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DazW
08-16-2014, 01:16 PM
Hi, sorry for the newbie question, I wont hang around the thread for weeks asking question after question. Basically I'm treating myself to a new shed shortly so will finally have the space to try build my first ukulele. I will be buying a soprano kit and all of the tools needed. If its not too much trouble, could anyone please give me some advice on the best soprano kit available in the UK, and also a list of tools required, plus some which maybe aren't essential but will make life easier.
My skills are basic to say the least, but Im hoping my enthusiasm and desire to build will help me through.
I don't expect to create a masterpiece on my first go but would like to give myself a fighting chance by having the right equipment.
Thanks in advance for any info.
Cheers.

ksquine
08-16-2014, 03:19 PM
people seem to like the kits from Stew Mac. I haven't built one but they look nice
As for tool....huge question there. You can certainly build with a fairly small set of tools....chisels, bench plane, block plane, coping saw, back cut saw, drill, a good straight edge, square, protractor, router. Nice to haves...drill press, belt sander, band saw, router table, table saw.
One thing you'd definitely need....clamps, clamps, and more clamps.

ukantor
08-16-2014, 08:39 PM
Hi DazW, I can definitely recommend the Stewart MacDonald soprano kit, having made seven of them. Initially, I made one which my wife promply claimed. So I made another for myself. Then friends started asking me to make them one, and I had to call a halt, because I wanted to move on and do other things.

The kits were of a consistently high quality, and I had no problems with any of them. I didn't use the rather rudimentary mold, or jig, that they suggest in the instructions, but know of folk who have, quite successfully. I made up a full (female) body mold, and found it very satisfactory.

I don't have a workshop, or even a shed, but was able to make up these kits with basic hand tools only, in my kitchen - or outdoors in the garden when things get dusty.

You can go onto the Stew Mac site and down load the building instructions, which will give you a good idea of what is involved.

I live in the West Midlands, near Bridgnorth, and if I can be of any assistance, just gimme a shout.

John Colter.

tangimango
08-16-2014, 08:40 PM
im not 100 percent on this , but I think pete Howlett has the best ukulele kit in the UK.

ukantor
08-16-2014, 08:46 PM
Yes, tangimango, Pete's kits are really excellent - I've built two of them. They are quite a bit more expensive, though, and the bodies come half assembled, which reduces the amount of experience you gain from the build. The Stew Mac kits come with very comprehensive instructions, and are a great beginners' kit.

Pete's kits are, perhaps, more suitable for someone with a bit of building experience, who wants to get a truly superior result.

John Colter.

DazW
08-16-2014, 11:52 PM
Hi and thanks very much for your reply. I have just had a look around the Stewmac website and it looks like I can get a lot of the things you mention from there. The kit seems a good price and comes with a dvd which should help. I may buy 2 kits, just incase I mess up then I don't have to wait around for another!

DazW
08-17-2014, 12:03 AM
Hi John, looks like the Stewmac is my best bet then. I did consider trying it indoors but to be honest I am fairly limited space wise with only a small kitchen. The gardens certainly useable for the dusty jobs, I'm considering one of those metal sheds, they seem a good buy for 300 or so and should be big enough for me and a work bench etc.
I'm fortunate to be inheriting a couple of grand shortly, some of which I'm spending on a crash course driving course so my long suffering wife doesn't have to ferry me around any more, the rest I'm using to get myself kitted out for uke building which has been an ambition for a long time. Mainly to build my own instruments, but it would be fantastic to give some as gifts to family and friends.
Thanks for your reply, I'll download those instructions today and take a look.
Cheers

DazW
08-17-2014, 12:07 AM
I bet Pete's kit is superb, think I'll tackle the Stewmac first, then move up to the better ones once the fear has gone!

ProfChris
08-17-2014, 03:03 AM
Sign up to ukulele Cosmos, which is mainly Brits on board, as there are several build threads there you might find useful. Ukantor(John Colter has just completed one, and I'm in the middle of documenting a build. Both these identify some problems and how we overcame them.

I wouldn't buy a drill press as there is very little drilling involved. A carpenter's brace and a pin drill or Dremel for tiny holes does better for me. My build will be completed using some hand saws, two chisels, a marking gauge, two hand planes, Stanley knife or scalpel, a cabinet scraper and the drills. Plus ruler, pencil, sandpaper. I think that's the lot. Oh no, half round file and plastic faced hammer + pincers for fretting. And sharpening stuff, so more kit than I thought!

DazW
08-17-2014, 04:33 AM
Sign up to ukulele Cosmos, which is mainly Brits on board, as there are several build threads there you might find useful. Ukantor(John Colter has just completed one, and I'm in the middle of documenting a build. Both these identify some problems and how we overcame them.

I wouldn't buy a drill press as there is very little drilling involved. A carpenter's brace and a pin drill or Dremel for tiny holes does better for me. My build will be completed using some hand saws, two chisels, a marking gauge, two hand planes, Stanley knife or scalpel, a cabinet scraper and the drills. Plus ruler, pencil, sandpaper. I think that's the lot. Oh no, half round file and plastic faced hammer + pincers for fretting. And sharpening stuff, so more kit than I thought!

