View Full Version : Tenor Cigar Box Ukulele

07-23-2017, 03:04 AM
I wanted to build a quick tenor and picked out some oak I cut from a log for it. A spruce neck, then I decided I was going to do an arch top, then thought I might as well use a hardwood for the neck. In the end I went completely away from the idea that I wanted to make a uke in the least amount of time. So turned 180 degrees and thought the minimum effort would be a cigar box body, spruce neck attached, well you'll see. So here it is.

Had a 2"x3" stud with straight grain and reasonably quartered glued together for a project like this. Some wood for the top I resawed at some point and a 'kit' of parts I bought of tuners, nut and saddle and a bridge.


I put my square on one side of the tops and run a router across the edge to true it up to glue on the other side. I put the other side to be milled underneath the far side of the router so the cut is at 90 degrees.


Glueing the top together along with the 'linings' for the top.


Thought over the bracing, what do you use in a rectangular box, ladder, fan or X bracing? I decided to go X as the whole top has a chance to get involved.


07-23-2017, 03:42 AM
Roughed out the neck.


Walnut for the fretboard and a little more done on the neck.


Now how was I going to attach the neck? Top glued on , glued the bridge on before doing the top.


I measured the scale length, 17.12", close enough. A little narrow on the fretboard at the heel but still playable. Tuner holes in and lining up to glue on the neck.


07-23-2017, 03:48 AM
A couple of coats of poly on the neck and back. The cigar box was not quite square and I had to put a wedge in at the neck joint. Then for a less than subtle neck attachment, a recessed hole and a screw through the neck and into the neck block. Neck resets will be a piece of cake. Thought of putting in a plug, maybe if I feel energetic.


07-25-2017, 12:54 PM
Brought it to work and had a number of guys play it. Used four strings from a classical set, sounded pretty good.


07-25-2017, 11:38 PM
This looks great! I love seeing build-logs with photos.

I have not built anything yet from scratch myself, but I found this thread informative and educational.

Thanks for sharing your project! :)

07-26-2017, 07:31 AM
Funnnnn! That looked like you built it pretty fast too.

07-26-2017, 02:12 PM
Done in a week. I have my right hand in a brace and I am not suppose to do anything with it. That is almost impossible so I settled on doing very little with it. It was a little stressful carving the neck but I had my left hand do most of the work. I like the idea of the screw on the outside holding on the neck. A neck reset with a shim with take maybe a minute or two. Now I want to make a little six string.

08-01-2017, 12:51 PM
So much fun building this one that I decided to do a six string but with a real body. Used some oak that I milled from the neighbor's tree and another 2"x3" for the neck.


Joined the back, bent the sides, gluing on the front and rear blocks, keeping them parallel by using a 2"x2".


The sides glued, the back braced and trimmed. Think it might look pretty cool when finished.


08-01-2017, 03:02 PM
Picture of the braces. Not knowing what I am doing I thought it prudent to ask, do these look ok?


08-01-2017, 06:33 PM
Looks ok but you might want to run some linings along the sides to give you something more to glue to. Just simple strips of wood work fine. No need to make fancy kerfed linings unless you plan on doing bindings.

08-02-2017, 01:56 AM
The linings are my next step. No bindings, I took a little extra time making sure I got a good fit between the sides and back so I wouldn't need to do bindings.

08-04-2017, 11:02 AM
This one fresh out of the camera.


08-04-2017, 01:38 PM
I'll admit it, I got a little nervous when I looked up other ukulele bracing. The braces looked a little more robust than mine, on top of that I have two more strings. Looks more like a classical guitar pattern now, I think I will close her up before I second guess myself again.


08-04-2017, 03:17 PM
Top glued on. Nice little box, hope the bridge does not muck up the response too much. Tapping the top and back gives a reasonable resonance given the size of box.


08-05-2017, 05:45 PM
Looking good so far. Hard to tell, but the top looks a little thick. What was your final measurement? Also looks like a "terrified" spruce top?

08-06-2017, 02:44 PM
A little over 0.100, I plan to sand it down some yet before finishing, not sure how much yet. I'll tap it as I go and hopefully I'll stop before I go too far. Mind you at that point adding a bridge should stiffen things up again.

Yes I terrified it. Part of the reason it is fairly thick right now, I find if a top spends much time around my bench it does collect a number of blemishes. Not a big deal as this one is meant for me and I am more concerned with what a tool can do than what it looks like. That being said I am a little annoyed that I have a small gap between the sides where they butt up at the tail block. It seemed smaller before I sanded the sides smooth. I really did want to keep this build as basic as possible without any embellishments. I have had luck before in getting the sides to line up without needing an end treatment. We'll see how much it bugs me and what I will do about it.

Glad to have some comments come in. I am more versed with building a guitar and even with that I have a lot to learn.

08-06-2017, 05:36 PM
I find if a top spends much time around my bench it does collect a number of blemishes.

I hear you on that one! Good to leave a little extra to take out those nasty dings that scratch and mar your top. And those terrified spruce tops are fragile in the extreme... My worst horror story is that after fretting a fingerboard, one of those little tiny pieces of sharp metal bits somehow got underneath a top I was sanding. It was very small, but oh the damage it can do. It makes me wince just to think about it.

08-07-2017, 02:47 AM
My biggest problem is I only use the last six inches of my bench and push all the junk out of the way if I need more. I need to organize my stuff, I promise after this build. Just for laughs, a picture of the neck starting to take shape.


08-07-2017, 11:09 AM
Just a couple more in process shots. Darn it is hard to come up with a good looking head shape that someone else hasn't used yet.


A little cleaning up and then time to slap on some finish.