View Full Version : Help/advise/feedback required for build video.

Pete Howlett
01-01-2014, 12:47 AM
All the ducks are nearly in a row and I hope to go into filming next Monday. I have spent some time reviewing the available YouTube clips and with a deal of information overload need third party filters to help me deliver an informative rather than a patronising set of DVDs.

I intend to put out the first DVD as an over-the-shoulder documentary of how I sequence the build of a standard Hawaiian style, flat headstock, tenor ukulele. It will be aimed at the enthusiast who has a limited budget for tools and machines and wants to know how to set up a 'beginners workshop' and build a no frills ukulele. I'll be covering the use of the bandsaw, pillar drill, disc sander and router and showing how a basic kit of hand tools and shop made jigs will help you produce a consistent, well crafted instrument. I'll demonstrate the oil finish. This DVD will also include a set of plans for a 17" scale tenor ukulele.

My second DVD will be 'Woodworking and Engineering Skills for Luthiers'. I will look at basic hand and machine tool techniques applied to the particular craft of lutherie including, sharpening and using hand tools, table router techniques, making shop tools, getting the most out your pedestal drill and bandsaw, jigs for consistency and specialist lutherie tools you can make.

The third DVD will be 'The Californian style Tenor Ukulele' and will show the build of a hardwood/spruce combo tenor with abalone details, a slotted headstock and side port. This will be the closest I can come to a master-class and I'll be covering in some detail my spray finishing process.

I do not intend in any of these videos to have long talking head shots with me expounding my views and philosophy - I personally find this particularly off-putting and un-engaging especially since lutherie is the most idiosyncratic of crafts with each of us having a different way of doing the same thing! I want the episodes/scenes to be snappy like my YouTube vids which are always comprised of short close in/up clips (up to 5 minute segments) that have live (rather than dubbed) real-time commentary.

Is this the sort of thing and sequence of release you would be interested in?

01-01-2014, 01:02 AM
I love this section peering over the Luthiers shoulders seeing how things are done. Admiring how people can turn trees into beautiful to look at and play instruments
I have no opportunity to make a uke myself, and probably wouldn't even if I had, i would be dissapointed at what I ended up with.
In truth, I wouldn't buy the DVD's but carry on viewing builds on youtube.
I suppose one option for you with the first DVD would be to sell it with a complete kit of parts a la Hana Lima.

01-01-2014, 01:48 AM
I like the organization of the DVDs, and I will probably buy the first one, (at least).

Have you thought about distribution -- I for one would much rather be able to stream this.

Good luck sorting out the details. I'm excited to see the results.

Pete Howlett
01-01-2014, 07:33 AM
Good ideas so far. Thank you for your input. I intend to use it as a reference resource at my studio/workshop build courses. I am hesitant about streaming - it makes pirating, then sending it anonymously to any channel so much more tempting and easier. Besides, I would imagine the set-up for streaming requires more expertise than I am capable of...

01-01-2014, 08:06 AM
I'm a cabinetmaker/furniture maker with about 30 years of experience. I expect to attempt my first ukulele building project this coming Spring. (Been playing for about 3 months). I've enjoyed your videos on YouTube immensely. They are informative, to-the-point, with real content - no "bells and whistles". In short, please keep the basic format and style you've used so far. I'm looking forward to your series. Thank you in advance, and good luck.

Pete Howlett
01-01-2014, 08:20 AM
Great feedback Cedarwax. I have looked at many other demo style videos of ukulele building and other crafts often willing the demonstrator just to get on with it - "Let me some some action!"

01-01-2014, 08:33 AM
I agree. I'm not the most patient person at times. When I'm trying to learn, I want information, succinctly and clearly presented.
It should be easy:
1. Adequate lighting for shot(s).
2. Steady camera. Shot should show what's being discussed.
3. Speaking in intelligible sentences. Staying on topic; for me, warmth and humor are appreciated.
4. Keep It Simple

01-01-2014, 08:48 AM
Happy New Year Pete!

As far as content and presentation, I think you already have the groundwork based on your past vids.

Abalone? Just kidding. . .

Seriously, one of the things I try to do when I teach workshops is to not only present the way I do things, but also reference where/who I learned it from. Also, I try to incorporate (verbally) how I've seen others do a certain thing a certain way, or discuss how I USED to do something, and then changed.

