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View Full Version : Doweled neck removal for reset or slip the back



olgoat52
10-07-2013, 08:05 AM
A fellow UU'er asked me to try and address a high action problem (5/32" at the 12th) on a uke he bought a while ago. No maker label. It was made by a fellow up in Alaska. Pretty good quality woods and workmanship.

Shaving the bridge or making a new thinner bridge is not really going to do it. The neck angle is just wrong. Intonation is pretty good so he did most of it right.

Looking through the sound hole I can see the end grain of two dowels that I suspect are straight through the neck block. One near the top, one near the back.

No binding on the instrument. Solid wood 2 piece back and solid maple sides.

I was initially thinking of cutting the neck off (zero set saw) to cut through the dowels, but now I am thinking of slipping the back unless someone has a good idea on loosening the dowel glue joint.

For slipping the back, should the glue joint under the finger board tab be loosened as well?

Thanks for any thoughts.

Allen
10-07-2013, 09:49 AM
Without bindings on the instrument, I would think slipping the back will be the easiest fix. I doubt whether the fret board will need to be freed up to get the adjustment required. But you will know soon enough when you get that back free over the upper bout.

If you can't get the proper set without the fret board freed up, then it's easy enough to do that then.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-07-2013, 11:53 AM
I'm no repairman, but I think the proper way of doing this is to remove the fret that is over the joint, drill a couple of small holes through the fret slot and use one of those steam injector needle things that is designed for exactly this purpose.
The quickest fix IMO would be to shave down the bridge and reslot the saddle slot. Is the bridge too low for this?
Other than that I'd be tempted to work on the fret board. You could pull the frets and resand the fret board in order to gain better action, or simply replace the fret board, making is slightly thicker at the bridge end. Depending on how off the action is you'll likely have to re-level the finger board anyway after a neck reset.

olgoat52
10-07-2013, 04:18 PM
Thanks for the ideas Chuck. I don't think the steam is going to work in this case. I am guessing that the neck it butt jointed to the body with two dowels going through the neck block. I have used the steam trick through the fret slot on sliding dovetail joints but I suspect there is no cavity under the board.

I will take another look at thinning the bridge but I think it needs too much to get away with that. It needs almost a 1/16 at the 12th so taking that bridge down an 1/8 won't leave much string angle. But I will check it again.

Alan, thanks for the thoughts on slipping the back. I think I am leaning that way at this point.


I'm no repairman, but I think the proper way of doing this is to remove the fret that is over the joint, drill a couple of small holes through the fret slot and use one of those steam injector needle things that is designed for exactly this purpose.
The quickest fix IMO would be to shave down the bridge and reslot the saddle slot. Is the bridge too low for this?
Other than that I'd be tempted to work on the fret board. You could pull the frets and resand the fret board in order to gain better action, or simply replace the fret board, making is slightly thicker at the bridge end. Depending on how off the action is you'll likely have to re-level the finger board anyway after a neck reset.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-07-2013, 05:36 PM
Thanks for the ideas Chuck. I don't think the steam is going to work in this case. I am guessing that the neck it butt jointed to the body with two dowels going through the neck block. I have used the steam trick through the fret slot on sliding dovetail joints but I suspect there is no cavity under the board.

I will take another look at thinning the bridge but I think it needs too much to get away with that. It needs almost a 1/16 at the 12th so taking that bridge down an 1/8 won't leave much string angle. But I will check it again.

Alan, thanks for the thoughts on slipping the back. I think I am leaning that way at this point.

I haven't seen the uke Tim so I really don't know what I'm talking about. Having said that, If by shaving the bridge height down leaves you with less that desirable string break-angle, you could modify the bridge on the uke by making it a "through hole" design. You could put the string holes anywhere you wanted to and create the steeper angle you're looking for. I did this once on someone's tie bridge uke and it worked well. Again, You didn't mention what kind of bridge it is so that may not be possible.

BTW, when you re set the neck angle don't be surprised if you have to rework the finger board anyway.

