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ChuckBarnett
05-05-2017, 04:35 AM
learning... learning...

So for this first instrument I am building a tenor ukulele and for the neck I am planning to use Alaskan Yellow Cedar (body is quilted maple but maple seems heavy for a neck and the Cedar is lighter in color). I would like to put a center strip of koa from the peg head through the heel. I've done a center strip of koa up the back. The back strip is 11/32" and I'd like the strip for the neck to be half that width. My thought is to make a heel plate of maple and inlay koa into a curved shape that carries through to the neck by concave curving from the back strip width to the smaller neck width.


So, am I nuts?

If I made the heel from laminated blocks after first laminating the Cedar and Koa together, I don't see a good way to accurately line up the strip in the gluing process. (perhaps clamping them laterally as well as perpendicular to the glued surfaces so they don't slide?)

Seems like a waste of wood but would it be better to use one piece of wood from which to carve the neck?

Anybody done a heel block like that?

Bless you all!!

Sven
05-05-2017, 05:19 AM
I would build the heel up and glue it to the larger neck piece first, make the headstock scarf joint, then slice the whole assembly lengthwise and laminate in the center piece of koa. This would also strengthen the stacked heel as the pieces would all be glued to the single piece of koa.

DPO
05-05-2017, 03:34 PM
I'm with Sven on this. Laminate the neck blank from the get go with the skunk stripe in it and Bob's yer uncle.

sequoia
05-05-2017, 07:59 PM
I'm with Sven on this. Laminate the neck blank from the get go with the skunk stripe in it and Bob's yer uncle.

Yup. Easy peasy... I just wonder why on your first build you want to do this. What's wrong with just a solid one wood neck? Maybe the skunk stripe would be better on the second uke? But hey, nothing like ambition and having fun. Go for it! Send pictures!

ChuckBarnett
05-07-2017, 02:07 PM
I would build the heel up and glue it to the larger neck piece first, make the headstock scarf joint, then slice the whole assembly lengthwise and laminate in the center piece of koa. This would also strengthen the stacked heel as the pieces would all be glued to the single piece of koa.

Thank you, Sven! I like this idea!

ChuckBarnett
05-07-2017, 02:08 PM
Thanks for the confirmation, Dennis. "Skunk stripe" -is that ukulele nomenclature or Dennisese??

ChuckBarnett
05-07-2017, 02:21 PM
Yup. Easy peasy... I just wonder why on your first build you want to do this. What's wrong with just a solid one wood neck? Maybe the skunk stripe would be better on the second uke? But hey, nothing like ambition and having fun. Go for it! Send pictures!

Good question. I guess I see no reason to not try things so long as they are do-able for a novice like me. I will farm out the pearl inlay of the headstock logo per advice. But as long as I feel I understand what is involved in a step I'd like to learn by doing. Originally I was advised to make this first one using a kit but I found myself asking, "Why?" Yes this is dragging on, but I'm still moving forward and have no intention of quitting on this project. Looking back at what I've done, I am reminded that this stuff isn't "rocket surgery" as one wag puts it. It is mostly listening, asking, watching videos, thinking and practicing on junk wood.

So far, so good. :)

DPO
05-07-2017, 03:44 PM
Thanks for the confirmation, Dennis. "Skunk stripe" -is that ukulele nomenclature or Dennisese??
Lol. I think it's Amerikaneese or at least banjoeease :D

sequoia
05-07-2017, 07:16 PM
So far, so good. :)

My only observation so far is that it looks a little overbraced. I would thin down those fan braces and not tie them off to the lower transverse brace. You want to let that lower bout move and tying them off to the brace is really strong, but kills the soundboard if you ask me. Makes everything too stiff. Otherwise looks pretty darn good.

ChuckBarnett
05-08-2017, 09:03 AM
By posting those photos, I have moved away from the original title of this thread. But thank you for your suggestions. Here is a shot reflecting where I am now. I had a crack on one side of that Redwood top. I used Super Glue to hopefully fix that.

Sven
05-08-2017, 12:06 PM
Some wood is brittle stuff. I'd put a small cleat or two on that crack just to make sure.

ChuckBarnett
05-08-2017, 12:31 PM
Great idea, Sven. I will do exactly that. Any idea on dimensions, me being a newbie and all?

resoman
05-08-2017, 01:52 PM
Redwood seems to want to split just by looking at it!

jcalkin
05-09-2017, 05:33 AM
"Skunk stripe" has long been the term for the walnut filler on the back of Fender necks. They put the truss rod in from the back of the neck and need to cover it up.

