PDA

View Full Version : Building an arch top ukulele



Pages : [1] 2

Bradford
09-24-2009, 05:20 PM
There is a good group of would be luthiers waiting in the wings, ready to start building their arch top ukuleles. This will be the thread where we share ideas, compare notes, vent our frustrations and extoll our successes. While you have been contacting me and joining the group, I've been busy in my spare time designing and building fingerplanes, side bending fixtures and thickness calipers. All the while looking at growing list of builders and musing on how to proceed. Not surprisingly, we have a wide range of skills, from newbies with few tools and resources, to master craftsmen with complete shops. Bearing that in mind, it would be folly on my part to try and have everyone follow a rigid design. I think it would be better for me to provide specific details where necessary and let the individual skills of the various builders dictate what they should build. For example, if bending sides is beyond your abilities, OK, don't bend. You can design and build a rectangular or trapezoidal shaped body that requires no bending. If carving the top seemed difficult, and the thought of carving the back out of harder wood is daunting, then put on a flat back. There are a myriad of ways to do things, and besides involving you in the design process is what lutherie is all about. Those are some of my thoughts for now, please share yours. In a few days I'll start emailing the plans and instructions on making the tools. In the meantime, if anyone else wishes to join in the fun, just send me an email asking to be included. My email address is donaldson_b@earthlink.net.
Thanks everyone,

Brad

mrUKETOBER
09-24-2009, 06:13 PM
There is a good group of would be luthiers waiting in the wings, ready to start building their arch top ukuleles. This will be the thread where we share ideas, compare notes, vent our frustrations and extoll our successes. While you have been contacting me and joining the group, I've been busy in my spare time designing and building fingerplanes, side bending fixtures and thickness calipers. All the while looking at growing list of builders and musing on how to proceed. Not surprisingly, we have a wide range of skills, from newbies with few tools and resources, to master craftsmen with complete shops. Bearing that in mind, it would be folly on my part to try and have everyone follow a rigid design. I think it would be better for me to provide specific details where necessary and let the individual skills of the various builders dictate what they should build. For example, if bending sides is beyond your abilities, OK, don't bend. You can design and build a rectangular or trapezoidal shaped body that requires no bending. If carving the top seemed difficult, and the thought of carving the back out of harder wood is daunting, then put on a flat back. There are a myriad of ways to do things, and besides involving you in the design process is what lutherie is all about. Those are some of my thoughts for now, please share yours. In a few days I'll start emailing the plans and instructions on making the tools. In the meantime, if anyone else wishes to join in the fun, just send me an email asking to be included. My email address is donaldson_b@earthlink.net.
Thanks everyone,

Brad


i like this ! its gonna make it much more personal and meaningful to each builder :D and you are doing it all by email ? crud i guess i need to start checkin my email more lol

Pete Howlett
09-25-2009, 04:41 AM
This sounds like a great project. Are you going to deliver through YouTube as well? I'll follow it but won't participate - when I was at college a chap made a violin and watching was enough for me :)

Bradford
09-25-2009, 08:44 AM
Yes Pete, I plan to do some YouTube videos. I just opened an account with them last night. Hopefully everyone will bear with me, I am sure my first attempts might be a little shaky.
Brad

Pete Howlett
09-25-2009, 09:39 AM
I use movie maker to edit - if you are on a mac system you have more powerful tools. That's the trick - don't do the entire process as it is very boring and you get a lot of stick for it - Peter Lieberman did a 9 minute video of polishing out a uke and though he is a ukulele maker hero it was as dull as ditch water!

mrUKETOBER
09-25-2009, 05:13 PM
true it can be boring but if you dont show everything you do ... and how you do it.. you will be asked ALOT of questions.. gotta remember there are alot of noobs signing on for this.. including me :D

etkre
09-25-2009, 05:49 PM
Hey Brad,

You mentioned the idea of using local woods as a way to keep costs down. What species would you recommend (I live in Appalachia)? I found someone near me selling seasoned fire wood, and I thought that could be a possible source for cheap and dry tone wood. What are your thoughts on reclaimed wood?

Also, what tools do you feel are necessary to own at the onset of the build? Chisels, coping saw, rip saw?

Flea markets and antique stores might be good sources for cheap hand tools. Just yesterday I bought a fully-functional hand drill from an antique store for $5. The same place has a large hand planer (the blade had Ohio Tools stamped into it. I think they stopped making them in the 20's) that I might pick up for $14.

Eric

Bradford
09-25-2009, 07:40 PM
Eric, The first wood to come to mind is pine. Bob Benedetto made an arch top guitar out of construction grade flat sawn pine that was a nice sounding instrument. Other woods available in your area include red spruce, walnut, cherry, maple and birch. I am sure there are some other species that didn't come to mind. Reclaimed wood is fine. As for tools, some sort of saws, coping and rip are a couple. Some sort of drill, an electic hand drill would be nice as I'll be showing how to make a sanding disk to help carve the tops and backs. A rasp or two and some files will also be handy. A good hand plane could be very useful. For around $6 you can get a Stanley Surform Shaver that is great for carving out tops and shaping necks.

Brad

Milla
09-25-2009, 07:51 PM
As a complete noob at this, I curious how I should approach this whole ordeal. Should I draw up some simple plans? Template out my current ukulele? Bending the sides looks to be my only current obstacle. The only thing I really want is to make a ukulele that intonates correctly. Just point me in the right direction!!!

Bradford
09-26-2009, 10:04 AM
Milla, if you will send me an email ( address is in the first post of this thread) I will add you to the group list and you will then receive plans and instructions by email. One of steps includes making an inexpensive side bender.

Brad

Milla
09-26-2009, 11:11 AM
Roger, already on the list I think.

Matt Clara
09-26-2009, 12:52 PM
I did email you, but haven't heard back. Please include me. I need to build a side bender!

Milla
09-26-2009, 05:51 PM
I just wanted to say how excited I am about this! Can't wait to get started!!!

mrUKETOBER
09-26-2009, 06:14 PM
I did email you, but haven't heard back. Please include me. I need to build a side bender!



me too im all for the bender ! thats what ive been dreading the most.. that and everything else actually lol

Bradford
09-28-2009, 08:40 AM
I have sent the plans and instructions to the group for building finger planes. Here are some pics of the ones I made. Hopefully they will help you understand the plans.

Brad

etkre
09-28-2009, 10:15 AM
Drool... I can't wait to start.

thomas
09-28-2009, 11:41 AM
Those are some nice looking finger planes. And a nicely carved top.

Take care,
Thomas

Bradford
09-28-2009, 12:11 PM
Thanks Thomas, that top was carved primarily using those planes. I noticed you are in Italy. I was telling Ron that there are violin making families that have had wood finger planes for many generations, so to make them works of art when you make them. I just finished the final version of the bending pipe. Bent a set of sides with it, and it worked as well as my Stew-Mac one. I'll get the plans and pics out shortly.

Brad

vahn
09-28-2009, 12:13 PM
Is it too late to sign up? I have been hesitant so far because it seems out of my ability but I am really excited by this

Bradford
09-28-2009, 02:26 PM
Vahn, you are in and welcome. There is a wide range of experience in the group with quite a few beginners, so you have a lot of company, don't worry. It is my challenge to direct those of you towards a reasonable goal for your experience. I hope it will be fun and interesting for all.

Brad

RonS
09-28-2009, 02:38 PM
Brad

I have tools that my grandfather made.
All the wooden parts where made from curly maple.
I've carried on the tradition, although, I have used ebony and bubinga as well.

(BTW - I'm Italian)

Milla
09-29-2009, 03:18 AM
I was searching through an old toolbox yesterday and found about 15 G clamps of various sizes. One inparticular that caught my eye is one thats about an inch long. Cute little guy.

Bradford
09-29-2009, 11:51 AM
I just sent the group the plans for a side bender. Here are the pics of what I made. It uses a 200 watt light bulb as a heat source and works just like my bender from Stew-Mac.

Brad

zog
09-30-2009, 09:54 PM
Brad & Group
I got some awesome flamed maple this week for back and sides.
A bunch of questions:
How thick is the back bottom to top of arch? I plan to build a tenor size. How thick are you going in the recurve area on the top, and are you using any bracing. Are you using a floating bridge and tailpiece like a archtop guitar and mandolin?
I was discussing the idea of a floating bridge on a flattop like a mandolin a few months ago with another luthier and he thought the string tension on a uke is to little to drive the top enough to get any volume. Have you figured a way around this?
Mike

Bradford
10-01-2009, 09:02 AM
Mike, the wood for the tops and backs need to be 5/8" thick. There is a 1/2" arch and the thicness in the middle of the top and back is 1/8". I have made a few arch top ukes with a floating bridge and tailpiece and they are loud instruments. They need to be carved delicately. I will try and get the plans out as soon as I can. There are going to be three variations, a trapezoid shape, requiring no bending, a pineapple and a regular figure eight body. Like the tools, I need to build them myself first to test the designs. I'm in Seattle now picking up some wood at my old haunts.
Brad
PS. The thickness in the recurve area is around 2mm, and the top is braced lightly.

RonS
10-01-2009, 11:13 AM
I finish a flat plane (photo tonight)

Quick question, bevel up or bevel down? (I'm thinking down)

I'm going to glue up a couple more tonight and I'm wondering, when you make a curved bottom, won't the sides of the mouth open up more than the center?

Bradford
10-01-2009, 01:02 PM
Thanks Ron, the bevel goes down. If I don't think about it, I always put it upside down. The mouth will widen when you curve the bottom.
Brad

RonS
10-01-2009, 02:36 PM
Thanks Brad

http://www.simplyturning.com/uke/FingerPlane1.jpg

Here is my plane.

My eyes must be getting bad, I didn't even see the tear out until I looked at this picture. On the next one I'm going to sand the outside after I glue in the pin. That should take care of that problem.

Milla
10-01-2009, 02:49 PM
That looks AMAZING. Please tell me how you carved the middle portion out for the blade!

Bradford
10-02-2009, 02:24 PM
That is a great looking plane Ron, little jewels like that can stay in families for generations. For those of you that may be having trouble deciphering my plans, here are some pics of a simplified flat plane out of a two inch end of an oak 1x4. The pics show the assembly sequence. Hopefully these will make the process clearer.

Brad

Bradford
10-02-2009, 02:29 PM
And here are the rest of the sequence.
Brad

Spooner
10-02-2009, 10:15 PM
That is a great looking plane Ron, little jewels like that can stay in families for generations. For those of you that may be having trouble deciphering my plans, here are some pics of a simplified flat plane out of a two inch end of an oak 1x4. The pics show the assembly sequence. Hopefully these will make the process clearer.

