View Full Version : Neck Joints

09-30-2009, 10:24 PM
Does anyone have any detailed shots/descriptions of how you do your neck joints? I'm working with the Hana Lima 'Ia manual which has been very useful but only covers the Spanish heel joint. I'm hoping to do something a bit more simple (bolt on?) but wasn't sure if there is some special way to set this up. Can the neck be attached after the top is in place? :confused:
Please help out a first time builder, thanks!

Pete Howlett
10-01-2009, 12:49 AM
Doing it today - about 6 hours time I'll have the video on YouTube... see my channel (http://www.youtube.com/petehowlett)

10-01-2009, 05:14 AM
When I was first getting started experimenting with building Dave means shared the way he was doing it at that time. I think he has a different setup for it now.

Here are a couple of pics of me fitting the neck joint on a Grizzly kit. I have since made another jig that uses spool clamps to hold the body more secure during the process. Haven't taken any pics of it in use yet.


A groove is routed out in the center of the platform (in this case plywood) to the depth of the plexiglass I attach on the center line of the neck. Apply pressure with the left hand to tighten the joint as you pull the sandpaper through with your other hand. The paper I use is what I use for my thickness sander so it is cloth backed and works great. It takes some time to get a good fit but so far it works the best of the few other ways I've tried.


I'm looking forward to seeing Pete's method.

dave g
10-01-2009, 05:56 AM
Trying to get the end of the neck to fit the body looks like a lot of work to me! Hats off to those who do it that way. Me, I'm going to stick with Spanish Heel (which seems way easier to me :) )

10-01-2009, 06:13 AM
I've used dowels on mine and I have a drilling jig to drill the hole for the neck and body. Its just a large block with a guide hole mounted on a piece of plywood that has a line to mark the centerline in reference to the hole. I line up the centerline of the neck and the body on the plywood and butt it up to the block, clamp it and drill the hole using a depth stop. To shape the heel to the body, I draw a straight line on a piece of paper that is longer than the instrument. I lay the body face down so the centerline matches up to the line on the paper then follow the shape of the body with a razor blade. I then line that up with the centerline of the neck and use a drum sander to sand it down to match the template. If I want to put a bit of neck angle on it then I can shim it prior to using the drum sander.

10-01-2009, 06:34 AM
What about somehow figuring out the radius of the body, then sanding the heal to match?

Pete Howlett
10-01-2009, 10:10 AM
The video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGbDjMDWqJg) is done - it's not as comprehensive as my usual offerings but I think you get the point. If you are a beginner, using an oversize neck blank can minimise the frustration of trying to get the centre-lines to line up - planing end grain is a skill in its own right: many will advise the use of a sharp block plane. This never works for me. Instead I use my Stanley No4 and the neck held in my trusty Zyliss vice. The joint can be further re-inforced with glue - Dave Means calls it an insurance gasket. It's your choice. For the instrument in the video I will use epoxy as any 'creep around a joint like this is unsightly. You can get away without it on a standard instrument.

10-01-2009, 11:28 AM

those threaded inserts are just the thing I've been trying to find. Are they easy to pick up? I've tried places like b&q to no avail.


10-01-2009, 11:48 AM
Thanks for the replies everyone, definitely answered my questions! Pete, that video was perfect, just what I was looking for. Love those inserts...6string, I get mine off mcmaster.com, usually around $5-10 for 50 pack. Very useful for jigs too.
On the subject of creep, I've been informed that the titebond II I've been using is a poor choice because it creeps more than other glues. Has anyone else had this experience?
Thanks again guys!

Pete Howlett
10-01-2009, 01:41 PM
Screwfix in the UK carries them...

10-01-2009, 01:41 PM
Big Box stores also carry those inserts.

Pete Howlett
10-01-2009, 03:02 PM
Just had a relevant pm about this and forgot to mention that if you use Spanish Cedar you'll probably have to glue the insert in - I use epoxy or thick superglue.

10-01-2009, 04:29 PM
I have read in other forums that a hardwood dowel should be inserted into the heel because the insert will hold better if it is not screwed into the endgrain of the neck. You apparently don't find this necessary. I've done that on my first 3 ukes, but will not do it again if you don't. It's a pain.
Thanks for the video,

Pete Howlett
10-01-2009, 04:53 PM
I guess the bolt is merely a clamping device because I more often than not glue the heel in place - Dave Means' 'insurance' gasket. I'm not convinced that a uke will ever need a neck reset and judging by the repairs I have done over the years all damage is usually to the body of the ukulele. If you have used properly seasoned wood and it has gone together right in the first place, fiddling around with the neck in later years shouldn't happen.

10-01-2009, 09:42 PM
Thanks Pete ;-)

10-02-2009, 01:04 AM
Here is the URL : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGbDjMDWqJg

Sorry I overlooked that . Please ignore.

10-02-2009, 03:44 AM
Hey Pete,

Thanks for the video. Do you use a jig to hold the body/neck square while drilling? Drill press or hand drill?

Given it is really a clamp, it would seem possible to create a jig to actually clamp the neck to the body during glue up and eliminate the step of drilling and using the insert, and possible replaning the neck. Though I would guess the method would be simpler when gluing up multiple instruments at a time.

10-02-2009, 11:44 AM
Another method is one I like and used on a banjo-uke i made about 8 years ago..it's the "barrel nut", or sometimes called the "crossed drill nut" http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/4-X-BARREL-BOLT-NUT-M6-SLOTTED-CROSS-DOWEL-FURNITURE_W0QQitemZ260347660827QQcmdZViewItemQQptZ UK_DIY_Material_Nails_Fixing_MJ?hash=item3c9dee0a1 b&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14
you just drill a hole down into the heel before the fretboard is fitted and insert the nut.. there's no chance that it can be pulled out and can be used on a more slender heel (unlike the screwed in insert type)..I believe it's a method also prefered by "Dave means" at Glyph uke's.