Build thread: baritone scale kiku

tonyturley

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I don’t think I’ve done a build thread on any of my previous projects, so I thought I’d do one on my 6-string baritone scale kiku. If my count is correct, this is my 14th instrument overall, 4th baritone scale instrument, and 11th uke or uke-based instrument. The 20” scale neck profile comes from a free set of plans I downloaded for an Oaktown Strings baritone. One of the images shows the fretboard and a Rosewood neck profile template I used for one of my previous baritones. I’m going to widen the neck to have a 1 7/8” nut. The body comes from a set of plans for a 1940 Gibson L00 parlor guitar, which I reduced to 75%. I used that body drawing for a steel string baritone I built about a year and a half ago. I was very pleased with how that instrument came out, so I’m using that body drawing and body mold again.

The body will be Redwood over Black Walnut. The neck will be Honduran Mahogany, and the fretboard & bridge Ebony. The end graft, bindings, and rosette will be spalted Sycamore. I was down in the shop very early this morning working on jointing the top and back plates and gluing the Redwood top. I’ve adopted Jay Lichty’s method of attaching sticky back sandpaper to the edge of a level to joint the plates. I’ve had mixed success using a jointing plane. I previously thickness sanded all the plates down to .125” for gluing; once the glue is set, I’ll sand the Redwood down to .100” before installing the rosette, and the Walnut down to .085”. I’m planning to string this one eaDGBE. Haven’t decided yet if I will install a pickup.
 

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printer2

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Would the back plates be more stable flipped side-by-side?
 
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tonyturley

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Good place to stop for the weekend. I also worked on my smaller tenor ukulele project today. I'll pick up in a couple of days after I work on some chores.

kiku plates.jpg
 

AstroEd42

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Looks great. Beautiful grain. Keep us posted on your progress. I'm eager to see it finished.
Regards
Ed
 

sequoia

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Nice plate joins there. Joining those weird butt joints on plates is the easiest hardest join on a build. Seamless is what we want. Sometimes surprises me to see the seam on even high end instruments. Tisk, tisk. Should never happen.
 

printer2

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Possibly, but I like the pattern I picked better. It didn't look right to me flipped the other way.

The shrinkage/expansion of a flat sawn piece of wood due to humidity changes is about twice as much as the same piece of wood that was cut quartered. Wood that is cut where the grain goes from quartered (more or less) to flat sawn usually is joined at the quartered sides with the flat sawn area confined to the wings if possible.
 

tonyturley

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It looks like when I was editing to correct a misspelling, I accidentally deleted my last post. Thanks to all who've responded. I haven't been able to get in the shop today, but I did do a paper mock-up of the slotted peghead. Once I have everything cleaned up and finalize the peghead shape, I'll use my cheap benchtop CNC to make a peghead routing template as well as the peghead overlay.

peghead v1.jpg
 

tonyturley

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I made another mock-up to work out string spacing and bridge location. Overall length will be 31 3/4", neck width at nut 1 7/8", at 14th fret 2 5/32". The Rosewood bridge shown is a reject from a previous project, but that will be the shape of the real thing. just a bit wider to accommodate 6 strings. This will be a string-through bridge with a thin Rosewood bridge plate and a K&K Aloha Twin.

mockup2.jpg
 

tonyturley

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The weather was beautiful here today, so I threw open the garage and spent much of the morning and afternoon making sawdust - with proper safety gear and dust collection. I jointed the Walnut sides, completed the thickness sanding on the sides & back, thicknessed the Ebony fretboard and cut the slots, and thicknessed some pieces of quartersawn spalted Sycamore for the headstock overlay and rosette. I'm ready to begin bending the Walnut sides, as well as begin working on the rosette.

sanded.jpg
 

tonyturley

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Didn't have as much shop time today, but I did rough cut the peghead overlay, using tracing paper tack glued to the piece as a guide. Wood is quartersawn spalted Sycamore, two bookmatched pieces cut from the same board and thickness sanded to the same depth before gluing. Tomorrow I'm planning on working on binding strips from the same wood.

overlay1.jpg
 

tonyturley

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Good progress today. I made a segmented rosette from quartersawn spalted Sycamore, and also ripped + thickness sanded the binding strips from the same wood. I still need to cut the channel for the rosette, but I was getting tired and decided it was a good place to stop for the day.

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sequoia

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Can't wait to see the rosette in and sanded out. I love spalted sycamore.
 

jupiteruke

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Not to demean any of the work going on here, I love wood in all its flavors, but what is sold as quarter-sawn sycamore is by-and-large not really very quartersawn. Sycamore has strong medulary rays which run radially (more or less) in the tree. With sycamore that is cut exactly on the quarter, perpendicular to the growth rings, these medulary rays then run along the surface of the board and make a very strong linear pattern. Get off this perfect quarter by 15 degrees and the linear pattern turns to just flecks. To cut for the maximum ray pattern one needs to make a few cuts, then cut a wedge so the next cuts are again exactly perpendicular to the growth rings, i.e. perfectly quartersawn.
 

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tonyturley

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A bit more work on the rosette today, as well as bending one of the kiku sides. The rosette is glued in place, but I still need to sand it flush. I also worked on cleaning up the bindings on my tenor uke project, so I didn't get as far as I'd planned. Maybe tomorrow.

cutting channel.jpgkiku rosette.jpgclamped.jpgkiku side 1.jpg
 

tonyturley

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One final post for the day . . . couldn't stay out of the shop. I sanded the rosette flush with the top this evening and gave it a wash coat of shellac to see how it would look when finished. I have some glue residue to be removed, but I'm pleased with how it turned out.

rosette sanded.jpg
 

tonyturley

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The glue residue cleaned up nicely, and I've started working out the bracing scheme. I'm using a similar brace layout to what Jay Lichty uses on his long scale tenors, with a slanted rear transverse brace and 5 fans. Since Redwood - in my experience - seems to crack if I look at it the wrong way, my Rosewood bridge patch will go from side to side, and will taper from the outer fan braces to the sides. I also just glued a circular reinforcing patch made of thin cross-grained Ash around the rosette area on the inside. I'll cut out the sound hole once the glue has cured. The neck join will be at the 14th, with only 16 frets. I'm planning to add an inlay to the unfretted area near the sound hole.

rosette sanded.jpg
 

tonyturley

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This is what insomnia looks like in the wee hours of a Sunday morning. Down in the shop doing some decluttering, and rechecking all of my measurements before I begin gluing things to the bottom of the soundboard. The cross-grain Ash sound hole patch and the Rosewood bridge patch are both 1mm thick.

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tonyturley

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Pretty good progress on the kiku neck today. The images in order:

1. Comparing a fully squared and sanded scarf joint to the mating half that has been rough cut with a hand saw.

2. Neck pieces ready to glue.

3. I wonder if I can fit another clamp in there?

4. The clamps are removed after 2 hours.

5. The glue residue has been scraped from the joints, and the basic shape of the neck drawn using a template made from baritone uke plans. A good place to stop for the night. I'll let the glue cure overnight before proceeding with any further shaping.

scarf1.jpg
neck pieces.jpg
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kiku neck prep.jpg