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View Full Version : StewMac Tenor Kit - Final Report



eleuke
11-05-2009, 03:17 PM
OK, first the pics...

eleuke
11-05-2009, 03:19 PM
More Pics...

eleuke
11-05-2009, 03:22 PM
Last of the Pics...

eleuke
11-05-2009, 03:43 PM
So first, the cutaway. Extremely easy. After fitting the neck block, hack a big chunk out of the upper bout from the neck block to the widest part of the upper bout and flip it over. Glue it up to the neck block, make a stick shaped to the angle you want to join the side at and glue that up. Done. See pics...

Neck. Surprisingly not that difficult. Surprisingly time consuming. 2 days of sanding and shaping with 80 grit and a lot of sweat. A little more difficult than it had to be as my body shape was not symmetrical where the neck joins. See pic above that shows the body alignment contrasted with the frets. See how the body is higher on the right side of the fretboard? So I had to shape the neck heel to get it right. I just double sided taped the body on a centerline scribed on my $6 Ace hardware shelf that i used for a flat surface and slipped the neck up to the body on that centerline and kept sanding until it fit pretty good.

Instructions say put the fretboard on before attaching the neck. DON'T do that. The top of the body and the top of the neck are both flat making alignment (on one axis at least) easy. Shape the neck to the fretboard before attaching to the body, but leave the fretboard off to make attaching it easier.

Finish. I used Tung Oil. 2 coats. Easiest finish I've ever applied. Wipe on, wipe off. Let dry, buff with 0000 steel wool. Done.

Things I did wrong that you don't have too...

Don't drill the holes for the dowels too deep!
Drill a pilot hole! Enlarge, then drill the final hole. I used a punch but still had to contend with some pretty serious drill drift.
The nut that comes with the kit is like a skyscraper. Don't get overzealous when lowering it. (Now I have to make a new one cause there's a little buzz on the open A string)
Don't attempt to use a dremel or other power grinder on the fret ends. They will get hot and burn the fretboard. Use a hand file!
Keep your work area clean! Can't really see them in the pics, but there are lots of little micro scratches on the body from teeny wood chips that got under it when sanding and such. Mahogany is very soft.

Things I did right that you should do...
Dry fit everything several times and practice clamping with no glue. When it comes to the real thing, it'll be easy.
Get a plastic head hammer for the fretting.
Always use a block of some sort when sanding. Use a dowel for the inner bends. Never sand with your fingers.
Sand until you can't sand anymore, then pick up the block and keep sanding until your arms fall off, then sand with your feet.

That's it. Hope this helps someone.

sweets
11-05-2009, 03:50 PM
Hey thanks for posting all this!

I noticed in your previous pics and these that you might have omitted the angle iron that normally keeps the waist in place during assembly - is that why your body was assymetrical at the neck?

eleuke
11-05-2009, 04:03 PM
Yes, I didn't post a pic of the final jig. I used lots of finishing nails to hold the shape I wanted when the back and top went on. Didn't use the angle irons as suggested in the docs...

mzuch
11-05-2009, 04:09 PM
Can't tell from the pix, but what did you do, if anything, to hide the outside seams at the points of the cutaway?

camface
11-05-2009, 04:17 PM
Looking at these pics and the ones in the other thread, it doesn't look like he did anything.

eleuke
11-05-2009, 04:19 PM
Can't tell from the pix, but what did you do, if anything, to hide the outside seams at the points of the cutaway?

Just overlapped the side wood and sanded smooth. I think I butted the larger piece of side up against the cutaway portion so the end grain would point toward the floor, but I can't really remember now. Sorry this is the best pic my cam can take up close...

ksquine
11-06-2009, 07:45 AM
so.....how does it sound??

eleuke
11-06-2009, 08:16 PM
Well, to be honest, it's a bit too punchy and bright for my taste. I tried to make the body extra big to get a more mellow rich kinda thing. Guess it didn't work. Still, I do like how the highs stand out in picking. The lows are there too but they resonate longer and louder than the highs. Actually, come to think of it, I do like how it sounds. It's just way different from any of my other ukes. One thing's for sure, I like it's sound way better than my Pono, which cost me an arm and a leg, so I am a happy camper even though buying the tools and the kit cost me even more! Any real luthiers out there wanna give some guidance as to why my fat body sounds brighter than I thought it would???

Pukulele Pete
11-07-2009, 02:27 AM
I haven't got a clue about the sound just wanna say it looks like you did a great job. I love the looks of the cutaway. It must have been alot of fun building it. I just did a restoration on a Martin style 1 and I really enjoyed doing the work.

nohandles
11-07-2009, 06:28 AM
Several questions come to mind right off the bat.

