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View Full Version : Archtop concert--A long, slow build



"Umm, fish?"
05-07-2013, 10:06 AM
Hi all!

First off, I want to thank Brad for being so generous in sharing his plans with me. Thank you, sir! His build thread is here: http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?19423-Building-an-arch-top-ukulele

I decided a few weeks ago that I desperately needed to build an archtop uke. I'm not quite sure why, but there it is. I've been "just about to start" on an archtop guitar build for quite some time and then this urge came over me and actually got me moving, so it must be a good thing.

I am not a luthier but I like playing with lovely woods. I've never made a musical instrument before. So, plan on lots of mistakes along the way. I assume the biggest thing is just to keep moving forward despite any setbacks.

I managed to find some Engelmann spruce for a one-piece top from a local guy who cut up the tree himself (I'm in Colorado) for what seems a good price (the top wood cost me $12 with lots of leftover to make braces or whatever with).

I think I'm pretty close on the top carving. I'm pretty proud of it since I did the whole thing freehand. I've been a book designer for most of my adult life, though, so I think I have a decent eye.

I don't have a ton of overhang on which to carve the re-curve later, though. That's a little concerning. How much should I worry about that?

If I don't need to rework the top then I'll start carving out the insides soon.

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Bad Juju
05-13-2013, 11:02 AM
Thanks for posting the pics of your progress. I, too, have been "just about to start" on an archtop build for quite some time. I have much of the materials that have been drying out and stabilizing and am anxious to start soon. I am moving my family to a new house this month but will take the opportunity to set up a workshop so I can get started next month.

I like the straight grain of the spruce that you are using. I will be using Western Red Cedar that also has pretty straight grain. What is the current depth of your top? What was the original thickness of the billet that you started with?

Please post updates and pics of your progress!

"Umm, fish?"
05-13-2013, 12:20 PM
Thanks for your interest!

For some reason the uke build doesn't seem as daunting to me. I know that's ridiculous because it's almost as much work, but that's how it feels. Maybe it's that there are less preconceptions involved. Who knows?

At any rate, the piece of spruce started at 0.95" (my ruler measures in hundredths). It was originally intended to be an F5 mandolin top. I've brought it down in the center of the arch a bit, but not an enormous amount. That makes this deeper than the plans call for.

But, I took a week off working on this and decided that I really didn't have enough room for the re-curve so yesterday I started working the top again. So it'll likely be somewhat flatter of an arch by the time I'm through. I just really want to get the top curves right before I start drilling to depth on the inside, you know? :)

I was actually looking for cedar when I ran across this piece of spruce. I love the smell of cedar when working. Spruce is a local wood, though, and I like that.

Good luck with your build!