View Full Version : Need Building Information for a project for my class next year

03-01-2011, 04:47 PM
Sorry if there is a thread out there about this already but I'm not having any luck searching (of course I am on my phone).

Next school year, I am wanting to help my classroom build an 'ukulele that we can raffle off for our uke club. I have no idea what kind of tools I would need. I teach 4th grade and the tools would have to be kid friendly. I have looked into kits but those seem kind of cheesy to me.

I do teach 4th grade and one of our science standards is simple machines and in math we have to measure using metric system (mm and cm).

I plan on writing a grant to raise money for the wood and tools that I need.

What do you guys (the experts and hobbyists) recommend that I start with? I would like for this to be a project that takes a few months. I would like to be able to build a decent uke but not too nice b/c we are going to raffle it off:)

03-01-2011, 05:20 PM
Your timing is pretty good as I am cranking out parts for kits for the Gorge Uke Fest, and my mind is in that zone. My thought is that you have a luthier supply you the materials to your specifications that you and the kids assemble. A good tool to start with is a jig saw. It is relatively safe for kids with supervision and pretty easy to operate. You could have a thickness sanded soundboard sent to you and use the jig saw to cut out the outline and soundhole. You could buy a heat blanket and assemble a bending jig out of plywood. With some planning, you can figure out what is reasonable for you to build and have the luthier do the rest. It would be much better than a kit, as you would have total control of the woods used and the degree of prefabrication.


03-01-2011, 05:55 PM
What about trying to get a donation of some cold-bending wood from this company for the sides?


in use by at least one luthier:


Pete Howlett
03-01-2011, 10:29 PM
Make cigar box ukes - no bending required, wide 'novelty' appeal. minimum tools required.

03-02-2011, 12:38 AM
I had my grade nine class build cigar box ukes from Musicmakers.com this year. It has gone pretty well - the boys are really enjoying it, for the most part (i'm sure girls would enjoy it too, but it's an all boys school!).

I like the music makers cigar-box kits - but they are not perfect. Using tooth picks as fret bars is sometimes a bit of a challenge.

One of my other classes, a grade 7/8 group, will be building grizzly kits starting in a few weeks.

I'd be really interested in what you decide to go with and how the project goes overall. Keep us posted.

03-02-2011, 01:05 AM
I'm about to start a solidbody soprano build which I'll be posting about as I go along. Should hopefully show you what not to do.

03-02-2011, 01:57 AM
Contact some of your local luthiers. Ask if there is one in your area that is set up to take students. They are a great resource for advice. Since they are young students, you may be able to find a local luthier that will do this for a very low price.

Years ago, a luthier friend of mine taught dulcimer building to 6th graders for several years. He provided his tools and teaching. The students paid $20 for the kits.

Here are some links for Georgia:

Everett Guitars

Atlanta Guitar Works

Luthier International

Bob Benedetto

03-02-2011, 12:12 PM
Great idea about cigar box ukes. Can get a similar box at large craft stores like Joannes,
Michaels, ??? Google how to build a cigar box uke/guitar and you will get more guidance than you can possibly use. i.e. http://www.cigarboxnation.com/ If you search YouTube, you will find many detailed videos on how to build them. For example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdumVNTm8yY&feature=related FYI, when they call them cigar box "guitars" they are often referring to 4 strings ones = "ukes."