Building the perfect case.

kerneltime

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Taking inspiration from Collings cases. I want to build form-fitting minimalistic but rugged cases for a few ukes. The main motivation is to reduce the space they take. As an example, the Collings tenor in its case takes up less space than some of the sopranos in their bloated cases. To start I plan to target the vintage Martin sopranos and Ken Timms I own.
Starting this thread to discuss and share ideas.
There are a couple of paths forward. I can look into 3D printing or bending wood and laminating it.
Not sure if this will ever happen..
 
I am looking forward to this thread. I always wanted to make some cases for my ukes, especially my uncased Martins. Can't wait to see the process pictures.
 
If I remember correctly then Prof Chris made a case for a Uke and added details onto Cosmos - which is sadly now lost. If prompted by a PM he might choose to contribute to the thread with what he did. 🤞
 
You can look at the measurements of Gator cases. They fit the Martin style sopranos beautifully, which are a bit smaller than many so-called sopranos today
 
made this out of cedar (old cupboard back) with a velvet bag inside, for the Argapa... never did sort the door end.
 

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This is something I just finished, a full size concert ukulele with a bolt on neck, in a travel case I made. It just flew with me to the big island for a weekend ukulele builder’s retreat. It fit in my carry on, in a duffel bag with all my other things I needed for the weekend. I will do another thread with a more complete description of it shortly.
Brad

IMG_5799.jpegIMG_5800.jpegIMG_5801.jpeg
 
When I read the title of this thread I thought it was about building the perfect case for purchasing X or Y ukulele. As in crafting an airtight argument in favor of ukulele acquisition, guaranteed to garner the necessary approval to complete the purchase.
 
Taking inspiration from Collings cases. I want to build form-fitting minimalistic but rugged cases for a few ukes. The main motivation is to reduce the space they take. As an example, the Collings tenor in its case takes up less space than some of the sopranos in their bloated cases. To start I plan to target the vintage Martin sopranos and Ken Timms I own.
Starting this thread to discuss and share ideas.
There are a couple of paths forward. I can look into 3D printing or bending wood and laminating it.
Not sure if this will ever happen..
I get where you're coming from. I don't have a Collings, but every time I see one in it's case, it makes me want something similar for all my ukes. To go to that extent of detail is impressive.

↓ Pic from Reverb ↓
markup_1000001490.png
 
Building a case is a lot of work!

A simple case like this one is really pretty easy:

Case 1.jpeg
Case 2.jpeg
Case 3.jpeg

This was made from 4mm (3/16 inch I'd guess) MDF, which bends easily with heat. I glued up a box, and once it was dry I cut it in two and cleaned up the cut surfaces. I reinforced the inside of the joins (from memory, I just glued some fabric across the join). Then glue fabric across the outside and rolling over the case edges, Drill for hinges, latches and handle, fixing them with split rivets. Glue felt lining in.

None of that is hard but it takes quite a few hours, so compared to buying a commercial case you're working below minimum wage.

And of course, this case is just a nice box to carry the uke - MDF is not very strong, so if you want a protective case then you need:
  1. To use plywood or something as strong or stronger; and
  2. To shape it over a mould so that you have raised areas for the top at least, to add strength against crushing.
That requires a big heat press and mould, definitely a factory job!

To improve my basic box you could buy foam and foam cutters and make a nice insert to hold the uke in transit.

Don't forget to experiment with glues - leatherette and fabric need different glues, and it took me a few goes before finding what worked well for each of the cases I've made.

The reason I make a case is if I can't buy one to fit. Otherwise, I happily hand over the cash. And trying to match or improve on a Collings case seems like a vain enterprise - the problem is making a really sturdy case shell, though I guess you could make a mould and use fibreglass ...
 
Building a case is a lot of work!

A simple case like this one is really pretty easy:

View attachment 172120
View attachment 172121
View attachment 172122

This was made from 4mm (3/16 inch I'd guess) MDF, which bends easily with heat. I glued up a box, and once it was dry I cut it in two and cleaned up the cut surfaces. I reinforced the inside of the joins (from memory, I just glued some fabric across the join). Then glue fabric across the outside and rolling over the case edges, Drill for hinges, latches and handle, fixing them with split rivets. Glue felt lining in.

None of that is hard but it takes quite a few hours, so compared to buying a commercial case you're working below minimum wage.

And of course, this case is just a nice box to carry the uke - MDF is not very strong, so if you want a protective case then you need:
  1. To use plywood or something as strong or stronger; and
  2. To shape it over a mould so that you have raised areas for the top at least, to add strength against crushing.
That requires a big heat press and mould, definitely a factory job!

