View Full Version : plans and wood

11-05-2008, 03:18 PM
over the next 6-10 months ill have access to a workshop, fully equipped. over the first half i just want to get used to the machines and reading plans by building tables, chairs, etc then moving to smaller more intricate work (jewelery boxes, etc) towards the end i do want to build a uke.

here are my questions:

1) does anyone have drawn plans?

2) woods, will any hardwoods work? what about softwoods?
i like Pete Howlett's idea of using indigenous woods.

3) since i dont have all that much money for woods, ill only be able to get a limited supply of woods. how would building a solid electric be for costs, build time, ease of building, etc?

4) as a first time builder, what would be the easiest to build soprano, concert, or tenor?


11-05-2008, 06:18 PM
I can't help you with any of the other questions, but Hana Lima 'Ia has ukulele plans for sale.


11-05-2008, 11:51 PM
I noticed Dave has plans, http://www.wsukes.com/plans.html
Stewmac has kits and probably plans also. You could also check the luthiers guild for local folks who may have tips for jigs and other "inside information".

E-Lo Roberts
11-09-2008, 12:22 PM
h-drix, the internet is alive with generous luthiers who have donated their knowledge for free to help others build instruments. Just keep digging deep to find their sites. Also don't forget to check out guitar builder sites. The process is very similar in many ways to uke building.

I started with Hana Lima plans myself for a tenor uke. I quickly modified their concepts to better suit my style of build. I also, bought a few guitar building books to see how they were solving the same tasks. As I continue to build, I find myself re-vamping many of the original jig approaches I first used.

The main thing that I have found out about building an instrument is that, although the funamentals of the build remain sound, there are endless way to accomplish any particular task. Don't be afraid to think outside the box to best come up with a new jig or idea to complete a given task.

As suggested to me, it is best to practice your first 10 or so ukes using cheaper hardwoods. I have a Woodcraft store close to my house. They have some great hardwoods that I use to practice my builds on. Any kind of cheaper rosewood, walnut, or mahogany planks will do. Re-sawing these woods can yield enough wood for as low as $5 for a mahogany neck, $12 for a rosewood back and sides. Or how about $10 for walnut back and sides? For tops you can use some mahogany, cedar, or spruce for anywhere from $5 to $15 a top. So you got less than $30 in wood cost to experiment around with per uke. Once you get your skill sets down along with your jigs and tools, then move on up to the good wood for some killer ukes.

Good luck with your builds....e.lo..........

11-09-2008, 01:00 PM
Just like Seeso said, www.hanalima.com has a wealth of things to help the first time builder. They have plans of all 4 acoustic sizes. They have wood for sale from Mahogany ( cheap ) to purple heart and koa ( more pricy ). there is also the forums there with plenty of people to help answer questins that often arise with first builds. They helped me very much when I was starting out and I learned alot from them.
I have completed 3 ukuleles and am working on 2 more all using their plans, and manual, and I have found them to be very novice friendly.
IMHO building a solid body uke should be done after you have some builds under your belt.
Good luck and please keep us posted on any projects that you undertake.

Pete Howlett
11-09-2008, 09:22 PM
I am blogging solid building today - It looks simple but it ain't and the main expense is the wood - my Fireflies are built using quartersawn Honduran mahogany - the body without machining cost me $60 :eek:

I would suggest building a first uke in walnut or cherry. If you are in the UK I have some cheap sets of this stuff ready cut and thicknessed.

Rather than build a Fox bender I would suggest you learn to bend by hand - both cherry and walnut are very forgiving in this department and bend well. The pipe and gas torch method is how I started.

Although Hana Lima has had a lot of praise here, remember it is one supplier with one idea about about building - like us all. Do your research and find what is best for you. The Scott Antes plans available from Stewmac and LMII are good for their outlines and overall authenticity (they are Martin plans - so called) but some of the dimmensions are inaccurate. Check with a luthier first regarding thicknesses because this is the true secret of ukulele building.

If you can, buy your fingerboards ready slotted from Allen Guitars - 17" scale (start with a tenor build). If you get this part wrong it really can be very disappointing...

Try building with a solera - mold making is a whole craft in its own right - I'm blogging this soon also.

Ask, ask, ask for help here and on other forums but only one question at a time (you are more likely to get a resonse) and before you make a mistake!

All the best :rock:

11-10-2008, 01:42 AM
thanks a lot guys. ill start looking at plans right now and try to get my materials in a list.