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View Full Version : Leeward Lounge Ukes, back to the drawing board



finkdaddy
08-19-2017, 12:54 PM
So, after a long hiatus, I'm jumping with both feet back into uke building once again. Up to this point, my ukes have been loosely based on the Hana Lima Ia plans. But this time around I want to do something more unique and special, at least compared to what I've done so far. So I am literally going back to the drawing board to create my own set of plans. I want to create a proprietary Leeward Lounge design and spend the time to make all of the necessary jigs and templates to make it repeatable.

The body on this uke will be much wider than my previous ones, but will be substantially thinner; similar to the Kala thin bodied travel uke, but not quite that thin. I'm going to make the whole body out of solid myrtle wood with an ebony bridge and fretboard. Around the body, neck, and headstock will be a binding made of brass! I'm even going to make the saddle and nut out of solid brass as well. It's also going to try a zero-fret with a radiused fretboard.

It's supposed to look stylized, and the details I will be adding should give it an art deco look.

I will continue to post progress pics on this. I'm very excited to be building again, and I'm thrilled to be back on this forum!

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Jim Hanks
08-19-2017, 02:23 PM
Sounds interesting. Brass binding huh? I don't think I've ever heard of that. Not sure about the brass nut and saddle idea though - would make tweaks quite a bit harder. The rest sounds good. Looking forward to how the design progresses.

finkdaddy
08-19-2017, 02:35 PM
Thanks, Jim!

Yeah, I'm prepared to take a lot of guff for the idea. I'm just going to try it out and see how it looks and sounds. If it doesn't work out the way I'd like, it would certainly be easy enough to change it to something more conventional.

I thought of the idea one day because I'm an engineer at a company that makes tools, and I found a little piece of brass in the maintenance room one day that I thought was the perfect size for a binding. It turned out to be way too small, but we have a metal distributor just a short ways away that has the perfect flat-stock for it. I just figured I'd give it a try!

M3Ukulele
08-19-2017, 02:50 PM
Will you design, which looks pretty cool with bigger lower bout, fit in a tenor HSC. On thing that is important to me is that any tenor I buy has to fit a tenor HSC.

Kekani
08-19-2017, 02:53 PM
Brass saddles can be found on Tiples.

Horrendous intonation past the 4th, which is is why I compensated the ones I made for Ramon Camarillo and Samson Sang.

Chopped Liver
08-19-2017, 03:10 PM
Sounds unique! Looking forward to the process!

finkdaddy
08-20-2017, 02:25 AM
Brass saddles can be found on Tiples.

Horrendous intonation past the 4th, which is is why I compensated the ones I made for Ramon Camarillo and Samson Sang.

Kehani, are you saying that those instruments have horrendous intonation because if the way they are built, or because of the brass saddles?

finkdaddy
08-20-2017, 02:35 AM
Will you design, which looks pretty cool with bigger lower bout, fit in a tenor HSC. On thing that is important to me is that any tenor I buy has to fit a tenor HSC.

M3Ukelele, you just totally ruined my day. :( I worked for days on that design and it never even occurred to me to check my HSC dimensions! Ugh. This design would be way to wide to fit in my Oscar Schmitt case. It probably wouldn't even fit in a baritone case. Oh well. As they say, back to the drawing board!

Edit: Ok, I just did all kinds of measuring. If I bring down the width by just a half inch on both sides, it should fit into a tenor case. My only concern is the roundness of the lower bout. It basically moves the whole shape forward in the case and I'm worried that it will interfere with the shape of the case. If I reduce the radius of the lower bout, instead of just moving it in by a half inch, it may eliminate both problems. I'll let you know once I redraw everything. Thank you so much for thinking of this before I got down to actually cutting wood!

Kekani
08-20-2017, 09:24 AM
Kehani, are you saying that those instruments have horrendous intonation because if the way they are built, or because of the brass saddles?
The Tiples I've seen have thin saddles, including the brass. Not so good for compensating.
I used my "normal" ukulele saddle on the Tiples, 1/8", and it works better for me.

I mention it because if a brass saddle were used, I think it'll have a better chance on an ukulele, than a Tiple. As mentioned, adjustments would need effort, but if you machined a nut, that would be interesting.

Doc_J
08-20-2017, 11:58 AM
M3Ukelele, you just totally ruined my day. :( I worked for days on that design and it never even occurred to me to check my HSC dimensions! Ugh. This design would be way to wide to fit in my Oscar Schmitt case. It probably wouldn't even fit in a baritone case. Oh well. As they say, back to the drawing board!

