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View Full Version : First Four Cigar Box Ukes



UkieOkie
12-21-2016, 09:00 AM
Hey guys. Below are some pics of my first four cigar box Ukes. The tone has improved with each one, but the first one looks the best I think. I experimented with wood burning the top of the latest one. It's a Christmas gift for a musician friend of mine.

96435

96436

96437

96438

Rllink
12-21-2016, 09:10 AM
Nice, I want to make a cigar box uke. Do you have any advice? Any tips or any pitfalls to avoid?

UkieOkie
12-21-2016, 09:25 AM
Nice, I want to make a cigar box uke. Do you have any advice? Any tips or any pitfalls to avoid?

Well I have been using the wood that is on thebox for top wood while I'm learning. So you kind of have to search out the best boxes for that purpose. I thin the down to what I think is appropriate and then brace accordingly. Full disclosure here, but I am basically using common sense and basic carpentry. I have never read any books or even instructions on how to do it. I have however picked up lots of great ideas from this forum.

Best advise would be to make sure to reinforce the joints of the box and try to provide plenty of neck block and bracing so the neck doesn't move on you once you crew/glue it up. I'll try to think of more stuff. Maybe some of the experienced guys will chime on the right way to go about it.

orangeena
12-21-2016, 10:07 PM
I am finishing a CBU at the moment. Usually the bottom is a thinner piece than the top, but still too thick. I used an adjustable kerfing saw I made (using a bit of broken band saw blade) to run a cut all around the bottom edge. Then I thinned down just the inside surface of the bottom panel with my homemade thickness sander, braced it and glued it back on. You'd never know it has been off. All the markings are preserved this way. I am still going to use a piezo bridge as I like the electric option, but it should play acoustically too.
Good luck.
Max

UkieOkie
12-22-2016, 03:29 AM
I am finishing a CBU at the moment. Usually the bottom is a thinner piece than the top, but still too thick. I used an adjustable kerfing saw I made (using a bit of broken band saw blade) to run a cut all around the bottom edge. Then I thinned down just the inside surface of the bottom panel with my homemade thickness sander, braced it and clued it back on. You'd never know it has been off. All the markings are preserved this way. I am still going to use a piezo bridge as I like the electric option, but it should play acoustically too.
Good luck.
Max


Thanks for sharing your method. That sounds like a good way to go about it. I just use a small sander and then go by hand with the top(bottom of the box) still attached. On my next couple I'm thinking about using some really old juniper (we call it eastern red cedar). My dad cut it and milled it himself. I have no idea how it will sound but we shall see.

jcalkin
12-22-2016, 03:46 AM
To thin the plates you could make a long router base that will sit on the box edges no matter where the router is on the inside of the box. Use a top guide bearing on a long bit. If you cut the sound hole(s) first you can see and measure how thin the top is getting, the box will retain its original dimensions, and the top graphics won't be hurt.

Titchtheclown
12-22-2016, 06:13 AM
Put a stick through the body add some strings and start playing. Cigar box guitars/ukes are supposed to be primitive instruments. And you will probably be pleasantly surprisdd by how nice they can sound without all that flaffing about. If the box makes a pleasantly lout enough sound when you stretch a string over it using a pencil as a temprary bridge then go for it.
Cigarboxnation.com has a number of free and historical plans and a uke group. I dont think i have read of anyone there recommending thinning the top.

jcalkin
12-22-2016, 10:53 AM
Put a stick through the body add some strings and start playing. Cigar box guitars/ukes are supposed to be primitive instruments. And you will probably be pleasantly surprisdd by how nice they can sound without all that flaffing about. If the box makes a pleasantly lout enough sound when you stretch a string over it using a pencil as a temprary bridge then go for it.
Cigarboxnation.com has a number of free and historical plans and a uke group. I dont think i have read of anyone there recommending thinning the top.

Sorry, Titch, can't do it. At Cigarboxnation.com their expectations are too low and the work often too crude. Recently Shane was "celebrating the sheer shittiness" of a build. I get it, but why throw away 40 years of experience when I know how much a little work can improve an instrument? Its a matter of knowing when to stop. Its still a cigar box, after all. But if it isn't fun to listen to, why bother at all?

Titchtheclown
12-22-2016, 10:43 PM
Sorry, Titch, can't do it. At Cigarboxnation.com their expectations are too low and the work often too crude. Recently Shane was "celebrating the sheer shittiness" of a build. I get it, but why throw away 40 years of experience when I know how much a little work can improve an instrument? Its a matter of knowing when to stop. Its still a cigar box, after all. But if it isn't fun to listen to, why bother at all?

Love the Shane quote. I love your dedication. May you find happiness any way you can.

Dan Gleibitz
12-23-2016, 02:26 AM
Good stuff UkieOkie. I used to view cigar box ukes as something of a novelty rather than real instruments. But I'm definitely coming around. There's some real charm to that box shape, and I suspect I'll have one on my shelf soon.

UkieOkie
12-23-2016, 03:59 AM
Good stuff UkieOkie. I used to view cigar box ukes as something of a novelty rather than real instruments. But I'm definitely coming around. There's some real charm to that box shape, and I suspect I'll have one on my shelf soon.

Thanks Dan. They sure are a lot of fun.

Rllink
12-23-2016, 04:17 AM
I think that it is interesting how some of the commercial ukulele makers are now manufacturing cigar box ukuleles. Eddy Finn is the one that comes to mind. I can see that someone my not have the skills to put together their own and may buy one from someone else who does, but a mass produced cigar box ukulele just goes against what they stand for, at least in my opinion. But I have become interested in them. I'm actually getting interested in the three string cigar box guitars. I think that one is in my future, I just have to get to it. Maybe it can be a winter project. San Juan has a lot of cigar shops, and I'm thinking that the boxes might be easy to come by if I just go looking.

orangeena
12-23-2016, 04:24 AM
The cigar shop near work in Reading keep a pile of empty boxes by the door. They ask for a 1 donation for each one you take. Bargain!

UkieOkie
12-23-2016, 04:24 AM
I think that it is interesting how some of the commercial ukulele makers are now manufacturing cigar box ukuleles. Eddy Finn is the one that comes to mind. I can see that someone my not have the skills to put together their own and may buy one from someone else who does, but a mass produced cigar box ukulele just goes against what they stand for, at least in my opinion. But I have become interested in them. I'm actually getting interested in the three string cigar box guitars. I think that one is in my future, I just have to get to it. Maybe it can be a winter project. San Juan has a lot of cigar shops, and I'm thinking that the boxes might be easy to come by if I just go looking.

Take the plunge. It's lots of fun. For my first on I ordered a neck with the fret board attached already from Mike at Mainland. He sells bridges and such too. I should say he did. I'm not sure if he still sells the parts.

Rllink
12-23-2016, 04:57 AM
Take the plunge. It's lots of fun. For my first on I ordered a neck with the fret board attached already from Mike at Mainland. He sells bridges and such too. I should say he did. I'm not sure if he still sells the parts.

I had been looking at them on the internet all summer. I'm real slow to jump on things like that. Probably why I have escaped a lot of UAS. Also I have other projects that need to get finished. But I have to say that your thread here has bumped my interest up a few notches. Yesterday I had a lot of time on my hands, so I got on line and found several sources for parts, including necks, fretboards, and bridges.