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Stompfrog
09-05-2013, 02:44 AM
Hi all,

I have been doing a fair bit of thinking recently about what tools I need (would like to have) to make ukuleles/guitars. It would be great to get some feedback from some more experience builders.

What I am trying to achieve is a sensible set of core tools to allow me to produce small volumes of good quality instruments in a reasonable timescale.


Router*
Router table*
Small drill Press*
Small drum sander thicknesser
Small bandsaw/scroll saw


I imagine that there are a load more specialist tools/jigs that I will want to buy/build in the future but in terms of the core pieces of kit for a small luthiers workshop does this list seem reasonable?

NB: I appreciate that a skilled craftsman with plenty of time on his hands could probably make an incredible ukulele armed with nothing more than a swiss army knife so many of the tools I mention could be considered luxuries. But luxuries are nice right? :)

* Items I already have

Pukulele Pete
09-05-2013, 03:54 AM
I would do a search on this site for "luthiery tools" or "tools"and I'll bet you'll find this question has been asked many times and find lots of info.
Just want to add if you look on YouTube for videos by Pete Howlett you will find some great instructional videos ,I think he does one on tools.

Stompfrog
09-05-2013, 04:31 AM
Hi Pete, thanks for the feedback.

As per your recommendations I have found both this forum and youtube a great source of information. I have spent many an hour in bed watching videos on the ipad (including the Pete Howlett one you mention).

I guess I was just looking for a bit of reassurance that my "big item shopping list" was a sane and a wise investment. I didn't want to pull the trigger on an expensive saw/sander only to find out that it wasn't as useful as I expected and that the money would have been better spent on something else.

Perhaps a more interesting question would be...

If your much-loved workshop got abducted by some jealous alien luthiers what would be the first 3 power tools that you would buy to get yourself back in business?

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-05-2013, 05:09 AM
In order of importance:

1.) Bandsaw
2.) Thickness sander
3.) 6 X 48 Belt/Disc sander Combo
4.) Table saw

Sorry, I had to add a 4th. Without these four basic tools I wouldn't want to build.

tobinsuke
09-05-2013, 06:20 AM
In order of importance:

1.) Bandsaw
2.) Thickness sander
3.) 6 X 48 Belt/Disc sander Combo
4.) Table saw

Sorry, I had to add a 4th. Without these four basic tools I wouldn't want to build.

Oh no! Not the "great table saw debate"! :) Kidding, of course.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-05-2013, 06:29 AM
Oh no! Not the "great table saw debate"! :) Kidding, of course.

There's no debate with me. How else are you going to easily make piles of kerfings, bindings and bracing stock, not to mention slotting fret boards?

Michael Smith
09-05-2013, 08:42 AM
I have a very nice router table.........and never use it.

Laidback1
09-05-2013, 09:07 AM
Agree w/Chuck's List as prioritized. Since you already have the Router Table there are lots of time-saving operations that you can perform:
1) Joint Backs & Tops (much faster than hand plane and shooting board or sandpaper jigs, etc.)
2) Flush trim the body, neck, sides of the headstock, etc.
3) Taper the fret board using a flush trimming bit
and on........

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-05-2013, 09:21 AM
Yes, if I were to add a 5th item the router/laminate trimmer & table would be right up there. I use them almost daily.
BTW, I know there are a lot of tool junkies here but a huge array of tools can create distance between you and your instrument. Some basics, as noted, are indispensable. Honestly, to do the work efficiently you'll also need at least a couple of dozen other lessor tools and jigs as well.

Ukeplayer2013
09-05-2013, 09:49 AM
This is a great thread!!

Stompfrog
09-05-2013, 09:51 AM
It looks like I am on the right lines with the shopping list. Thanks for the approving nods :)


1) Joint Backs & Tops (much faster than hand plane and shooting board or sandpaper jigs, etc.)

This sounds interesting, could you elaborate a bit please. :)

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-05-2013, 10:05 AM
Use a spiral carbide bit against a GOOD (read expensive) straight edge. Straight bits won't work, it'll leave chatter marks. Get the best straight edge you can afford. (Lee Valley) Rulers and bar stock aren't straight.

Allen
09-05-2013, 10:11 AM
I've got a router table, and never use it.

The table saw however gets used every single day. A good drill press is indispensable as well.

Timbuck
09-05-2013, 10:19 AM
If I did more Jointed plates than I do (about two tenor ukes a year on average)....Then I would definitely invest in the tools and use Chuck's method..there's now't wrong with that process that I can see :D
And by the way! I got rid of my table saw, mainly co's it was a cheap nasty one, and it was too big....I think I could find a use for a small accurate table saw Tho'.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-05-2013, 10:33 AM
If I did more Jointed plates than I do (about two tenor ukes a year on average)....Then I would definitely invest in the tools and use Chuck's method..there's now't wrong with that process that I can see :D
And by the way! I got rid of my table saw, mainly co's it was a cheap nasty one, and it was too big....I think I could find a use for a small accurate table saw Tho'.

