View Full Version : books

12-18-2011, 09:06 PM
hi, everyone :) I'm interested to try to build an uke. But I don't know how to learn it. Could you please recommend some books or website for me to start building an uke? Thank you so much :)

Pete Howlett
12-18-2011, 10:38 PM
(Blows own trumpet) Go to my YouTube channel where you will find practically everything you need to know about building. There are also many other channels showing the craft of building from the great but fairly dry to watch Chris Paullick and his transferable techniques to Dave G on this forum who documents how he builds and loads and loads of vignettes of the great builders of the day. You will get far more from these than any rubbish book, and I mean that - there is not a single good book out there that properly describes how to build a ukulele, that has behind it the wealth of experience from a time served craftsman that will set you right. Don't buy any - borrow them and make notes of the good bits.

You have to hoover it all up, talk to everyone you know who builds, go to lutherie or cabinet/furniture making school then start... others here have just got stuck in there and then have spent quite some time in Q&A with the professionals trying to figure out where they went wrong and in many cases telling us old-boys where we are going wrong after building just one instrument!

By far the best way would be to offer to clean shop and sort out the wood store of your local luthier in exchange for hanging out and watching him work. Even as a considered 'maker' I still love to watch other luthiers and how they work, no matter their skill level so YouTube is the place I go for my home videos and workshop time with my peers.

12-19-2011, 03:06 AM
After you've watched Pete's YouTube videos, get the building manual (http://www.hanalimastore.com/servlet/the-62/Hana-Lima-%27Ia-%27Ukulele/Detail) from Hana Lima Ia. It also wouldn't hurt if your first build was a Hana Lime kit or a kit from Stewart-MacDonald (http://www.stewmac.com/shopby/product/5348), which comes with instructions and an optional DVD.

Michael Smith
12-19-2011, 08:43 AM
Type "Steve's Guitar Making" into the YouTube search. He has made a very good entry level series about building a guitar. 99% is relevant for ukulele construction.

Pete Howlett
12-19-2011, 10:16 AM
Beware the Spanish heel much loved by those who have a table saw and can live with executing finishes with the neck attached...

12-19-2011, 10:20 AM
Beware the Spanish heel much loved by those who have a table saw and can live with executing finishes with the neck attached...
I just finished my second Spanish heel and I have vowed never to make one again!
Too much trouble for the tools I have and my general lack of experience.
Some day I will revisit it, but not anytime soon.

Pete Howlett
12-19-2011, 10:35 AM
I've just looked up that video series - managed 15 seconds for one video and about 30 seconds for the next then gave up. Disengaged would be my one word critique.... In truth, this series is boring and very unprofessionally presented. On a first glance test, I would not take any instruction from someone who isn't dressed for the workshop and who spends an inordinate amount of time patronisingly describing the obvious! But hey, I di recommend you look at everything on YouTube - just not all the way through :)

Liam Ryan
12-19-2011, 10:55 AM
To add a bit of balance to the spanish heel bashing, I think the spanish heel is a great construction method. Just sand it before you glue it in. There's no stuffing around fitting the neck and every thing lines up right from the get go.

And I don't own a table saw so I have to cut my slots with magic.

Pete Howlett
12-19-2011, 11:13 AM
I remain unconvinced... apart from the lack of repairability it's the precision fiddling you have to do to line everything up, create the step for the top and accurately saw the slots - it really is not a beginner's neck joint and shouldn't be advised as such. I am not bashing it - on a Spanish guitar it serves a purpose but before executing it you ought to watch the video of Jose Romanillos explaining on one of the last guitars he made how he had developed this joint so that it could be taken apart. I watched in admiration and dismay... if you want to take something apart use bolts and nuts!

Liam Ryan
12-19-2011, 01:04 PM
I find less precision is required for the spanish heel.

Pete, I don't doubt that your methods are very well refined and work well for you, they have to. Nor will I sing the praises of the spanish heel over all other methods. The point is that no one needs to "beware the spanish heel" any more than any other method, just work at their processes to get them right.

Pete Howlett
12-19-2011, 10:06 PM
I believe you have to beware because of the skill levels that have to be in place before you start. Like all developed methods it looks easier than it really is :) And it's why in a lot of instruction and videos you see, the cutting of the slots and initial shaping of the heel is done on a table saw. Here is a video showing how a guitar maker shapeas a neck with a Spanish heel


Looks easy doesn't it - sharp tools, pre-cognitive skills and a lump of Spanish cedar make it look so; yet you can't tell me that this can be executed by a novice! In a prior video the sides are jointed to the neck on a table saw. I have yet to see a demonstration of how this is accurately done with a hand saw or the final shaping and sanding of the heel to side area coupled with a comprehensive explanation how you would French polish or spray such a piece. I had to pm Robert Obrien to get his answer on this one... and then there is polishing out. Strip this one down and you have a sequence of challenges that to a novice will be real headaches. Without the answers to how to 'work around' these it would, in my opinion, be the 3rd option for a beginner working without guidance, the other 2 being a bolt on, Hawaiian 'spline' or dowel and the 4th option the dovetail.

Liam Ryan
12-19-2011, 11:13 PM
Spanish heels seem more complicated than they really are.

First, I fully shape the heel before it is attached to the body. No edge tools go near the heal after it's attached to the body. I sand the heel and sides to P240 before assembly. A little sanding is required after the bindings go in.

I cut the slots with a dove tail saw. No dramas. The slots are cut over size and the double wedge method is used to cinch the sides up tight.

FP is not really my thing so I won't comment. Suffice to say many spanish heeled guitars have been FP'd.

Spraying is no drama. Not really sure why it would be?

Polishing out; I haven't done a full high gloss so I won't comment on whether it is basic or advanced..........but it can be done.

Further, to the beginner vs spanish heel subject, I believe Rick's beginner classes use the spanish heel method. The beginner class I started out with, taught by Allen, used the spanish heel.