The reason I do this is that not only am I always trying to learn, and change if needed, but maybe "my way" isn't the best for the audience, so I try to leave enough information so they can go and research on their own. In a live workshop setting, this may or may not be an effective variable. But in a DVD, you could, if you wanted, show "alternate" ways of accomplishing the same thing.

Personally, I think that would give a dimension to your DVD's not present in most other "instructional" types of videos. Of course, this does mean extra work outside of what you already have available for you, but I'm sure Ken can send you shots of his "lathe neck shaper". . . for proper credit of course.

Pete Howlett
01-01-2014, 11:04 AM
Some insightful points Kekani and happy new year to you also. Despite spending my final year at college building musical instruments I am almost wholly self taught and there are few other luthiers who have either influenced me or whose techniques I use. Unlike Hawaii where ukulele builders proliferate and factories/small batch builders abound, British craftsman are secretive and rarely share information. Plus I am one of 3 full-time professionals who have been doing it longer than 19 years and the other 2 build other instruments with ukes almost as a side line.

Even though Ken's neck making set up is ingenious it makes my eyes water to see it - remember there is over 50 years of sure footed experience behind Ken's working methods which are so engineering based as to be almost unrecognisable as woodwork - and I say this out of the greatest respect and admiration for it. He does build the best soprano around :)

Nevertheless I take on board your observations and will, of course, as I always do, acknowledge my peers and mentors... As I will be showing hand bending I will certainly reference a guy I was once in partnership with who bent a side the wrong way. Unphased, he just flattened it out and bent it the right way. Now that is skill!

01-01-2014, 11:29 AM
Big interest here.

01-01-2014, 11:41 AM
This is just awesome! I'll definitely order the 1st DVD.
Looking forward to it :D

Pete Howlett
01-01-2014, 12:08 PM
Thank you frukmana. I am hoping that it will have a wider appeal than to just budding builders.

01-01-2014, 12:29 PM
Thank you frukmana. I am hoping that it will have a wider appeal than to just budding builders.

The complete set will be on my list Pete, never too old to learn and never embarrassed to admit it. :)

01-01-2014, 12:31 PM
Great idea Pete, and I'm certainly interested. I'm just reminded of what Einstein had to say on the subject: "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

Good luck; can't wait to see the finished product.

01-01-2014, 12:54 PM
Hi Pete, I could not pass up saying hi in this thread since you're part of the inspiration to start building. You and a documentary called Mighty Uke. Just as I have enjoyed your past vids and for one think you are on the right track with the DVD. I picked your vids for Luthier techniques and jigs since I am already familiar with power tools, so I might wait until the whole set is available. Best of luck on a natural progression of your talents. Happy New Year from BC.

01-01-2014, 02:48 PM
Pete, your DVD topics sound great. I'll buy the set of 3 DVDs.

Other DVDs/topics might include how to do inlay, repairs & setup for common problems, pickup installation, making jigs and fixtures, finishing with various materials (oil, varnish, french polish, etc.), common building mistakes/problems and how to correct them. Just my 2 cents.

01-01-2014, 03:20 PM
On the list, for sure.
Stay tuned.

01-01-2014, 05:05 PM
Hi Pete,
You might check out the "Banjo Builders Of North America" series done by Craig Evans.


The series at present is available for purchase in 4 sets of DVDs and is affiliated with the Smithsonian Folkways collection. Although the DVDs are distributed in sets the individual interviews / workshop tours are available and streamed by Vimeo for each individual builder. The reason I suggest this is that you might find it beneficial to offer this service to prospective customers. Many like live streaming and don't want to purchase entire collections of interviews. You sign up for Vimeo distribution and they set up the payment link and distribute the payments directly to you.

I'm not sure how technically adept you are, but anything done today should be done with a fairly decent HD camera and DEFINITELY with a close mic externally linked to the camera's audio input or even better, match a separately recorded audio track in an editing program. Any mic that isn't in CLOSE proximity to you (as the narrator) will sound boxy and with a lot of "room" tone, not pretty if you're attempting to convey information.

Pete Howlett
01-01-2014, 06:32 PM
Thank you for your comments Rudy.

