboard will cover the top of rosette, so that area was not finished.94642

pahu
09-28-2016, 12:52 PM
Next, the rosette was glued in, planed/sanded flush and center hole routed out.
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Its starting to look like an Ukulele

pahu
09-28-2016, 01:11 PM
Bracing next: spruce was cut to size, radiused on the radius sanding dish and glued on the Go-Bar deck
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the brace above the soundhole was not radiused in order to keep the top flat in that area.

Braced and ready for thinning
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Thinned braces..how thin should I go?
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You might think I wasted time making the bracing so smooth when you cant see it?
I dont know about you, but I always put my finger in the hole and feel around(maybe OCD?)


Next week we'll do the same to the back-wish I had a Radius dish at home-I guess that's ANOTHER tool I 'need'

sequoia
09-28-2016, 05:39 PM
Thanks Pahu. Enjoying watching the build. I do like watching other people do the work so I don't have to. Also when somebody else is doing the work, I can't screw anything up so no pressure...

pahu
10-03-2016, 03:46 AM
A few pieces of the abalone look a little less shiny than the rest-is it possible to polish it after its in the rosette?
I either placed it upside-down, or I may have sanded too much(220) getting the purfling flush with the top.
Suggestions appreciated.

pahu
10-03-2016, 05:01 PM
Today we thickness sanded the sides to .085
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This large thickness sander is a great tool!!
marked sides from template, then
Planed bottom sides for taper/ jointed top sides
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Then off to the bender
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Laminated the headstock veneer
White/Black/Acacia(to match the Acacia binding)
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I still havent decided on shape of headstock, but I'll
probably stick with a simple one like a Martin

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pahu
10-14-2016, 06:19 AM
I changed my mind on the headstock veneer-the cut-off pieces were a nice book-match, and I used a B-W-B veneer on the Acacia.
It was trimmed to the nut with a jig on the table saw(Thanks, Terry!)
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The Maple sides were a PITA to bend-it took 3 attempts to get them 'set'
I'm pleased with the figuring and color, so it was worth it.
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I trimmed the bracing and glued the head block and tail block to the top. We're doing a bolt-on neck.
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Next week we'll use the radiused Solera to start gluing up kerfing/sides/top
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pahu
10-23-2016, 09:32 AM
Glued on the kerfing(a little proud of the sides) and sanded flush.
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Trimmed the kerfing to clear the bracing.
Cut the sides at head and tail blocks for approximate fit
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and dry fitted sides to top in the Solera.
Cut the sides to (I hope) a tight fit at head and tail blocks, and started gluing/clamping
This was an intense glue-up for a newbie, and a few extra hands were helpful
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All is well with the world as it came out of the Solera looking good.
Next week we'll flush cut the sides glue on the back and start on binding.

Rrgramps
10-23-2016, 10:11 AM
Thanks for sharing. It's so much better to jump start your building experience with some type of classes, and a guided, experienced hand to help explain and show you how to do it.

pahu
10-24-2016, 03:22 AM
The Palomar class is great, and the Instructors are all experienced Luthiers. They wont 'hold your hand', but if you pay attention, you can learn a lot from them and the experienced Teacher Assistants as well.

DownUpDave
10-25-2016, 12:09 AM
I really appreciate all the effort you have put into this post. I just wanted to say thanks very much as I have throughly enjoyed all the pictures and descriptions. I will be coming back to this to see your continuing progress, looks great so far, congratulations.

Dan Gleibitz
10-25-2016, 01:40 AM
Ditto. Keep up the good work.

Is it frustrating to only work on your uke one day a week?

pahu
11-06-2016, 12:22 PM
Ditto. Keep up the good work.

Is it frustrating to only work on your uke one day a week?

Dan, I usually end up working on it in my garage as well. (My wife sez I couldnt possibly do this for a living coz I have too many hours invested)

pahu
11-06-2016, 03:49 PM
With back bracing thinned and trimmed at ends, I'm ready (almost) to glue on the back
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The weird changes in humidity lately cause my maple back to 'lose' its arch, so I chiseled off the bracing and started over.
After trimming the kerfing where the brace ends meet, I'm getting closer to gluing on the back.
First a general clean-up of the insides(glue, pencil marks, etc) followed by a bit of sanding to pretty it up. Trial fit is good!
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Terry the TA made this jig for holding on to the body while routing, etc
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Flush cutting the top and back
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My Spruce top was not happy-even with a new/sharp router bit. No
tear-out, but lots of 'fuzz' where the fibers were not cleanly cut. It all cleaned up with some gentle sanding.

pahu
11-06-2016, 03:51 PM
A wedge shaped piece of Acacia for the 'butt graft' was traced and carefully chiseled out.
This was the original plan, but some sloppy work with the chisel tore out a bit so I enlarged the wedge and laminated some maple veneer on the edges.
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The Instructor calls these "Design Opportunities"
This is the larger wedge. I put a coat of shellac on to make sure I got rid of the sanding marks
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Next class we'll start the binding.

Dan Gleibitz
11-06-2016, 03:55 PM
Dan, I usually end up working on it in my garage as well. (My wife sez I couldnt possibly do this for a living coz I have too many hours invested)

Gotcha.

