View Full Version : My First Custom Hand Made Ukulele

05-30-2008, 06:14 PM
On Sept. 16, 2007 I started my journey to becoming a luthier.
I took an old skim board, and started stripping off the clearcoat so that I could make it into an Ukulele.
Today, May 30, 2008 I have Finished that quest.

It took over 140 hours in my spare time over the last 8 months, and every second was worth it.

This Ukulele is made of the following materials.

Plywood: soundboard, backboard, headstock veneer
Oak: Headstock, neck, and heal
Basswood: sides, patches, and inlays
Black Walnut: fretboard, and bridge
Misc. Wood: bracing, tone bars, and tentalones
Plastic: nut and saddle

I used Ping Percision Tuning Machines ( made for guitars ) and I carved the nut and saddle out of the same type of plastic that cutting boards are made of.

I have had so much fun on this Journey that I am absolutely sure that Luthiery is what I want to do for a career.

I am going to attend Hana Lima Ia school of Ukulele making this fall, and after I have graduated I will be trained and equipped to sell my creations to you, my friends and peers.

Anyway, enough of that, here are some pics, I hope that you like them.

This is a view of my Ukulele from the front.
It is a Tenor size, with 19 frets, and uses the fan bracing pattern.

Here is a view of the backboard, and the neck.

Here is my logo for the Acabo'oe Ukulele Company.

Here is a shot of the headstock from the side. This is a good shot of the tuners.

Ok, I would like to take this time to point out that it doesn't have strings yet, because I am moving to Oahu in 4 days, and don't have time to do the final set up, but the main part is finished.

Is it perfect?...........no, but it is my first try, and above all else, I am proud of my work.

Thanks to all who showed interest in my first build as a luthier.


05-30-2008, 06:20 PM
Congratulations on your first completed uke! That piece of work looks amazing for your very first one. I hope your transition to Oahu goes smoothly.

05-30-2008, 06:28 PM
as soon as you slap some strings on it...you have to make a video. who knows...plywood may be the way to go.

05-30-2008, 06:28 PM
pretty coool. like the look of how the fretboard meetes the uke itself:D

05-30-2008, 06:34 PM
Congratz dude, and good luck in the fall!!!! U :rock:

05-30-2008, 06:39 PM
looks so much better now then before.. nice jobbbbbbbbbbbbbbb :bowdown:

05-30-2008, 06:47 PM
Verrryyy niiiice Bro! Congrats on the craftsmanship and having the tenacity to see it through to the end (140 hrs - whew!).

05-30-2008, 06:49 PM
thats a great looking first ukulele! Congrats man :D

Thats exciting to see you pursuing your dream, and it was awesome seeing the progress you made on your first build! thanks for keeping us posted! Someday I want to own a custom acabooe ukulele!! Along with a dominator ukulele perhaps. :p

05-30-2008, 07:01 PM
Heyy congratssss. Its good to see you want to have a career in Luthiery. Can't wait to see your future project cuz this one is niceeee. Be safe bro!

05-30-2008, 07:07 PM
congrats dude! what a great feeling it must be to make your own ukulele. it looks really good and best of luck with your move to sunny HI.

05-30-2008, 08:38 PM
good stuff mate!!

Fred Miu
05-30-2008, 08:56 PM
congrats bro. its nice for a first built uke. hope the more you make, the better they get.

05-31-2008, 01:00 AM
A skim board! That's awesome! A while ago, I read about a guy who made a guitar out of a coffee table from Ikea.

Great job on your first build. I can't wait to see more.

05-31-2008, 01:59 AM
Very cool. The hard one is done.
Hopefully it gets easier from here on out. Can't wait to see what you make in the future.

05-31-2008, 04:44 AM
Really nice job! Anxious to hear it. And, good luck with the move. I'm jealous...

05-31-2008, 04:48 AM
Congratulations! That's a nice-looking ukulele!

05-31-2008, 06:31 AM
I like that heavy grain look. Keep it up!