Brad

That definitely helps a little.

I havent had the time to get to the building yet.

Everyone's planes look great thus far...and the bender looks awesome!!

Thanks again for doing this buddy! :shaka:

wheelgunner
10-03-2009, 04:26 AM
Brad,
The photo sequence for making the plane was a great help. Really clarifies things. Thanks.

Bradford
10-03-2009, 12:47 PM
Thanks guys, I am not a draftsman and realize that my drawings are a little crude. Hopefully by supplementing them with pictures and videos, it will be clear how to build.

Brad

Milla
10-03-2009, 04:28 PM
My first attempt is far too embarasing to post pictures of haha. I'm going to try a larger one in a few minutes. I am having trouble finding metal suitable for blades. I tried some kind of old sawblade that I used a table grinder to grind the teeth off. but its not very wide.

taylordb
10-04-2009, 04:21 PM
For those of you that may be having trouble deciphering my plans, here are some pics of a simplified flat plane out of a two inch end of an oak 1x4. The pics show the assembly sequence. Hopefully these will make the process clearer.

Brad

Brad, I noticed in your pictures you show the cut for the back center piece marked as being 40 degrees, but the plans you sent me clearly say 45 degrees??? i hope it doesn't matter, cuz I just finished putting it together as per your plans.

Bradford
10-04-2009, 04:40 PM
Hey Taylordb, you are right, my plans all for 45 degrees, as that is the angle called for from where I got the info. I noticed afterwards, that my cast bronze planes have a 40 degree angle, so I tried that. I can't tell any difference when using them, so take your pick.

Brad

taylordb
10-04-2009, 04:42 PM
OK thanks!

bt93
10-05-2009, 03:05 PM
If this whole thing works out and people successfully build archtop ukuleles, would they be willing to sell them (i personally am interested in one)? if so, please send me a PM

Milla
10-05-2009, 03:25 PM
Well don't be looking for one from me. I am failing terribly at just making the plane. Haven't had a chance to give it a second attempt, if work permits I'll try tommorow.

Bradford
10-06-2009, 05:09 PM
Here are some pics of the first design being built. I've been slowed somewhat by a dislocated finger. Will get the plans for the thickness caliper and the work board soon. Also should have this guy finished soon, will try to do a video of it.

luckyd
10-13-2009, 09:35 AM
I sent you an email at the address listed above. I eliminated the space between last name and initial. If you don't get it, please let me know through here. Thanks again, paul

mrUKETOBER
10-13-2009, 10:22 PM
for some reason the last email i have gotten was for the bending pipe... and do you have plans for a figure 8 sape ?

Bradford
10-14-2009, 08:50 AM
Sorry for the slowdown guys, I've been up in Seattle getting some medical attention for my finger. Just so everyone understands, I need to build all of the tools and the ukuleles before I can draw up and send you the plans. Right now I'm finishing up the first model, (the easiest one) and will be sending you the plans for it and for the thickness caliper and work board as soon as I can. After that, I'll start on the pineapple model, and next the figure eight.

Brad

luckyd
10-14-2009, 12:55 PM
Bummer on the finger. I'm looking forward to this project. What's this about abending iron? You have the plans to make them? This is going to be fun! thanks again, Paul

Milla
10-14-2009, 01:18 PM
Yea he posted plans for a bending iron already.

Bradford
10-14-2009, 04:27 PM
Here are some pics of the finished art work on the top. This instrument is going to the Dragonfire Gallery in Cannon Beach for the annual Stormy Weather Arts Festival the first weekend in November.

Brad

camface
10-14-2009, 05:39 PM
Is it too late to jump in on this? This looks like my kind of thing!

Bradford
10-14-2009, 06:45 PM
Any and all are still welcome, just send me am email at donaldson_b@earthlink.net and I'll add you to the group list.
Brad

Ahnko Honu
10-15-2009, 12:57 AM
I'm looking forward to the pineapple plans. :D

Bradford
10-18-2009, 05:55 PM
I just put a short video on YouTube showing the first model arch top uke.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9_NHjZsTdE

Brad

Spooner
10-18-2009, 06:36 PM
I just put a short video on YouTube showing the first model arch top uke.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9_NHjZsTdE

Brad


Awesome Brad!!!! I love the design/inlay/painting(?) you put on that one!

drfrancov
10-18-2009, 07:25 PM
Thank you Brad!...The video is awesome!....BTW, I've tried to build a couple of necks...I used black cherry wood...My biggest problem is how to cut the 15 degree angle for the neck with hand tools...Any info I find explains how to do it with a table saw or band saw...But how do you cut the scarf angle with hand tools?....Or do you just skip the cutting and carve it out from a big block of wood?...I am using stock wood 3 x 3/4

Thanks

Bradford
10-18-2009, 08:11 PM
First of all, I would reduce the width of the piece of wood to the maximum width of the neck where it joins the body, ie. from 3" to a little over 1.75". Then you should be able to make a 15 degree cut using a hand saw. You can use the offcuts from this to glue on ears for the headstock. Stand the wood on its edge, mark the angle on the top and draw a perpendicular line down the side as a guide. The trick is to clamp the wood securely to a work bench. You can't hold the wood in one hand and use a saw accurately with the other. Cut slowly using the line drawn as a guide. The cut does not have to be perfect. Use a sanding block or a plane to clean up the faces of the cut.

Brad

luckyd
10-19-2009, 07:30 AM
Beautiful sounding uke! Can't wait for all the other items. Paul

bt93
10-19-2009, 12:09 PM
brad: would you be able to build me one if i payed you with bent sides to look like an archtop guitar?

Bradford
10-20-2009, 05:16 PM
Here is a preview of the third design, a standard tenor size arch top uke.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pU1_3pq8eIQ

vahn
10-21-2009, 02:34 PM
that thing is hot hot hot!

RonS
10-21-2009, 02:48 PM
Excellent!

luckyd
10-22-2009, 07:35 AM
Love it! I went and researched keyhole saws in the Lee Valley catalog last night. If I get to tht point before school is out, I can use the scroll saw at school I guess. Can't wait for the next update.

Spooner
10-23-2009, 12:05 AM
Here is a preview of the third design, a standard tenor size arch top uke.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pU1_3pq8eIQ


That looks GREAT Brad!!!

The video is awesome and so are you!!!!

I am definitely going to be putting some time aside to get all of this together.

I want an F hole!!!!!

Bradford
10-23-2009, 10:56 AM
Here is a video showing how I fit the braces to a top. I know it is a bit ahead of where we are, but I'm working on this uke for a customer and had to fit them, so I took advantage of the opportunity.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7JlRC71Y3c

Bradford
10-23-2009, 07:12 PM
I just emailed the plans for the conventional arch top ukulele to the group.
Brad

Bradford
10-29-2009, 02:45 PM
Here are some pics of the thickness caliper.
Brad

Bradford
11-12-2009, 11:34 AM
Here is a video of a six string tenor arch top I am building for a customer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FE62cdtAYQ
Brad

uke51
11-12-2009, 03:31 PM
Is anyone building archtop Ukes?

I've build archtop (&back) mandolins, and would be interested in hearing about what kind of volume you get from an archtop, and what top graduations you're unsing

Bradford
11-12-2009, 05:57 PM
The one in the latest video is no. 4 and all of them have had good volume. My background has been building mandolins for the most part. I've been using Englemann spruce for the tops, 3.5 mm thick in the center and 2.0 mm in the recurve area. The top also has two light parallel braces.

Brad

zweisen
12-01-2009, 06:48 PM
Just sent an email requesting to be added to the build. Hope I'm not too late!!!

nohandles
12-02-2009, 01:21 AM
The one in the latest video is no. 4 and all of them have had good volume. My background has been building mandolins for the most part. I've been using Englemann spruce for the tops, 3.5 mm thick in the center and 2.0 mm in the recurve area. The top also has two light parallel braces.

Brad

The 6 string sounds great. I've never seen an arch top Uke before it looks fantastic. Can't wait to get started. As soon as it gets light outside I'm heading for the barn to select my lumber.

What does everyone think of palm trees for the sound holes?

Doug

Bradford
12-02-2009, 09:25 AM
I just signed up three new members to the group today, so welcome guys. I have been very busy lately trying to catch up with my production schedule, hence the lack of activity on this thread by me. I need to deliver two arch tops and one Amy model in the next couple of weeks. As I catch up, here is what I plan to do. First, I'll draw up the plans for the simple arch top design that doesn't require bending the sides and send them to the group. Then I am going to start construction on the pineapple model. As per the idea of using local, readily available woods, I will be using yellow cedar for the top and neck, and myrtle for the sides and back. I will make some short videos of the process as I build.

Doug, I like the idea of palm trees for the sound holes. Those of you who have received the plans know that I have drawn them up with a minimum of details. Part of that is my lack of drawing skills and time, but the other reason is to encourage as much creativity as possible. It is my intention to provide you with just enough information to allow you to build a good instrument, without totally dictating all the design details. Thus again I would like to encourage everyone to readily share their thoughts and ideas with the group. The more energy you supply, the more enthused everyone will be and the better the outcomes.
Thanks all,
Brad

luckyd
12-02-2009, 02:01 PM
I just signed up for a two credit course that essentially lets me do my own thing. I basically bought lab time from the school, which gives me access to the fully stocked power tool room, and a nice climate controlled shop. I have some maple on the way for the back ( I just finished rough arching a maple guitar back, UGH), and am looking into some spruce for the top. Any suggestions on where to source it? I've found some options, but if you have someone in particular you like let me know. I also am going to build at least one flat top ukulele at the same time, since I have a full semester. Thanks Paul

nohandles
12-02-2009, 02:49 PM
I'm really pumped about this group build. I love participation like this. While working on a fiddle and refinishing some other instruments for some clients today I had my sketch pad in the shop drawing designs for a palm tree theme for this Uke.
I'm thinking palm trees for the sound holes. A layered wood design below the fret board with an etched MOP palm tree on each side- or 1 side of the fret board. And on the peg head an mountain/ ocean scene with a silhouette of a person sitting under the palm playing Uke. Doug

Bradford
12-02-2009, 03:10 PM
We have an abundance of talent in this group, so I am expecting to see some really cool instruments. For those of you with less experience, just remember we all started somewhere, my first instruments where less than stellar. As for woods, Bruce from Notable Woods, is a good source for spruce. His prices are reasonable and the wood has always been top notch.

Brad

taylordb
12-02-2009, 03:35 PM
I gave a try on making the finger planes. They look nice and all, but the wedge does not hold the blade from slipping back into the plane....I get about 1 or 2 sweeps of the plane and then the blade has receded too much. The wedge is in there tight too.