Sven
05-09-2017, 11:10 AM
Great idea, Sven. I will do exactly that. Any idea on dimensions, me being a newbie and all?
I'd make square cleats from spruce, 1.5 mm thick and 12 mm sides. Feather the sides to zero, going at 45 degrees. Glue them on slanted with two corners lining up with the crack.

NB - the dimensions aren't crucial or set in stone. I just wrote them as exact figures instead of using all the caveats "around" and "about", to make it easier on both of us!

And if you do an image search on google for "cleats soundboard" you'll see lots of examples, just checked there myself.

Good luck mate / Sven

ChuckBarnett
05-10-2017, 03:31 AM
I am glad I asked! Learned a lot by your answer and by doing the search you suggested and looking at some work on crack repair. :-) I had envisioned something much much larger as a cleat. One question, should I make that out of the same Redwood as the top or should have make that out of something like spruce?

Sven
05-10-2017, 12:20 PM
Well the redwood did prove to be quite brittle :) But use that or whatever you have used for the braces, the crosswise direction will give the strength.

Briangriffinukuleles
05-13-2017, 09:39 PM
Chuck, those braces could be slimmed up considerably by shaving the sides bringing them to a narrow top. You would lose no strength, save some weight, and make them look a lot sexier. Remember-think vibration! You might also want to shape the braces to almost their final look before you glue them onto your second ukulele build. I think you would find it a lot easier to shape them before installation.

ChuckBarnett
05-14-2017, 08:30 PM
Thank you, Brian. Yes I have figured this out. :-) There is a photo attached that shows where I am with this top. Note the crack that I repaired with super glue. I plan to make and install two or three cleats to strengthen that area. :-)

ChuckBarnett
05-15-2017, 06:58 AM
I glued down the cleats over the repaired crack. Planed them quite thin - .4 mm or so. I decided not to redo that to get thicker ones. My thinking is that anything by way of support is better than nothing so they should work as they are.

sequoia
05-15-2017, 08:42 PM
It will look fine. However, I would not butt all my fan braces to the transverse brace. You want these back a ways to allow the lower bout to move. Not too late. Just shave em' down and move 'em back....

ChuckBarnett
05-16-2017, 05:58 AM
Thank you, Sequoia. I did look at a picture of your tenor with fan braces some distance off of that cross brace, and I looked at the stewmac template you mentioned in the post under the hood. Interesting that the LMI plan that I am using calls for the fan braces to be tight up against that cross brace. Is it common practice to do this one way or the other? I would go against the plan if I felt that I was on solid ground. I also see that there are three horizontal braces on the stewmac plan. The LMI plan calls for two. Don't have enough experience to know what all that means.

sequoia
05-16-2017, 08:20 PM
What you are beginning to understand is that push and pull of structural integrity versus the freedom of the instrument to move. Strong enough not to fall apart over time and yet musically active. This is why it is an art and not just an exercise in structural engineering like building furniture. It is a fine line and I think therein lies the heart of good lutherie: Structurally and fundamentally sound and yet light and responsive. It is a balancing act and it can take a life time to figure out. There are no real plans or roadmaps because wood isn't steel and it doesn't behave nor is it predictable. My advice: Build how you think it should be and then see what results. Change until it sounds right to you. Don't let anybody tell you how it should be done. Good luck! PS: I don't know anything about LMI plans, but tying off the fan bracing to the lower top brace just strikes me as icky. Sorry LMI.

ChuckBarnett
05-17-2017, 05:16 AM
Yes, I think you fingered it. My impatience is showing. :-) Somehow I have been of the persuasion that one can learn enough to do it right the first time. But that presumes there is in fact a "right".
I will turn 66 this summer. Probably should have started this about 30 years ago...
So here is what I decided to do having listened to you on the fan braces staying off of the horizontal cross brace. I think I can live with this.
Interestingly enough, if I tap this top I get an F tone with plenty of ring. But I call it "plenty of ring" because this is the only top I've ever tapped. :-) :-) I really am quite clueless.

sequoia
05-17-2017, 06:51 PM
You know that looks like it would work. I think on a first build it is really all about building the box and attaching the neck that is more important than getting the bracing just right. You can fine tune that later on build #2. On the first one just get an instrument that is gonna hold together and is relatively in-line plumb. Remember we are just building ukuleles here and not concert quality classical guitars. Then immediately start number 2 because you are gonna so not do what you did on number 1. Then start #3 because you are going to so not do what you did on #2. A thus it continues. Good luck!