Parallel builds

tonyturley

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I have finally gotten around to cutting the binding channels on the baritone uke. I’ve actually been putting this operation off for several weeks; this is the first instrument I’ve done where the top and back are curved both end to end and side to side, and I had to give myself time to work out in my head how I was going to tackle the operation. I needn’t have been concerned – the process went without a hitch.

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tonyturley

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The baritone ukulele project is nearing the finishing stage. Today I finished scraping and cleaning up the final Rosewood binding strip. Everything has been sanded to a medium grit. I’ll step away from the project for a day or two and come back with fresh eyes and a magnifying glass, examining it carefully for imperfections I might have missed. Then final sanding, and I’ll start applying the thin finishing layers before gluing on the neck.

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sequoia

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Oh, that is starting to look really good... Suggestion: I would completely tape off my fretboard before finishing. Saves work scraping later.
 

tonyturley

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Oh, that is starting to look really good... Suggestion: I would completely tape off my fretboard before finishing. Saves work scraping later.
Thanks. As far as taping the fretboard, I tried that once and ended up with a sharp ridge when I pulled off the tape. Any suggestion on how to avoid that?
 

bazuku

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For tape ridges, I drag a razor blade down the tangent of the ridge (top of the blade leading, back of the blade trailing). The effect is that of a fine mini scraper. If this is done fairly lightly and carefully, the ridge can be accurately taken down to the level of the surrounding finish. It usually just needs a local buffing to blend it invisibly. This does not work too well with long-cured, hardened lacquers.
Accuracy of applied pressure is the key ... you will not want to remove any finish from the adjacent low points.
 

sequoia

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a sharp ridge when I pulled off the tape. Any suggestion on how to avoid that?

I assume you are talking about a ridge where the tape goes along the fretboard and the neck join. I really don't get much of a problem here unless you are putting on a ton of finish. I also use very low profile auto tape for masking. Other wise do what basuku says... Carefully.
 

bazuku

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Other wise do what basuku says... Carefully.

A few notes of caution here:
As Sequoia points out, it is best to avoid ridges if possible, but with tape masking, they can occur.
DO NOT use the blade in the normal scraper mode. Hold it between the thumb and index finger with the cutting edge trailing, then sweep it along the ridge LIGHTLY in a back-handed motion.
Be sure to position the job with reflected light highlighting the ridge so that you can immediately assess the effect of each stroke. As long as the cutting edge trails significantly, no gouging can occur. If you monitor your progress carefully, it is a simple and safe technique. A little polishing/buffing may be necessary to blend the surfaces.
 

tonyturley

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Thanks for the detailed explanation, bazuku. I'll keep that in mind once I get to that point.
 

tonyturley

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Working on the bridge for the baritone ukulele using a jig I built to shave the bridge blank to thickness and rout the saddle slot. The clamps with the orange handles are to limit the travel of the router bit. Inching closer to the finish line!

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tonyturley

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Almost there. The tenor ukulele in the back has had many hand rubbed thin coats of shellac and Tru-Oil, and I’m just waiting about another week to let the finish harden further before attaching the bridge and doing final setup. I just glued on the baritone uke neck this morning. It will take about another month to go through the finishing process with it.

I think from here on out, I’m going to stick to building one instrument at a time. Some people can successfully build multiple instruments at once, but I have so much other stuff going on that these projects have taken a lot longer than I anticipated.

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sequoia

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I like to build multiples because I can turn to another one while glue is drying which is just a wait step. Keeps things moving along... I'm not sure I'm familiar with using a duel shellac/tru-oil finish. Just goes to show you that shellac is a versatile product. Will be interested to see the final product.
 

tonyturley

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The tenor ukulele is finished. I just added the strings and brought it to tune at around 11 today. Given how fast new strings go out of tune, I’ll be retuning constantly for the next week or so. This will be the first of two ukes I complete this weekend. The baritone has been finished and the bridge glued in place. Just need to craft the nut and saddle and install the tuners.

The soundboard is Western Red Cedar. The back, sides, headplate, and heel cap are Ovangkol. The bindings, end graft, bridge, fretboard, and inlay are all Rosewood. The soundport ring is Black Walnut. The road has been long, sometimes frustrating, but ultimately quite satisfying. I’m going to give myself some time away from instrument building while I concentrate on other projects.

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sequoia

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Looks good Tony. Looking forward to what you think of the sound.
 

tonyturley

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Looks good Tony. Looking forward to what you think of the sound.
Thanks. It's not as warm as I expected (first time using WR Cedar). Hard to say otherwise, as I can hear the strings going slack as I play. I used the first 3 strings from an Oasis GPX+ Carbon Classicals set for 1-3, and the G is a silver-wound "A" from an Augustine Red set. I'll just keep retuning and playing frequently this week to get the strings to settle. I considered using a set of Aquila nylguts I have laying around. I'm still quite green at figuring out what strings are best for which woods.
 

tonyturley

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We have music. The steel string baritone ukulele is finished. It definitely has quite a different tone from other baritone ukuleles I’ve played. It was the most difficult project I’ve done to date; when I designed the layout, I included several features that I’ve never done in a construction. There were definitely some challenges to overcome, but I’m pleased with how it turned out.

The top is torrefied Sitka. Back, sides, and inlay are Bay Laurel. Bindings, end graft, bridge, fretboard, heel cap, and headplate are Rosewood. Soundport ring and rosette are Black Walnut. Waverly Tuners and Waaverly Snakewood bridge pins.

I’m not planning on doing any more tandem builds. I know of guys who regularly have multiple instruments under construction, but I think I’m better focusing on one at a time. Next build is going to be a small scale guitar which will include a soundboard made from old growth Red Spruce harvested here in the mountains of WV over 30 years ago. But first, I’m going to take some time off from building to work on some other projects.

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