View Full Version : Help removing soundboard

11-18-2011, 03:44 AM
I really messed up the spruce soundboard on the uke that I'm building. I'm going to try and fix it, but I'm thinking I'm going to have to remove it and start over.
I've never dissasembled a uke before, so I have no idea how to do it.

It's a mahogany uke with a spruce top. It has a spanish style neck and is glued together with Titebond glue. It's the original Titebond formula with the red cap.

Can I just heat it up with a heat gun and peel it off, or is there a better way to do it?

Michael N.
11-18-2011, 04:54 AM
Warm through slowly. Don't try and blast a lot of heat in one go. I use a domestic clothes iron set on low. You have to give it time, the heat has to penetrate through the Spruce.
Go in gently with a parting knife. The knife has to be a little blunt otherwise you just end up cutting through Spruce. Some folk rub a little candle wax/soap on the knife for lubrication. Watch for any grain run out. If it feels to be biting into wood, change direction and head the other way.
My best advice: glue some Spruce off cuts (using the same glue) onto scrap wood. Leave for a day or so and practice. Then practice some more.

11-18-2011, 06:12 AM
Thank you Michael. I like the iron idea, I will have to try it.
I forgot to mention in my first post that if I decide to remove the top I will have no intention of saving it. I would be replacing it with new wood.
I was fixing a tiny bit of tear out on the binding ring around the sound hole and it went horribly, horribly wrong. :(
It was all my own fault. I tried to fix it using the wrong tools even though I knew it probably wouldn't work. I should have just left it. That's my inexperience and impatience showing. I will never do that again!
I'm going to try and cut out the old binding and add a new one. If that doesn't work I will replace the whole thing.
Thanks again.

11-18-2011, 06:35 AM
If you decide the top is trash then it's safer to cut it away and plane/sand away the spruce at the rim until you get a clean mating surface for your new top.

Don't forget to put it back in the mould, otherwise almost certainly the sides will distort - depends on your mould whether you can do this before cutting off the top (safest) or have to re-fit it after (if you were building face down on a board).

Michael N.
11-18-2011, 07:03 AM
Oh well if the Top is scrap, different ball game.
Odd bits of tear out/serious dings can be 'fixed' with off cut Spruce, either using 'v' pieces - if it's on an edge or a rugby ball shaped patch if in the middle of a piece. Just need a scalpel and an off cut from your Spruce. It's as good a fix as you'll ever get apart from replacing the whole top.

11-18-2011, 08:50 AM
Michael's description explains the process as well as you can in print. The only way to improve on it is with hands on experience.

If the top is trash then one option is to use a binding cutter like the Stew Mac or LMI ones and pick a bearing that will provide a cut the width of your side plus linings. Then set the depth of cut just a whisker less than the thickness of the top. Rout away and then you can remove the top with a razor blade etc. If your braces glue into the linings then you'll need to deal with them.

If all that is left on top of the linings is very thin sliver of wood and level you don't even need to remove it before glueing on the new top.

Liam Ryan
11-18-2011, 10:45 AM
Michael's nailed it. For thicker pieces like bridges and braces I heat a putty knife with a clothes iron and separate the join with that.

Feel free to post a photo of the top. You'd be amazed at what's fixable. If not, you've got a few bridge patches and what not.

11-18-2011, 12:04 PM
Hmm, removing the top from my Grizzly uke kit to replace with a spruce one. I don't have a mould. If I have the new top ready for immediate installation, can I just put it on. The sides are laminate...am I safe in assuming it probably won't distort?

Liam Ryan
11-18-2011, 06:22 PM

Personally I'd just put a quick-grip clamp on the waist to hold it to the right spread and the rest will just sit in the right spot then. Really your sides shouldn't be holding too much tension if the were done right in the first place