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Thread: Building the Youthalele

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Kekaha, Kauai
    Posts
    255

    Default Building the Youthalele

    This project got started some years ago, a teacher from California wanted to get some ukulele in his students hands. The problem was they were mostly poor, with very little resources. I told him I would try and design a ukulele that could be built with under $10 in parts and materials, by some one with modest woodworking skills and tools. The primary inspiration came from the Northern Ukulele, made in Canada for the Canadian school system some decades ago and still being used by students today. After some fits and starts I came up with a design and sent it to him. He built 25 of them for his students, they individually decorated their ukulele and I got a picture of the entire class with their instruments and a thank you note from every student. Since then, I have had several teachers from around the world do the same thing.
    Over the years I have tweaked the design as I discovered new ideas and materials. My goal for this is to provide a design template for anyone wishing to build a simple but very serviceable ukulele. They will be able to choose the size and various design details based on their skills and tools available. In its simplest form, this is a plywood box with a neck and fretboard attached, but there are a myriad ways of upgrading the design. Here are some sample pics showing some of the design concepts.
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/iER7brpQTNwPWXSz7

    More to follow
    Brad
    Bradford Donaldson
    Kekaha, HI and Cannon Beach OR
    bradfordj48@outlook.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Little River, California
    Posts
    2,512

    Default

    This is such a great idea. Perhaps you could post some of your designs.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Kekaha, Kauai
    Posts
    255

    Default

    Thanks sequoia, that’s the plan, I will be posting plans for the ukuleles and fixtures, pictures of instruments under construction and how to build instructions. Hopefully we can get some people building along and work out the problems and design details as we go.
    Brad
    Bradford Donaldson
    Kekaha, HI and Cannon Beach OR
    bradfordj48@outlook.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Catskill Mountains, NY
    Posts
    6,357

    Default

    Very nice. How did you get that beautiful bend in the wood? When it says, "No aircraft use," does that mean you can't play the uke in a plane?

    I like that sanding table, and I like your different uke designs.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Southeast US
    Posts
    88

    Default

    That is so cool. Truly making the world a better place.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Posts
    476

    Default

    I made a 24" small bodied guitar out of a 2x4 and a fence board once and did a complete pictorial for it. I wanted to build with the least amount of tools, it would be interesting to do a ukulele.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Kekaha, Kauai
    Posts
    255

    Default

    Thanks Jerry, I bent the wood on my StewMac bending iron. The two big decisions the builders will need to make are whether they want to bend the sides on a hot pipe and what kind of neck joint they want to do. Originally the Youthalele was designed to be made without any bending, with the sides only gently curved on the work board. I found that it takes a fair amount of force for a gentle curve and gluing things up could be awkward. So having a bending iron, I thought I would save myself some fumbling around and prebend the sides. I discovered to my surprise that this plywood bends really easily at low temperatures. After that I came up with the boat paddle design. There are several ways of making an inexpensive bending iron and I will be discussing that as we go along.
    Brad
    Bradford Donaldson
    Kekaha, HI and Cannon Beach OR
    bradfordj48@outlook.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Posts
    476

    Default

    Use a simple form and a clothes iron?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    West Midlands GB
    Posts
    2,280

    Default

    In the past, I've used an ordinary domestic steam iron (over a thick cloth) then quickly wrapped the side around a former. It works well, but I never managed it without getting a few minor burns! Best to wear gloves, perhaps?

    John Colter

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Kekaha, Kauai
    Posts
    255

    Default

    A clothes iron may be a very good idea to try! Thanks printer2 and John.
    Brad
    Bradford Donaldson
    Kekaha, HI and Cannon Beach OR
    bradfordj48@outlook.com

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