Any advice?

Bradford
12-02-2009, 05:23 PM
You may need to change the angle of your wedge. If the the angle is too much it will jam in the slot without enough surface area to hold it in place securely. Another fix is to drill a slightly undersize hole in the center of the wedge and install a small machine screw that you can tighten to hold the blade in place. The Sloane planes use a small thumbscrew for this. Look at the fingerplanes at Stew-Mac.com to see what I mean.

Brad

nohandles
12-03-2009, 01:55 AM
For planing you can use spoke shaves. I have a small set I have had for 33 years. In fact used them so much I have had 5 sets of blades in them.

So where are most of you in the construction of you Ukes? I need to know how much I have to catch up.
Also- How about some pictures of your master pieces? Lets pump this threat up- whats ya say?

Doug

PaulGeo
12-03-2009, 07:59 AM
I just joined the group build, so I'm just gathering the lumber. I plan to do two builds... one following Brad's instructions and one not :).

nohandles
12-03-2009, 09:13 AM
I got out all of my stock today. I found 8- 48 inch long 4x4 billets of Ohio black walnut quarter sawn so I decided to do mine entirely of walnut. I will increase the side height- probable to 2 and 1/8 to compensate for the walnut top and thin the top slightly also. Thought I would think completely out of the box on this one. Tomorrow I will blank out the front, back, sides and neck for both. I like to let wood set after cutting for a few days. I'm using ebony for the fret board and peg head veneer. This is going to be a fun one. For the pineapple I think it will be walnut also with carving all over it and a pineapple like the pineapple peat from this link for the peg head.
http://www.luthiersupply.com/ukulele.html

Bradford
12-03-2009, 09:35 AM
I am lovin this guys, let's be as creative as we can. To lend some cohesiveness to the project, what about doing a take off of the late Scott Chinery's the Blue Guitar Project. In 1996 Scott commissioned 22 luthiers to build him bright blue arch top guitars. What about doing green ukuleles? The only criteria would be that they are arch top instruments with some portion of them a green shade of color. If we could put together a collection of photos of enough instruments, maybe UU could publish a book for their store. Any thoughts on this?

Brad

PaulGeo
12-03-2009, 10:17 AM
Oooohhh... maybe a cool green sunburst. I'm in :)

BTW, if anyone needs the plans in true scale I can email you the pdf's. Each plan can be printed on four 8-1/2 x 11 sheets and pasted together.

nohandles
12-03-2009, 12:16 PM
I am lovin this guys, let's be as creative as we can. To lend some cohesiveness to the project, what about doing a take off of the late Scott Chinery's the Blue Guitar Project. In 1996 Scott commissioned 22 luthiers to build him bright blue arch top guitars. What about doing green ukuleles? The only criteria would be that they are arch top instruments with some portion of them a green shade of color. If we could put together a collection of photos of enough instruments, maybe UU could publish a book for their store. Any thoughts on this?

Brad

I think a book would be a really cool idea. I don't know anything about the Scott book but it sounds like a great idea.
I've been refining my ideas for the 2 I'm going to start- Brad waiting for the pineapple pressure, pressure LOL and then I'll get started building.
I found some great old Ivroid- looks like MOP binding- today in the work shop that I will use on the traditional style Uke. The Pineapple will have no binding just carves all over the body.

## Forgot one thing. As far as green the Ohio Walnut that I have was from a 48 inch diameter diseased tree I took down 30 or so years ago. I have made stuff with for the last 28 years. So it is Green. I had it planked at an Amish mill back then after it dried in the back yard for a year and a half. I think there must have been over 4 or 5 thousand board feet from this single tree. Don't remember for sure.

Lets crank eh up folks, it's time to build. Doug

Bradford
12-03-2009, 12:50 PM
Here is a video with some of my thoughts on wood selection. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NY5Fdbf_zsg
Brad

nohandles
12-03-2009, 01:33 PM
Great video Brad. Keep them coming.

Doug

Ahnko Honu
12-04-2009, 07:05 AM
I want to build a arch top pineapple. Anyone done this before? :)

nohandles
12-04-2009, 09:52 AM
Today I roughed out all of my stock for the build. I'm building the traditional and the pineapple. The trad will have a 1/4 inch maple stripe through the center of the whole instrument. The pineapple will have the body completely carved with no bindings and this inlay in the peghead. thought this was cool. Doug
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2743/4158695542_5e86347b47_o.jpg

Vic D
12-04-2009, 11:10 AM
I am lovin this guys, let's be as creative as we can. To lend some cohesiveness to the project, what about doing a take off of the late Scott Chinery's the Blue Guitar Project. In 1996 Scott commissioned 22 luthiers to build him bright blue arch top guitars. What about doing green ukuleles? The only criteria would be that they are arch top instruments with some portion of them a green shade of color. If we could put together a collection of photos of enough instruments, maybe UU could publish a book for their store. Any thoughts on this?

Brad

You've been reading my mind. I've been working lately with poplar and it often has a very green color to it, so I was thinking of making a green themed instrument. A green themed arch top ukulele... yep, sounds like a plan.

nohandles
12-05-2009, 02:40 AM
Here is the pictures of the roughed out stock. The Pineapple top and bottom are from a solid piece since my plan it to carve the whole body like a pineapple. I began sketching a pattern to carve once it is assembled. They will both have ebony finger boards and peg head veneer since I have 4 or 5 billets around of ebony. Today I'm going to split the neck on the traditional and glue in the 1/4 stripe of maple for the top and bottom also.

Pineapple stock
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2584/4160192910_29c51768c7.jpg

Traditional stock without the maple stripe in center.
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4001/4159441203_bac290902b.jpg

Flyfish57
12-05-2009, 08:02 AM
The only criteria would be that they are arch top instruments with some portion of them a green shade of color. If we could put together a collection of photos of enough instruments, maybe UU could publish a book for their store. Any thoughts on this?

Brad

I'm doing mine with a green lantern comicbook theme!! WhooHoo--I don't know what the heck I'm doing!:eek:

PaulGeo
12-07-2009, 01:44 PM
Brad (or anyone else),

Can you provide a list of materials, other than wood, that we need? Like tuners, nut/bridge material, etc. I was going to place an order at StewMac and wanted to make sure I cover everything.

Thanks :cool:

nohandles
12-07-2009, 02:50 PM
Brad (or anyone else),

Can you provide a list of materials, other than wood, that we need? Like tuners, nut/bridge material, etc. I was going to place an order at StewMac and wanted to make sure I cover everything.

Thanks :cool:

Here you go. I've collected mine already for the build
1- Hyde glue
2- Carpenters glue- Inlay.
3- perfling 5 or 6 pieces.
4- binding if you are going to use it.
5- spruce strips for bracing and sound bars.
4- tuners
5- fret wire http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Fretting_supplies/Stewart-MacDonald_Fretwire/Narrow_Fretwire.html
6- sand paper. 100, 150, 220, 320, 400, 600, 800, 1200G
7- finish. You have to decide this one. I use lacquer but I have spray equipment. Spray cans are available
8- nut and bridge blanks.
9- buffing compounds if your going that far. If you put the lacquer on carefully and sand down to 1200 you may not need to buff.
If I remember anything I will add it or others please chimb in. Doug

Bradford
12-07-2009, 03:48 PM
Thanks nohandles, that is a pretty complete list. I'm assuming that anyone needing a list like this is relatively new to building so here are my thoughts.
1. Glue - hide glue is fine if you have used it before, otherwise I would use Titebond original (red lid) or LMI. I use CA glue for inlay work.
2. Tuners - Stew-Mac, geared # 0434, or friction #0176
3. Fretwire - Stew-Mac medium # 0147 or small # 0764
4. Finish - Stew- Mac spray lacquer, #3883 sanding sealer, #3882 clear satin
5. Strings
6. Nut and bridge material
7. You may wish to consider some carbon fiber neck rods.
8. Position dot material
9. Kerfed linings if you are not set up to make your own and intend to bind your instrument.

Brad

PaulGeo
12-07-2009, 04:28 PM
Thanks guys. Yeap... I'm a newbie when it comes to instrument building... need all the help I can get :)

nohandles
12-08-2009, 02:15 AM
My Pineapple inlay came in yesterday. It's cool! For the last 3 days I've been cleaning and organizing my shop so I can work efficiently in it. I've been in this house for 12 years and remodeled every room but that one. If I going to try to do this full time like it looks I need a better space. Yesterday I pulled the trigger on a thickness sander Grizzly 18 in open end. That should speed up the process for top, sides and back of flat instruments. Wiring lights today I will have 12- 4 footers in a 14 x 22 space- maybe I'll be able to see again.
I'm gluing up the top back and neck or the traditional with a maple stripe and then I'm ready to go.

Bradford
12-08-2009, 08:46 AM
Hey nohandles, that is some fine looking walnut you have, I'm excited to see what you build. I worked on the pineapple plans last night, I'll try and finish them today. Then I'll start to build the pineapple model and document the process with some videos.

Brad

mrUKETOBER
12-08-2009, 11:09 AM
awesome cant wait ! im excited

Bradford
12-08-2009, 12:05 PM
Just sent out the long awaited pineapple plans to the group. Let me know what you think.

Brad

nohandles
12-08-2009, 12:14 PM
Hey nohandles, that is some fine looking walnut you have, I'm excited to see what you build. I worked on the pineapple plans last night, I'll try and finish them today. Then I'll start to build the pineapple model and document the process with some videos.

Brad

I spent the day trying to keep funding coming to Brendon manor that I wrote about along with trying to keep the roof over my families head. I did however order a Grizzly 18 in drum sander because I got a check for half on a guitar I'm building and need to get into the 2000"s with my sanding process.
My plans are almost done for the pineapple too. I send them ASAP.
For the pineapple I plan to stain all the carved recesses green to mimic a pineapple. Can't wait to get started. Doug

nohandles
12-11-2009, 01:19 AM
It's about 6 AM here and way to cold to go outside unless you have to. As soon as the dear wife's clock goes off at 6:30 I'm going to start carving tops and backs. The thickness sander will be here today so I may even do the sides and backs for some other Ukes I have started. Gonna be a good day.

Bradford
12-11-2009, 08:06 AM
I hear you about the cold. I have been gluing things in my living room, my unfinished shop has been too cold. Three days ago my water pipes froze, something normally unheard of at the beach. I'm also going to start carving the pineapple top, will try and do a short video on carving tools and methods.

