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Thread: StewMac Tenor Kit Build

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    Little River, California
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    I think the jig thing is over engineered. It is nice and probably good for someone kicking out lots of ukes in a manufacturing situation but if you are just doing a one-off you don't need that sort of involved tool. You can just nip off the tang overhang with some wire cutters and then grind off the residual with a cutoff wheel on your dremel or even file them off by hand using a file. I use the cutoff wheel attachment and jack the dremel into a vise and grind off the residual until it is flat. Pretty fast but tedious I will admit.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
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    Redmond, WA
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    It was a pretty trivial jig (mine's not as pretty as in the video - just three pieces of scrap glued together, two holes, a cut, and a fret slot). It took significantly more time to watch the video than it did to make the jig (discounting glue drying). Unfortunately I've been out sick and haven't had time and energy to work on this. I hope to get back up to speed soon so I can finish before the weather turns. Winter is coming

  3. #13
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    Apr 2018
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    Redmond, WA
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    The jig worked well, but I've only been able to get a couple of frets cut, de-tanged, and installed at a time before my back's given up on me. I'm about halfway there, I'm making steady-if-slow progress, and the weather forecast looks good for the next two weekends. I may pull this off.

  4. #14
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    Apr 2018
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    Redmond, WA
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    Huge progress today: got the fingerboard finished up to leveling the frets, for which I need more sandpaper. I skipped over that and got the neck assembled, and everything else sanded to 150. Dry fit everything and it now looks like a ukulele! Ended with a wipe down to raise the grain and letting that dry overnight. Tomorrow morning 320 and 400 for the frets will be waiting in a locker at the Orange place. I'll make the frets pretty, sand the body and neck to 220 and then on to the finish!

    No pictures because today's epic run went just past my phone battery dying and the music stopping. It's past my bedtime, but I'm too jazzed to head up yet.

    A few things I learned:
    • Getting the frets in evenly with a hammer is a PITA. I ended up pressing them with the drill press. I had been warned of this so was prepared (If you're watching here: Thanks Phil!)
    • You have to get the entire tang off. Especially for the first several I did I left a stub of the tang with the dremel and jig. It was very easy to file off once I figured out that I needed to. Unfortunately I didn't realize this on a few until I had them pressed in and got some chipping when I pulled them out. Noted for the next one!
    • The frets looked kind of garbagey before I got them filed flush and bevelled. I was really worried. Turned out to be no big deal.
    • I was really careless with the CA when I did the binding. There was a lot of splash damage and some finger prints. I over did it trying to scrape that off and ended up doing more damage than fixing in a few places. Leaving it for the sanding step would have been a better idea - the spots that I did cleaned up pretty easily
    • Conversely, scraping the binding flush was essential, especially on the veneer sides. I managed to sand through the veneer in one spot while trying to sand the binding flush.
    • I forgot to sand the inside edges of the side-sound port flush before closing everything up. I can't reasonably reach that, so it's going to stay. Oh well.
    • I never got around to doing my headstock inlay. Making some drawings based on my initials tonight. Will decide in the morning how enthusiastic I am to do so. I have my name lasered on the inside and inlay around the sound hole. Another may be too much, but the goal here is to experiment and learn.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    Little River, California
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    Yup... A learning experience alright. We learn through failure oddly enough. One tip I would pass along: Before using CA to glue binding, put a couple coats of dilute shellac on the top and sides. This way the CA will sit on top of the shellac, won't soak in and is easily sanded off if there is any splashing, fingerprints, etc. which there always is.

    As for the final step: Finishing. Go simple with something like an oil finish which is pretty much foolproof. If you want to get more ambitious, do your homework and experiment before you put it on your ukulele. Finishing can get tricky.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
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    Redmond, WA
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    Thanks! Great tip on protecting the surroundings with shellac. I'll give that a try with my test blocks.

    I fiddled a bunch yesterday with a headstock inlay but wasn't able to come up with anything I liked. Everything big enough for me to route successfully was bulkier than looked good to me. Barring a second wind I'm going to skip that and leave it blank. A chisel may be better than the router here. That's what I've been using to finish the sound-hole inlay cavity after the initial laser carving. I didn't want to cut through so etched on low power and pulled out my carving tools to bring it deeper.

    I got the frets all level and the first couple crowned. More on that tonight.

    Finishing plans were to stain blue and then use a wipe-on poly, pretty much straight down StewMac's plans, except that I am/was going to sand back the stain in the center for a denimy look. This was partly because I like that look and partly to make it easy to keep the stain off of the inlay: I was going to stain first, glue in the inlay, then simultaneously sand the inlay flush and the center stained section.

    I'm also going to test saturating the inlay with CA after protecting the surroundings with shellac and then stain to see if that'll work.

    It's starting to really look like a uke now:


    Huh. The colour looks a lot better in the picture than when it's in front of me. I should take another look at it wet before staining.

  7. #17
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    Oct 2014
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    Little River, California
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    Love the rabbit running inlay around the sound hole. What about one running rabbit on the peghead? Would tie the theme together...

  8. #18
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    Apr 2018
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    Redmond, WA
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    Quote Originally Posted by sequoia View Post
    Love the rabbit running inlay around the sound hole. What about one running rabbit on the peghead? Would tie the theme together...
    Thanks! The argument against it on the peghead is fear I should probably get over that.

    I inlaid a bunny at the 12th fret on the fingerboard that rabbited into the bushes and it was a bit of a mess routing (I did much better on the test piece, then stressed on the real one), and it would have to shrink to fit on the peghead. It might be more doable with hand tools for the fine parts now that I've remembered that I used to know how to carve A simpler bunny may work out oriented differently too. Or a safer option would be to inlay it in a peghead veneer. I think some design work will be on tonight's plan if I can get home early enough. I was going to do my CA saturation test on a simple square inlay, but this will be more fun!

    One of the big themes I've run into here is how long it's been since I've done any serious wood working and how much better I was a few years ago! Most of that was scrollsaw and lathe: 5-10 years ago I could've zipped these rabbits out on the scrollsaw without hardly thinking it. On the other hand, I'm nigh-infinitely better at music than I was then! It's all in what you spend the time on!

  9. #19
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    Oct 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcy View Post
    Thanks! The argument against it on the peghead is fear .... Or a safer option would be to inlay it in a peghead veneer.
    That is what I do. If you mess it up (you won't), simply throw on scrap heap and go again. When you get it right, glue down and go... Can put some contrasting thin strips of veneer underneath for strips along the side for a little extra bling. One possible problem: Too thick a peghead for your tuners. Fixable with adjustable tuners or making headstock thinner.

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