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View Full Version : Cheap Uke Refinished, Surprising Results



aMawds
01-09-2011, 04:11 PM
So I posted a thread about a week ago about modifying this ukulele from Universal Worldwide Trading Inc. It was cheap looking, had a few small dings, had a terrible finish, and I had no idea what it was made of. Well I bought a Badaxx soprano in black as my new uke, and got some D'Addario strings for both ukes. I decided before installing the strings on the old uke which was designated as my backup/alt tuning uke, I would tear it apart and have a little fun. I decided to strip the whole ukulele of everything on the surface. Fretboard, tuners, bridge, nut, crappy paint, yeah everything.

http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/th_IMG_20110102_131609.jpg (http://s183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/?action=view&current=IMG_20110102_131609.jpg)
This is what I started with. Yeah, it's not terrible I guess, I mean the palm tree is cool! Someone told me to keep the palm tree, or at least a tracing. Well I decided I wouldn't touch it. Too much work anyway :rolleyes:

aMawds
01-09-2011, 04:12 PM
http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/th_IMG_20110107_174203.jpg (http://s183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/?action=view&current=IMG_20110107_174203.jpg)
Stripping has begun.

http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/th_IMG_20110107_183653.jpg (http://s183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/?action=view&current=IMG_20110107_183653.jpg)
Stripping complete. This is when I got a little sad because it looked like there was absolutely no grain to work with. Yes, I got impatient and used a dremel with a sanding disk for most of it. It ended up leaving little low parts that I sanded off of the body, but smoothed a little on the neck because it looked really cool with stain.

aMawds
01-09-2011, 04:13 PM
http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/th_IMG_20110107_190635.jpg (http://s183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/?action=view&current=IMG_20110107_190635.jpg)
Staining has begun, and it's starting to look really good! This is when I got happy :D

http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/th_IMG_20110108_174618.jpg (http://s183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/?action=view&current=IMG_20110108_174618.jpg)
My drying booth, aka the shower with one of the original black nylon strings that came on the uke through a tuning peg hole. Worked great!

http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/th_IMG_20110108_174642.jpg (http://s183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/?action=view&current=IMG_20110108_174642.jpg)
The really cool looking grain on the back of the uke. Before clear coats.

aMawds
01-09-2011, 04:13 PM
http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/th_IMG_20110109_183232.jpg (http://s183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/?action=view&current=IMG_20110109_183232.jpg)
The finished project. Crappy photo, but you get the jist of it.

Before assembly I took all the frets off the fretboard, sanded down, and repainted. Then I painted in the dots with enamel paint on a brush. Two coats of automotive clear coat and there you have it. The bridge was very blocky and ugly, as well as not so flat on the bottom, so I sculpted the edges and flattened the bottom out. Looks much better. Then the same black paint and automotive clear coat as the fretboard.

Tightened up the screws on the tuning pegs because the gears were a little loose, and screwed, bolted and glued everything back to where they belonged. Strung it up, and results weren't entirely surprising. It still sounds a but muffled, because it turns out it is made of pine! But the clear coats stiffened it up a bit, and the much better strings made it less plinky sounding. Now it actually sounds pretty good, and is a nice contrast to the black uke made of maple and mahogany. Not to mention it looks absolutely stunning in comparison to what it looked like before. I'm very happy with it, and I decided I would share my work with you all. So there you go, tell me what you think! Oh and before you tell me it was a waste of time for such a cheap uke, I know. But it was more for the experience, practice for the wood dash I need to give the same treatment to for my car, and well... because now I can say I have a custom uke! :D

mm stan
01-09-2011, 05:16 PM
Aloha Amawds,
Many thanks for sharing your experience with us...that was soo neat...Congrats...Happy Strumming...MM Stan

knadles
01-09-2011, 07:35 PM
Nice work! Looks great!

-Pete

UKISOCIETY
01-09-2011, 11:25 PM
beautiful work!

aMawds
01-13-2011, 03:29 AM
Thanks for the support guys. But now I've caught a bug... the ukulele/woodworking bugs. Must.. buy.. kit..

Lori
01-13-2011, 06:24 AM
Looks really nice. What a fun learning project.

–Lori

Pueo
01-13-2011, 06:36 AM
Looking forward to seeing what you create next, this one looks great

UkeforJC
01-13-2011, 07:15 AM
http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/th_IMG_20110107_174203.jpg (http://s183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/?action=view&current=IMG_20110107_174203.jpg)
Stripping has begun.

http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/th_IMG_20110107_183653.jpg (http://s183.photobucket.com/albums/x219/alexmawdsley/?action=view&current=IMG_20110107_183653.jpg)
Stripping complete. This is when I got a little sad because it looked like there was absolutely no grain to work with. Yes, I got impatient and used a dremel with a sanding disk for most of it. It ended up leaving little low parts that I sanded off of the body, but smoothed a little on the neck because it looked really cool with stain.

Hi! aMawds,
Great work!!
By the way, how did you manage to remove the old finger board?
I have an old uke at home. I am also planning to do the same thing that you did.
Thanks

Vic D
01-13-2011, 07:29 PM
Thank you for sharing this. Looks a LOT better now. It's very interesting to see what was under the paint.

UkeNukem
01-15-2011, 09:22 AM
Dude, that's like at least a 500% increase in COOLNESS! :cool:

The Palm Tree sound hole even looks much better, more defined I guess, with the better grain. Well Done!

craigp
01-15-2011, 09:34 AM
Pretty looking uke now eh.

aMawds
01-30-2011, 06:16 PM
Hi! aMawds,
Great work!!
By the way, how did you manage to remove the old finger board?
I have an old uke at home. I am also planning to do the same thing that you did.
Thanks

I popped the fingerboard off with a paint scraper. Once you get under it, you can slide slowly while wiggling it back and forth and the glue should give easily. I had to be careful since I did reuse the fingerboard, but if you aren't reusing it you can just go wild and rip it off :P

I'm extremely happy with the results, and it gave me an excuse to put some real strings on it, rather than the 4 year old stock black nylons. I bought a Badaax FN50BK (black) and it's now my regular player. I still play the old uke though, just cause it looks frikkin cool.

oldrookie
02-01-2011, 04:30 AM
I've read (but never tried this) that it sometimes helps to heat the glue under the fingerboard.

Put a towel over it and put an hot iron on it. Softens the glue enough to allow you to gently pry up the board.

Be careful and work slowly.