It's about as perfect as you can get Ken. And a machined edge makes a much better joint than a sanded one. Shooting with a hand plane took too long and was frustrating for me. The key is an absolute straight edge and the router bit (Eagle). The spiral bit keeps a cutting edge on the wood at all times as opposed to a fluted bit which will leave a slightly irregular surface.
BTW, the inner faces of the holding jig are lined with 80 grit sand paper to keep the plates from shifting.

lauburu
09-05-2013, 10:40 AM
+1 regarding jointing plates with a router table and spiral bit. Mind you, I wish I'd seen a pic of Chuck's jig about 2 months ago. I've just reinvented an inferior (but still functional) wheel.
Miguel

ukulian
09-05-2013, 11:03 AM
I also agree with Chuck's list, although I'd put the router/table above the table saw.
The one thing I would delete in your original list would be the word 'small', especially where the bandsaw is concerned. Get the biggest you can afford/accommodate. :)

rb4player
09-05-2013, 11:35 AM
I'm just getting started. I have built one complete baritone body and learned that the thickness sander was 1, 2, and 3 in time-saving/quality importance. I also used a reciprocating spindle sander for many, many things.

(found a 16-32 sander for $475 on craigslist and expect instrument #2 to go much better/faster as a result)

Jim

Stompfrog
09-05-2013, 11:41 AM
That technique is awesome. I did an electric guitar with a book matched flamed maple top. That was jointed using a plane and shooting board and it was fairly tedious. I'll be adding this to my list of "jigs" to make list for sure!! :)

rudy
09-05-2013, 03:21 PM
My version of Chuck's is the first photo here:

http://www.bluestemstrings.com/pageUke1.html

I get away with using a twin flute carbide straight cutter by a tiny amount of abrasive planing as shown in the next photo.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-05-2013, 03:37 PM
With all due respect, I recommend using a straight edge that was designed specifically as a straight edge. And I think it's generally accepted that a machined surface is better than a sanded surface when glued. A spiral pattern bit will cost you $29 but the difference in the cut is very noticeable.

Kevin Waldron
09-05-2013, 05:08 PM
Chuck,

Not trying to be critical but possibly offer an alternative view.

Table needs to have Formica for smoother feed and less chance of other movements...... The taller the bit the greater the run out from the router.......

Don't dislike your setup but suggest a little different style bearing location and height. You also say straight bit will chatters..... proper size bit, router, ( shaper ) and speed I'd disagree.....this is basically what a straight knife jointer is ......


Blessings,

Kevin

Liam Ryan
09-05-2013, 05:51 PM
Given the OPs criteria of reasonable numbers with reasonable efficiency and repeatability, I'd echo the call for a machine based shop over a hand tool based shop. You can argue over which machines but its all apples and oranges. What works for my work flow may be different to what works for someone else's work flow.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-05-2013, 05:52 PM
It might be slight but the irregularities are there with a straight bit. I've used both with this jig and the spiral bit is far superior. Nor will my joiner give me the smooth cut I want. I haven't used anything other than a laminate trimmer with this setup but it's been working for 5 or 6 years without any problems. Perfect seams every time. That's good 'nuf for me.

Laidback1
09-05-2013, 06:34 PM
Use a spiral carbide bit against a GOOD (read expensive) straight edge. Straight bits won't work, it'll leave chatter marks. Get the best straight edge you can afford. (Lee Valley) Rulers and bar stock aren't straight.

Chuck,
What are you using for the straight edge in your picture?

Chris_H
09-05-2013, 07:16 PM
a really nice straight edge from Lee Valley tools. I bought one on Chuck's recommend a few months back. I needed it for joining plates of some crazy Flamewood that would not lay flat no matter what. This straight edge has proven useful for numerous other tasks. Great tool yes! You probably need a hammer before before you buy this tool.. I would definitely buy it again...

As for the straight cutter thoughts... the spiral fluted bit leaves a smoother cut than a straight bit. A regular jointer cuts nowhere near as smooth as a spiral router bit for joining thin plates like uke tops/ backs/ thin veneers.

+1 to what Chuck said...

Sven
09-06-2013, 12:02 AM
When it comes to hand tools, I made a list in this here thread. Was kinda hoping others would chip in but it was mostly mine.

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?72113-Tool-tips-and-reviews

Allen
09-06-2013, 09:03 PM
I've got the complete set of straight edges (http://www.michealconnorwoodwork.com.au/page19/) from my mate Micheal Connor, who builds some really nice tools. They are all precision machined and ground. They also come in some better sizes for instrument builders than the other offerings. Just because he also builds ukes and settled on sizes that work for our needs.

JelC50
09-07-2013, 08:34 AM
I'm a new uke builder but a long time wood worker. Some on the best and cheapest clamps you'll find is PVC pipe with a slot cut in them. I cut 1 1/2 sch 40 pipe into disc about 1/4 wide, then cut a slot in them. They work great for holding the kerfing to the sides while gluing and other things like this. You can never have too many clamps and these are about as cheap as they come.

