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View Full Version : Help with bracing and tone bar selection



gspears
08-23-2010, 01:45 PM
Hi all. I am looking to get a kit from Hana Lima to build my next uke. They offer 3 options for bracing and tone bars. Any suggestions? I am looking at possibly bubinga for back and sides. Maybe red cedar for top. Since I am new to this, can anyone help with there experience using any of these or others? I like playing low G tuning. My build is going to be a tenor size Uke.

They offer Engleman spruce, Western cedar or Honduran mahogany for their bracing and tone bars.

Thanks!

DaveVisi
08-23-2010, 02:14 PM
I'm no engineer and far from being a luthier, but from what I've read, bracing is usually best if it matches the top wood. That way they flex and expand together during heat and/or humidity changes. Unless you really know what you're looking for and have a specific need in mind, I'd go with that.

dustartist
08-23-2010, 04:37 PM
I built one with a spruce top, bubinga back and sides, and used spruce bracing. There are some pictures of the finished uke on my blog http://malevolentmusings.blogspot.com/

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
08-23-2010, 05:20 PM
Any of them will work. I use spruce for the fan bracing and mahogany for the other braces.
Honestly, what you do with them is far more important than choosing between any of those woods you mentioned.

sweets
08-23-2010, 05:59 PM
This is kind of a thread jack, but dustartist, I couldn't help but notice your Festool MFT --I'm currently trying to plan a (very) small shop and wondering how you find it (and any other Festool gear you use) for luthiery work?

olgoat52
08-23-2010, 06:42 PM
Any of them will work. I use spruce for the fan bracing and mahogany for the other braces.
Honestly, what you do with them is far more important than choosing between any of those woods you mentioned.

And that is where the artistry kicks in.

You might consider using a hide glue on the back for the initial glue up as it will be easier to get the back off and play with the braces after you get it built. I have heard of putting a paper shim between the back and side to allow easier removal of guitar backs for this purpose. Make sure to immobilize the uke so you don't screw up your neck alignment when you reglue the back.

dustartist
08-23-2010, 08:53 PM
That is the old MFT system. Most of the Festool stuff I own has been redesigned/upgraded since I bought it. I acquired most of it for field installation of cabinets and architectural millwork, which I do professionally. I have the TS 55 saw and an assortment of guides, the MFT table, d-handle jigsaw (shorter in length than the barrel-grip version), screw gun kits x2, dust extractor/vacuum, various hoses and vacuum attachments, clamps, and several systainer boxes for hand tools and fasteners. I owned the smaller plunge router at one time, but sold it to a friend. It wouldn't take 1/2" router bits. They are excellent tools, but expensive. I honestly don't use much of them for luthiery work, but I occasionally use the MFT guide w/ the saw, and the jigsaw. The table itself is great for clamping and setting up jigs. The holes fit standard size round bench dogs and Workmate stops. You can also use the side rails for clamping. If I was just outfitting a shop for luthiery, I probably would invest in other stuff first, primarily a good bandsaw, drill press, and thickness sander. The Festool stuff is great for what it is, and if you do any work outside the shop it's the way to go, but seems to be geared more towards portability than shop functionality.

sweets
08-24-2010, 08:28 AM
The table itself is great for clamping and setting up jigs. The holes fit standard size round bench dogs and Workmate stops. You can also use the side rails for clamping. If I was just outfitting a shop for luthiery, I probably would invest in other stuff first, primarily a good bandsaw, drill press, and thickness sander. The Festool stuff is great for what it is, and if you do any work outside the shop it's the way to go, but seems to be geared more towards portability than shop functionality.

Yeah I started to look at the Festool stuff because of the superior dust collection aspect (and I may end up with a Festool vac anyway), but it seems like the tools I'd be most likely to use (Miter Saw, Routers) have the biggest price difference above "normal" quality gear. That table sure is cool though.

Dominator
08-24-2010, 11:40 AM
I'm no engineer and far from being a luthier, but from what I've read, bracing is usually best if it matches the top wood. That way they flex and expand together during heat and/or humidity changes. Unless you really know what you're looking for and have a specific need in mind, I'd go with that.

I think most builders tend to use spruce bracing. I could see matching the spruce with spruce and mahog with mahog but I don't recall ever seeing an uke with koa bracing. I imagine it's been done but I had never thought about it I guess.

Pete Howlett
08-24-2010, 12:21 PM
Olgoat52 - ummmm - taking the back off and experimenting? No way buddy - this is a ukulele for crying out loud! I have learnt after many ukulele and I'm heading toward 500 that if you build simply and cleanly following some very basic principles you get a great sounding uke. I make my tops about 1.85mm thick, I use 1/4" x 3/8" spruce bracing for the fronts with a spruce or cedar bridgeplate. Concerts have 2 fan braces and tenor 3. Back braces are cedar or mahogany. And that's it. My clients love the sound, they are invariably loud and i get to sleep at night without worrying about laplas transformations, and plate deflection. It works for me and it's not the only way... but I would never and I mean never, take off the back of an instrument to work on the front - I'd be aiming to get it right first time round by doing my research and copying those who have gone before me and done it right. It truly is not rocket science tho some have made it out to be so.

agilitydog
09-13-2010, 11:45 AM
Ever laminate spruce soundboard scrap to construct bracing/tonebars? Is there a downside to this?

erich@muttcrew.net
09-15-2010, 09:37 AM
Ever laminate spruce soundboard scrap to construct bracing/tonebars? Is there a downside to this?

Why in the world would you bother? Go get yourself a piece of quartersawn spruce, grab a wedge and a kataba, and you can produce the raw bracing pieces for about 30 cents or less. And the pure spruce is much easier to carve than laminate. We start with a 1x2 inch piece, cut to length, split them with a small wedge and shape with a nice sharp chisel.... easy as pie.

Sven
09-15-2010, 10:41 AM
Ever laminate spruce soundboard scrap to construct bracing/tonebars? Is there a downside to this?
Did it once, the top got too stiff.