Edit: Ok, I just did all kinds of measuring. If I bring down the width by just a half inch on both sides, it should fit into a tenor case. My only concern is the roundness of the lower bout. It basically moves the whole shape forward in the case and I'm worried that it will interfere with the shape of the case. If I reduce the radius of the lower bout, instead of just moving it in by a half inch, it may eliminate both problems. I'll let you know once I redraw everything. Thank you so much for thinking of this before I got down to actually cutting wood!

Fred, glad to see you building again.

Larger width tenors like a Moodyville use a baritone case. Or like JazzBoxUkes you could build your own case.

One more thing, brass frets will tarnish & discolor and don't look that nice to me when discolored. Maybe go with EVO-Gold frets if you want a good looking 'yellow' metal fret.

finkdaddy
08-20-2017, 12:39 PM
Fred, glad to see you building again.

Larger width tenors like a Moodyville use a baritone case. Or like JazzBoxUkes you could build your own case.

One more thing, brass frets will tarnish & discolor and don't look that nice to me when discolored. Maybe go with EVO-Gold frets if you want a good looking 'yellow' metal fret.

Thanks, Doc J! Yeah I wasn't planning on doing brass frets at all. I did look at the EVO-Gold frets and may go with that. If not, the classic nickel ones will do. I will look into the dimensions of the Moodyville ukes. Thanks for the heads up!

EDIT: Actually, Doc J, it turns out that my design would easily fit inside of a baritone HSC! This poses the question, should I keep my original design, or do I size it down for a tenor HSC? Would you be willing to buy a high-end tenor uke that needed a baritone sized case? (I'm not asking you to buy it. It's just a hypothetical! Ha!)

Jim Hanks
08-20-2017, 02:29 PM
I don't see why the case would be an issue. As long as there is a case that works for those that want a HSC, what's the problem?

Kekani
08-20-2017, 03:01 PM
Making an ukulele fit a case? Seems like cart before the horse to me.

finkdaddy
08-20-2017, 03:13 PM
Making an ukulele fit a case? Seems like cart before the horse to me.

Yeah, I've already decided to go with my original plan, regardless of the case issue. I was just thinking that I would really like to sell a few of these, so I wanted to make something that pleased everyone. However, upon further consideration, I decided that my original, large body idea would stand me apart from the typical builds.

Thanks for all of the input!

M3Ukulele
08-20-2017, 05:09 PM
Fink daddy,
I have a Moodyville. Doc is correct it fits a baritone hard shell case. Mine came with a canvas hard foam case, which got smacked during a shipping. I also find that the foam HSC don't hold the humidity inthe case as well as a plywood HSC. I purchased a Musicians Friend baritone case it it works fine but....it big. I suggested to Shelly at Moodyville that she might get a Chinese maker to build a case to fit. Or you could approach Andrew at HMS to make you a custom case. Either way, if you build the bigger body tenor and are happy with the sound..... they will come if you build it. Good luck with your re design. I like different thing so will watch to see what you do. If I could get a baritone case that was not as long in length then perhaps I could take my Moodyville with me on plane trips. It's a great player. I've never had problems traveling with a standard tenor HSC but could see resistance to a bigger baritone case. Airlines are getting picky these day.

DownUpDave
08-21-2017, 02:27 AM
Making an ukulele fit a case? Seems like cart before the horse to me.

I completely agree. Luis of LfdM designed and builds baritones with a larger body than normal and it does not fit a standard baritone case. The solution was to contact Americase with his dimensions and have them build a custom case for it. He orders them in 4 - 6 at a time for best pricing. Yes they are still expensive but he just charges his cost, includes them with the instrument and the cost is built into the total price quoted. It is a great way to insure the instrument is protected by a properly fitting case.

finkdaddy
08-21-2017, 02:49 AM
I completely agree. Luis of LfdM designed and builds baritones with a larger body than normal and it does not fit a standard baritone case. The solution was to contact Americase with his dimensions and have them build a custom case for it. He orders them in 4 - 6 at a time for best pricing. Yes they are still expensive but he just charges his cost, includes them with the instrument and the cost is built into the total price quoted. It is a great way to insure the instrument is protected by a properly fitting case.

