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jaunedeau
03-12-2017, 05:56 AM
Hi,

After a first uncompleted attempt, I want to make ukulele again. Also I want to make a 9 days long event with some friends when we should all build our own ukulele at my workshop (wich is not complet yet, but already have jointer planer, bandsaw, sander, chisel, drill press, japanese saws... I'll still need good rasps and a few other things, but I'll buy them).*

Now, the question for which I (currently) need help is : which plans should we use ? Christophe grellier provides apparently precise plans of old martin sopranos and this is definitively an option. Maybe newer bracing are interesting ?

The most important criteria about the plan would be to have something that sounds great (or good) if you just follow the plan (that is, requiere no experience in order to adjust the bracing / thickness of the top, because we won't have any :) ). Can I hope to have something sounding as good as an opio on first try ?
Another good think would be something which does not require lot of hard to source or expensive wood. I have stock of sipo, so by just buying ebony I could make the martin soprano, which is nice (without the inlays / binding, which are out of the scope of this event)

I think I'll go for soprano (funnyer for people who just want to biuld an instrument and my never rally learn to play it), but if you have good reason to go other way for this event, let me know. I'd be happy to listen to any advice about how to run it.

Jaunedeau.

* : if what you are thinking of it that I first should take some experience before I attempt this : I do too, and this is precisely what I'm trying to fight :)

** : Target price for the ukulele is 100€ :
-60€ of sapele or sipo will be more than enough for 5 ukulele (10€/uke), <-- edit : 2€ per uke if I pay sipo 1629€/m3 !
-10€ of ebony, pau ferro or bubinga for fingerboard and saddle/nut.
-3€ for fret wire
-20€ - 40€ for tuners
-10€ for sanding paper, lacker, glue, ...

So I still have some budget left to buy a few fancy things (MOP dots, head plate ?), but do not want to add too much work (no binding)

UkulelesRcooL
03-12-2017, 07:27 AM
I spent a week with my Father-in-Law building a Martin style soprano. He was showing me how to build.. It was fast and easy.(probably due to him doing most of the work).. Low budget.. Using Honduran Mahogany that he had from his Father... the wood was over 60 yrs old... so he didnt lay any money out on it except for having it resawn.. the Instrument was done all but the spraying on of lacquer at the end of the week. The instrument is LOUD..... and plays very well.. He sent it home with me to finish and set up.
Sounds to me like you have a good idea.. You both will figure out alot working together on the projects. Not to mention the fun factor..

jaunedeau
03-12-2017, 07:35 AM
Do you know approximatively how many horus a day you worked on it ? Was it from sunrise to sunset, or more something you did 3-4 hours a days during hollidays while still spending time with your family ?
Do you include the time to build the tools and gigs (side bender, mold, fret sloter), or did you your father-in-law hade them already ?

Thank you,
Jaunedeau.

UkulelesRcooL
03-12-2017, 09:39 AM
Do you know approximatively how many horus a day you worked on it ? Was it from sunrise to sunset, or more something you did 3-4 hours a days during hollidays while still spending time with your family ?
Do you include the time to build the tools and gigs (side bender, mold, fret sloter), or did you your father-in-law hade them already ?

Thank you,
Jaunedeau.

Jaunedeau,

We spent 8 to 10 hrs a day.. Sometimes more.... depending if we took off somewhere for lunch or dinner.. We cut out and shaped the neck.. used a dovetail to mount it to the body the back of the body had a 12 degree radius... the top was bound.. head stock was laminated with maple and a star was inlaid. He did an end graft. Ill take some pictures of it and post so you can see it..
He was fighting an illness at the time so it depended on how he did that day.. He was amazing though for what he was going through...
He already had the jigs and molds made... So it doesnt include making the jigs and all.. You can tailor it to your schedule. If you need to make jigs and such it will take a little longer...
I spent last year working on a tenor with a friend... every sunday... about 6 to 8 hrs.... for close to 8 mnths... We worked out little problems we had.. fixed screw ups... had to go back to the drawing board a couple of times... People here helped with questions... It works better if you can stay flexible with your time and not make it too constrained with an ultimate deadline..
It will get finished when it gets finished.. If you need to stop and take a break be flexible so you can do that... if you need to spend time with your family.. Do it.. but I think your plan would be the simplest... It doesnt sound like your going to get too fancy... and simple is always good..

jaunedeau
03-12-2017, 09:48 AM
Otoh, I will not have 1 but 4-5 friends at home. So will will need to be 5 people working, and of course to build 5 ukes :)
We will save a lot of time (setting the tools only once), but also lost a lot (waiting for tools to be available for next uke)
We hopefully will have sorted all problems that are not tied to working together (I'll try to have a friend come one one week and we will build one together to make sure we understand every operation and have all the tool we need). But it still might be a bit hard to achieve what we hope !

