Drilling a big hole in my ukulele...

rustydusty

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like the title says, I'm thinking about drilling a 1"-1 1/4" sound hole in the side of my ukulele. I was fiddling around with a uke at a music store the other day with a hole on the side for the player. I would probably lose a little volume, but I use it with an amp when I play out, so this would be for me while I practice. My uke is a Clearwater round back baritone. (Just like the Ohana round back...) As a career yacht carpenter, I have no doubt I can do this successfully, sand and polish the hole so it looks "factory". What do you think?20210718_092250.jpg
 

Ziret

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Do it. I did it on a soprano Enya that was made of HPL, and it turned out fine. I got some giant bits at Harbor Freight, but if I were to do it again, I might find a way to incise a line and then cut it by hand. Or use a Dremel tool. But whatever you do, it will probably work out fine.
 

besley

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Definitely go for it. I would personally first cut out the shape I wanted out of black construction paper and tape it to the uke to see what I thought of the shape - for example an oval will probably look better than a circle. Then I would make an outer template out of thin bendable masonite, and use a Dremel tool with a routing bit. Good luck, and we'll be expecting pictures!
 

rustydusty

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Do it! Is that a plastic back and sides?
Yes, it's polycarbonate back and sides with a solid spruce top. I haven't decided whether to use a hole saw or a "butterfly bit". Either way, I will do it slowly so as not to melt the plastic...
 

rustydusty

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Definitely go for it. I would personally first cut out the shape I wanted out of black construction paper and tape it to the uke to see what I thought of the shape - for example an oval will probably look better than a circle. Then I would make an outer template out of thin bendable masonite, and use a Dremel tool with a routing bit. Good luck, and we'll be expecting pictures!
I've got a Dremel, and you're right, it might look better as an oval.
 

ksiegel

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I doubt that you will loose much, if any volume.

Wen I cover the personal sound port any any of my ukes that have them, the projection from the front really doesn't change.

-Kurt​
 

Patrick Madsen

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Brian Griffin sells oval inserts for side soundports. Helps with the structure integrity of the hole and is a nice finish to it.
Griffinukuleles.com
 

VegasGeorge

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I'd definitely use an insert to finish off the edge of the hole. Might as well make it look good, eh?
 

BradDonaldson

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I do this a lot, but prefer to use a Dremel tool with a 60 grit sanding drum. Easy way to make a nice oval hole. Mask the area with tape and draw the outline for the hole and go for it.
 

Kenn2018

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Every one of my tenors that has a side port has an oval in the upper bout. Aimed towards my head when I hold my tenor to play it. Some are as big as 1-3/8" x 1-3/4" and others are as small as 3/4" x 1-1/2".

I think the 1-3/8" x 1-3/4" is too big. It gets very loud if I'm strumming hard. Better to cut one out too small and enlarge it, than too big.
 

captain-janeway

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I do this a lot, but prefer to use a Dremel tool with a 60 grit sanding drum. Easy way to make a nice oval hole. Mask the area with tape and draw the outline for the hole and go for it.
What did you start the opening with? Keyhole drill? Big ole regular drill bit? Are you using a stand for it or doing freehand?
I have one uke that I'm going to put rhinestones on, so this one might be good to hear what a sound port sounds like.
 

BradDonaldson

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What did you start the opening with? Keyhole drill? Big ole regular drill bit? Are you using a stand for it or doing freehand?
I have one uke that I'm going to put rhinestones on, so this one might be good to hear what a sound port sounds like.
I just use the Dremel with the sanding drum to start the hole, and I do this freehand. Hold the Dremel at about 45 degrees, start at the center of the proposed hole and grind away until you penetrate the side by about 1/8”. Then I turn the tool 180 degrees and double the size of the hole. I do this a few times until the the hole is large enough to insert the sanding drum vertically and then sand to the lines. I have found that the sanding drum is easily controllable with none of the tendencies to grab and jerk the wood like a drill bit or other fluted grinding bits can do.
 

pmorey

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I just use the Dremel with the sanding drum to start the hole, and I do this freehand...
I happen to have a pic of him performing this exact procedure! Watching him build first hand, Brad is an incredible craftsman in every sense of the word!

Brad-soundport.jpg
 

rustydusty

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I will definitely need to make the hole large enough to get my shop vac in there. I would rather not remove the strings just to vacuum it out...
 

captain-janeway

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I just use the Dremel with the sanding drum to start the hole, and I do this freehand. Hold the Dremel at about 45 degrees, start at the center of the proposed hole and grind away until you penetrate the side by about 1/8”. Then I turn the tool 180 degrees and double the size of the hole. I do this a few times until the the hole is large enough to insert the sanding drum vertically and then sand to the lines. I have found that the sanding drum is easily controllable with none of the tendencies to grab and jerk the wood like a drill bit or other fluted grinding bits can do.
Thanks!