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Thread: This uke was made for chopping (in the kitchen)!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Cumbria, NW England
    Posts
    585

    Default This uke was made for chopping (in the kitchen)!

    Here’s another alternative shaped uke made by repurposing an acacia chopping board. I bought 2 of these maybe 3 years ago with the intention of creating ukes. The chopping boards were all made from at least 3 pieces: I sorted through the pile trying to find something close to quarter sawn wood (especially the centre section). Most of the wood to complete the box came from another small rectangular acacia board.

    My small bandsaw isn’t capable of resawing these so a sawcut was made each side with my small table saw and the job completed with a handsaw.

    The butt end and neck block end were made with fabricated sub-assemblies which were roughly shaped with the bandsaw and finished with rasp and sandpaper taking care to achieve symmetry and squareness.

    The short sides were an easy bend on the iron. No mould or solera was needed. The neck end assembly was glued to the completed soundboard. When dry, the sides and butt end were added. The linings had already been glued to the tapered sides.

    My radius disc was used to shape the partially completed box before fitting the curved back.

    The neck was laminated from utile and tulipwood (yellow popular in US) with built up heel and scarfed head with wings. No tenon/dowel or bolt was needed for the neck joint on account of the back overlapping the heel. The head was made oversize complete with hole to mimic the handle of the chopping board.

    The rosette and brown/black purfling/binding are ABS. There’s no binding on the back, recognising this is a chopping board.

    The slightly longer uke is a tight fit in a conventional tenor hardcase.

    The more observant will notice that the strumming area (12-14th frets) is beyond the end of the box, so the box will remain free from fingertip wear.

    The uke sounds similar to my conventional ukes. It's loud and has lots of sustain. It's perhaps not quite as warm as my best tenors since it lacks a wider lower bout.

    chop1.jpgchop2.jpgchop3.jpgchop4.jpgchop5.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Cumbria, NW England
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    585

    Default

    So here are a few more images. The second uke may be a little different, for example it only needs 2 fan braces. I used mahogany for the neck block: it would be better in a non red coloured wood. This one is finished in Tru oil over shellac, and has low G Seagur fishing line strings.

    If this was a regular model, the sub-assemblies could be made more quickly and easily using a jig/profile router cutter. I have just bought a Triton spindle sander which will make the second one easier to produce.

    chop7.jpgchop8.jpgchop9.jpgchop10.jpgchop11.jpg

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Cumbria, NW England
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    585

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Posts
    397

    Default

    Very creative! If I didn't have so many projects going already I'd start looking for acacia chopping boards. Well done.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Posts
    59

    Default

    Very nice. I love seeing creative repurposing projects like this. I've been thinking about trying something similar with some bamboo cutting boards that I keep seeing at the store. I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Hudson, MA
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    1,566

    Default

    Cool idea. Don't forget to use a food-safe finish

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Posts
    3

    Default

    greenscoe, it's a great wood working process you've done. Do you use router table for all these wood working and construction processes or not? It's not so easy to find the best router table when you need it for constructing an ukulele. My job is all about wood working and wood finishing, but when I've been doing my ukulele it's been not so easy to fit the table..
    Last edited by daniel1RR; 03-16-2020 at 02:59 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Cumbria, NW England
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    585

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by daniel1RR View Post
    greenscoe, it's a great wood working process you've done. Do you use router table for all these wood working and construction processes or not? It's not so easy to find the best router table when you need it for constructing an ukulele. My job is all about wood working and wood finishing, but when I've been doing my ukulele it's been not so easy to fit the table.
    I have a cheap router table which I previously used mainly for binding and purfling. I seldom use it now. I use a Makita cloned laminate trimmer for these tasks. If I were a pro I would probably buy a Makita: I know many pros on this forum speak highly of this.

    I have also used the router table with a bearing guided profile bit in making moulds. That's the reason I mentioned in an earlier post that this is the way to make my chopping board uke sub-assemblies.

    I have been on this forum for 6 years and know that many use laminate trimmers, but others will use router tables, often homemade and dedicated to one task.

    If you are considering buying a table, why not post a new thread asking whether forum members (pros and hobby makers) reckon a router table is worth having?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Cumbria, NW England
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    Default

    So here is version two. What has changed and is it an improvement on the original instrument?

    I like a mellow sound with as much bass as possible and normally string with a low G.

    So, the question was whether I could improve the second uke to sound as good as my best conventional tenor. I think the main restriction is the fact that the soundboard is not as wide, its 7” as opposed to 9” on a conventional tenor: in total area the two soundboards are probably similar. The characteristic sound of a soprano vs concert vs tenor is not about the scale length, it’s about the response we get from an increasing sized soundboard. I think that's what we are all trying to improve.

    The construction method was basically as for the first build. Visually the main change is that build 2 has ABS binding and purfling to the top and back. The back no longer overlaps the heel so this time the neck is glued and bolted to the box.

    To improve it acoustically, the soundboard is thinner, the bridge patch is shorter and thinner and it has only 2 fan braces. I also used a less substantial cross brace below the soundhole. Once the box was closed, I thinned the top even more to give a better tap tone.

    The most noticeable change is that no 2 is louder and I feel the box vibrating against my body as I play it. The back was thinner on this instrument. It is definitely mellower/warmer than no 1. I have compared this instrument with several other tenors and think in a blind test no one would be able to say which was the chopping board uke. Some might even choose it as their favourite sounding uke!

    I like this form of construction, with little bending being required but producing a more attractive instrument than a simple rectangular cigar box instrument. I have no more chopping boards but it would be easy to produce this shape with bookmatched top and back.

    I post this info to encourage other hobby makers to try their hand at something new. As I have previously stated, for me the fun is the challenge that comes from doing my own thing. Each project teaches me something new.

    cb1.jpgcb2.jpgcb3.jpgcb4.jpgcb5.jpg

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    Durham, UK
    Posts
    388

    Default

    It looks fantastic. I prefer the look of this one. The abs adds a nice and clean touch. The only thing I preferred from the first chopping board uke is the back overlapping the heel.

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