UkulelesRcooL
03-12-2017, 10:00 AM
Jaunedeau,,
I wish you all the luck in the world on your projects!!
Hope you have a great time with your friends.. Stay flexible and it will be alot of fun..!

lauburu
03-12-2017, 10:17 AM
Two suggestions:
1. Build a concert sized uke. Sopranos are harder to build due to tighter curves, ...
2. Plan each day carefully so that gluing is done at the end of a day, leaving ample time to dry overnight
Please keep us in the loop. It's a great idea and it'd be good to share your learnings
Miguel

jaunedeau
03-12-2017, 10:33 AM
Mmm, gluing during the night might be a good idea, but then I'll need plenty of molds and plenty of clamps (which is possible : molds are easy to duplicate anyway)

IIRC, the curve of the soprano wasn't a real problem (I used a 50mm aluminium and a $10 heat gun)

One thing I don't know how to do in batch is the curving of the bottom. The diameterfrom tailblock to headblock is about 2500mm (8 foots), and the radiuce of the top bracing seems to be 2500 and 1500mm according to the plan I have. making 5 radiused dish would take long time (when 4 of them will only be used once). I think I remember seeing some technic when you first glue the back on radiused bracing, then glue the back on the side, both time using an heavy bag filled with sand to wrap the back on the bracing / sides.

UkulelesRcooL
03-12-2017, 12:00 PM
Here are some pics of the Uke my Father-in-Law and I built... Martin plans.. pretty simple.. the binding and the star in the headstock was more than my skill set at the time would
allow so He did that to show me how..
9845998460984619846298463

Pete Howlett
03-12-2017, 12:59 PM
As someone who runs regular courses and is developing a full written curriculum for beginner ukulele making, I have to say that building a soprano is the very last thing I would recommend - the clue to why is: there is no soprano in the Collings range... this is because it is the hardest build to execute. Few builders offer this size and style because Martin do it so well and only a genius like Ken Timms or McLaughlin in California can execute it. Grerllier's plans are superb and super accurate - I really rate this fellow. My recommendation would be to build a tenor and enjoy it. My son-in-law has a soprano he built with me as a Christmas present from my daughter - my one and only soprano student build...

jaunedeau
03-12-2017, 01:08 PM
Do you have some recommendation for some tenor plan I should have a look at tpossibly one that can be build from wood that is easy to source in europe) ?

I know that when I bought the hana lima book, it came with plans for both a tenor and a concert ukulele, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to find it :/

From your experience, do you think it would be easy for 5 people to build 5 ukulele in one week helping each-other (two of them will have first built one to test everything and have the jigs made), or do you think there is a high probability that we can not finish in time ?

Thanks you,
Fabien.

Mutantmoose
03-12-2017, 01:58 PM
One consideration for building at my house is to make sure that I have umbrella insurance on my house. If there is an accident, and if there is a lawsuit, I want to make sure that my family and our possessions aren't at stake. I would suggest checking with your homeowner's insurance to see how much a policy is - they are pretty cheap, and it's nice to know that, if something dreadful happens, you are covered.

Pete Howlett
03-12-2017, 03:17 PM
Two maximum as far as I am concerned. I've done larger groups but it is a struggle to keep everyone on task.

jaunedeau
03-12-2017, 09:09 PM
This will be part of the experiment (the attendees will mostly from a community of software developpers who think we need less hierarchy and let people do their own jobs, we will try it in a domain where we have few experience and we are actually 'producing')

printer2
03-13-2017, 02:09 PM
When do you want to do this. I have been mulling over making a small guitar over a weekend with minimal tooling to show that you don't need a lot of fancy equipment. Something in line with the 2"x4" build. While I do not expect a long lasting instrument given the wood, it is more the method I was hoping to highlight.

jaunedeau
03-16-2017, 09:25 PM
I plan this for the 3rd week of june (celebrating my 40th year !)

I've read all your advice several time and adapted lot of things in this project.

Now, what I need is to find a suitable plan.I now I bought the hana lima book which came with a plan 10 years ago, I still need to find where I stored it. Any other recommendation ?

Thank you,
jaunedeau

Michael Smith
03-17-2017, 07:19 AM
One consideration for building at my house is to make sure that I have umbrella insurance on my house. If there is an accident, and if there is a lawsuit, I want to make sure that my family and our possessions aren't at stake. I would suggest checking with your homeowner's insurance to see how much a policy is - they are pretty cheap, and it's nice to know that, if something dreadful happens, you are covered.

That won't do the trick around these parts. If you are charging money you have entered the commercial realm and an umbrella policy won't cover.

RPA_Ukuleles
03-17-2017, 12:35 PM
I have a laser template set for vintage Martin soprano. Includes bending form, building form, and fretboard template. PM me if you are interested in that.

98607

Rrgramps
03-17-2017, 01:00 PM
Stewart MacDonald has kits, plans, and instructions for ukuleles.

I'd post a link, but it may be against UU policy. Just look it up...
Tenor Ukulele Kit Instructions
Downloadable assembly instructions and body template for the Tenor Ukulele Kit.

SM stuff may be further up this thread; I just didn't see it.

UkulelesRcooL
03-19-2017, 06:03 PM
I plan this for the 3rd week of june (celebrating my 40th year !)

I've read all your advice several time and adapted lot of things in this project.