To improve my basic box you could buy foam and foam cutters and make a nice insert to hold the uke in transit.

Don't forget to experiment with glues - leatherette and fabric need different glues, and it took me a few goes before finding what worked well for each of the cases I've made.

The reason I make a case is if I can't buy one to fit. Otherwise, I happily hand over the cash. And trying to match or improve on a Collings case seems like a vain enterprise - the problem is making a really sturdy case shell, though I guess you could make a mould and use fibreglass ...
Very helpful, my motivation is to not waste space. I rarely travel so I don’t need every case in my collection to be padded up to max. I am thinking for sides lots of thin sheets bent to shape and then glued. I might have to make a mold some how, one should be enough as it will be symmetrical. For the top I am still wondering.
 
I get where you're coming from. I don't have a Collings, but every time I see one in it's case, it makes me want something similar for all my ukes. To go to that extent of detail is impressive.

↓ Pic from Reverb ↓
View attachment 172093
It's very satisfying to look at - but honestly this looks like the sort of case where a 3 foot drop unto a hard floor results in a rib crack.

The foam IS the protection against sudden impacts. A motorcycle helmet protects because of its foam, which dents upon impact. The shell is merely to allow for glide rather than a gripping, jerky impact.

Different types of cases protect against different impacts. Against drops, a high quality gig bag is in my experience better than a hard case, because it is lighter and often has better foam. Against crushing, a hard case is better than a gig bag. But drops and bumps are probably a bigger risk than crushing, in most situations.

The best protection against both is a flightcase, which has a custom made (and expensive) closed cell foam form-fitting mould of the actual instrument, encased in a reinforced plywood box.
 
I've just bought some small Chinese latches on ebay; 6 for £5. I couldnt find the larger variant in a multiple but for fixing things it will be ok.
 
@Tukanu Dave if you are willing to take on the project it would ideal ;-) I am not really cut out to be a luthier. A form fitting Martin soprano case!
Thanks for the pointers, this will be my summer project.
 
It's very satisfying to look at - but honestly this looks like the sort of case where a 3 foot drop unto a hard floor results in a rib crack.

The foam IS the protection against sudden impacts. A motorcycle helmet protects because of its foam, which dents upon impact. The shell is merely to allow for glide rather than a gripping, jerky impact.

Different types of cases protect against different impacts. Against drops, a high quality gig bag is in my experience better than a hard case, because it is lighter and often has better foam. Against crushing, a hard case is better than a gig bag. But drops and bumps are probably a bigger risk than crushing, in most situations.

The best protection against both is a flightcase, which has a custom made (and expensive) closed cell foam form-fitting mould of the actual instrument, encased in a reinforced plywood box.
Agreed. I need it to
1. Protect against dropping and some light weight on top
2. Take up less space
3. Not have the uke rattle inside the case
4. Reasonably sealing to prevent sudden humidity or temperature changes when flying and traveling.
5. It should not be possible to have the case open up when lifted via the handle (if the latches are open). The handle should be 2 part, one attached to the top and one to the bottom. So when the case is lifted via the handle the case cannot open up.

I don't need a tank I can throw into the middle of a freeway.
 
It's very satisfying to look at - but honestly this looks like the sort of case where a 3 foot drop unto a hard floor results in a rib crack.

The foam IS the protection against sudden impacts. A motorcycle helmet protects because of its foam, which dents upon impact. The shell is merely to allow for glide rather than a gripping, jerky impact.

Different types of cases protect against different impacts. Against drops, a high quality gig bag is in my experience better than a hard case, because it is lighter and often has better foam. Against crushing, a hard case is better than a gig bag. But drops and bumps are probably a bigger risk than crushing, in most situations.

The best protection against both is a flightcase, which has a custom made (and expensive) closed cell foam form-fitting mould of the actual instrument, encased in a reinforced plywood box.
For sure. But if the goal is to save storage space, and when traveling use a better padded bag or case, a tailormade case would be hard to beat. The only other solution I've found for my storage predicament is to use one of those rectangular cases that hold 2 instruments, like Crossrock's fiberglass doubles. Stackable and eliminates the odd size and shape nesting.
 
@Tukanu Dave if you are willing to take on the project it would ideal ;-) I am not really cut out to be a luthier. A form fitting Martin soprano case!
Thanks for the pointers, this will be my summer project.
I can send you some bendy-wood extras, and you can see if they will work. Free wood...shipping wouldn't be much.

Here is a lute case that I built using the bendy-wood:
 

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