Brad

Bradford
12-11-2009, 01:12 PM
Here is the video on tools for carving the top and back plates, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmJ1c9o0XRo

Brad

nohandles
12-12-2009, 02:29 AM
Now Brad that is really cool. I never thought of using a small bull grinder but I'll be using one now. Being a pattern maker for years has given me way to much experience with a grinder. Doug

Bradford
12-12-2009, 04:07 PM
Doug, I find the angle grinder works very well, the only problem being it does create a lot of fine dust that is a pain. When I first tried it many years ago, I used it with one of those round blades that have teeth like a chain saw. The first time I tried it, the blade caught, got away from me and tore a large gouge through the top. I promptly switched to the sanding disks with the backing plate.

Brad

camface
12-14-2009, 09:42 PM
I'm beginning to get started on this project now that I am home. I'm building the bender, but all I can find for sheet metal is 16 and 22 gauge. Will either of these work? Which is better?

Bradford
12-15-2009, 09:05 AM
Hey camface, glad you are getting started. As for the sheet metal, it may depend on what material it is. Generally speaking the 16 ga. would be better as you need sufficient mass to heat the wood. However, 16 ga. steel or stainless steel may be difficult to bend to shape. So, if the sheet metal is brass or aluminum, get the 16 ga., if it is steel, get the thinner material and make it double thickness.

Brad

Timbuck
12-15-2009, 10:07 AM
I'm beginning to get started on this project now that I am home. I'm building the bender, but all I can find for sheet metal is 16 and 22 gauge. Will either of these work? Which is better?
I built my bender a couple of years ago using Stainless steel material from an old Pedal bin,
Like this one.. http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/BRAND-NEW-stainless-steel-pedal-bin-5ltr_W0QQitemZ130350070971QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUK_Ki tchen_Accessories?hash=item1e59783cbb ..it was a lot cheaper than material from a stockist. it's enough to make two Soprano benders,
and I've made over 50 ukes with it so far...and here it is...click on pic for slideshow
http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc143/shiregreenbod/ukulele%20pics/ukulele%202/th_uke014.jpg (http://s219.photobucket.com/albums/cc143/shiregreenbod/ukulele%20pics/ukulele%202/?action=view&current=b2cafa43.pbw)

nohandles
12-18-2009, 02:21 AM
I've been kind of off track so I haven't worked on the Ukes all week. Finally after I have a clean and organized shop to work in. But yesterday I tried out using the little 4 1/2 inch grinder uses to carve out the top and backs. It worked great. I took my dust collector hose and placed it at the end to get mosst of the dust and it worked great too. Pictures when I get out of the house for battery's.

zweisen
12-19-2009, 09:42 AM
Does anybody have any input on the idea of laminating a couple layers of 1/32" thick veneer for the sides to make the bending process a little easier for the amateur?

nohandles
12-19-2009, 01:13 PM
Does anybody have any input on the idea of laminating a couple layers of 1/32" thick veneer for the sides to make the bending process a little easier for the amateur?

I've laminated some veneer on sides a couple of time. I used a vacuum bag with the parts in it inside the mold for the sides. It is a little bit of work though, getting everything sucked together.

Brad, I made a hood for my dust collector hose to put over my grinder while I work It get 80% of the dust. I'm going to make an open end boy with an outlet in the back to suck the dust while containing it in the box. I'll let you know the results when I try it.

mrUKETOBER
12-19-2009, 02:06 PM
I built my bender a couple of years ago using Stainless steel material from an old Pedal bin,
Like this one.. http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/BRAND-NEW-stainless-steel-pedal-bin-5ltr_W0QQitemZ130350070971QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUK_Ki tchen_Accessories?hash=item1e59783cbb ..it was a lot cheaper than material from a stockist. it's enough to make two Soprano benders,
and I've made over 50 ukes with it so far...and here it is...click on pic for slideshow
http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc143/shiregreenbod/ukulele%20pics/ukulele%202/th_uke014.jpg (http://s219.photobucket.com/albums/cc143/shiregreenbod/ukulele%20pics/ukulele%202/?action=view&current=b2cafa43.pbw)



do you have any plans for building this ?

Timbuck
12-19-2009, 11:01 PM
do you have any plans for building this ?
The only dimensions I needed were for the shape of the uke..I just worked around that....If I was to make another, I would make it a little higher to give enough clearance to remove the bent sides, without having to remove the mold part from the main stucture.

mcnilly
12-20-2009, 12:09 AM
I assume its too late to sign up for this? i would love to have a look at the emails, is there anywhere i can access them?

Cheers!
Will

nohandles
12-20-2009, 02:36 AM
I'm sure you can still get in on this. Just send Bradford an PM and include your personal e-mail address and he will send the plans to you- Doug

mcnilly
12-20-2009, 03:50 AM
Thanks for the speedy reply nohandles, i appreciate it! il get right on that.

Bradford
12-22-2009, 08:44 AM
Thanks nohandles, I have got mcnilly signed on. While I'm at it, let me take the opportunity to invite anyone else who may wish to join to do so. There is no time frame for any of this, you may build, or not, on your schedule. So if you have been sitting on the fence wondering whether to join or not, go for it. Even if you just want to follow along for now, the plans will give you a better idea of what is going on. All I need is your email address to add you to the group.

Brad

mcnilly
12-22-2009, 09:48 AM
Hey Bradford, Just read the whole thread now, got myself motivated! Im going to start looking at local woods soon and then get building some finger planes (even though i have an angelgrinder, they just look fun to make!) I'll probably have a bash at the simplest uke first and see how that goes!
And again, i wish to thank you for making all this possible, your plans, pictures and videos have been very helpful,
Will

Bradford
12-22-2009, 09:59 AM
Thanks for reminding me Will, I need to get the plans for the simplest uke out to the group. The angle grinder is great for rough carving of the plates, but you will need finger planes for the final shaping and graduation. Glad to have you on board, let us know what you come up with for wood.

Brad

zweisen
12-22-2009, 10:11 AM
I've laminated some veneer on sides a couple of time. I used a vacuum bag with the parts in it inside the mold for the sides. It is a little bit of work though, getting everything sucked together.

Thanks for the input, nohandles. sry it took a few days to get back.

mcnilly
12-22-2009, 11:09 AM
Another thought Brad, will we not need a thickness sander for the simplest uke? I've been checking out some plans for them and they don't look cheap to build. . . 1HP motor would set me back about £70 unless i can find one on the cheap or already have one (which i might do, il take a look)

Bradford
12-22-2009, 12:39 PM
A thickness sander will not be necessary. The sides in all of the models of arch top ukes are only about 1.5 inches deep. You can easily slice off a 1/8" thick piece from a 1 1/2" board using a table saw, band saw or hand saw if that is all you have. Then you can thin the sides down to thickness, (2 mm), with planes, sanders or scapers. Absolute uniformity of thickness is not vital.

Brad

mcnilly
12-22-2009, 12:41 PM
did you use a thickness sander for yours? or did you use planes etc?

Bradford
12-22-2009, 01:53 PM
I used a band saw to resaw the sides to approx. 3/32" thick. I took them down to final thickness on my 6"x48" belt sander.
Brad

Bradford
12-22-2009, 02:14 PM
I just sent the plans for the no bending required concert size arch top ukulele to the group. Here are a couple of pics of the workboard I used to assemble mine. It consists of a piece of birch plywood and 16 1 1/8" high x 1 1/4" diameter dowels. Draw a line down the center of the board, and then draw the outline of your body plan on the board. You use 4 pieces of the dowel per side of the uke, two on the inside and two on the outside of the body plan outline. You then drill 16 clear holes for the wood screws that hold the dowels. The secret to making this work is when you drill the pilot holes in the dowels, drill them 1/8" off center. That allows you to twist the dowels, which then spin with a camming action that allows you to perfectly align the sides in place. The 5/16" holes you see around the perimeter are used for spool clamps to glue the top to the sides. If this is not clear to you, let me know and I'll do a drawing.

Brad

mcnilly
12-23-2009, 01:09 AM
What are you using to finish your ukes? i assume it would be best if we could get hold of some nitrocellulose lacquer?

nohandles
12-23-2009, 03:14 AM
What are you using to finish your ukes? i assume it would be best if we could get hold of some nitrocellulose lacquer?

You can get any supply you might need here www.stewmac.com
They have in stray cans too.

I used a thickness sander for the first time on this project. Before I used to use a 3 inch sanding disc in my drill press. I think I like the new sander better though.

Doug

mcnilly
12-23-2009, 05:32 AM
Im in the UK and although i've had a look at Stewmac shipping and its not too bad I'd rather avoid buying from overseas.
however if anyone else is in the UK and doing this maybve check out:
Tonetech (http://www.tonetechluthiersupplies.co.uk/)
David Dyke (http://www.luthierssupplies.co.uk/)

EDIT:
@Brad - how do you sharpen you plane blades and what angle do you grind them to? would you say its a difficult process or not?

Bradford
12-23-2009, 08:01 AM
I use nitrocellulose lacquer always. Usually either Stew-Mac or Behlens instrument grade. As for the bevel on the blades of the finger planes, I grind them to 30 degrees with a blade angle of 40 degrees. My drawings show a blade angle of 45 degrees, but my Sloane planes are between 35 and 40 degrees, so I flattened the angle slightly. I can't really tell any difference when using them. As for sharpening them, that is a whole different skill set in itself. I was a custom knifemaker before turning to lutherie, so it is second nature to me. All I can tell you is they have to be razor sharp to be usable. Some sort of sharpening guide may be called for.

Brad

camface
12-27-2009, 05:56 PM
I would certainly appreciate a more in depth guide in making the blades...

mcnilly
12-28-2009, 01:38 AM
As would I, currently im just going to buy them as i don't really know where to start on making them!
Cheers Brad,
Will

camface
12-28-2009, 06:45 AM
I just figure at $18 + shipping per blade, I'm better off learning how to make my own. I don't have many tools though...

EDIT:

Also, I'm using the side bender plans you gave us... but the lightbulbs are going out very quickly. I'm only getting them to stay on for twenty minutes or so. How long do your bulbs usually last?

Bradford
12-28-2009, 12:15 PM
When I get back home tomorrow, I'll put together a tutorial on making the blades for the planes. I have not had any problems with the light bulbs in my bender. Maybe your set up is a little too tight and things are getting too hot. You could try to drill some small ventilation holes in the bender to regulate the heat. Another solution is to hook up a dimmer control to it.

mcnilly
12-28-2009, 12:33 PM
When I get back home tomorrow, I'll put together a tutorial on making the blades for the planes. I have not had any problems with the light bulbs in my bender. Maybe your set up is a little too tight and things are getting too hot. You could try to drill some small ventilation holes in the bender to regulate the heat. Another solution is to hook up a dimmer control to it.

