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Mauimaster
01-23-2011, 02:18 PM
I am thinking about building a uke and I am thinking about how to do so. I need to know what tools I need to use and how thick the wood should be. I also ned to know what kind of wood to use and how to shape it into the body. I would also appreciate any information on how to hold everything together. I would also like to know how to create the fret board. Thank you for your assistance!

Tarhead
01-23-2011, 02:58 PM
Search youtube for Pete Howlett.

Buy a book.
http://www.hanalimastore.com/servlet/the-62/Hana-Lima-%27Ia-%27Ukulele/Detail
http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Books,_plans/Plans/Ukulele_Design_and_Construction.html
http://www.lmii.com/CartTwo/thirdproducts.asp?CategoryName=Books%2C+Acoustic&NameProdHeader=Guitarmaking%3A+Tradition+and+Techn ology%2C+W%2E+Cumpiano+%26+J%2E+Natelson

Poke around Kathy's site: http://home.comcast.net/~kathymatsushita/otherinstruments/htmlpages/uke1.html

Kekani
01-23-2011, 03:23 PM
+1 for Cumpiano and Natelson, coupled with a LOT of research on internet building forums, with wise temperment splashed in to avoid the "I'm the expert syndrome" from respondants.

Although your post is only 4 questions, its a HUGE post, and you asked VERY open ended questions that can't be answered with that little information.

But, just for kicks, and because I'm in a mood, I'll bite, seriously:


I need to know what tools I need to use
Depends on if you plan on doing everything by hand, or machine. Personally, and this is not all of it: Bandsaw, resaw, table saw, thickness sander, jointer, DA Orbital, Belt sander, router, laminate trimmers, Foredom, Drill Press, compressor, HVLP spray gun, and a whole slew of hand stuff from clamps, X-actos, razor blades, chisels, files, sanding blocks, granite plates, vise, different types of clamps, cam clamps, spring clamps. . . and did I mention clamps?


how thick the wood should be.
Depends on your specs and your plan, what size of `ukulele, what part, what wood, where it is.


I also ned to know what kind of wood to use
Depends on what you're looking for in the instrument. Basically, hardwoods.


how to shape it into the body
Depends on if you want to do it by hand, or use a Fox Bender.


I would also appreciate any information on how to hold everything together.
Depends on what "everything" is. Jigs, clamps and glue is a start.


I would also like to know how to create the fret board.
Depends on if you want to do it by hand, or machine.

BTW - add hand saws to the tools needed (above).

Take this, and Tarhead's response, and do some research. I don't think there's enough posts here to cover what you asked. BUT, do a search for older posts on the topics that you need answered.

Aaron

Doc_J
01-23-2011, 03:36 PM
Here is a good site to explore your questions. This site is about and created by a well respected amateur luthier. http://home.comcast.net/~kathymatsushita/

Michael Smith
01-23-2011, 04:00 PM
there is some really good stuff on utube. just enter ukulele building

Keef
01-23-2011, 04:36 PM
Of course you could just build one with no experience out of junk you have laying around the house like lawn mower parts I know my limits so I bought a new yook and sawed the fret board off with the winder thingys on it then smooshed it all together with glue and screws lol http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad54/Kempocat/f65e77e4.jpg

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
01-23-2011, 04:46 PM
But, just for kicks, and because I'm in a mood, I'll bite, seriously:
Aaron

You disappoint me Aaron. I was all prepared for something quite different from you! :) I saw this post and my head just spun. Thanks for stepping in where I feared to tread.

But seriously folks, this guy knows a few things. He's kinda like the EF Hutton of uke builders.

HornedOne
01-23-2011, 07:57 PM
but How about the most essential building tools. I'm still a Poor student but I'd realy like to build a uke using a hana lima kit with a precut fretboard. but what are the most essential tools. I'm not interested in building a super fancy uke. just want it to sound nice.

so what would I need? lots of sandpaper chisels saws and drills but what do I need that I don't think of? I don't think I'll be able to use a hot bending jig because I don't have the money to buy it XD

Kekani
01-23-2011, 08:56 PM
You disappoint me Aaron. I was all prepared for something quite different from you! :) I saw this post and my head just spun. Thanks for stepping in where I feared to tread.