This is a great idea and is something I will definitely look at! And then I could get my logo printed on the case and everything. Exciting! :D

finkdaddy
08-21-2017, 01:24 PM
I spent some of my morning sourcing and pricing materials and tools and putting together a list of what I need and/or want. It's amazing to me that anyone manages to sell any hand built ukes at all when you consider how much it costs to build one!

Since coming home from my day job, I've managed to work on my prints as well. There is so much that still needs to be done, and I'm sure that as I finally get into my actual build process, that most of what I'm doing will change. But it sure is fun to do!

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M3Ukulele
08-21-2017, 06:32 PM
Keep UU posted. I like the looks and would like to see one when made. The bigger lower bout really gives a fuller sound judging from mt experience with my Moodyville. Custom case idea is a good one also. Jake uses a case that isn't traditional shape and he seems to travel everywhere with it. Looking forward to more.

Sven
08-21-2017, 07:15 PM
I like the design, very curious about the brass binding. How will you glue it? And that end block looks a bit massive. I think you could use some half inch baltic plywood so it doesn't stick into the soundboard as far.

finkdaddy
08-22-2017, 06:44 AM
I like the design, very curious about the brass binding. How will you glue it? And that end block looks a bit massive. I think you could use some half inch baltic plywood so it doesn't stick into the soundboard as far.

From what I've read on a pen makers forum, Titebond CA glue works well if you rough up the gluing surface a bit. I will test it out first, and if it doesn't work I'll try some type of slow setting epoxy. As for the end block, you are probably right, now that I've stared at it for a while. I got the dimensions for it from the Hana Lima Ia plans, which I've made dozens of. Should I worry about soundboard deflection if the end block isn't as wide?

Sven
08-22-2017, 07:21 AM
I have used large end blocks, but noticed on a spruce soundboard that it telegraphed as a flat spot when the rest was domed. So I started slanting the top of the block so the contact area was as wide as the lining strip. Then I started using thinner blocks so the entire block is now as deep as my lining. Width I keep at around 35 mm, would that be 1 1/2 inch..?

finkdaddy
08-22-2017, 07:37 AM
I have used large end blocks, but noticed on a spruce soundboard that it telegraphed as a flat spot when the rest was domed. So I started slanting the top of the block so the contact area was as wide as the lining strip. Then I started using thinner blocks so the entire block is now as deep as my lining. Width I keep at around 35 mm, would that be 1 1/2 inch..?

Great, Sven. Thanks for the advice! I was planning a flat, hardwood top but having a domed bottom. Either way, your same advice applies. I really appreciate it. :)

finkdaddy
08-27-2017, 08:33 AM
I've been working a lot on my new design. I'm going to try a zero-fret on this one. It took a while for me to wrap my mind around the way it works, but I think I have it all worked out on paper now. Now I have to work out my neck geometry and profile. I'm very excited to get this build going!
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sequoia
08-27-2017, 07:20 PM
Time to put the pencil down and start putting saws to wood and make some saw dust. Good luck!

Sven
08-27-2017, 08:37 PM
I think it looks very exciting and elegant. One question though, are you sure the C- and E-strings won't hit the tuners of the G and A? I can't tell on the screen.

Sven

finkdaddy
08-28-2017, 12:27 AM
I think it looks very exciting and elegant. One question though, are you sure the C- and E-strings won't hit the tuners of the G and A? I can't tell on the screen.

Sven

I have thought of that. It will be pretty close. When the tuners get in I will measure them before I cut anything for the headstock. Since the posts aren't as wide as the holes for the machines, I think I will be ok. If not, I will bump out that angle by the nut by about 5 degrees or so and that should give me some more space.

Thanks for the input, guys!

finkdaddy
09-10-2017, 08:54 AM
So, while I'm waiting around for raw materials to arrive, I have been making all new jigs, and templates to accommodate my new design.

One of the scariest things I've done is to make a new bending form and alter the shape of my Waldron side bending machine. My upper bout is so narrow that the machine as it came didn't work for my design, so I had to disassemble it, cut nearly an inch off the front of it, and reassemble it. It worked fine, but since that side of the machine is so much shorter, the springs didn't work the way they were designed to, so I had to pull that side in tighter with some twine while the machine did it's magic.

The other alteration I had to make on it was to make the waist shaping part of it much narrower because the waist on my design is so narrow. That was no fun at all! The metal that is used on it is way thicker than I had imagined, so it was pretty tricky to bend the steel back into place and get it all screwed back together.