:drool:
Excellent! i can buy some cheapo blades of ebay then while im waiting for the guide and the saw blade to arrive i can get to setting the band saw up tomorrow and have a shot at building the plane body!

mcnilly
12-29-2009, 01:50 AM
Er, the plans for the plane are 1:1 when on A4?
oh well if not i have a practice on a scale model!

Bradford
12-29-2009, 06:30 PM
Well, that was an adventure. The new format would not let me log in, tried changing my password, no go. Tried reregistering, couldn't with same email address. Rayan told people having trouble posting to send him a PM, can't send a PM without being logged in. Changed password two more times, finally worked. Anyway mcnilly, the plans were drawn full size on 8.5" x 11.0" paper, if A4 is close to that you are good. They should be 2" long with a 3/4" wide blade. I'll see if I can put a blade making tutorial together tomorrow.

Brad

nohandles
12-30-2009, 03:43 AM
My plans came out about 12% small when I printed them so I put them into photo shop broke them up and reprinted to scale. I have to do a little running today but I'm going to start my plane when I get back. I would like to finish mine so epoxy is the glue of choice. I'm really excited to get these made and for the first time in 11 years I have a really workshop to work in. Accept for the fact we got a broken water line for Christmas so I can't put my tools where I want them until it gets replaced Monday. Doug

Bradford
12-30-2009, 02:36 PM
OK, I'm logged in for now, not certain how long it will last. Anyway here is a tutorial on the first of two ways to make a blade for a finger plane. I think it is the easiest of the two, I did it with just a Dremel tool with a cutoff wheel and drum sander. You will also need an appropriate size blade for a reciprocating saw. The first pic shows a reciprocating saw with an appropriate sized blade. This blade is 3/4" wide with the teeth and .050" thick. When the teeth are ground off the blade will be 5/8" wide, which is perfect for a small finger plane. First, you use the Dremel tool with a cutoff wheel to deeply score a 2" section of the blade. You then can use a pair of pliers to break off the scored section. You then use the drum sander on the Dremel tool to shape the blade, grind off the teeth and slightly round the edge of the blade that will be beveled. I cut a 30 degree angle in a small block of wood and drilled a hole in the block to allow for clamping the blade. Use the sanding drum to bevel the blade to 30 degrees. The blade is then sharpened using the wood block jig and a diamond hone. The nice thing about this method is the saw blade has already been hardened and tempered, so you don't have to. Care has to be taken not to overheat the blade while grinding, but if you are holding it in your hand, that is not likely to happen. If you have access to a belt sander or bench grinder, it is even easier.

Brad

zweisen
12-31-2009, 05:38 PM
I scrapped the pine I was working with today because a friend gave me some beautiful sitka spruce he's had aging in his workshop for about seven years for the top. And I got some furniture grade bird's eye maple 1x4s today for two dollars a board foot. I can't wait to get started over tomorrow with this gorgeous wood. I think it's gonna turn out great. As Benedetto and Taylor have both proven, you can build a great instrument out of even the worst wood specimens, but with a deal like I got today, I guess I no longer have a reason(money) not to use some good wood. Sorry if I'm a little off topic, but I had to tell some folks with an interest, seeing how the wife doesn't exactly share the excitement. lol. I'm roughing out the neck tomorrow with the maple, and I'll post pics in the next day or two.
HAPPY NEW YEARS!

Bradford
01-01-2010, 01:06 PM
That wood sounds great. You are in Alaska, I would think that Sitka spruce should be available and relatively cheap. If you are going to use maple for the neck, you may wish to consider making a three piece design, especially if the 1x4's are flat sawn. I would take take two pieces of the maple and glue a 1/4" thick piece of mahogany or other stable dark wood between. That would make for a good looking, very stable neck, just a thought. Glad you are getting started on this and looking forward to seeing the results.
Brad

Dave Higham
01-01-2010, 10:59 PM
What Brad says about laminating producing a stable neck is perfectly true. On the other hand, it has to be said that Fender has produced hundreds of thousands of one-piece guitar and bass necks out of flat-sawn maple.

zweisen
01-02-2010, 01:12 AM
Brad, yes I do live in Alaska, but ,unfortunately, I live in a somewhat desolate region of the interior, where the permafrost and -65 degree Fahrenheit winters are non conducive to growing any sizable spruce, so it is still primarily shipped up here from lower in the state, and with the inflated costs of virtually everything in Alaska, ends up costing only a fraction less than what someone would expect to pay in the lower 48 states for Luthier grade Sitka Spruce.

As for the dark stable wood in the neck, I think I will give that a shot. Although Dave proves a good point about Leo Fender's necks, I think having extra support can't hurt, and aesthetically would add a great accent to the lighter tones of the maple and spruce I'm using.
Thank you both very much for the input, and keep an eye out for pics in the next couple of days.

Bradford
01-02-2010, 10:23 AM
The only neck that I built that warped on me was a maple neck on an arch top guitar that I made many years ago. Even the truss rod in it didn't help. It was probably just a fluke, but ever since then I have laminated my maple necks with mahogany. Fortuneately, that guitar was one of a handful of instruments that I built that never sold, it warped in the music store before then and I just took it back and stripped it for parts. As for Fender, I will admit that the idea of a bolt on neck has some appeal, I have resisted the idea, but as I start to sell many more instruments lately, I am starting to rethink how I attach the necks.
Brad

nohandles
01-03-2010, 02:00 AM
I've made several bolt on necks over the years and it sure makes it easy to put the instrument together, Plus it is great for finishing.

Bradford
01-04-2010, 04:57 PM
I meant to post these instruction a few days ago. Here is the second method of making the blades for the fingerplanes. The pics show what I used to make in another life, so I do know a bit about bladesmithing. If you do not have the grinding tools needed to make the blades as previously instructed, here is another way. If you have a gas torch you can anneal the saw blade so you can cut it and shape it with a file. Materials needed; saw blade as before, gas torch, preferably Mapp gas, glass jar filled with sawdust, jar with olive oil and a small magnet on a stiff wire. Blacksmiths use the term cherry red to describe steel heated to its critical temperature. This is very subjective and depends greatly on the ambient light. Here is a secret; steel loses its magnetic properties when heated to its critical temperature. In other words, heat it until it is red hot and a magnet no longer sticks to it.
1. Heat the segment of the saw blade you wish to use until red hot and place it in the glass jar with the sawdust. Be prepared for the sawdust to flame up, tamp it down to put it out. You want the blade to cool as slow as possible, so it is as soft to cut as you can make it.
2. After the blade has cooled you can use a file to score the section that you wish to use, break it off with a vise and pliers.
3. Use the file to remove the teeth, file a slight curve in one end and file a 30 degree bevel on the curved end.
4. To reharden the blade, heat the curved end red hot and quench it in the olive oil.
5. To temper the blade place it in the oven at 400 degrees F. for an hour. The blade is now ready to be sharpened.

Brad

mcnilly
01-05-2010, 08:04 AM
:drool: That is a really nice knife! good instructions - thanks Brad!

zweisen
01-08-2010, 02:24 PM
Brad,
do you have any pictures of the completed soprano version of the traditional archtop by chance?

Bradford
01-08-2010, 04:50 PM
I have not built a soprano arch yet. I am in the process of taking an order for one at this time. I'll keep everyone posted as things progress

Brad

zweisen
01-09-2010, 12:00 AM
Thanks brad, I appreciate it. One more question: On the 6 string version from your youtube videos, to what dimensions did you widen the neck at the nut and body to accomodate the extra strings?

Bradford
01-09-2010, 08:20 AM
The width at the nut is 1 3/4", which is pretty tight string spacing, but was requested by the customer because he has small hands. If I was to build it for myself, I would go with 1 13/16".
Brad

zweisen
01-09-2010, 08:23 AM
Thank you ,Brad.

Zach

byte
01-12-2010, 09:45 AM
Hi All,
I saw some requests for an archtop soprano. I've been playing with this for a bit and like to get some feedback.
Please feel free to use the design as you wish. If you do make one please post a picture for the rest of the group.
I just want to give back a little to the group.

byte
01-12-2010, 10:10 AM
oops, having trouble with the file
Please email me if you would like like a copy at steve (at) trianon dot com

Bradford
01-14-2010, 04:30 PM
Here is an outline of how I assemble my arch top ukuleles. There is nothing sacred about the order and many others do it differently, but hopefully it will help some of you get a handle on how to proceed. There are of course many other subroutines that must be done between these steps. Let me know if you have any questions.

Brad

mcnilly
01-15-2010, 06:43 AM
Brad,
What sort of wood am i looking to buy, i have decided on a spruce front and back with maple sides. What form do i buy it in, shortish planks? and then resaw on the bandsaw then finish with planes, sand paper etc?
Cheers

Bradford
01-15-2010, 09:37 AM
Hi mcnilly, make sure you have seen my YouTube video on wood selection, it is on page 9 of this thread. You are correct that the most economical way to buy the wood is in short 3/4" x 5" planks. You may find that difficult however. I can't find spruce in the lumber stores, and I'm sitting here surrounded by spruce trees. The next choice is to order the wood from luthier wood suppliers, but that can be expensive. A wedge of spruce for an arch top mandolin, which is the size you need, runs about $30 - $40. It is probably best to see what woods are readily available to you and then decide what to use. The next hurdle is to find the wood in quartersawn pieces. Vertical grain wood is rare and everyone wants it, so be prepared to sort through a lot of lumber to find what you need. That is part of the joy of lutherie, finding the perfect wood for a project. I get really excited when that happens.

Brad

nohandles
01-16-2010, 02:47 PM
I just got 3 pieces of 4/4 sitka 26 by 6 from this company http://www.hardwoodint.com/aasitsprucve.html for 30 bucks rough sawed. It looks to be fine spruce. Check them out.

nohandles
01-20-2010, 06:20 AM
Hey guys are we dieing here? Where is everyone on their builds. I've been stalled getting the new shop put together but the wiring will be in tonight and then I can get moving again.http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4065/4288880555_9c2d3655c8.jpghttp://farm3.static.flickr.com/2722/4289606202_52f975a6a4.jpg

PaulGeo
01-20-2010, 08:03 AM
I've stalled trying to figure out what lumber to use. I may pick up some pieces from the place nohandle recommended. BTW, nice shop (and dog).

Bradford
01-20-2010, 09:41 AM
Sorry, I've been scrambling to finish two ukes for customers that are way behind in the delivery schedule. Then I will be going full bore to build a tenor arch top in time for the Gorge Uke Fest. I will document the build with pics and videos as I go. Hopefully some of the others out there will be building also. Now that Bill Collings has joined in building arch top ukes and everyone sees what he is charging for them, we will get some added incentive.