But seriously folks, this guy knows a few things. He's kinda like the EF Hutton of uke builders.

As I responded, my first thought was "I wonder what Chuck, Pete, et al, are going to think?" Pete would probably say something like, "Are you kidding?" Oh, that was the old Pete, the new one would recommend the videos on YouTube ;) which would be right on the money as a response.



Initially, your spinning head was the same as mine, but like I said, I was in a mood, so I treaded where I too, would normally fear. . . must be the bass (and tattoo) thing taking over. . .

EF Hutton, huh? Actually, seriously, thanks for that.

And here we go again. . .


but How about the most essential building tools. I'm still a Poor student but I'd realy like to build a uke using a hana lima kit with a precut fretboard. but what are the most essential tools. I'm not interested in building a super fancy uke. just want it to sound nice.

so what would I need? lots of sandpaper chisels saws and drills but what do I need that I don't think of? I don't think I'll be able to use a hot bending jig because I don't have the money to buy it XD

There is WAY too much information out there to answer your question in one post. As for your goal of not building a fancy one, just wanting it to sound nice - I would venture that's how most of us start out. If you really want to see a percentage shot of how its going to come out, do a search here, especially the ones with videos of the end result. At least from a statistical standpoint, you'll know if your expectations are valid. My suggestions, don't read the comments, just "listen" to the instrument and make your own judgement.

This time, +2 for Cumpiano & Natelson (but be realistic in the application of their oftentimes outdated techniques - Cumpiano has updates on his site).

Aaron

Allen
01-23-2011, 09:15 PM
You crack me up Aaron.

I'm not in that type of mood however, so I'll leave this one alone.

Head is still spinning........

Sven
01-23-2011, 10:09 PM
Even I have swallowed my most sarcastic remarks, and managed to come up with a serious tip: how about getting a highly skilled, richly experienced assistant? With a shop?

Tarhead
01-24-2011, 02:01 AM
but How about the most essential building tools. I'm still a Poor student but I'd realy like to build a uke using a hana lima kit with a precut fretboard. but what are the most essential tools. I'm not interested in building a super fancy uke. just want it to sound nice.

so what would I need? lots of sandpaper chisels saws and drills but what do I need that I don't think of? I don't think I'll be able to use a hot bending jig because I don't have the money to buy it XD

For handtools Pete sums it up very well here:http://www.youtube.com/PeteHowlett#p/u/2/RDcL0rdvI8E

For Powertools...I would start with a small 2 wheel Bandsaw, hand drill and a Dremel. Bending can be done with a gas torch or heat gun in a section of pipe or old muffler clamped in a vise. An electric charcoal starter can also be bent together to fit in a pipe and controlled off a router speed controller(just don't burn your house down).

Kekani
01-24-2011, 05:46 AM
Just trying to take one for the team.

Thank Tarhead being the voice of reason. But, not unlike I, all of the OP's questions are still not answered.

PS: No longer in the mood - someone else can step up to bat.

SweetWaterBlue
01-24-2011, 06:02 AM
I'll do another +1 for Cumpiano. One of the reasons I bought it last year were comments about it mostly using old ways to build. That fits in well with a lack of a lot of power tools. The second chapter discusses what tools you will need (http://books.google.com/books?id=aRg5oFhzgEMC&lpg=PA388&dq=cumpiano%20guitar&pg=PA17#v=onepage&q&f=false), but you really don't need all even what he lists. Just buy them as you need them. The pros couldn't afford the time to do all these things by hand, but you can. I think Pete's video on hand tools covers about everything you really need to build one as an amateur. You also don't need to buy an expensive heat bender. Take a look at the numerous homemade ones on the the net or at Dave G's site. Cumpiano explains very well how to plane down wood to thickness.

I think you may also want the Hana Lima book. It comes with a full set of tenor plans as a bonus.

