View Full Version : Looking For Help

11-14-2011, 08:33 AM
Hi all,
I am new to this site and also new to making a traditional type of uke. I have made the odd kind like cigar box and cookie tin ones for a while and also other types of wood bodied three stringers but I am now looking at focusing on ukes and making them like they should be made. I have many tools and have some experience but when it comes to bending and such I have very little. I also need a new thickness sander due to a major break down of my old delta, jet looking style. I would take all and any advice and also looking for help with wood and thicknesses. I would love to get a Koa set to make a uke with also. I have a line on a bunch of Myrtle wood and have started with that but I want a all koa for some reason. Looking at one in the market place but waiting on funds from a sale. I am looking at getting the plan to make the bender off line and also making a go bar bench. I have seen them but just never used them. My dad is also excited and looking at making a few with me. Seems I rubbed off on him with all my cigar box three stringers and such. So when it comes to making a neck or fret board I have that down just never made the standard body. I have looked at the fantail kind and I have made many like that just not ukes. I want to stick with the traditional if I can. I have been looking at tuns of web pages and you tube and it has been a huge help. Just putting this out there to see if I might have missed something. Any and all help would be great.

Michael Smith
11-14-2011, 10:55 AM
You might want to pick up a good set of plans to work off of on your first go round. Also build a few before you go out and buy that 5A Koa set.

Liam Ryan
11-14-2011, 02:51 PM
Buy the 5A Koa set now. By the time you're ready to use it you won't be able to afford it........

11-14-2011, 04:03 PM
I am making a deal on some koa now and it can set till I feel I am ready. I know, like most wood prices can go crazy and sometimes you get it when you get it.

11-14-2011, 05:27 PM
wood prices can go crazy and sometimes you get it when you get it.

eBay has some nice curly koa billets available right now. I bought one from the same seller and it looks very promising. I'll find out for sure in a year when it dries to 6%.

11-14-2011, 05:43 PM
eBay has some nice curly koa billets available right now. I bought one from the same seller and it looks very promising. I'll find out for sure in a year when it dries to 6%.
So the wood you got is green or not dry? I am not familiar with Koa and how it dries. I have made many traditional archery bows and our local woods need 6 months to a year to dry. One thing is sometimes you have some good looking wood and when it dries it can split or check. What kind of reactions does Koa have when drying?

11-14-2011, 06:20 PM
So the wood you got is green or not dry?

It is not dry enough, but I wouldn't call it green. The billet came to me from tropical Hawaii, where the humidity stays a lot higher than it does in New York. The billet is now in a well ventilated, climate controlled environment, where it will slowly lose moisture as it acclimates to the dryer climate. The billet is more than 2" thick, so it will take some time. Moisture content is currently around 12% and no obvious cracks have developed so far, so I am hopeful it will reach my target without problems.

Rick Turner
11-14-2011, 07:43 PM
Resaw that wood ASAP to minimize the stress from "case hardening" as it dries on the outside faster than the inside.

This is one of those things that folks who do not saw much wood do NOT understand. There's kind of a myth about letting large billets dry and then doing the resawing. NO! The sooner you get wood down close to its intended final thickness after harvest, the better. Resaw to about .170 for guitar backs, .140 for sides, .150 for uke tops and backs, .120 for sides, sticker the wood well, get it under control with weights or bungee cords, slow dry it at first, then move it into humidity control for a number of months for air drying.

I just got a dozen quarter log sections of Acacia melanoxylon (Tasmainan Blackwood) 28" long and 14" to 16" on a face, and I've got the ends waxed, but want to get it all resawn for uke and guitar parts within a month. It is the very definition of quartered, and I'll work off the faces to get as much truly quartered stock as I can. I'll get some pictures up soon.

I've done a lot of resawing, and the best results come from resawing fairly quickly. You don't want those faces being much drier than the interior when you cut, and you don't want the wood drying significantly on the outside while remaining wet inside. The denser the wood, the worse the problem, and you would not believe how long it can take for thick green wood to dry. I learned a lot about this when cutting into walnut billets that were about 8" x 10" that were three years old...and were absolutely wet inside. That stuff went potato chip in me.

11-14-2011, 08:32 PM
Resawing is my feelings as well. when making bows and getting wood that is not dry I split it into staves and then seal the ends and let it dry. The larger the piece the longer it takes to dry. I try and cut and leave room to plane or sand to size. I would hope to buy wood that is dry or close for my first.

11-14-2011, 08:41 PM
Yeah air dried wood in hawaii is basically 13%. And what Rick says is right on the money. Take that thickness down. Sticker your pieces. Put some weight on that stack. A dehumidifier would get you to around 7% in a week or so and you would be off to the races. The key is not drying it to fast. Good luck.

11-16-2011, 08:09 AM
I just finished my bending jig and I am making a thickness sander. I had one I bought but it suck and is in need of constant adjustments. I have looked at many plans and now I am building one. I have the drum finished. I have some friends at a yacht building company and they cnc cut out all the disks for me so they are all perfect. I have the pillow blocks and the shaft. I am today going to get the lumber as I don't have enough. I am excited to get it up and running. Looking at using the Velcro for sandpaper. Pros or cons to Velcro? I am looking at sanding thinner than I did one my other builds so I am not sure about the Velcro.

11-16-2011, 11:16 AM
Doesn't matter how accurate the discs are, it's the relationship between the drum and the bed/table that needs to be accurate. True it up with a sanding board prior to adding the velcro.
Using 60 grit paper, I get an accuracy of better than a tenth of a millimetre over a 17" width, consistent over any length. Get the velcro on the right way round or it can unravel itself very rapidly! :o