01-02-2014, 12:02 AM
.... anything done today should be done with a fairly decent HD camera and DEFINITELY with a close mic externally linked to the camera's audio input or even better, match a separately recorded audio track in an editing program. Any mic that isn't in CLOSE proximity to you (as the narrator) will sound boxy and with a lot of "room" tone, not pretty if you're attempting to convey information.

I definitely agree with this, particularly the external mic.

As far as content goes, Pete your basic outline is good. I would LOVE to see a separate DVD devoted entirely to jig construction. That way, in your normal DVD series, you do not have to spend time talking about a particular jig....just refer the watcher to the appropriate section on the jig DVD.

01-02-2014, 01:16 AM

I'm not sure how technically adept you are, but anything done today should be done with a fairly decent HD camera and DEFINITELY with a close mic externally linked to the camera's audio input or even better, match a separately recorded audio track in an editing program. Any mic that isn't in CLOSE proximity to you (as the narrator) will sound boxy and with a lot of "room" tone, not pretty if you're attempting to convey information.

As per Rudy...

I second this recommendation, for if the audio is not perfectly clear, distinct and loud enough (without distortion, hiss or background noise), especially for an instructional video, it is very distracting to the viewer, and basically ruins the visual on screen, as the viewer is now forced to fiddle with the volume controls, and if they get frustrated because they can not hear or understand the narration, they will not watch the video for much longer.

Please know that NOWADAYS, you do not have to spend a fortune on equipment to fix this problem, despite what lots of so-called 'professional videographers' will tell you (they need to justify the crazy fees they want to charge, and the fact that they did have to spend a fortune in the 80's & 90's to buy equipment that would give 'broadcast quality' video).

Nowadays, if you have the proper technique, use a tripod, have proper lighting, and a proper mic setup, you an almost fully get away with using your iPhone as your video camera. Especially if you use something like the Fostex AR-4i Audio Interface (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005DNAB12/) for $74 via Amazon, which gives you 3 mic inputs for your iPhone, letting you use any one or all three of the mics I mention below.

If you have to mount the mic away from you, you will probably want to be looking at a 'shotgun' mic, which is typically highly directional and will not pick up as much ambient noise, and more of where it is pointed directly, such as either the Audio Technica ATR-6550 Video Camera Condenser Shotgun Microphone (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002GYPS3M/) via Amazon for $58 or alternately the Audio-Technica ATR-6250 Stereo Condenser Vocal/Recording Microphone (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002GRBA2M/) via Amazon for $35, or if the production budget really tight, you can get a 'lavalier' mic which has a spring clip to attach to your shirt collar (and you can hide the wire inside your shirt so it does not show on the video) and will also give much better sound for speaking voice, namely something like the Audio Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002HJ9PTO) via Amazon which today is like $19.

The main thing is to get better sound than the tiny mic on your video camera can capture. If you put the shotgun mic on either a boom pole or mic stand and have it closer to you, but out of the field of view of the camera, and point it at your head or your chest, you will get much better sound quality than if the camera is 'over your shoulder' and mostly capturing the sound reflected from every hard surface around you, as Rudy said will sound 'boxy' or 'muddy' and have unwanted acoustic reverb artifacts caused by the sound reflections that will degrade the clarity of your speaking voice.

The clip-on lavalier mic will also solve the problem of getting better audio than a mic built-in to your camera, but some folks do not like to have anything attached to them with a wire hanging out of the back of their pants. The lavalier mic also has a pretty long cable on it, I think it is 25 feet, but for the shotgun mic, you might also have to buy an extension cable.

I have used both kinds, from Audio Technica as well as other brands like Shure and Azden at various times for different projects in my career when I used to do video work, and using these mics, with proper placement you can actually capture professional quality sound, without having to spend a fortune.

A few other members here mentioned proper lighting, and there are some mainstays that recommend 3 individual lighting fixtures, but the options are many and variable, there are lots of videos on youtube that discuss proper video lighting techniques, but this is also not very expensive either, as you can also get a 3-light setup, with the high power bulbs, stands, reflectors and umbrellas all included for around $150 via Amazon. But I do not have a specific link for that. (yes, if you can't tell by now, I like to buy from Amazon :))

Further, I am not sure of your production plan, but if your video and audio capture is clean, and you plan your shots well, editing and post-production could actually be quite easy and done with iMove on Mac or Movie Maker on Windows (and lots of FREE options on Linux too). I am not sure how computer savvy you are, but I would think that if you can build a ukulele, you can probably learn how to use one of these programs effectively to edit your videos and make them look nice. It really depends how much time you have to spend on production versus hiring someone else to do it.