Thanks for your reply, much apreciated. I will certainly check out that website, sounds great.
To be honest the only reason I would like to buy a shed/work space and some power tools is because I really never thought I'd get the chance to have that kind of set up, but as I said I can afford to get them now so seems like a good time to invest in some good gear.
Been down to B&Q today and roughly priced up the shed, power tools etc and around 700 should easily get everything I need.
The hand tools you mentioned will be the first things on my list, thanks for that. I'm going to have a go at making the jig as shown on the Stewmac website.
It's so great to know I'm on my way now, dream come true for me to be doing this. Cheers everyone for your advice, really useful info thanks.

Pete Howlett
08-17-2014, 08:08 AM
Thanks for the endorsement John. However I no longer supply standard kits. BTW John is perhaps the expert on the Stewmac build. Listen to his advice.

Don't buy a shed load of tools. A basic kit, as advised in the build instructions which you download from Stewmac is all you need.

DazW
08-17-2014, 09:00 AM
Thanks for the endorsement John. However I no longer supply standard kits. BTW John is perhaps the expert on the Stewmac build. Listen to his advice.

Don't buy a shed load of tools. A basic kit, as advised in the build instructions which you download from Stewmac is all you need.

Thanks Pete. I'll stick to the Stewmac tools list to begin with. I have seen Dremel multi tools mentioned quite a lot whilst browsing this section. They seem to be reasonably priced so I may go for one of those too

DazW
08-22-2014, 07:32 AM
Hi all, just one last quick question. The Stewmac soprano kit instructions mention a few types of clamps needed, could someone please tell me how many of each clamp its advisable to have? Cheers

greenscoe
08-22-2014, 10:51 PM
I dont know what Stewmac says, but the best small light quick release clamps are Irwin. There are many other quick release clamps around, most are bulkier and dont grip as well. I would suggest you buy 6 or 8 of these: they are ideal for soundbox assembly. There are different sizes, some lighter, some larger but I think the ones in the link are the best. You can buy them in B&Q but they will be 7+ each not 2 for 11 as in the link. (Occasionally Amazon have them at 2 for 7.20).

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Quick-Grip-Irwin-5462QC-Mini-Clamp/dp/B001DZQ3IE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=undefined&sr=8-1&keywords=irwin+quick+grip

You should also buy some heavier F clamps. There are many cheap ones on Ebay etc. but a lot of them are rubbish. I would recommend the heavy duty Silverline range (definitely not the light Silverline Euro range). I use these for end blocks, gluing on fretboards etc. where more force is applied. I have 4 of these. They have the same throat width but deeper reach than the Irwins (80mm rather than 50mm).

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Silverline-675027-F-Clamp-Heavy-Duty/dp/B000LFXI8A/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1408782422&sr=8-5&keywords=silverline+f+clamp.

Your kit probably has a neck which is pretty well finished. The best tool I've found for shaping necks by hand (for your next build from scratch) is a Stanley round surform (I think the American equivalent is a microplane). I mention this as I see it as one of my most valuable tools. See link:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stanley-Surform-Round-File-297/dp/B0001IWCWA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408783038&sr=8-1&keywords=round+surform

Take your time with the build and good luck. I hope its the first of many.

DazW
08-23-2014, 12:01 AM
I dont know what Stewmac says, but the best small light quick release clamps are Irwin. There are many other quick release clamps around, most are bulkier and dont grip as well. I would suggest you buy 6 or 8 of these: they are ideal for soundbox assembly. There are different sizes, some lighter, some larger but I think the ones in the link are the best. You can buy them in B&Q but they will be 7+ each not 2 for 11 as in the link. (Occasionally Amazon have them at 2 for 7.20).

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Quick-Grip-Irwin-5462QC-Mini-Clamp/dp/B001DZQ3IE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=undefined&sr=8-1&keywords=irwin+quick+grip

You should also buy some heavier F clamps. There are many cheap ones on Ebay etc. but a lot of them are rubbish. I would recommend the heavy duty Silverline range (definitely not the light Silverline Euro range). I use these for end blocks, gluing on fretboards etc. where more force is applied. I have 4 of these. They have the same throat width but deeper reach than the Irwins (80mm rather than 50mm).

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Silverline-675027-F-Clamp-Heavy-Duty/dp/B000LFXI8A/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1408782422&sr=8-5&keywords=silverline+f+clamp.

Your kit probably has a neck which is pretty well finished. The best tool I've found for shaping necks by hand (for your next build from scratch) is a Stanley round surform (I think the American equivalent is a microplane). I mention this as I see it as one of my most valuable tools. See link:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stanley-Surform-Round-File-297/dp/B0001IWCWA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408783038&sr=8-1&keywords=round+surform

Take your time with the build and good luck. I hope its the first of many.

Excellent, you've told me all I needed to know and more in that one post so cheers for that. I've got a list of hand tools to buy and now I can get the clamps too, off to B&Q today to get everything. Ill keep an eye out for that Stanley surform. I recently commissioned a couple of sopranos from a luthier who has kindly agreed to make me a mold/form for the body based on the Stewmac measurements so that should be really useful.

Thanks again for the info