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etkre
08-04-2010, 10:38 AM
Would it be possible to obtain the wood for one piece necks from the branches of trees rather than the trunk? That way you could use make use of a tree without killing it, only taking what you need. The branches might actually yield stronger necks because the grain would be oriented symmetrically from the center-out instead of the asymmetry you get from quarter-sawn necks. Perhaps there would be problems with drying or grain run out.

Matt Clara
08-04-2010, 11:03 AM
Oddly enough, I'm interested in the same thing, but more because I'm imagining a uke neck that looks like a branch (sans bark). It would undoubtedly be less functional than a properly constructed one, but the aesthetic of it would be interesting. Quarter sawn wood is the best because it is the most dimensionally stable. it's not that it doesn't expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity, it's that it does it in a way that doesn't fight against glued (or tongue and groove, in the case of hard wood floors) joints. As for not killing trees, check your area for saw mills that process reclaimed/downed wood.

Caveat: most of my wood knowledge comes from reading, and not from experience. I'm working at correcting that.

MoreUke
08-04-2010, 02:53 PM
Something I know something about. In my role as whittler extraordinaire. You will want the branch to be dry when you use it as a neck. Otherwise it will crack and/or twist in the drying process. So cheap guys like me will take such logs/branches leave the bark on but also paint the ends of the wood so that the wood drys uniformly. To minimize any checking and/or twisting. Several coats on the end is better.

How long does it take to dry. Old rule of thumb is 1 year for every inch of diameter.

dave g
08-04-2010, 04:10 PM
Would it be possible to obtain the wood for one piece necks from the branches of trees rather than the trunk? That way you could use make use of a tree without killing it, only taking what you need.

Rather like what befell the old woman in Candide?

Buy a load of firewood if you've got a stove, or borrow a few nice pieces from someone who does.

Dusepo
08-05-2010, 04:03 AM
Go to your local dump and pick up any old table or chair legs. They can make great necks.

hoosierhiver
08-05-2010, 04:23 AM
Go to your local dump and pick up any old table or chair legs. They can make great necks.

You're right! Sometimes they are already shaped perfectly for a neck.

Ukulele Friend
08-05-2010, 07:34 AM
Aloha etkre,

Interesting concept. I'm not a builder myself but this one has got my attention. I'm following along. We'll see how others chime in on this topic. Thank you for sharing.

Shawn

http://ukulelefriend.com

etkre
08-05-2010, 11:52 AM
Thanks for the replies fellas. The reason I'm interested is the fact that my property has several hickory trees and I just can't help but imagine necks up in those branches. I'd think that the branches would be strong enough based on the fact that they're already holding tensions greater than what would be exerted by a couple of nylon strings. I don't have a political problem with harvesting trees or anything like that, I just thought it would be cool to use something from the property without felling an entire tree.

Vic D
08-06-2010, 05:45 AM
Dunno about necks but hickory makes an excellent bbq chicken. I bet it would make good bridges though... maybe even tail blocks. But you'd probably need to let it dry for a couple of years. I've got some spalted maple and black locust firewood that's been drying for a while, I'll probably keep adding to the collection.

Speaking of wood and cooking, I wish I had batteries in my camera last night, I would have snapped a shot of a set of assembled poplar sides and blocks with one of the sides sitting in a skillet of boiling water on the stove. The side lost it's shape waiting for me to get around to it... She's all straight in the mold today though.

I'm a dumpster diver from way back. I used to ride around alleys looking for discarded furniture but not anymore, bed bugs are infesting the city.

funaddict
08-07-2010, 03:59 AM
I wouldn't use a section of a whole branch for a neck. Lumber that contains the pith (the center of a log or branch) will always check through the pith. You could split the branch in half and try to make a neck out of it, but now you're back to a regular board, and you might as well use one from the trunk. Also, a branch that grows out sideways from the trunk will have two kinds of built-in stresses. The topside will be wood that's under tension, and the bottom side will have wood that's under compression. These don't make for very stable pieces of lumber. As was said before, you'd be best off going for a piece of quartersawn wood from the trunk or at least from a large diameter branch that's growing fairly vertical. Hickory is a tough wood with vibration absorbing qualities. That's why it's often used for axe, shovel, and hammer handles. I don't know whether this vibration absorbing quality would be good or bad for a musical instrument like the ukulele. I would think you'd want to reflect and amplify the strings vibration, not absorb it. Anyone else have any thoughts on this?
Alan

SweetWaterBlue
08-07-2010, 04:10 AM
You're right! Sometimes they are already shaped perfectly for a neck.

I picked up a semi-antique maple table with 3 chairs from the thrift store earlier this week. Nice solid maple 1/2" thick top in edge-glued boards about 8" wide. Its not quarter-sawn, but I'd says its rift-sawn , so it might make some good sides and backs. Several have some interesting flames. The legs look like they might make about 4 necks, if sliced right. It has interesting sliding wings on the ends. I guess anything made of real wood is interesting these days. Unfortunately, my wife saw it and now I am not sure she is gonna let me take the bandsaw to it.

A woman in the store saw me checking out the end grain, and asked if I was trying to figure out how the wings worked. "No," I said, I am trying to figure out the best way to cut it up. "Oh my," she said and walked away.