By the way, in one of his videos, Pete is talking about one of his knives and says he thinks he could just about make a ukulele using only that one tool. Now, that would be some video to see.

dave g
01-24-2011, 06:34 AM
<shameless plug>

All kinds of stuff here: http://www.wsukes.com/plans.html

</shameless plug>

:)

SweetWaterBlue
01-24-2011, 06:38 AM
<shameless plug>

All kinds of stuff here: http://www.wsukes.com/plans.html

</shameless plug>

:)

Speaking of your site and benders, Dave, on your site you have a piece on cold bending. I've seen several discussions on the net (including a recent exchange here) about how cold bends don't hold their set. Did you have any trouble with that?

tattwo
01-24-2011, 06:42 AM
<shameless plug>

All kinds of stuff here: http://www.wsukes.com/plans.html

</shameless plug>

:)

Ive learned one or two things there ;)

dave g
01-24-2011, 07:05 AM
Speaking of your site and benders, Dave, on your site you have a piece on cold bending. I've seen several discussions on the net (including a recent exchange here) about how cold bends don't hold their set. Did you have any trouble with that?

I didn't do very many with cold bent sides, but as far as I know they are all holding up fine. I've got two or three of them, and the rest went to friends & relatives. No complaints after about three years or so :)

I used to make dulcimers, and I've still got the very first one I built (in 1974). It has a little problem with the sides coming loose at the bottom end. But as I recall it's sides weren't pre-bent at all, just held in place against their will while the top and back were glued on. I've also got another early one ('75 or so) with sides bent wet & cold in a form and it is holding up just fine. The dulcimers didn't have any lining strips in them, and I'll bet the sides are pretty thick...

Keef
01-24-2011, 07:18 AM
I find that pure ignorance is a great teacher I look at objects/shapes for what they are then I just build it what usually happens is I learn why the pros do it the way they do after the fact. But sometimes I make an original discovery that works out great because my mind is not filled with " the way it should be " a good example of this is when I built a wooden motor boat now I didn't know how to build a boat I did however know how to build a drawer so that's how I built it thick ridgid sides that continued below the bottom to create the equivalent of sled runners that kept the boat strait and stable and protected the bottom durring beaching that boat worked awesome and ofcourse the boat building guru's were appauld

SweetWaterBlue
01-24-2011, 07:21 AM
Thanks Dave. Cold bending would certainly remove one of the investments beginners feel they have to make to get into the game just to see if they like it. A few days in a cold press is no big deal to an amateur, although if you can't take the time to at least build a heat pipe, maybe its a clue you won't like the craft anyway.

hoosierhiver
01-24-2011, 07:27 AM
The dvd from StewMac is pretty good, interesting even if you don't plan to make one yourself.

Mauimaster
01-24-2011, 08:46 AM
Thanks for the replys. I am just starting to get into wood working, I like the uke and have started to think about building my own. This is why I asked this question, sorry I did not realize that the questions I asked were so open ended as I have zero experience in building an instrument!
Hoosierhiver, thanks, that sounds like a pretty good starting point!

Allen
01-24-2011, 10:27 PM
First off, can I apologise for my remarks a couple of days ago. I wasn't in a good place and should have kept them to my self.

Now, can I suggest that you don't try and figure out the entire instrument in one go, but as a collection of components that if dimensioned and shaped in a manner according to your (or a bought) plan come together as a completed instrument. It will be a lot less daunting of a project as essentially all any instrument is, is a collection of well fitting parts all glued together.

First off you need to decide on the size of instrument you would like to try. I'd suggest a concert or even a tenor as your first. Soprano's are actually quite difficult to build due to their small size, and everything has to be spot on to get them to sound right.

Then find a plan and study it to death. There should be heaps of information that tells you the dimensions you are going to be shooting for for each component. Once you've wrapped your head around some of that, then specific questions relating to how, why etc. will be more easily answered by the board members.

I wish you luck in you're endeavours.

Keef
01-25-2011, 04:58 AM
their are no big projects just a series of small ones

Mauimaster
02-14-2011, 11:48 AM
Thanks for all the help every one!