Now, what I need is to find a suitable plan.I now I bought the hana lima book which came with a plan 10 years ago, I still need to find where I stored it. Any other recommendation ?

Thank you,
jaunedeau

LMII has a nice variety of plans.. I found a nice concert plan there..some of the plans have two variations of neck attachment.. dove tail or spline I believe... Im sure you could adjust to do it anyway you like.. bolt on.. whatever...

jaunedeau
03-19-2017, 09:26 PM
Thank you UkulelesRcool,

Do you have samples of the ukulele if you made it ? I'm still looking for "trustable" plans (I mean : plans that I can 'just follow' and get something that would sound better than a $200 plywood ukulele, maybe with a little help from the forum on the first build). I've found samples only from hana lima's plans and the recording was'nt good enough to appreciate.

I'm considering another option : to accept that the ukuleles won't sound that good anyway and that it won't be a big problem, because we will have a fun week and great memories and learn lot of things about working together. Then I might go for the soprano and use local wood and not so expensive tuners. The cost would go down to less than 50€ per Uke and we if they sound like $50 ukes... we would like tem anyway.
But of course, it's only a backup solution.

printer2
03-20-2017, 05:18 AM
I still have to build myself a uke but I would guess any plan would work just as well as the other. The thing that may differentiate the sound of a good one from a great one is the thickness of the top and the braces. Until you have made a few you would have to get lucky in knowing where the line is between great sound and longevity of the instrument. Because of the variability in wood this point varies also and plans can only give an average dimension for the parts. That said the maker of the plans probably would have wanted to draw up something that would at least sound decent. I say go the $50 rout and learn the making of an instrument. With the number of them you will be making you will get some sounding better than others, something for you all to debate about. Just have a good time.

I know I said I wanted to make a photo essay on building with limited tooling, changed my mind and wanted to see how far I could get in a weekend. Saturday was not all that productive as I had to do a lot of running around and all I got done was to resaw the wood and sand it down. Sunday I glued the top and back together, braced them and bent the sides. I have not built anything for a while and I spent too much time running around looking for stuff. I expected to have the sides mounted to the body but given the state of my shop right now not too bad. About the size of a baritone uke, the wood for the neck is a little short for what I wanted to do so I can see a uke in its future.

http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/pp142/printer2_photo/Guitar%20builds/2017/IMG_5554_zpsir52zqha.jpg

jaunedeau
03-20-2017, 01:17 PM
Looks nice :) What wood is it ? Ash ?

Making 5 ukes at onces and being able to listen to the 5 of them will certainly help me understand. What should I try to evaluate / note when I build them ? Of course I will compare stifness of the top. I've seen a video about voicing guitar tops where the luthier made the table produce a G#, then scaloped / sanded the bracing util he reached G. Is there something like this I should try with the Martin Soprano plans (or the Hana Lima tenor if I can find them in time ?)

About building 5 ukes in a week : you are probably right, I'll need to make a test run previous week and have all the tools properly set and every step clear in mind if we want any success.

Jaunedeau.

printer2
03-20-2017, 06:12 PM
Pine. No really. Three to four grain lines per inch, almost no late wood. Must have grown like a weed. Not really sure what it will sound like but had to give it a try. Sort of a test run also for when I make one out of hardwood. Pretty sure they will sound different. The thing to remember is that it is easy to take away wood but harder to put it back. Especially on the braces. Sometimes the instrument needs to be played a few days before it starts sounding good. Yeah, keep not about the difference in stiffness and the thickness of the tops if you have a caliper. If anyone has a gram food scale you could measure the volume of wood and get the density of each top and back. Then see which sounds better. I would go with the tenor if you could. I think the belief that the smaller instruments are harder to get right has some merit.

UkulelesRcooL
03-22-2017, 03:30 PM
Thank you UkulelesRcool,

Do you have samples of the ukulele if you made it ? I'm still looking for "trustable" plans (I mean : plans that I can 'just follow' and get something that would sound better than a $200 plywood ukulele, maybe with a little help from the forum on the first build). I've found samples only from hana lima's plans and the recording was'nt good enough to appreciate.


I made a concert Myrtlewood using the LMII plans.. with some tweaks that lean more toward the martin style..
I used mahogany for the neck with a dovetail connection to the body. Bloodwood fretboard and bridge with an ebony headstock lamination. Friction tuners., ebony bridge pins with abalone dots.
Abalone rosette with black white purfling. abalone position markers and the tiny side dots
Tortoise shell binding top and back.
I dont have any sound clips.. Ive tryed to record using the windows program and it sucks so Id have to find something that is alot better...
The Uke itself has really good sustain... But.. I over braced it and its alot quiter than I had hoped for..
I posted about it when I first noticed how quiet it was, I was a bit disappointed but Im over that now.... especially with Myrtlewood.
I tryed high tension strings as one person suggested and it helped alot... also its opened up alot from when I first strung it up but its still a bit subdued... Live and learn I guess... The plans gave option for 3 fan braces and I should have just done the 2... My mistake... wont happen again... I love the uke though... it turned out really pretty with the Myrtlewood... Dont have any current pics... Ill get out my camera and take a few...