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Thread: StewMac ukulele kit build

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Portland OR
    Posts
    78

    Default StewMac ukulele kit build

    I ordered a StewMac tenor ukulele kit in mahogany at my friend's request, as a gift for his daughter. It arrived today, double boxed & well packed, with a comprehensive instruction manual.

    They recommended purchasing 4 of their small cam clamps ($20 each), but I decided to see if there were any DIY options online (many), so I built 4 of my own. Here are photos of the kit and the clamps, and I'll update this thread as I go.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Redmond, WA
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    This should be a ton of fun! I have one almost finished (weather willing I’ll be done this weekend. I’ve said that a few times before though)

    Based on your SG build you shouldn’t have any trouble with this one. Are you planning to make it yourself or with your friend and his daughter? At you going do it straight or to make some modifications?

    --Rob

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Portland OR
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    Arcy, let us know how it turns out and if you have any advice you learned after the build. My friend wants me to build this as a surprise for his daughter, and he may want to personalize it with some small graphics, but no major mods.

    After reading the instructions twice, I got started today. Kind of eased into it, gluing in the rosette purfling and the back bracing. My clamps work great.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Redmond, WA
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    My build thread is over here: https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com...enor-Kit-Build

    Most of the problems were of my own making - I have a second, solid-wood kit waiting and deliberately pushed myself to learn / test / experiment on this one. Not worrying about perfection and just going for it's been good for me, even if there've been a few high frustration moments (mostly just that it's taking me way longer than I'd hoped). I expect the second one to go much better so long as I don't forget everything I learned on this one before I can get back to it!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Portland OR
    Posts
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    Thanks for the links Arcy (and to Sequoia's); both are very helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Portland OR
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    So I wasn't really happy with the kit's giant green rubber band solution for clamping the top, back & sides together. I thought spool clamps would be a better idea, but I can't afford StewMacs prices. So I went online & found some DIY ideas and made my own.

    I realized I had some of the parts needed- a 1x6 pine board, a 1-1/2" hole saw with a 1/4" pilot bit, some sheet cork used for making gaskets for my old car, and a small drill press. Using the hole saw, I drilled out (40) pine plugs (which also had a perfectly centered 1/4" hole), and 40 cork plugs. I went to the local ACE hardware & bought (20) 1/4" x 5" carriage bolts, (20) washers and (20) wing nuts. Carriage bolts have a square nut cast under the head to prevent turning once they're pounded into wood, so I took half the wood plugs & pounded the bolts into them. Then I stacked wood plug/cork/wood plug/cork etc. & chucked them in my drill press. I used a sanding board to smooth them into (40) matching clamp pieces, and then disassembled the stacks into individual clamps & glued the cork to the wood.

    All the ACE parts totaled $17.60. If you don't have one, a 1-1/2" hole saw & 1/4" pilot bit is around $20, and a drill clamped in a vise could be used instead of a drill press.

    Here's a few photos of the process:
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Portland OR
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    ...also got all the internal bracing glued up today:
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  8. #8

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    Nice work. It's always fun to see someone getting into building and enjoying it!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Posts
    189

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    Heck of a job on the cam and spool clamps. Enjoy the build; my first uke was an SM tenor kit.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Portland OR
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    I made the body jig yesterday; easy. But the sides of the ukulele wouldn't fit by a long shot; way oversize. So, I read the directions again, and find that often you'll need to trim some excess off of the 4 ends to allow them to fit in the jig. That's today's project.
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