"Eurika, I've found it"


Well-known member
Sep 10, 2008
Reaction score
Conway, Arkansas
Do you remember those moments when you've just discovered a new tool, jig or technique? The ones that make building much more enjoyable, faster, easier and/or better? I think all of us that have been building long enough have had several of those moments. They probably still bring a smile to us when we think about it.
I thought I would start off with a couple of tools that have really made working on the sides of ukuleles/guitars so much more enjoyable. I'm almost 68 so it seems like a lot of the things I think about are those that made the process of building physically easier.
So here goes:

1. Motorized Dish Sander - I got so tired of "Driving the Bus". My shoulders and arms got to where I could barely lift them. I love this thing.

2. Rolling Pin Sander - I used to dread sanding the sides dead even and smooth, again because it was just too darn time consuming and physically hard. Now I can do 95% of my side sanding in about 10 minutes.

So there you have it. Please chime in with your discoveries if you have some that you love.

P.S. - I have no idea why two of the photos are rotated.


  • IMG_7166.jpg
    97.7 KB · Views: 130
  • IMG_7115.jpg
    86.1 KB · Views: 119
  • IMG_7185.jpg
    91.2 KB · Views: 119
Last edited:
I instantly thought of the Robo-Sander. I've made so many jigs that take advantage of its possibilities that I couldn't count them. I think of it as a poor man's shaper, much slower but also much safer. It only comes in 2" and 3" widths that are 3" tall. A 4" tall version would be nice, as well as a 3"x 4" version. Even a 1" wide version. But the two available sizes do a ton of work in my shop.

The first photo is of a jig used to fit a bolt-on neck to the rounded attachment area of my ukes. The second photo is of a jig for making uniform back brace ramps. A different jig first finishes the 15" arch on the braces I use for backs.


Being somewhat new to building ukes (coming from guitars and basses) I'm really looking forward to following this thread!

I'll contribute one of my eureka moments - this power carver for facet-carving a neck:


I used to use a variety of rasps and other hand tools for neck carving but it was always difficult in terms of fatigue and pain in my fingers. With this thing, I can rough carve a neck, including the heel and headstock transition, in just a few minutes - with zero pain or fatigue. Bonus, it's probably the most fun and satisfying 5 minutes of a build. It was intimidating at first but I've been pleasantly surprised at the really precise control you can develop once used to using it. I've done maybe half a dozen necks since getting this - the first two were slow nervous work but by the third it had become second nature. I finish up the carve with a few swipes of a fine iwasaki rasp file and the neck is ready to be sanded and finished.

The only downside is, it's easily the dustiest 5 minutes of any build. Although the dust it throws tends to be coarse grains versus, say, really fine sanding dust, so it settles quickly and it is easy to clean up what doesn't get sucked into dust collection.
I'm having trouble visualizing how the thing actually works. Can you send a picture of it in action? intriguing.

It goes on an angle grinder. The face of the disc is packed with tiny sharp needles and they grind/carve the wood as it spins. The holes in the face of the disk basically allow you to "see through" the disk as it spins so you can keep track of how it's cutting.

I clamp the neck blank so it's sticking out away from the bench and I hold the grinder at a fixed angle, with my rearward hand braced against my hip - which helps lock in the angle and allow a smooth consistent pass. Then I just touch it to the wood and make a smooth pass from end to end, and the result is a nice perfect facet. I adjust the angle I'm holding it at as appropriate for the next facet, take a pass, and repeat. 5 or 6 passes per side of the neck, then I go in close and do up/down passes along the sides of the heel to carve it to shape and blend it to the neck, and repeat at the other end to blend the neck into the headstock.

I use the yellow model which is the finest cut if I remember correctly - despite being so fine, it's still very rapid material removal. It leaves a surface about as rough as a typical fine or medium rasp.

Here's a youtube video that goes over the product fairly well, although it's not specifically referencing neck carving:


I actually bought this to do belly cuts and contours on solid body electric guitars and basses - once I saw how well it worked for that I tried it on necks and I've been hooked since. It's probably not for everyone (I can understand how some people would not want a spinning wheel of razor sharp needles anywhere near them or their work) but I appreciate the speed, precision, and pain-free aspects of using it.
Way to go Ben! Crimson Guitars - watch at your peril. Been using a much more ukulele friendly carver for several years now. A King Arthur Merlin 2 carver. Great American product: https://katools.com

Go to my FaceBook group to see how i use it to carve these:

5 koa.jpg
Last edited:
I once (and only once) tried roughing out with a flapper disc. It gave new meaning to the term 'shredding'.
Merlin 2 'grinder' uses a burr 'doughnut' shaped disc and is easily manipulated since it is so small.
Pete - I saw the King Arthur tools after having bought this yellow one - I would love to try them some day. At the least, I appreciate their product names!
Precision sander (solds for picture framing)


Here is an unreleased video of me using it:
Made one 2 years ago Beau. Posted here and that's about it. They are used by violin makers. When I looked at the $1000 price tag I made mine for $50.
Shapton Ceramic Water Stones. Affected:
Antique Stanley #6 with Veritas blade sharpened with David Charlesworth's Ruler Trick, on a Rob Cosman Shooting board. Used for jointing plates, squaring everything, and planing the headstock veneer angle.
Sharpened all my chisels, and went back to hand carving braces, and tighter joints on miters/bindings/purflings.

Knew Concepts Saw for inlay. Nuff said.

Vacuum press - gluing braces and bridges, with:

Hot Hide Glue, for everything except Carbon Fibre rod, and non-food inlay.
Logan F200-2 Precision Sander Elite £182 UK Amazon 1 left....
Last edited:
If you set up your belt disc sander accurately you can do the job just as easy under power on the disc ... I do it all the time trimming nut and saddle ends and shaping braces and putting a chamfer on end blocks (you just have to be careful):eek:ld:..And why doesn’t Mr Logan mark the table out in 180 degree graduations ? so that you don’t have to keep looking for a 60-30 set square when you need to set an angle.
one of these would be handy as well https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/0-200mm-...rand=Unbranded&_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851
PS ..I woke up in a grumpy mood this morning :(
Last edited:
Shapton Ceramic Water Stones.

I had to look these up to know what they were. Then I bought three.

Awesome! Chisels, knives, and planer blades are sharper than I've ever been able to get them before. It's amazing how much easier they are to use and it's improved my workmanship.

Thanks for sharing that tip!
Top Bottom