Once your video editing and the creation of your disc package cover art are done, it is a trivial thing to burn a DVD master at home on your computer in order to be sent off to a disc duplication house for packaging into a retail-style product.

In the USA there is DiscMakers (http://www.discmakers.com/), but I am not sure if they have a presence or offer the service to the UK. Their home page is kinda heavily focused on audio CD's, but they do a good bit of business with video DVD's as well. I know a few people who have used them and are happy with the results.

Please feel free to PM me if you would like to talk about equipment and video production. While I no longer do any video 'work' and I am not selling anything, in the spirit of sharing as part of UU ang giving back here, I would be happy to continue this conversation privately and offer my experience to you if needed.

Also, as a recent newcomer to the ukulele 9 months ago (from 35 yrs of playing guitar and other instruments), I have often felt that the ultimate expression of my passion for this humble instrument would be to actually build one of my own, from my own hands. However, even though it is sort of low-hanging fruit, I do not want to build a cigar-box ukulele. There is nothing wrong with them per se, I would want to craft something quite a bit more refined.

I am no carpenter or luthier by any means, but I can use most tools very carefully with good results, and to that end, I would be VERY interested to buy all 3 DVD's, and would probably watch them all multiple times before I even attempted to build anything.

I have to admit that I have not seen your youtube videos, but after I submit this message, I plan to go check them out.

Is there any way to add me to your mailing list or something so that I do not miss your expected future announcement here on UU?


01-02-2014, 01:44 AM
Good ideas so far. Thank you for your input. I intend to use it as a reference resource at my studio/workshop build courses. I am hesitant about streaming - it makes pirating, then sending it anonymously to any channel so much more tempting and easier. Besides, I would imagine the set-up for streaming requires more expertise than I am capable of...

Sorry if this sounds like an adertisement or seems spammy.

It's not, check out my comment history here on UU. I would not spend the time writing this if I did not think it would be of value. Before I get labelled as a shill by someone, I would ask that they please do their due dilligence :)

Hi Pete,

If at some point you do want to get into streaming, you might want to check out ScaleEngine (http://www.scaleengine.com/).

I have heard good things about them from my colleagues in IT that have used them, and one of their specialties is SECURED video streaming which is often hard to get right, and these folks actually have written the software that is licensed to and used by other streaming host services on the internet.

Another benefit to ScaleEngine is their Content Delivery Network or CDN, as they have servers all over the world that makes sure your video gets to whoever wants it more efficiently that just a few servers from their location in Toronto, Canada.

One of the owners and engineers at ScaleEngine is a guy named Alan Jude, who participates in a weekly video podcast on the Jupiter Broadcasting Network (http://www.jupiterbroadcasting.com/) called TechSNAP (http://www.jupiterbroadcasting.com/show/techsnap/). He seems like a nice guy and very helpful and personable.

He might even answer the phone himself if you were to call and ask some questions, which I am sure he'd be happy answer. He might be able to offer a good solution for streaming your video, while also protecting it from piracy and unauthorized distribution. They have a special item they offer that specifically locks down your video so it cannot be captured to a hard drive via download, or re-streamed out some other way, which I am considering myself for a business venture that I am involved in right now.

I do not work for them or get any benefit from telling you all this here, but it seems like they have the exact thing you would need to setup secured streaming of your videos, with some kind of paywall and login to make sure your videos do not get ripped off.

Oh, and the weekly show TechSNAP (http://www.jupiterbroadcasting.com/show/techsnap/) usually focuses on computer security and computer networking issues, and how to protect your information. It's very informative and these guys are pretty funny too.


Habanera Hal
01-02-2014, 04:26 AM
Pete, since starting my adventure into lutherie, I have used your vids innumerable times for guidance and inspiration. Along with the slotted headstock, how about a laminated neck section. Also will you be showing different neck attachment options, i.e.: bolt-on, mortise, wedge, Spanish heel?

Put me down for one!