I was scared to make any changes to the bender, because I was afraid of messing it up and it wasn't exactly cheap! But when it was all apart I traced all of the pieces onto large sheets of paper and stored them away just in case I had to make new parts. Fortunately, it all worked out ok.

I've got this one solved, so it's on to the next thing!

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ps, I have no idea why that pic is sideways.

sequoia
09-10-2017, 06:00 PM
I would love a Waldron bender but can't afford one so I made a primitive bender that works ok. Made out of scrap around the shop which keeps costs down to a couple bucks. Design and construction self explanatory. Uses aluminium gutter material as heat conveyor (not ideal, steel better but it was available and works ok) and a heat gun as heat source. Side plates wet down and wrapped in a aluminum foil. Tape to hold down where necessary and a big honkin clamp for the waist caul.

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finkdaddy
09-13-2017, 09:30 AM
I would love a Waldron bender but can't afford one so I made a primitive bender that works ok. Made out of scrap around the shop which keeps costs down to a couple bucks. Design and construction self explanatory. Uses aluminium gutter material as heat conveyor (not ideal, steel better but it was available and works ok) and a heat gun as heat source. Side plates wet down and wrapped in a aluminum foil. Tape to hold down where necessary and a big honkin clamp for the waist caul.

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Pretty cool! It's essentially the same thing as the Waldron bender. I don't know that I could work without a heat blanket anymore though. I rely on it too much!

Apparently my cat, Talulah, has decided to help me with my drawings. She's soooooo helpful! :rolleyes:

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spongeuke
09-13-2017, 05:51 PM
Concerning Brass frets, I've used then on a couple of projects. I liked them as they had very low crowns. Haven't noticed any discoloring of the fret board or greening of the frets. The SF Bay Area is benign and they haven't had allot of handling. If I had my druthers, I would have used bar frets like the old Martins. They are easy to set or reset the highth with out using a file. I just can't find the narrow silver nickle kind and guitar bar frets are too wide for my liking.

finkdaddy
09-18-2017, 02:28 PM
A couple of nights ago I finished up my 15' radius dish sanding jig. I used a piece of 3/4" plywood - the good stuff that has both sides hardened and coated in epoxy. Then I attached varying thicknesses of plywood that I thinned down using one of those safety-planer deals on my drill press. Then I glued and screwed everything together under a 1/8" thick piece of MDF and attached some 80 grit sand paper. I'm pretty pleased with my results!

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Just moments ago I thicknessed all of my tonewood down to a skosh over 2.5mm, and tomorrow I think I will glue my bookmatched tops and bottoms together. Once those have all dried I will scrape all of those down to something close to their final thicknesses, leaving just a tad for final sanding.

finkdaddy
09-25-2017, 03:25 PM
Ok, so I've finally stopped procrastinating and started actually cutting the expensive wood! As you see, I've glued my tops and bottoms together, bent my sides over my new side-bending form, and glued in my kerfing. Just now I glued in my sound hole patch and it's drying in one of my go-bar decks. The soundboard and back are just slightly oversized, maybe by a 1/8" or so. They will get trimmed down once I route out the binding channel.

It's been ages since I've had this much fun! I love the whole puzzle-solving aspect of building. I guess it's why I chose to be an engineer by trade.

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finkdaddy
10-01-2017, 11:37 AM
After a lot of fooling around, I finally got my top attached and the top binding put in. Overall, I'm very happy with it. Now that I have a better understanding of how the brass acts, the rest of the uke should go much more smoothly. It is still pretty rough yet. Once it is all filled and polished smooth, everything should really pop.

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Is there a way to rotate attachments?

Doc_J
10-01-2017, 12:08 PM
Very clean build. The brass binding looks great. Did you pre-bend the brass or work it into place and glue?

BTW I'd probably go with EVO Gold frets go with the brass binding.

finkdaddy
10-01-2017, 02:02 PM
Very clean build. The brass binding looks great. Did you pre-bend the brass or work it into place and glue?

BTW I'd probably go with EVO Gold frets go with the brass binding.

Thanks, Doc_J! Originally, my intent was to work it and glue it as I went, but the brass was way harder than I was imagining. So I tried to use the same form I used to bend the sides, but the brass had quite a lot of spring back. In the end, I simply bent everything by hand to get it as close as possible to the final shape, and then worked it in and held it in place until the glue dried.

And I already have the EVO Gold fretwire sitting on my bench!