Brad

Bradford
01-22-2010, 08:38 AM
Please welcome Dennis ONeil from New Zealand to the group. We now have 47 builders worldwide. For those of you that may wish for more in depth info on building arch top instruments, there are three books that I recommend.
1. " The Mandolin Project" by Graham McDonald
2. "Making an Arch Top Guitar" by Bob Benedetto
3. "Building a Bluegrass Mandolin" by Roger Siminoff

All three of these cover the specifics of arch top construction although they are for diierent intruments.
Thanks,
Brad

grammy
01-22-2010, 10:01 AM
please please mr ukulele builders make your arch tops overstrung. please please please

DPO
01-22-2010, 10:08 PM
Thank you Brad for the welcome and for sending me the plans so quickly. I have been lurking here for a while and have an awful lot to learn, but I look forward to getting started in the not to distant future.

Dennis

Bradford
01-23-2010, 05:01 PM
Hey, If anyone else is waiting in the wings, send me an email and I'll get you the plans. Twenty four years ago one of my first instruments was a carved F model mandolin. While it was very crude by my current standards, when shown to a local guitar store owner, it was good enough to get an invitation to build mandolins for him. The rest is history. Give it a try, you might surprise yourself.

Brad

Bradford
01-28-2010, 03:59 PM
Ok, I have finally caught up with my orders and have set aside some time to build what I want to build. I've a little over three weeks before the Gorge Uke Fest, so I am going to try and finish a tenor arch top for that. I will be documenting the build with pics and generally following my outline. Here is what I did today.

Brad

Flyfish57
01-28-2010, 05:38 PM
Nice work Brad! I'm going to order the wood for mine next week--I'm still thinking green so I hope it doesn't change :-)

Bradford
01-28-2010, 06:13 PM
Thanks, this one is going to be finished with a green sunburst. that will be different.
Brad

Flyfish57
01-28-2010, 06:22 PM
Well, I'm doing a green sunburst with flames!! :-)

Clifford
01-31-2010, 07:53 AM
Hi All,

Just caught up with this group after searching around for info. on building an archtop.

I had finally decided the Kala was not for me and settled on the idea of building my own. After an hour or so searching the 'net I've set my heart on a pineapple arch top tenor, during the search I came across a picture of one with a spectacular sunburst finish. Problem is, although I thought I'd book marked it, I can't now find the damn thing.
Anyone got any ideas where it was I might have seen the picture?

Reading through this thread has got me realy excited and now I can't wait to get started on my own build.

Clifford.

Timbuck
01-31-2010, 08:02 AM
I've just noticed that this thread started last September..Has anyone finished their uke yet????

Bradford
01-31-2010, 08:38 AM
If you check out the links in this thread to my You Tube videos, I've finished a no bending required concert model, and have shown a six string tenor body with a baritone scale. I'm just finishing the six string as we speak and will post pics soon. I've also just started my showpiece tenor and will document the progress over the next couple of weeks. Many of the others in the group are in various stages of getting started.

Brad

zweisen
01-31-2010, 05:50 PM
I bent my sides today. I'm using an inside mold. I know it's not that common in non-bowed instruments, but it worked well for me. I steam bent the maple sides. If anybody has any questions as to how I did this, feel free to ask.

Bradford
01-31-2010, 06:14 PM
Thanks a lot for sharing that, good job. I love to see alternative methods of doing things. It is also nice to see another group member getting started on this. I think we are going to have several people building soon, it will be great watching everyone's progress.

Brad

sidewinder
02-01-2010, 05:18 PM
Wow! I've been researching building archtop guitars and planing on building a completely mahogany one, when I came across 2 wonderful cutoffs that were too small for that but would be perfect for a uke.

Count me in.

Bradford
02-01-2010, 06:58 PM
Here are some more progress pics. Got the top carved, S holes cut, top braced, glued to the sides and bound the top with rosewood. It was a busy day.

Brad

mcnilly
02-02-2010, 10:42 AM
Looks fantastic Brad, I might get round to building one, i sure hope i do. Maybe in the summer when all my exams have finished.

Bradford
02-03-2010, 01:14 PM
Here are some more pics. I wanted the look of a maple neck to match the sides and back, but I think mahogany is more stable and acoustically superior, so I built a three piece neck, that looks like it is maple, but it is mostly mahogany. The first couple of pics show how I put it together. The only mahogany that shows is a thin strip down the back.

Brad

camface
02-03-2010, 04:00 PM
I like that. Very clever, and the strip makes it look even better.

Flyfish57
02-03-2010, 04:08 PM
Interesting neck build Brad. Can you post a pic of the heel? I'm ordering the wood for mine tomorrow and making jigs this weekend. Full steam ahead on ukulele no.5!!

mrUKETOBER
02-05-2010, 08:47 AM
I bent my sides today. I'm using an inside mold. I know it's not that common in non-bowed instruments, but it worked well for me. I steam bent the maple sides. If anybody has any questions as to how I did this, feel free to ask.



yea id like plans for the bender and steps on how you steam bent them please :D



also brad... i stopped gettin emails from you on this a while back

zweisen
02-08-2010, 10:11 AM
yea id like plans for the bender and steps on how you steam bent them please :D


Sorry to disappoint you but I have no plans for the bender, I will however explain what I used and how I did it so that you too may improvise something.

I used a small metal toolbox, and made a rack on which to sit the sides. Every few minutes for about half an hour i would add boiling water to the bottom of the toolbox and close the lid. The hot steam made the maple pretty pliable, and I simply used dowels and rubber bands to hold the sides to the form of the mold. I later cut the excess and once the sides were dry, I glued them to the neck and tail blocks. I then removed the top layer of my two layer mold to add the lining strips for gluing the top on. once the top is glued on, remove the rest of the mold and you can add the linings for the back.
SO there's nothing fancy about the way I did it, I simply used the materials(i.e. the toolbox) which I had readily available. AS for the mold, I've just read alot about fiddle making and combined different stages and aspects from a number of different books and online sources.I am very much an amateur, so my methods may be like heresy to the luthiery community, but this simple process has worked very well for me and I will continue to use it. my sd card for my camera just kicked the bucket, but as soon as i get a new one, I will post pictures of the simple setup.

Bradford
02-08-2010, 01:00 PM
Hey zweisen, that is really clever thinking. In my humble opinion, much of the art of lutherie is making do with what you have. That is especially important with this group and project, as we have some members who have more tools and equipment than I have, and some members with very little experience or tools. The latter will have to be clever, flexible and persistant if they are to succeed. Anyway, thanks very much for showing us your methods, I appreciate it greatly.

Brad

erich@muttcrew.net
02-08-2010, 08:55 PM
Brad, I really like your idea with the three piece neck. The little strip in the back is cool - I'm just wondering how you went about shaping the neck without the strip getting wider towards the top.

nohandles
02-09-2010, 02:42 AM
Here are some more pics. I wanted the look of a maple neck to match the sides and back, but I think mahogany is more stable and acoustically superior, so I built a three piece neck, that looks like it is maple, but it is mostly mahogany. The first couple of pics show how I put it together. The only mahogany that shows is a thin strip down the back.

Brad

Brad, It looks to me like your dove tail is pointing out instead of through the body. Can do give us a little more details about you jioning technique ? Doug

Bradford
02-09-2010, 09:18 AM
Erich, you have to taper the neck from the fingerboard side. Any shaping done on the back of the neck has to be done very carefully in order to keep the back stripe even.

Doug, I came up with this method of joining the neck because conventional dovetails take too long and I dislike adding any more metal to a uke than necessary, so I don't do bolt ons. Basically what I do is cut a dovetail groove in both the heel of the neck and in the headblock. I then use self stick sandpaper on the front of the uke over the joint area to sand the neck heel to a perfect fit. I then use a 1/4" lag screw to temporarily attach the neck to the body. After checking to make sure all alignments are correct, I use the lag screw and glue on the neck. After the glue has dried, I remove the lag screw and install an hourglass shaped block into the dovetails. It is reversable, like a regular dovetail joint, but much easier to fit and align the neck.

Brad

erich@muttcrew.net
02-09-2010, 11:39 AM
I'm afraid our whole neck shaping and tapering process, at least up to this point, is really not set up to do it that way. We may have to stick with a center bar design for now.

Regarding the dovetail/hourglass neck joint, could you post step-by-step drawings or photos? That would be great.

Erich

nohandles
02-09-2010, 02:07 PM
Erich, you have to taper the neck from the fingerboard side. Any shaping done on the back of the neck has to be done very carefully in order to keep the back stripe even.

Doug, I came up with this method of joining the neck because conventional dovetails take too long and I dislike adding any more metal to a uke than necessary, so I don't do bolt ons. Basically what I do is cut a dovetail groove in both the heel of the neck and in the headblock. I then use self stick sandpaper on the front of the uke over the joint area to sand the neck heel to a perfect fit. I then use a 1/4" lag screw to temporarily attach the neck to the body. After checking to make sure all alignments are correct, I use the lag screw and glue on the neck. After the glue has dried, I remove the lag screw and install an hourglass shaped block into the dovetails. It is reversable, like a regular dovetail joint, but much easier to fit and align the neck.


Brad

Brad could you post some pictures of this whole think? I'm looking for a way to speed up from the conventional process for all the things I'm building- Doug

Bradford
02-09-2010, 04:50 PM
I'll see if I can find some time in the next couple of days and do a drawing of what I do.

Brad

camface
02-09-2010, 07:12 PM
Bradford, even with all the reputation of the other builders on this site, I would say you are the most helpful luthier on these forums. Thank you for your contributions and the time you have put into the forum, and this thread itself. It is greatly appreciated!

luckyd
02-10-2010, 09:33 AM
Very innovative. Love the idea. I'm wondering about grain orientation, and if it is as important on a ukulele as it is on a guitar. being a smaller neck, with less stress, I'm thinking no, but you have more experience here.

mcnilly
02-10-2010, 09:59 AM
Bradford, even with all the reputation of the other builders on this site, I would say you are the most helpful luthier on these forums. Thank you for your contributions and the time you have put into the forum, and this thread itself. It is greatly appreciated!

Agreed. Thank you very much for your time in helping us, you have really inspired me to try something i probably wouldn't have if i hadn't arrived in this thread!

Bradford
02-10-2010, 04:56 PM
Thanks everyone for the kind comments. In my 24 years of building, I have benefitted greatly by more experienced luthiers taking the time and trouble to share their knowledge with me. The wonderful thing about this art, is that techniques and opinions are shared willingly, for everyones benefit. I have had a lot of fun with this so far, and I'm looking forward to seeing what gets built.