Pete Howlett
01-02-2014, 11:48 AM
Thanks for your extensive advice booli. Your comments greatly valued but of little use since I live in the UK and your Amazon products are unavailable here at a sensible price... You really ought to look at my now 'famous in this community' at least YouTube videos to see what I have managed to achieve with the most basic equipment.

Side bar - I met with a team who produce craft based videos here in the UK for the US market where they sell 85% of their product. If you want to see a really interesting documentary set start here: If you want to know why craftsman and I include luthiers struggle to make a living, pay attention to 1.30 onwards...


Pete Howlett
01-03-2014, 12:28 PM
Trial script of a process before I got the light right...


I don't think I have done this process before now. At the second shoot which I haven't edited I show the clamping up process to end the segment. So if you view can you please comment on
1: Is there enough detail in shot?
2: Have you learnt something you didn't know before?
3: Is there enough explanation/dialogue?
4: Does the dialogue show respect to the listener?

On point 4 I know it's a dangerous question. You can be honest...

As usual I appreciate all comments. However please do not hijack the thread ref quality etc - please stick to the point. I am looking for evaluation of content regarding the process shown and because I know there are alternative methods, there will be an entire DVD exploring them. Also could you resist the temptation to link this. It will remain unlisted for 3 days then will go private so it will be unavailable.

Thanks in advance for your valued input.

01-03-2014, 01:08 PM
Hi Pete,
As per your request, I won;t say much re: production values, (I think you're very close; re: cropping, light, sound). Pointing out planing sound is a good idea.
1. The captions indicating which plane is being used are good; but I think you might want to briefly tell viewers why you are using those 2 planes. Those new to woodworking may not understand the planes purposes.
2. Perhaps holding up the 2 pieces, showing the tight seam would clarify the point for new builders. (personally, I need to actually see no daylight to feel comfortable.)

01-03-2014, 08:11 PM
Hi Pete,

The dialogue is respectful, it is fine, but I feel I am craving more information.

In your sample it is easy to see what you are doing, but unclear as to why.

I agree with what cedarwax said...

I know this segment is out of context, with regards to the entire process and maybe that is why I get this impression.

However, I can see and understand that you are shaving the edge of the wood with 2 different tools, but I could not hear what each was specifically called, if you did mention it, and was unclear as to the specific function and reason for each of the different tools, and what was the goal as an end result, other than generally, to make a book-matched top or back.

To be more clear, event though your caption floats in 'Jointing in back and sides' it was not until the end where you said 'these will glue up nicely' that I was able to understand that this was maybe the reason your are shaving down the edges of the board, and I am focusing on your use of the tool, and had forgotten what the end purpose was.

Before you begin an explanation, it might be worthwhile to state the goal or object at the beginning of the segment, and then offer and demonstrate the sequence of steps to get to that goal. You are almost there in this example you have posted...

yet, It left me thinking:

Do the edges need to be shaved in order to be smooth for gluing, and why not just sand them?

WHY is a PLANE the tool for the job?

Are the edges being shaved in order to make them the same size, but no, you are not holding them or binding them together for the edges to be shaved simultaneously, so I am still unclear as to the motivation for doing it this way...

WHY do you want to use the MIDDLE of the plane blade, instead of some other part?

Pete, It may be possible that having such extended experience as you do, that you have made some basic assumptions as to the knowledge of your audience, and that if this is intended for a complete beginner builder (which is the category I would fall into), you might want to revisit and modify those assumptions, to include thinking along the lines of 'explain it to me like I am a child', but not talking down or patronizing, but rather in terms of detail and definitions and motivations...what if your audience was without any skills at all, and knew not what a planer, joiner or router was, or what a 'jig' was? i.e. 'all thumbs.

maybe it's just me, but what I did see, I wanted MORE of, and I am looking forward to the release of your DVD

Also, please understand that my comments are meant to be helpful, and are not intended as a negative in any way, if they do not apply or are satisfied by the other video segments (which of course I have not seen) in the DVD as a whole than do not worry about it, again it's a little hard to evaluate out of context, but everything else that you DID show, is clear.

Feel free to discard my comments if not useful to you. No worries, mate.

Best of luck!