As a last resort you could always put a rock in the sound hole and submerse the uke in a bath tub full of water. Wait a day or two and everything should come apart easily.
(Do I really need the caveat that I'm just kidding about the last bit? You never know,,,,:))

olgoat52
10-07-2013, 06:26 PM
You were kidding?? Shit!! Serves me right for not reading your whole post... Damn.


I haven't seen the uke Tim so I really don't know what I'm talking about. Having said that, If by shaving the bridge height down leaves you with less that desirable string break-angle, you could modify the bridge on the uke by making it a "through hole" design. You could put the string holes anywhere you wanted to and create the steeper angle you're looking for. I did this once on someone's tie bridge uke and it worked well. Again, You didn't mention what kind of bridge it is so that may not be possible.

BTW, when you re set the neck angle don't be surprised if you have to rework the finger board anyway.

As a last resort you could always put a rock in the sound hole and submerse the uke in a bath tub full of water. Wait a day or two and everything should come apart easily.
(Do I really need the caveat that I'm just kidding about the last bit? You never know,,,,:))

Sven
10-07-2013, 09:36 PM
If you slip the back, could you please document it and tell us how it worked?

Fanx / Sven

olgoat52
10-08-2013, 04:53 AM
Sure thing Sven. But I will only post it if it does work. If you don't hear from me it didn't go well. :)

If you slip the back, could you please document it and tell us how it worked?

Fanx / Sven

Sven
10-08-2013, 09:20 AM
Ha ha, the things I haven't told could fill a book.

olgoat52
01-16-2014, 05:24 AM
My goodness, has it been that long?? I thought about this one for a long time I guess. I shipped it back to its owner. Overall it didn't go too badly. I don't do this for a living any more and this got a bit more intense than I have had to deal with for decades.

I separated the back from the sides from the neck block to the waist. Tried hot palette knifes but they didn't do much good up by the neck block. Ended up using a mallet to drive the pallet knife very slowly into the joint between the back and neck block and it finally separated.

Cleaned out the glue and built a one off jig to clamp the uke body to with an extension to use to pull the neck down and hold it at the angle I wanted.

I learned from a dry run that I needed to pinch the sides in at the waist at the side/back seam a bit.

Put in the glue (no, I didn't use hide glue, need to set aside the time and learn to use that stuff), clamped it up and waited. Trimmed the back flush with the sides. The finish was really bad on this uke so I sanded the sides and back, taped off the top and neck and shot 4 coats of satin lacquer.

Cut a new saddle. A fret file, which got pretty aggressive because of a hump in the neck from zero to about 5th fret that was not a problem when the action was sky high. With it lowered, it was buzzing on G and C. The hump was there before I started.

Only thing that pissed me off is that the bass side buckled a tiny bit, probably from clamp pressure. I haven't done this kind of work on ukes before, only guitars, so maybe all sides are this thin.. Live and learn.

Some pics of the clamp up and jig. http://s813.photobucket.com/user/olgoat52/library/Faricellukulele

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
01-16-2014, 09:29 AM
We all just figured, as you said, that it didn't go well and that's why we never got a follow up. Glad you got it done.

Last month I had the opportunity to remove the back from a Kamaka. As I mentioned before, I'm not a repair guy so I don't have the proper tools. After consulting a guy who knows more than I do, what I ended up using was a clothes iron over a damp rag to soften the glue. I just worked the edge of the iron slowly over the joint and after inserting an X-Acto knife in the seam the back came off surpassingly easy.

olgoat52
01-16-2014, 11:23 AM
That's a good idea Chuck. I thought about it but was worried it would trash the lacquer. But in retrospect, I ended up spraying on some fresh anyways. So that would have been the way to go. Heat gun definitely was not and my palette knife heater was way to hot.


We all just figured, as you said, that it didn't go well and that's why we never got a follow up. Glad you got it done.

Last month I had the opportunity to remove the back from a Kamaka. As I mentioned before, I'm not a repair guy so I don't have the proper tools. After consulting a guy who knows more than I do, what I ended up using was a clothes iron over a damp rag to soften the glue. I just worked the edge of the iron slowly over the joint and after inserting an X-Acto knife in the seam the back came off surpassingly easy.