Timbuck
09-07-2013, 09:22 AM
I'm a new uke builder but a long time wood worker. Some on the best and cheapest clamps you'll find is PVC pipe with a slot cut in them. I cut 1 1/2 sch 40 pipe into disc about 1/4 wide, then cut a slot in them. They work great for holding the kerfing to the sides while gluing and other things like this. You can never have too many clamps and these are about as cheap as they come.
I take it! you use rectangular kerfing....Not triangular :)

lauburu
09-07-2013, 11:49 AM
best and cheapest clamps you'll find
The photos show a very cheap and easy clamp. Good for holding kerfing in place etc but not able to exert much force.
The bamboo skewers can be bought in any Asian food store. The wooden jaws are about 10mm square with parallel holes drilled. Make sure the bamboo skewers fit snugly. You can make dozens in next to no time with pieces of scrap wood.5838758388
Miguel

Chuck Dubman
09-12-2013, 07:49 PM
Don't slight your hand tool collection. Nothing smooths hardwood faster or better than a card scraper. $10 gets you a nice quality Bahco, or you can cut one from an old handsaw. Profiled scrapers are very handy. I have several cut to quarter circles, which are great for shaping necks to within a fraction of a millimeter of finished size.

Liam Ryan
09-12-2013, 07:55 PM
I'm a massive fan of scrapers but faster? surely not?

Surely a rough sawn piece of hard wood will be smoothed quicker on a jointer or a thicknesser. Unless, of course if it's mega-curly; then it'd be quicker with a jointer with the knives sharpened to scrape.

Radio Flyer
09-13-2013, 04:19 AM
get a Stew-Mac catalog and drool.

Chuck Dubman
09-13-2013, 06:40 PM
Table saw with a decent combination blade is even faster. I don't own a planer or jointer, nor do I want one. I do own several 100+ year old hand planes that'll transform a rough board to literally glass smooth in a couple of passes, without leaving sniped ends or a washboard surface.

tobinsuke
09-13-2013, 10:53 PM
In order of importance:

1.) Bandsaw
2.) Thickness sander
3.) 6 X 48 Belt/Disc sander Combo
4.) Table saw

Sorry, I had to add a 4th. Without these four basic tools I wouldn't want to build.

I've been shopping for a belt/disc sander combination... Many of the user reviews I've read contain complaints about getting the disc table square to the disc - even for some more solid labels like Delta. I don't want to break the bank, but even more I don't want to end up with a PITA tool. Any label recommendations?

Chris_H
09-14-2013, 06:11 AM
powermatic

Chuck Dubman
09-14-2013, 06:23 AM
I've been shopping for a belt/disc sander combination... Many of the user reviews I've read contain complaints about getting the disc table square to the disc - even for some more solid labels like Delta. I don't want to break the bank, but even more I don't want to end up with a PITA tool. Any label recommendations?

Replace the table with a sturdier one made from a plywood box with an oversized top. Most bench top tools can be improved with a little ingenuity.

tobinsuke
09-14-2013, 09:59 AM
Yeah, Powermatic seems like good stuff... But I may need to bench top since I don't have a lot of floor space to work with in my shop - also a little pricier than I was hoping.

And I'm sure I could fashion a usable and accurate table if it came down to it, but....

Jet brand might be a good compromise. Does anyone out there own a Jet belt/disc combo?

And I didn't mean to hijack this thread. Sorry about that.

resoman
09-14-2013, 11:20 AM
One thing about those combo sanders with the 6" disc. I found the 6" to be kinda small for a lot of stuff and bought a 10" which is just right. You might be better off getting separate tools instead of the combo.

Stompfrog
09-24-2013, 09:03 AM
Use a spiral carbide bit against a GOOD (read expensive) straight edge. Straight bits won't work, it'll leave chatter marks. Get the best straight edge you can afford. (Lee Valley) Rulers and bar stock aren't straight.

Chuck, how is the straight edge held in place here?

Is it just resting in a snuggly fitting slot in the top part of the clamp or is there more to it?

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-24-2013, 10:43 AM
Chuck, how is the straight edge held in place here?

Is it just resting in a snuggly fitting slot in the top part of the clamp or is there more to it?

It's a snug fit but a bit of epoxy makes sure it's not going anywhere.
Make sure you glue sandpaper to the faces of the jig to keep the uke plates from moving.

Stompfrog
09-24-2013, 09:41 PM
Thanks Chuck!

Stompfrog
09-25-2013, 09:53 PM
I just ordered my guided spiral upcut bit so hopefully I will be making the joining jig this weekend.

I have enough wood to make several backs/tops. Whilst I definitely plan to use it all eventually, I'm not gonna make 6 ukes simultaneously for my first build. Is it worth joining and/or thicknessing the other plates now? Will they be stable in that state or am I better off leaving them as they are for the time being?