Pete Howlett
01-03-2014, 09:55 PM
Great comments. However in the context of the project, this is not a beginners DVD. It's an 'over-the-shoulder' look at me building a uke using a few machine tools and plenty of hand tools - it's more a documentary. Yes I am making assumptions. Having said that, your points are very constructive. I will do another take today taking on board what you said to help you understand better the process. If you are aware of my style, you know that I heavily rehearse then even edit out most of the dialogue to produce 3 minute segments and clips - I am really concerned about boring the viewer as I am with so many anally produced detailed explanation videos. I have other very explanatory DVDs planned - particularly one on basic woodworking and woodworking machine tool techniques for luthiers. I will shoot a typical segment for you of that today on hand planing and squaring stock so you can compare the content and approach.

01-03-2014, 10:39 PM
Great comments. However in the context of the project, this is not a beginners DVD. It's an 'over-the-shoulder' look at me building a uke using a few machine tools and plenty of hand tools - it's more a documentary. Yes I am making assumptions. Having said that, your points are very constructive. I will do another take today taking on board what you said to help you understand better the process. If you are aware of my style, you know that I heavily rehearse then even edit out most of the dialogue to produce 3 minute segments and clips - I am really concerned about boring the viewer as I am with so many anally produced detailed explanation videos. I have other very explanatory DVDs planned - particularly one on basic woodworking and woodworking machine tool techniques for luthiers. I will shoot a typical segment for you of that today on hand planing and squaring stock so you can compare the content and approach.

Hi Pete,

Thank you for the reply. I am only too happy to be able to contribute in any way possible to facilitate your success with this endeavor. I am glad that my comments were useful.

It is also a really cool feeling to be involved as part of the creation process of your DVD, as part of those of us that are giving feedback to you here on UU, and I think it is quite awesome of you to reach out to the community for insights on how to better serve your intended audience.

As a documentary, 'over-the-shoulder', I think you are already much closer to the target, than as opposed to a how-to-build-your-first-ukulele 'for absolute beginners' video. Now that I better understand your intent, I will have a different eye for the content.

I will happily submit comments on future segments if you feel it will help, and have time to make the video snippets available to the community for interaction with your project. I think that UU is a good place for feedback. There may be others, but I have no experience with them.

By the way, I have always loved the behind-the-scenes, and how-it's-made kinds of videos, not only for how they unravel the mystery of how the end product is composed, but also to understand the intent and motivations of the makers.

There is a series of like 30 or so videos in 10 minute segments of an old-timey luthier who goes into painstaking and much appreciated detail for the building process of a stick dulcimer, or like a strumstick. Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of who did it, but I remember it was a labor of love done by the luthier's son or grandson, and eventually the video was later offered for sale as a DVD.

I remember being fascinated and spent the hours watching each video sequentially until all hours of the night, riveted to the screen. There were however some slow-talking folksy comments that did not add to the process they were trying to show, and I remember feeling impatient at those moments. I think the luthier was at a quite advanced age (85+) and his gregarious nature might have been due to subtle dementia, or it might have been a cultural thing, I do not know for sure, but by his speaking accent, he could have been from Mississippi or Tennessee, and I've been told by those in the south and mid-west USA that I seem to 'always be in a rush', and that I remind them of the comedian Andrew Dice Clay from the accent and pacing of my speech - ha ha, to each is own.

At the end of this video, I was really interested and motivated to build my own, but not having a shop was a problem, and then life got in the way, and while I still have a fond memory of the videos, and learned a ton of things about instrument building, it will be some time before I have the space and tools to try and to something more sophisticated than a Wolfelele, which is still on my wish-list (as an activity to do with my niece and nephew)...

I know you must be really busy with this project now, but If you are interested I can see if I have the link saved somewhere and send it to you.


01-04-2014, 01:40 AM
Sticking to topic and not hijacking thread:

01-04-2014, 03:43 AM
Your exchange with booli was helpful. I understand your intent more clearly (over-the-shoulder-documentary, not explicit step-by-step). As an experienced woodworker, I was drawn to your existing YouTube videos immediately, because of: excellent content; a relaxed, thoughtful, succinct verbal delivery; humor; occasional references about mentors; and most impt. (to me) good, timeless traditional skills w/o a screaming machine shop (where I spend too much of my time).

(Just for the purposes of these exchanges: in addition to woodworking, I also do technical animation, and have experience with marketing videos. I'm only mentioning this so you know my comments are based on practical experience).