Brad

nohandles
02-11-2010, 02:23 AM
Brad I have to say this is a fun project. Though I'm lagging behind right now I'm sure to catch up soon. One of Brads pictures inspired me to make space saving Jigs since I just don't have the space for large molds. I took 3/4 PVC pipe- its 1.100 on the outside. I turned it down to and inch. I then drilled holes out .550 around the outside of the guitar I'm building and .550 on the inside. Here is a picture. http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2734/4345412767_c7f3c4dd51.jpg

It worked out extremely well and it is much easier to store than all the molds I need. Having a place to go and exchange ideas it a marvelous way to build all of of out knowledge bass. Post some pictures guys we will learn something new that way

mrUKETOBER
02-11-2010, 06:28 AM
still not gettin the new emails just sayin

Clifford
02-17-2010, 01:10 AM
Almost finished getting my materials together and should be starting the build in the next week or two so I've been taking a closer look at the plans and dimensions.
Just a few points I'm hoping someone can enlighten me on, probably due to a terminology/language confusion -

Fretboard thickness is given as 1.40" - What exactly does this refer to? As far as I can see, the fretboard is about 5mm thick.

Rib thickness/depth is .078 x 1.5 - What are the "Ribs"? (I'm thinking possibly the 'sides'?)

Lastly, drawing 3/3 for the Pineapple says - "Solid linings for unbound.........kerfed linings if bound". Why the difference?

Many thanks for any help,

Clifford.

Bradford
02-17-2010, 07:21 AM
Thank you Clifford, clearly I need a proof reader. The fretboard thickness should have been .140", not 1.40". The ribs are the sides, .078" thick and 1.5" deep. The reason you need to use kerfed linings if you intend to bind the uke, is they are much wider at the top than solid linings. If you route a binding channel with solid linings, you may find that you have routed all the way through the glue joint holding the top and back to the sides. Thank you for the questions and I'm glad that you are gearing up to build. I could not wait and went ahead and strung up the green arch top uke last night. It sounds great. I will rub it out on Friday, and will post the first finished pics of it then.

Brad

Clifford
02-17-2010, 10:43 PM
Thanks for clearing that up Brad. Looking forward to seeing pics of your greenie.

Bradford
02-19-2010, 02:01 PM
As promised, here are the pics of the latest.

Brad

mcnilly
02-19-2010, 02:09 PM
Wow, thats crazy, i love it! Really nice work brad, as usual! keep it up, I love your work.

nohandles
02-19-2010, 02:28 PM
As promised, here are the pics of the latest.

Brad

Wwhere dis you get the trapiziod tail piece?

Flyfish57
02-19-2010, 05:46 PM
Brad that came out great! I'm going to try the greenburst too.

Bradford
02-19-2010, 05:59 PM
Thanks guys. Doug I made the tailpiece. The strings are still stretching on it but so far it sounds good. I'm taking it to the Gorge Uke Fest tomorrow, we will see what people think.

Brad

mrUKETOBER
02-19-2010, 06:56 PM
brad thats awesome ! i love it !

nohandles
02-20-2010, 02:49 AM
Brad its a beauty and I love the green burst finish. How does it sound?

Bradford
02-21-2010, 01:21 PM
It has only been strung up for two days so the strings are still stretching and it is a little tight sounding right now. The Engelmann spruce I used in previous archtops is more easily driven than the Sitka spruce on this one, but he dynamics so far seem very good. The harder you strum it, the louder it gets. I think it is going to sound terrific after it opens up.

Brad

Bradford
02-22-2010, 08:50 AM
Nohandles asked me for some specific info about the sunburst, so I might as well post everything in case there are others who are interested. The dye used is TransTint concentrated dye solution that I picked up at my local Woodcraft store. The colors used were bright green, #6028, and lemon yellow, #6020B. This dye can be used in water, alcohol or used to tint lacquer. A sunburst finish can be applied in two ways; it can be sprayed on using tinted lacquer, or the stain can be applied to the bare wood by hand. The easiest and most common technique is to spray it on with tinted lacquer, provided you have an airbrush or touch up gun. Stew-Mac also sells colored lacquer in spray can, but only in traditional colors. I hand stained this uke, which is only for the strong willed, especially for a bearclaw spruce top. Hand staining spruce can lead to a splotchy appearance, as spruce absorbs the stain very unevenly. I have had the stain go all the way through the center of a 5mm thick carved top mandolin. To avoid this, I first rubbed the top with some thinned shellac. After the shellac had dried, I sanded the top down to bare wood. The pores of the spruce absorb the shellac and help prevent the stain from going all over. This "helps" to acheive a more even appearance. In contrast, hand staining the maple sides, back and neck was easy. The Mandolin Cafe online and YouTube has a lot of info on doing a sunburst finish. One of the problems of hand staining things, is you can't tell what it will look like until you spray on the final finish. The stained bare wood does not look terribly attractive, but the look improves as you spray on more and more coats of finish. The most important key, is to experiment with spare scraps of wood before you tackle the instrument.

Brad

nohandles
02-24-2010, 02:23 AM
Thanks Brad for sharing your technique for sun bursting. I have a lot of powdered pigments so If I can figure out what would look good on walnut I'll shoot one also. Doug

Bradford
02-24-2010, 08:52 AM
Doug, you may wish to consider using a black dye to darken the edges and a touch of yellow or amber for the center. I forgot to mention that I mix my dyes with alcohol to limit the amount of grain raise when I hand sunburst. Also, for the beginners keep in mind that often very subtle colorations can be very effective and attractive, noting that my example is anything but subtle.

For everyone's info, I just sent the plans out to Jesse, we now have 54 would be builders in the group. The US including Alaska and Hawaii is of course well represented, but we also have members in the UK, France and Germany, with New Zealand representing the southern hemisphere. I have been adding a couple of folks a week usually. I'd like to take the opportunity to again encourage everyone to post their progress on this thread. If you are just gathering wood, let us know what you intend to use, you may supply some ideas to others. If you have any questions or problems, please post them also, others may be experiencing the same difficulty. We have considerable experience in the group besides me, and I am sure we can come up with some ingenious solutions to building issues.

Brad

Clifford
04-07-2010, 10:12 AM
Hi All,

Thought I'd share my progress so far.
http://i726.photobucket.com/albums/ww267/Clifford_48/UU/TopBack.jpg
On the left is the top, straight as it came from the CNC router. On the right is the back, after smoothing and sanding. Both were produced from the same cut file. I'm very pleased with the results as producing the CAD drawings took far longer than carving by hand would have done, and I wasn't sure it was going to work at all untill yesterday.
I did it more for the challenge, just to see if it was feasible on our machine. It's so satisfying when things work out as hoped.

Clifford

Bradford
04-07-2010, 05:44 PM
Hey Clifford those look really good, I like the pineapple shape. What woods are you using? I am excited to see the finished instrument.

Brad

Clifford
04-08-2010, 09:28 AM
I got the shape simply by tracing round my Makapili Concert Pineapple. It's by far the nicest sounding Uke I've ever played. I then adapted the cross- section profiles from your drawings to suit.

Not certain what the wood is. First I thought it was Parana Pine but now I'm not too sure. Someone suggested Birdseye Pine but I don't think it's that either. It was just a piece I found at work, fairly close grained and well seasoned. I didn't want to use anything too special as this is all largely experimental for me. At the same time, there was no point in spending so much time machining scrap wood just incase it turns out OK. This piece seems stiff enough and carves beautifully so I'm quietly optimistic that it might sound good.

Anyone got any suggestions as to what wood it might be?

Bradford
04-08-2010, 07:56 PM
I love it, building with mystery wood. If it turns out good, you are going to go nuts trying to figure out what you used.
Brad

Clifford
05-03-2010, 06:30 AM
Well here it is. Based largely on Brad's design but changed a little to suit my taste and construction techniques. It's concert scale, the top and back are an unknown softwood and were roughed out by CNC router then finished by hand, the sides are 1.5mm Birch 'Aircraft' ply which was let-in to a 2mm x 3mm rebate in the top and back, thereby eliminating the need for linings. Fretboard, tailpiece and bridge are from Beech. The bridge is tipped with Ebony, the nut is acrylic and the tuners are from a canibalised Mahalo.

I'm trying Worth BMs first, these have given it a bright, punchy sound with superb sustain. I'm very pleased indeed with the results. Thanks to everyone who has given help and advice in this thread and especially Brad for getting things going in the first place.
http://i726.photobucket.com/albums/ww267/Clifford_48/DSC00468.jpghttp://i726.photobucket.com/albums/ww267/Clifford_48/DSC00469.jpg

Bradford
05-03-2010, 09:16 AM
Thank you Clifford, that is very lovely indeed. The sunburst is very well done. I am gratifed to finally see someone build one and yours looks especially nice. I'm sure everyone is going to want a sound sample.

Brad

bluesuke
05-03-2010, 09:37 AM
That looks Fantastic Clifford. Well done

Matt Clara
05-03-2010, 10:24 AM
Hi All,

Thought I'd share my progress so far.
http://i726.photobucket.com/albums/ww267/Clifford_48/UU/TopBack.jpg
On the left is the top, straight as it came from the CNC router. On the right is the back, after smoothing and sanding. Both were produced from the same cut file. I'm very pleased with the results as producing the CAD drawings took far longer than carving by hand would have done, and I wasn't sure it was going to work at all untill yesterday.
I did it more for the challenge, just to see if it was feasible on our machine. It's so satisfying when things work out as hoped.

Clifford

It takes far longer the first time. After you've got the file, you can make as many as you'd like.

Clifford
05-09-2010, 08:32 AM
Here's a short video with a taste of what it sounds like.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9n4KjX84Aj8

I must say, it's dissappointing the way enthusiasm for this thread seems to have fizzled out recently. Am I realy the only one to have actualy finished their archtop? Is anyone else even making one?
I do hope so. I got so much pleasure and learnt a huge amout from making this, it was such a tremendously rewarding experience. Thanks again to all those who gave so freely of their help and encouragement.

Clifford.

SweetWaterBlue
05-09-2010, 08:38 AM
It looks and sounds really great Clifford. I am sure I will want to refer back to it, if I ever get to the point of building an arch top. Thanks.

Bradford
05-09-2010, 07:38 PM
Well Clifford, that is certainly a nice sounding instrument. Thanks for sharing. I hope your experience will inspire some others to give it a go. It is really nice that you were able to do exactly what I had envisioned; take some modest and readily available materials and turn them into a very nice ukulele.