05-31-2008, 06:48 AM
congrats on the first uke! a vid of it's sound would be awesome too. can't wait to see your future works. keep it up acabooe

05-31-2008, 06:50 AM
good job man!

it looks sweet!

now lets see some vids!

05-31-2008, 07:20 AM
Congratulations!!! OMG it's so beautiful!!!

And i wish u good luck and lots of succes over ther in Oahu!!!!


05-31-2008, 07:25 AM
You built that one BEFORE going to luthiery school? Pretty freakin' good! Looking forward to seeing the next one you make.

05-31-2008, 06:16 PM
Congratulations on completing your first one Bob. Mike Chock will teach you all you need to know during your stay at Hanalima. I wouldn't mind attending his class also sometime. Either way, you're hooked now ;).

06-01-2008, 09:50 AM
Thank you so much to everyone who posted your kind words here.

I will keep all of you updated on my luthier progress.

As soon as I settle in, at my place in Hawai'i I will string up the Ukulele and make a vid to show all of you how it sounds.

Mahalo Nui Loa

06-07-2008, 11:18 AM
Hey man, thats beautiful. Congrats on that.
My own journey is about to begin, and it should be fun, maybe you can give me a job sometime :D I just bought my "The Ukulele Builders Book" by Gilbert. I have some crappy pine and tools lined up. Ill keep you posted :rolleyes: should be fun

06-08-2008, 08:33 AM
Great job, I know that you will have alot of fun, because I had a blast building my first.
Don't feel bad about using pine, because I used plywood for my soundboard, backboard, and headstock veneer, so if this is your first, just take it as a learning experience, and always remember to have FUN, because that is the important part.
If you haven't already, check out www.hanalima.com ,the forum, and the forum members there are extremly helpful, and they really made the difference in my first build.
Good luck, and hope to hear from you soon.

Acabo'oe ( Bob )

06-08-2008, 12:20 PM
thanks man, yea i checked out that site, its got good info. Im going nuts its a rainy day (yea iowa is in the national news for once... flooding...) and my job got rained out today, so i just want to start! I looked on that site and saw classes for uke building, that looks so awesome. But im like bummer a couple week sessions that only meet once a week for a couple hours.. i cant move to hawaii.. Then i see it! 2 weeks mon-friday cram class starting this monday (tomorrow! haha) with one seat available. I hope on hotwire fast as my little fingers will go! and then ...... BUZZ KILL!!!!!!!! 1900$ for a plane ticket to hawaii. so much for that! but it was a fun 30 min thinking about spending 2 weeks in hawaii having nothing to do but build a uke :)

how hard is it to make a jig? i think thats the scariest part for me (although i know nothing of where im going and what i should fear :/ ) bending wood is very new to me.

06-08-2008, 03:59 PM
Yeah, I am going to the hana lima fall class, and I am very excited.
To bad that you couldn't come to the summer class, but there is always next year. I built my first one, from only the book, it turned out ok, but lots of room for improvement.

Building a jig isn't that hard, you can do what others have done, or you can think about what you want to accomplish, and design it yourself.

When I built my bending jig, I didn't have the proper tools, so it turned out crooked, but it still worked ok.

Side bending isn't that hard either.
There are a few different ways to do it, I would suggest searching the hana lima forums for side bending topics.
What I did was make a jig with many little holes in it. Then I put it on the stove above a pot of boiling water. The steam came through the holes, and it bent.
The problems I had with that method were:
The steam made dark stains on the wood that I was using right at the waist bend on the show side.
This happened because I was using a soft wood ( bass wood ).
Also, I was rushing a little on the second one, so it creased on one side, and the grain started to lift up on the other.

Anyway, keep me posted on your progress, and remember, if you can think it up, you can do it.
Just measure twice, and cut once. Another piece of advice is TAKE YOUR TIME, go slow and learn from your mistakes.


Bourbon Boy
06-08-2008, 04:11 PM
very impressed. I would love to take that same journey!! Ver inspiring...good luck