So, stick to what you do so well. As booli said, my comments are in the spirit of community friendship, respect, and my anticipation of learning more form you.

01-04-2014, 06:17 AM

a. The cut between the smoothing plane and the no 7 is too abrupt.

b. A sentence explaining why before each process would be useful, eg "I'm using the smoothing plane to get the edges roughly aligned along the join", and "Now I switch to the no 7 plane to take off very fine shavings to get perfect alignment".

c. What's missing (maybe it comes next) is what to do if your two halves don't align perfectly first time, eg you've got gaps at either end (a perennial problem for me).

I wouldn't have any problem with this video being a minute or so longer for the same content.

And the old teaching technique: this is what I'm going to show you; this is the thing; this is what I just showed you - works well and doesn't feel patronising unless you are very formulaic by using similar phrasing each time..

01-04-2014, 09:09 AM
Pete - check your PM.


Pete Howlett
01-04-2014, 09:28 AM
Hi folks - thanks for all your input; greatly appreciated. I spent about 6 hours shooting video today and all I really got out of it was a broken studio light, 4 neck blanks and a whole load of headache from trying to edit the video. Since what I am currently filming and editing is experimenting with lights, camera angles etc I am going back to Movie Maker and what I know. The clips I made today are all about hand planes - the explanation is in there plus their use. I did a sharpening segment too but forgot entirely to set the focus so it was a comedy show as the phone tried to continually find a focal point... I'll do a sharpening special next week just as a reward for you all for being so kind to me - it's one I often get asked to do and now I have settled on a system I am happy with, will feel comfortable sharing with you.

I am in discussion with a woodworking video maker company who have 85% of their product in the US with companies like Lee Valley Tools carrying their stuff. It may be that the production values will be very high when the time comes to release the video, book and plans with the option of a kit... we'll see if we can work together.

Thanks again

Pete Howlett
01-04-2014, 03:45 PM
I guess this is what you were looking for:


01-05-2014, 03:28 AM
Hi Pete,
I'm enjoying checking in the morning here north of Philadelphia to see your progress. This video has the general feel of your others, which I think is all to the good. I'm quickly noting a few thoughts, for what they're worth...
1. A title for the video?
2. A simple sentence or two describing a Marking Gauge for newcomers.
3. I like the idea of putting a phrase like "Safety First" on the screen when starting a task.
4. I'm glad you stressed two very important points to make planing easier and safer: a sharp blade, and thinner passes!
5. Perhaps clamp the neck while striking centerline w/marking gauge. Helps insure a straight line with no wobbles.
That's it.

01-05-2014, 04:44 AM
Please check your PM; should be a message there from me.

Michael Smith
01-05-2014, 08:51 AM
I recommend getting a copy of the 5cs of cinematography to anyone trying to do any video production. I realize you are not attempting to make Gone With The Wind but basic cinematic principles will make your work much more watchable. A basic principle is in general do not cut from shots of the same length. IE medium length shot to medium length or close up to close up. That tends to be boring and worse, disorienting to the viewer. Better to go from medium to close up to long in any combination but not the same length over and over. You can plan these cuts in your story board.

What would have been of great help to me when starting out would have been a source for all the numbers. How thick to make the neck, how high should the saddle be etc. That information was difficult to come by.

Pete Howlett
01-05-2014, 11:48 AM
Great advice. This particular video on hand planing was in response to a request - it is what I would call a work in progress and is far too long, making me think that I will end up doing a series of 60 minute videos on woodworking skills for luthiers as single topics; ie Using the hand plane or Rasps, files, sandpaper and knives... Also, I do acknowledge that I am no film maker and that I have a specialist video woodworking production company really interested in taking this on - all of it with book distribution etc. Soooo, the final product is going to look very different. The reason I am posting here is for the valuable comments on content - what you guys really want to know.

