View Full Version : Fae's First Uke Repair

02-12-2011, 08:41 PM
Fae is a great lady that took the uke course last year that Rick Turner and I put on for the Cairns Ukulele Festival. She had never done any woodworking before, nor ever use any tools. She had a ball at the course and got bitten by the uke bug.

She then signed up for one of my scratch build courses and built a really outstanding Tasmanian Blackwood Concert. With that experience under her belt she bought an old uke off of ebay that needs a fair bit of TLC. And this is where this thread goes.

The bridge had fallen off some time ago but came with the uke. There was also a brace that had fallen out and was included as well. We could see a small crack in the top right next to the "A" side of the bridge. The back was badly warped because braces were loose, and the top was badly concave.

The back had some spots that were already loose from the sides, so this made the choice of popping the back or the top a no brainer. The back it was. Fortunately this uke was built round about 1930 so hide glue was used. Makes things a lot easier.

Oh, and in case you might have thought that this was a really stressful ordeal because of the sweat, it's just a normal day in the tropics in the middle of summer.


We've slipped some wedges in to help things along. Now we use a pallet knife dipped in hot water to soften up the glue as well as using a hot air gun to warm things up.




It doesn't take long and we're just about there. Only have the neck block to release from the back.


02-12-2011, 08:48 PM
All up it took about 15 minutes to get the back off without too much damage. There is a bit of the kerf linings that came away with the back, but everything is intact so it will by easy to glue back in place.



There was a bit of a clean up inside and an inspection. The crack in the top isn't all that bad, but the uke never came with a bridge patch so we decided that it would be best to put a thin spruce one in. As well the brace that was included with the uke was the lower transverse brace and that was the reason that the top had caved in so bad.

Fae made up the bridge patch and we marked out where it needed to go, as well as cleaning up the glueing surface of the brace. Then it was off to the Go-Bar deck and glue the pieces in place with the hot hide glue.



More to follow when we get to that point.

Fae morgan
02-12-2011, 10:33 PM
Thanks for all you help Allen. There's beer with your name on it.

Liam Ryan
02-12-2011, 11:51 PM
Great work Fae (and Allen). I knew you wouldn't last long after finishing the last course. There's only one way to satisfy that itch.

Popping the back is probably a good move as it will allow you to slip the back if the neck needs a little reseting.


mm stan
02-13-2011, 05:30 AM
Aloha Allen,
Mahalo Allen and Fae for sharing the process with us....and the Pic's too...we appriciate it very much...Just can't wait for the continuuation...Cheers! MM Stan:worship::cheers:

02-20-2011, 09:01 AM
Well, we got the uke finished off this past weekend.

Fae managed to get a copy of the original label and printed one off. there was only a fragment of the original so she glued on the copy with the small fragment of the original placed on top of it.


Then the back went on. Sorry forgot to take a picture. We checked the neck to bridge pitch and found that the neck would indeed need to be set back to get any sort of playable action. It wasn't possible to get all we needed because the upper bouts slay out when you do this and we only had so much room with the back already trimmed to size.

It also means that the lower bout extends past the rims, but that was easily trimmed up after the glue dried. Not knowing what sort of finish was on the instrument the safest way to hiding the raw wood color was to stain it with some India Ink.

Then the bridge went on.


The original tuners were absolutely useless, so put on a set of really inexpensive ones. The originals had black buttons but the new are white. Fae's going to keep an eye out for some black ones to switch these ones over. Next day the strings went on. Put some D'Addario J53's on, Don't know how many years its been since this thing made music.


Sound started to improve within 5 minutes of being brought up to pitch.

Fae's pretty pleased with the results.