View Full Version : New to building ukuleles

06-09-2018, 10:15 PM
Hello, new builder here so be kind ;)
One of my daughters asked me to build her a uke, here is her design so far along with a bending iron I made using a PID controller.

06-10-2018, 12:04 AM
Great work! The shape reminds me of the viola de cocho... which reminds me, I think I've seen you on facebook too?

06-10-2018, 12:09 AM
Haha, yes! I’m coming out of my shell and hitting anywhere that I can learn from! It’s a steep curve this instrument building thing!

06-10-2018, 10:21 PM
Made a couple of radius dishes today, I think they turned out well. I have coated them with shellac to seal the surface and have given them a sand, will add a couple more layers of shellac and sand a bit more to ensure years of use. Next up a go-bar deck.

Pete Howlett
06-11-2018, 12:16 PM
Love the shape. very interesting design typically overbuilt - it's what we all do when we start making so this is not a criticism, just an observation and one to put-on your 'things to think about' list. You don't need those side 'struts' or that massive block and corner block to the cutaway. Cutaways by their very design are very stable and represents strong 'nodes' in the construction of an instrument.

More important than all this unnecessary shellacking is gluing another board of MDF to the back of the dish. The added weight is a bonus on top of the increased stability. I use 25mm/1" mdf for dishes these days and still back them to stiffen and stabilise.

06-11-2018, 09:00 PM
Thank you for your input Peter, much appreciated. I tend to over build most things, a habit I must try to get out of :)
I still have a ways to go in learning about building instruments so any input is great. Are there any particular books that you would recommend to get me on track?
The shellac is to try and get rid of the furry surface left on the MDF after routing and reduce moisture absorption, yes I will add some more mdf to the back of them to stabilise them. These were cut from 16mm sheet as any thing thicker here increases in price tremendously. 20mm sheets are au$90 as opposed to au$30 for 16mm for a 1200x2400mm sheet.

Pete Howlett
06-11-2018, 10:20 PM
Yikes! 18mm MDF is £20 a board here in the UK. That's au$35. MDF sealer is diluted glue. Much cheaper than shellac. In my opinion there are no good books on ukulele building. Most of your answers can be had here on this forum. Keep the top 'thin' and the back stiff. Keep us informed what you are doing.

06-11-2018, 10:41 PM
Yep, keep the convicts poor haha! Even buying sealer is more expensive than shellac! Ok, be prepared to be hounded by me then! I know so very little about a great many things :)

06-13-2018, 07:50 PM
I've gotta tell you, these folks are quite well experienced at being 'hounded'! You're clearly much farther down the road both in wood working as well as instrument building than I. This forum has been a lifeline for me and remains such!

Welcome! :-)

06-13-2018, 09:29 PM
Thank you Chuck, I try my best but I am no luthier. I have been playing with wood since I was a kid and have only recently had a shed of my own to work out of. I built it 3 years ago and am enjoying spending time seeing what trouble I can get myself into. These ukuleles will be my third and forth build, the first was a Cigar Box type thing the second one was an acoustic of my own design without a bending iron. I am here to learn:)

06-14-2018, 04:38 AM
I am what I would term a rank beginner and at times rank takes on an odoriferous quality! The extent of my woodworking in the past has been in efforts to cut a board off at 90 degrees with a circular saw or figure out how to route a curve that looked half decent into a board clamped to a sawhorse. Several years ago my son said, "Dad, we should build guitars." I told him what I thought of his intellectual ecumen at that point! But some how the seed was planted and so now I'm in my first build, a tenor ukulele. Already see things I would change but on my way. :-)

06-14-2018, 11:04 PM
That is great Chuck! I have the attitude of just give it a go (what ever it is you want to try), I have been that way ever since I can remember and I have no regrets. I think that people don’t give themselves enough credit for what they are capable of, or say that they can’t before they even try. I would rather try and fail than sit and wonder if I could have but didn’t. Keep plugging away! Cheers Cal

06-15-2018, 02:48 AM
That is great Chuck! I have the attitude of just give it a go (what ever it is you want to try), I have been that way ever since I can remember and I have no regrets. I think that people donít give themselves enough credit for what they are capable of, or say that they canít before they even try. I would rather try and fail than sit and wonder if I could have but didnít. Keep plugging away! Cheers Cal
Cal, that is another thing I like about this forum -the encouragement to hang in there! thank you! :-)

06-18-2018, 12:12 AM
A little more work done. One of the ukuleles is going to be a little different in that it will have a coil pickup in it (at my daughters request) so I have done an f-hole in the top. I will most likely run a tail piece on this one due to the steel strings. I have the both of the ukuleles have been sanded with the radius dish ready for the backs. I will be attaching the soundboard on this one before I close the back up.

06-25-2018, 11:56 PM
Slow progress on this one, designing the bridge and it doesnít look like I wanted it to so will reshape it tomorrow. A little detail for the tail end.
The neck is Claret Ash and Tasmanian Myrtle.

06-26-2018, 12:37 AM
Looks great!

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
06-26-2018, 07:34 AM
You can't over build sides.

Keep the top light though. Or more specifically, keep everything under the lower transverse bar (the one below the soundhole) as light as possible.

07-04-2018, 12:09 AM
Some more work on this one, bracing on the back done and soundboard on its way. Headstock veneer on.

07-21-2018, 09:26 PM
A few more pics of the build.110614110613110612110615110616

07-21-2018, 09:27 PM
Getting there slowly

08-01-2018, 01:01 PM
Looking good - I am following with interest! cheers

08-02-2018, 10:37 PM
Thanks, pickup and preamp arived this week so hope to get that installed on the weekend and get going with the rest of it.
Cheers Cal

08-04-2018, 06:00 PM
Installation of the preamp begins.

08-06-2018, 05:57 PM
Nice work. Nice pictures!

09-15-2018, 05:41 PM
All complete, really happy with the end result.

09-15-2018, 08:42 PM
Hello Ausmiller, thanks for very nice and lots of photos!
Seems you have done a great job. Do you use the PID controller for temperature control please? Wow!

09-15-2018, 09:03 PM
Thanks! Yes PID was used for temp control on the bending iron.

09-15-2018, 10:31 PM
Congratulations on completing this uke. It's a good thread and so I hope it encourages a few to have a go at building. It's also good to see someone having the confidence to do their own thing and produce something that's unique. Hope it sounds as good as it looks.

09-16-2018, 02:35 AM

09-17-2018, 12:31 AM
Thank you both for your lovely comments, I will have my daughter play something on it next week and see if I can post it here to give you a listen to how it sounds. I have learned a huge amount from building this and I have a twin to it to complete, I should have done both of them side by side but got distracted with just the one. There are a few things I will be changing on the next one so it’s not a bad thing. Cheers Cal

09-18-2018, 08:17 PM
A short video of a friend playing the ukulele.

09-19-2018, 12:56 AM
Installation of the preamp begins.

What is the make and model of that preamp please? The uke is lovely and that chap can play!

09-19-2018, 01:40 AM
Itís an eBay special, my friend playing the ukulele tried it and then another pickup in his ukulele valued at $300+ And he said for the $15 cost it was outstanding.

09-19-2018, 02:42 AM
Thanks. Ordered ;-)