Having said this I doubt if I will ever satisfy your last request. Building is such an individual and personal thing and the ukulele, originating from a folk instrument does not have the same rules or history as a guitar or violin. In fact, I am continually changing measurement in search of the ideal. My advice has always been start by making a copy of a classic instrument - I am still building from a base line of understanding gained from the first ukulele I ever saw and measured; I have changed very little.... If you have been on this forum any length of time (talking to others who may read this) you will know my controversial stand on 'new designs'/the next 'great idea'/'pushing the envelope' and all that. Copy a master, learn from that experience and do it over and over again. Your own style will then evolve from this with your own measurements, bracing patterns and plate thicknesses and radii (just look at the recent thread on radiusing the front - an essential thing to do in my mind). Sorry to disappoint - I think offering advice on what to do rather than how to do is like giving away an apprenticeship for $50 - building is more than measurement though I wholly get where you are coming from :)

Thanks again for your valuable input and that of others - yep, really missed it big time not going into the marking gauge more thoroughly.

As to those following this - keep the comments coming.

01-05-2014, 12:15 PM
Following Pete, and thinking 'Brave Man!'.
I've found when teaching (another subject, not Luthierie) beginners WILL ask what may seem silly questions and therefore you need to explain virtually everything. i.e. the marking gauge along with the difference between it and a mortice gauge, which to a newbie looks the same at a glance. (If you have a dual purpose one, show it, not just the oldest one you have) How did you find the centre? Measuring can be checked by marking from both sides etc. Why is the centre line so important? You and I know, but does the viewer? Like I said, Brave Man!

Pete Howlett
01-05-2014, 12:30 PM
Great comments Ukulian - will remember to put them in when it comes to it. I have never owned a mortice gauge and I think talking about that would confuse the issue. If it was a general woodworking video then a whole DVD on gauges would be required including cutting gauges which I do have! BTW that Marples in the video was recently acquired - it is so light and pleasant to use. Although I really like Lee Valley tools I just could not get on with their marking gauge...

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
01-06-2014, 07:36 AM
I like the video Pete.

I like the hand tools approach.

You have already shot the footage so it is useless me saying this but here are my thoughts.

I would mention/show a few ways to do things.

EG- I would have mentioned that while one could dimension the neck billet with hand planes over 5-10 mins, it could be done in 30 seconds with a thickness planer. I suppose it is obvious fact, but it is worth a 5 second mention.

Also, instead of marking out the billet itself, I would have show the same thing done on a bit of perspex which is then a simple template/jig from which to mark around.

Regarding center lines- while this doesn't apply to the billet you use here (which is final dimensioned), It should be pointed out that the truss rod (or carbon fiber etc) channel doesn't need to be in the actual physical center of the neck blank but once cut it becomes the actual center. I've used wide neckwood and not cut the channel in the actual center.

Also, you may have mentioned this in a vid i've not seen but I would show how to sharpen a pencil on a belt sander and the importance of having a sharp pencil- i've taught SSSSOOOOOO many students of all ages who mark out things with a FAT beaten down pencil tip as to make their scribed line about 3mm thick. It seems obvious to us but to new students a sharp pencil line seems to be not so.

Pete Howlett
01-06-2014, 09:03 AM
The title of the video is 'hand planes'. I'm not interested in machine planing, have never used carbon fibre rods and do not use traditional pencils. Sorry Beau if that disappoints you but it is the way it is. The whole purpose of a DVD like this is to show hand skills - takes about 2 minutes to teach someone how to safely use a jointer or planer. They are noisy machines which most people cannot set up without a jig... I prefer the rhythm of work that hand tools dictate.

Appreciate your input but it simply doesn't relate to the brief. I would also always put a centre-line after dimensioning stock... just the way I do it and have done it for the last 40 years :) Seems to have worked out OK...

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
01-06-2014, 10:14 AM
The title of the video is 'hand planes'....

Opps- i missed the title!!! I must admit I just watched the vid and didn't read the brief. Sorry bout that.

Needless to say- hand planes are a better way to learn.

As always, good, educational and very watchable vids Pete :)

01-06-2014, 10:39 AM
I only have a couple of small hand Plane's and I hardly use them at all...I remove material in other ways (Engineering Thing ;)) Looks like a good Video coming up tho' Pete...Should be great if the "Video Film Co" gets involved...I don't know anything at all about teaching...But I know quite a lot about learning :)

Pete Howlett
01-06-2014, 10:43 AM
You have a fairly unique approach Ken ...

Pete Howlett
01-06-2014, 11:09 AM
I have now got the workshop lit how I want. Trying to control the camera on the iPhone is a whole other challenge....