Brad

Flyfish57
05-10-2010, 03:30 AM
I must say, it's dissappointing the way enthusiasm for this thread seems to have fizzled out recently. Am I realy the only one to have actualy finished their archtop? Is anyone else even making one?
I.

Clifford, That's one nice sounding uke! I'm still planning on building one. I'm almost done with my latest tenor so I'll be delving in soon,
Stephen

Vic D
05-10-2010, 04:40 AM
Well I meant to post a couple of times and got sidetracked. I love it, I love the black burst, the color mix, and the sound and tone seem sweet over the recording. My first thought was "I want it.". That's a really hip uke there Clifford. Excellent job, and great picking.

Doug
05-10-2010, 06:03 AM
Great use of materials, Clifford. Love the burst and the video.
Doug

Bradford
05-10-2010, 07:59 AM
Clifford's efforts have created some renewed interest, I have been sending out the plans to some new folks, so if anyone else wishes to join the party let me know. Also, I built all of the tools to test their design before drawing up the plans. I have three fingerplanes, a light bulb heated side bender and a thickness caliper, none of which I need. If there is anyone out there with limited resouces, who would promise to build something if I sent them the tools, let me know and I'll ship them to you.

Brad

Bradford
05-10-2010, 12:08 PM
I've found someone to send the tools to.
Thanks,
Brad

luckyd
05-20-2010, 08:20 AM
Hey Clifford, great uke. Does it have a name? I just finished up with my luthier program I was in, including an archtop construction class. I have built a mold, but different than what we have seen here. I will post pics this weekend. It's based on violin construction, using an inside mold. This is the way I learned, and just different. So I thouhgt I would give it a go, and show another method. I have all my wood, and will show that as well. I am working part time, and will be building all summer, so I expect to have results mid July. I do think there is great interest in this thread still, sometimes it's hard to pull the trigger though. Keep up the good work, and encouragement, and we will see afew more I'm sure.

Paul

JBennett
05-20-2010, 08:46 AM
That looks great. I think the reason for the l lowered enthusiasm is the thread has become too long. Lots of pages with just comments.

Now that it's done, you should put together a new thread with a "digest" version of the build. Let readers experience it from the start again, but edited down to the most interesting steps.

Great work.

Ken W
05-20-2010, 12:45 PM
Wow! Nicely done Clifford. I love the use of second life materials. This instrument has great tone and volume.

Vic D
05-20-2010, 06:17 PM
Making a trip to the lumber yard monday and I'll try to pick up something on the cheap for my first one... the thing is I want it to look like a Gretsch, black with white binding.

JBennett
05-21-2010, 06:07 AM
Great idea Vic. I'd love to see a Gretsch style uke. I was thinking about doing a Gretsch style solid body uke. like a min duo-Jet with a single dynasonic pickup.

Vic D
05-21-2010, 06:31 AM
Great idea Vic. I'd love to see a Gretsch style uke. I was thinking about doing a Gretsch style solid body uke. like a min duo-Jet with a single dynasonic pickup.

Awesome axe. Now I wonder where to find a Bigsby for a tenor archtop uke. :)

JBennett
05-21-2010, 07:06 AM
That was my plan. To buy a B-3 Bigsby and clip off the top and bottom string pin. My concern is that I might not get enough tension from 4 high uke strings, but I'm guessing all I'd need to do is change up the spring in the Bigsby to make it work.

http://elderly.com/accessories/items/B3.htm

http://www.bigsbyguitars.com/vibe/wp-content/uploads/trem_b3_l.jpg

Vic D
05-21-2010, 08:14 AM
Hmmm.... sounds like a plan.

Matt Clara
05-21-2010, 09:59 AM
Here's a short video with a taste of what it sounds like.

I must say, it's disappointing the way enthusiasm for this thread seems to have fizzled out recently. Am I realy the only one to have actualy finished their archtop? Is anyone else even making one?
I do hope so. I got so much pleasure and learnt a huge amount from making this, it was such a tremendously rewarding experience. Thanks again to all those who gave so freely of their help and encouragement.

Clifford.

I'm waiting on my cnc router.

ps. it sounds great!

pps. care to share the model you made for the cnc carving?

luckyd
05-22-2010, 06:33 AM
You guy's are funny.

Vic D
05-22-2010, 01:30 PM
You guy's are funny.

Heh, it's cool too. Doing what you enjoy and communicating with so many peeps into the same thing at the touch of a keyboard... boy howdy times have changed since KISS concerts and clackers. Wait... KISS is still passing the test of time, glass clackers... not so much. I'm rambling again aren't I.

Vic D
05-22-2010, 01:44 PM
Clifford, just watched the video one more time soze I could jot down the ingredients. Gotta say I think you have a real winner there., the volume and tone are simply amazing. Most interested in the sides and top, aircraft birch ply for the sides and close grained pine for the top right? I was wondering, since you're into cad and aircraft stuff, if you've given much thought to two tier tops sandwiched with Nomex paper honeycomb for the center. Do you think it's feasable to use that cad program with the cnc to shape the honeycomb on an archtop? The thin veneer (why not close grained pine?) could then be vacuum glued to the honeycomb pretty easy I think. Maybe the honeycome would get a dip in CA before shaping... Story goes that this kind of top is like 30% lighter and gives a more balanced volume and tone across the whole top... and of course it's a lot louder.. and the deflection would be more predictable/stable across the top I think.. Not that your uke isn't loud golly shucks no! I'ts loud and proud and sweet sounding man. But imagine it being even louder with the tone spread out evenly through observations in the process...

This kinda stuff brings back memories of when I worked in a plastics fabrication shop for a year... only with wood. Man, I've had a lot of different jobs... I dropped out of the 8th grade and started work making/painting signs, getting paid under the table. I kinda envy people sometimes that hold one profession and hone it down... I'm a jack of all trades... master of...

Just wondering stuff,
Vic

Bradford
06-09-2010, 05:29 PM
I have been having an enjoyable email conversation with Garry Petrisic of Australia. Garry has independently started making an arch top uke and stumbled on to the fact that I have already done so, and sent me an email asking for some details. I have sent him the plans and he has kindly shared what he has done so far. It seems like both of us have been greatly influenced by Bob Benedetto's book on making an arch top guitar. Here are some of the pics he has shared with me. I look forward to see how this build will progress.

Brad

Matt Clara
06-09-2010, 06:53 PM
I have been having an enjoyable email conversation with Garry Petrisic of Australia. Garry has independently started making an arch top uke and stumbled on to the fact that I have already done so, and sent me an email asking for some details. I have sent him the plans and he has kindly shared what he has done so far. It seems like both of us have been greatly influenced by Bob Benedetto's book on making an arch top guitar. Here are some of the pics he has shared with me. I look forward to see how this build will progress.

Brad

Looks like he's strengthening the soundhole area with fiberglass and epoxy...? Looks great.

Bradford
06-09-2010, 07:12 PM
Usually you just use gauze and Titebond. I do the same thing with the F holes on mandolins and arch top ukes.

Brad

Infiltr8
06-16-2010, 05:15 PM
Is it too late to join the archtop party? I've been researching for the past few months on this subject and stumbled upon this forum. I especially dig the fact that you have plans for some homemade finger planes. Any chance I can be put on the mailing list? Thanks in advance.

Garrett

Bradford
06-16-2010, 06:46 PM
Hey Infiltr8, send me a PM with your email address and I'll send you the plans. UU's Allen of Barron River Guitars has also joined the group. He has posted some pics of his work on this forum and I'm excited about having someone with his skills on board. I've been meaning to do an update on some of the things I have learned, so here it is. As for the thicknesses shown on my plans, the original idea was for most of you to use non-traditional woods, so I left things just slightly thicker than if you are using luthier grade wood. I would take a high quality spruce top down to 1.8 mm in the recurve area and have the center section be 3.6 mm. Also because the back does not have to support any string tension, it can go a little thinner. For high quality maple, I would recommend 1.7 mm in the recurve area and 3.2 mm thick in the center. I am starting on a concert size archtop for Daniel of Germany. I'll be posting some progress pics of that build.

Brad

Infiltr8
06-16-2010, 07:19 PM
PM sent. Thanks for the preemptive clarification on the measurements.

Garrett

Twitch
06-19-2010, 05:01 AM
Hi Brad,

I am also interested in joining the group. This thread is great and am excited to try this project.

I sent you a PM with my email address.

Thanks,

Delmar

Bradford
06-19-2010, 11:42 AM
Garry has sent me some more progress pics. Here they are. It looks like a beautiful instrument so far, I'm looking forward to seeing it finished.

Brad

Vic D
06-19-2010, 07:28 PM
I absolutely love the tribal type sound holes. I had those in mind for my own builds and now... lookit that!

Bradford
06-21-2010, 08:33 AM
Here are some more pics from Garry. He has put a 12" radius on the fretboard.

Brad

fahrner
06-21-2010, 08:55 AM
That looks just way too nice on the inside.

Garry Petrisic
06-22-2010, 12:30 AM
Should look as good on the inside as it does on the outside. I am not selling these so I have the luxury of being a little different.
Garry

Garry Petrisic
06-22-2010, 12:34 AM
Pinched from Benedetto. The design is not exact but the shapes are true to his style. Had his permission to use this style on my arch top guitar and thought I would make a mini version,
I travel to Hawaii every year so thought it may be appropriate to make a Uke at last. Need to learn how to play it !.
Garry

Garry Petrisic
06-22-2010, 12:41 AM
Thanks to Brad.
The pic with the vernier is my fretting jig. Set up and measure each fret distance from the nut using the vernier ccaliper which is attached to the jig.
Back is made from queensland walnut. Very brittle and very old timber. I do not know if it is going to be great but it was there so I used it.
Departed from the usual by using a different timber in the sides. Sides are Queensland maple. Top is Sitka spruce from an old stock of aircraft building materials found in a warehouse. top and back are one piece. No joins. This sped up the process considerably. I have enough left over to build a baritone.
Garry

Bradford
06-22-2010, 08:23 AM
Hey Garry, it is nice to hear from you here. You can provide much better insight than me in how you are building. I'm getting some questions on the carving process, how did you carve yout top and back?

Brad

fahrner
06-22-2010, 08:52 AM
Should look as good on the inside as it does on the outside. I am not selling these so I have the luxury of being a little different.
Garry
Am in full agreement with that philosophy Garry. My comment was trying to be a compliment, not a criticism.

Garry Petrisic
06-22-2010, 06:38 PM
Thanks for the compliment. That is the way I took it in the first place. I encourage non commercial builders to take time to go a little extra on the inside.
Hope you are experiencing dry weather. We have rain and it is stopping me from glueing the top on at present as well as the fret board.
Thanks again Garry.