If all ukuleles were hand built by 'westerners' who demanded a price reflecting hours spent x average wage x skill level, I don't think you'd be able to buy a good one for under $2,000.
Mine took around 80 hours, so I'm lucky my motivation was not financial!

pahu
11-06-2016, 04:17 PM
Mine took around 80 hours, so I'm lucky my motivation was not financial!

I'd say you got off easy! Nice Instagram feed btw-your Uke turned out great, and you're an accomplished photographer as well.

pahu
11-06-2016, 04:29 PM
I really appreciate all the effort you have put into this post. I just wanted to say thanks very much as I have throughly enjoyed all the pictures and descriptions. I will be coming back to this to see your continuing progress, looks great so far, congratulations.

Thanks for the encouragement!

sequoia
11-06-2016, 04:43 PM
Looking good... I love the idea of using padded mailers in the vise to hold the uke. Great idea!

Dan Gleibitz
11-06-2016, 07:47 PM
That end graft looks tight! Now that you've added the maple are you going to carry it around the binding? It would look great if you can but would add a lot of difficulty (I imagine - I wouldn't dare try it).

pahu
11-10-2016, 05:28 PM
That end graft looks tight! Now that you've added the maple are you going to carry it around the binding? It would look great if you can but would add a lot of difficulty (I imagine - I wouldn't dare try it).
Yes, that's the plan with binding
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The first set cracked in the bender-I really like the burl in the grain of the Acacia, but that was a bad choice.
Off to the bender again
Routing the channel for the purfling and binding, I had some tear-out of my wedge
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So, a little sawdust and superglue and it's 'barely', noticeable
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The Instructor's demo of the binding/purfling process
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pahu
11-10-2016, 05:34 PM
The Instructors wedge with binding nicely mitered
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It's a lot of painstaking work, but is going to look great when finished.

pahu
11-10-2016, 05:56 PM
Looking good... I love the idea of using padded mailers in the vise to hold the uke. Great idea!

Thanks! I'm treating the Spruce top with kid gloves.

pahu
11-10-2016, 06:53 PM
I've been trying to decide on Headstock decoration. There is an Acacia veneer that looks nice, but it's a little plain.
This is what I came up with(Clip art-not my design)
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I gave the artwork to one of our TA's (Dan Tresko) and he Laser engraved this.
After lots of trial runs and experimentation, I"m using clear epoxy with some colorants to fill, then sand flush
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The top part is colored with ebony sawdust, and the bottom is colored with a mix of 3 colors of powdered makeup
https://www.amazon.com/Amazing-Shipping-Eyeshadow-Pigments-Cosmetic/dp/B013I1W0P0/ref=sr_1_82?ie=UTF8&qid=1478843334&sr=8-82-spons&keywords=mica+makeup&psc=1&smid=A2PBXF7TK0UOJ
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After curing for 24 hours, I sanded flush and polished with 1500 grit sandpaper.. A couple of coats of shellac really brought it to life
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In person it looks 3 dimensional..hard to photograph.

pahu
11-27-2016, 02:10 PM
OK gluing the binding and purfling was a real eye-opener-a LOT of time-comsuming/painstaking work.
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These made it a lot easier:
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They are only about $22 at Amazon and come with 4 changeable lenses. The removeable/adjustable LED light is very handy, and I was able
to actually see the miter where the binding/purfling meets.
The joint was not perfect, but now I know what's involved and can decide if it will be a part of future builds.

pahu
11-27-2016, 02:14 PM
First coat of shellac on top and back
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Its starting to look like an instrument

pahu
11-27-2016, 02:17 PM
Neck carving is the next step in the coming week's class.
A rough start:95962
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sequoia
11-27-2016, 06:12 PM
The joint was not perfect, but now I know what's involved and can decide if it will be a part of future builds.

Obviously a potential victim of SUBS (Seriel Ukulele Building Syndrome)... Yeah, that join is a tough one alright. It is possible to pull off almost perfect with dark woods. Light woods? Not so much. Fun trying though. The pros use a little scarf join which is probably the way to go. I'm primitive. I just butt join the damn thangs. Advice: Don't glue until it fits just right. Don't assume: It is what it is.

pahu
11-30-2016, 05:37 PM
Obviously a potential victim of SUBS (Seriel Ukulele Building Syndrome)... Yeah, that join is a tough one alright. It is possible to pull off almost perfect with dark woods. Light woods? Not so much. Fun trying though. The pros use a little scarf join which is probably the way to go. I'm primitive. I just butt join the damn thangs. Advice: Don't glue until it fits just right. Don't assume: It is what it is.

Some of my class-mates nailed it
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pahu
12-13-2016, 11:33 AM
It's finished! I posted some pics on this thread:
http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?124523-First-one-finished!#post1919806
Another class starts in the Spring Semester and I'm considering my wood choices for #2 !
I'll probably go with a Spruce top again, but I recently found some clear/old-growth redwood that is tempting.
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A couple of Class-mates used redwood, and found it very 'fragile" as far as dents and dings.