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Thread: Wood. Now What?

  1. #11
    Join Date
    May 2018
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    Kekaha, Kauai
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    310

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    Having built dozens of various styles of Youthalele out of 1/8” plywood I can tell you that they sound much better than you would expect. I also have used solid wood and 1/16” ply. They sound better, but not as much as you would think. Keep in mind that you eliminate all internal bracing with the 1/8” ply. Depending on the size, you will at least have to add a bridge patch and a couple of fan braces for a concert.
    There are lots of ways to bend the sides, a steam iron, heat gun or homemade hot pipe using a light bulb, propane torch or electric charcoal starter. I am happy to answer any questions about the design or building process.
    Brad
    Bradford Donaldson
    Kekaha, HI and Cannon Beach OR
    bradfordj48@outlook.com

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    Pay more and get less? Maybe just a thin top on a thicker body?

    A 1/16" ply top will give you a lot more flex and better sound. I've listened to some ukes built by Brad Donaldson and others in the Youthalele projects over the last few years. I guess it depends what you're looking for. Since you are doing the work (labor) , you only have to buy material.

    As far as not wanting to copy another design, look at the Youthalele I,II and III sketches by BuzzBD for guidance, draw a full scale plan on the back of a large paper bag or some other sturdy paper and tweak it to your liking, then figure out how to frame and build it. Again the Youthalele info has pics of builds , form boards, bracing, etc to help guide you. When you're done, it will be your original dedign and build. There is some good teardrop shape info on Youthalele III. The choices are yours.

    Good luck and happy creating!

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
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    232

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerryc41 View Post
    Thanks. I'll give that a try.
    Also, I have used a "Brown-in bag" for roasting turkeys....seriously. Soak the wood for a half hour, Then put it in a turkey bag at 200 for an hour. Slowly bend it around a can. Small investment worth a try.

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Little River, California
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    2,714

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    Been watching this thread a little bit and my idea is to use the plywood for back and sides but buy a decent Sitka spruce top. You can get a cheap one piece from Alaska Tone Woods for $16 bucks. I've used them before and the wood is good. Why put a piece-O-crap plywood top on your ukulele when you might have a good sounding instrument with a decent tone wood top for chump change?

    https://alaskawoods.com/product/aaa-...-sitka-spruce/

    Note also that in the pictures they have a picture of non-other than one of Allen's ukes.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Kekaha, Kauai
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    The original Youthalele was designed with a solid wood top. The problem was that the target customers simply did not have the time, tools or the skills to construct solid wood ukuleles in quantity. Again, these were school teachers who needed to make 20-25 ukuleles as cheaply as possible. I borrowed the plywood idea from the Canadian school systems Northern Ukuleles. They are triangular shaped, made of plywood over 50 years ago and the kids in Canada are still using them today. The bottom line is they are dirt cheap, easy as hell to build, tough and perfectly serviceable. Certainly if you have the tools and skills to do a solid top, by all means do so, it should sound better.
    Brad
    Bradford Donaldson
    Kekaha, HI and Cannon Beach OR
    bradfordj48@outlook.com

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Massachusetts, USA
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    144

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    You could plane or sand 1/16" thickness off of one of your pieces of 1/8" ply for the top. You might end up with an exposed glue layer, but you can just make that the underside. No one will ever know unless they use an inspection mirror.

    But as suggested above, you could buy a spruce top (or whatever other wood strikes your fancy) from Alaskawoods. Since this is a one-off, you might as well get something at least moderately nice.

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    Little River, California
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uke-alot View Post
    Since this is a one-off, you might as well get something at least moderately nice.
    Back when I used to buy tops from Alaska Specialty Woods, they had a limited supply of "bear claw" figured spruce and it was only sized for mandolins (which by the way fits a tenor ukulele). Now they are heavy into bear claw and one can buy a set of 100 ($900) just in case you want to pump out a 100 or so ukes. Right.

    Remember that bear claw spruce comes from trees that have been clawed by actual bears which causes the wood to give more volume and sustain because the spirit of the bear has been transferred to the wood through its claws.

    $25 bucks for a tenor sized top although it only comes in 12.25 inch length which doesn't leave much room for error.

    https://alaskawoods.com/product/aaa-...figured-sitka/

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    April Fool's Day is next month ! Lol.

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    Catskill Mountains, NY
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    7,778

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    Quote Originally Posted by sequoia View Post
    Remember that bear claw spruce comes from trees that have been clawed by actual bears which causes the wood to give more volume and sustain because the spirit of the bear has been transferred to the wood through its claws.

    $25 bucks for a tenor sized top although it only comes in 12.25 inch length which doesn't leave much room for error.
    Yes, better sound because of the screams of the tree.

    Error? Do you know to whom you are speaking? I don't never make no erors!
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Catskill Mountains, NY
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    Lots of great ideas here. Thanks. Actually, I have several nice pieces of solid wood - cedar and spruce - from Stewart-MacDonald, and I'll use that for the top.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

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