1- What kind of strings are you using?
2-Is the C a wound?
3- The nut and saddle, what is the material? You could mellow it out with a softer material- such as Rhino horn.
Pm me if you want to talk it over more plus I'll post my thoughts for the rest of the gang.

One other thought is that new built instruments need time to settle in.

eleuke
11-07-2009, 12:17 PM
I haven't got a clue about the sound just wanna say it looks like you did a great job. I love the looks of the cutaway. It must have been alot of fun building it. I just did a restoration on a Martin style 1 and I really enjoyed doing the work.

Yea, I saw your Martin! Beautiful work! Good job man... I am really impressed. I thought I was getting good at repairs. Ha!
:worship:

eleuke
11-07-2009, 12:24 PM
Several questions come to mind right off the bat.

1- What kind of strings are you using?
2-Is the C a wound?
3- The nut and saddle, what is the material? You could mellow it out with a softer material- such as Rhino horn.
Pm me if you want to talk it over more plus I'll post my thoughts for the rest of the gang.
One other thought is that new built instruments need time to settle in.

I use Hilos exclusively. They're cheap and durable and sound good enough for a hack like me. I hate wound strings. Zzzzzz Zzzzzz Zzzzzzz every chord change. I just used the cheapo plastic nut that came in the kit. The saddle in the pics I made out of ash, (at least I think it was ash) but have since replaced the homemade one with a Grover Maple w/Ebony top three foot tenor banjo bridge. Couldn't discern any difference in sound with the bridge change. (But it looks a lot better!) Thanks for the reminder about settling in. We'll see how she sounds in a few months...

sweets
11-07-2009, 05:54 PM
The saddle in the pics I made out of ash, (at least I think it was ash) but have since replaced the homemade one with a Grover Maple w/Ebony top three foot tenor banjo bridge.

It seems like the floating bridge design could have a lot do do with the sound.

nohandles
11-08-2009, 01:28 AM
The floating bridge design may have something to do with the sound, It would allow the top to vibrate more freely as apposed to a bridge glued to the top.

Matt Clara
11-08-2009, 03:15 AM
What picture has the ash bridge in it? I have some ash, and some mahogany colored wood dye...

luvzmocha
11-08-2009, 01:51 PM
I keep coming back to this thread hoping for a video of her in action!

Nu Uke
01-10-2010, 02:26 AM
I realize it's been a while and I'm new here, but, did nohandles say what I think he said? Trying using "Rhino horn" .
Are you serious? I'm trying to be real careful here and not start a dust up but, if you are suggesting using genuine rhino horn, well, that is despicable. I like exotic materials as much as the next guy but this suggestion is beyond belief. Am I missing something here?
I hope so....

theukuleleman
01-10-2010, 12:50 PM
would it be ok if i used wood glue for the neck to the body?

Pete Howlett
01-10-2010, 10:38 PM
Neck join:

There is a very simple way to solve this problem. EPOXY! I know it is a dirty, luthier curse-word but for a beginner, it is a good solution. Besides, David Hurd epoxied all his necks and I don't hear anyone complaining about that...

Moving on, if you build the body and glue the front on, carve the heal and finish it, you can access the heel block with the back off and put a short no12 screw into the heel and 'glue and screw' using Titebond. Crude, I know but it is not really that much different from a dowel nut and bolt.

The next method is a dowel and after that, a bolt.

And before ya'll jump to it - there is no need for a dovetail joint or neck reset. If you are building ukulele with that in mind, stop and go over to guitar making where there is a distinct need to eventually reset some guitar necks...

For any amateur builder it is a must that you visit Kathy Matsushita's website to see how she has resolved many of the problems that are posted here as questions and pleas for advice. Her work is very well documented in text and picture diary form and spans a time of development in her skills but not her right-from-the-start meticulous and thoughtful approach. It is a fascinating record of a great amatuer luthier.

Sic_Rob
01-19-2010, 09:30 AM
How experienced a wood worker are you? I am a novice wood workeer. I have a good amount of common sense but my accuracy will be what I question. Do you think most people can put this kit together such that they will have a working Uku at the end?

One other thing. what would be your complete tool list requirements? Are there any tools either you wished you had or used but weren't referneced in the instructions tool list? Great job. the Uku is beautiful.

Pete Howlett
01-19-2010, 11:21 AM
What do you mean by accuracy? Being able to measure and cut to aline are essential basic skills. As far as instrument building goes - understanding the principle of working from a centre line, being able to half a measured length and being meticulously clean in the executiom of gluing processes are a must. Not skills really but an attitude of mind.