Side sound port

Island Jim

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I wanted to add a side sound port on my latest build but I went ahead and bent the sides without thinking about it. I'm wondering about bending some left over side pieces and using them to reinforce the upper bout and then cutting the port on the bench before glueing them to the top. Has anybody done a side port this way?
 
I've cut ports in a few of my off the shelf ukes with a Dremel, easy, no problems with any.
 
I've cut ports in a few of my off the shelf ukes with a Dremel, easy, no problems with any.

I know this has come up before, but I'm now starting to think more seriously about actually doing it. Can you talk me through it a bit more?
 
I know this has come up before, but I'm now starting to think more seriously about actually doing it. Can you talk me through it a bit more?
I outline the hole, then use the long cutting bit to cutout the middle of hole, leaving wood near the outline. I then use a small sanding barrel and carefully sand to the outline. Then by hand, I use fine sandpaper to smooth the edges. My Dremel is battery operated, making it much easier to handle with no cord in the way.
 
I wanted to add a side sound port on my latest build but I went ahead and bent the sides without thinking about it. I'm wondering about bending some left over side pieces and using them to reinforce the upper bout and then cutting the port on the bench before glueing them to the top. Has anybody done a side port this way?
That’s the only way I do it.
 
I outline the hole, then use the long cutting bit to cutout the middle of hole, leaving wood near the outline. I then use a small sanding barrel and carefully sand to the outline. Then by hand, I use fine sandpaper to smooth the edges. My Dremel is battery operated, making it much easier to handle with no cord in the way.

Do you do anything to finish or otherwise dress the new opening? None of my ukes are super-blingy, so it won't look shocking to have no purfling...but I don't want it to look like an open wound or something. LOL
 
@TimWilson. The sanding makes it look finished, but no, I don't do any dressing of the opening. I guess you could use an ink marker or stain of the appropriate color. I actually don't have any of those ukes anymore so I can't show a photo.
 
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Here's how my first try turned out, I'm looking forward to hearing it


!View attachment 170734
That looks great Jim! Especially for your first try. I’ve been toying with the idea of modifying a couple of my less expensive ukes myself. Are you going to add a sound port to the torrified spruce/rosewood tenor you’re working on? Namely the one I’m hoping to buy?
Nice work,
Mark
 
Thanks for the encouragement Mark. I'm done with the Rosewood Spruce tenor, just waiting for my Living Water strings to arrive and then a final setup. I won't be adding a sound port to that one, I think you need to reinforce the side at the port which would be hard to do after it is all together.
 
Though neither the OP nor any other luthier seeks nor needs my amateur input, it may be helpful for other folk viewing this thread to see how NOT to do it:
1712971221133.png
I began by using my old Army dog tag as a template.
Step 2: Drilled two 5/8” holes 3/8” apart with a wood bit.
Step 3: Taped off the edges and used an oscillating saw to cut away the wood between the holes to finish the slot shape.
Sandpaper next. The outcome (including a full repaint of the body sides):
1712971424807.jpeg

Unfortunately, though the player port made a huge and immediately discernible difference in my ability to hear myself play, it hasn’t been able to overcome my lousy timing.:ROFLMAO:
EDIT for sound sample-
Bella Notte (Disney’s Lady And The Tramp):
View attachment Bella Notte- Key of D.m4a
 
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Thanks for the encouragement Mark. I'm done with the Rosewood Spruce tenor, just waiting for my Living Water strings to arrive and then a final setup. I won't be adding a sound port to that one, I think you need to reinforce the side at the port which would be hard to do after it is all together.
Thanks for the update Jim. Living Water strings are some of my favorites. I’m just learning a few things before I embark on making my own but it seems to me that you would want to make a side sound port after you’ve bent the sides at least. You could add a veneer reinforcement or small braces to the hole as you would with the top sound hole. Of course nothing is really going to change shape after the body is finished. Also, any advice from Chuck Moore is good advice. I guess it depends on the particular type of wood as well as the thickness too. Thanks to various fora like this and frets.com, luthiers don’t have to be so self-trained anymore!
 
On my new Mahogany tenor I bent the sides then reinforced the port area, cut the port with a coping saw then finished it with sandpaper. I then glued the sides to the top using the Spanish heel method of construction.
 
Do you usually make ukes with a Spanish heel? And what do you use to reinforce the port?
 
I build both ways, separate body and neck or Spanish heel. When I build a uke with a softwood top I build the body separate to make it easier and neater to bind it. When I build a hardwood topped uke and don't plan on bindings then I might use the Spanish heel depending on how I feel that day! I bent a mahogany side I had left over and cut a piece out of it to reinforce the port area.
 
I build both ways, separate body and neck or Spanish heel. When I build a uke with a softwood top I build the body separate to make it easier and neater to bind it. When I build a hardwood topped uke and don't plan on bindings then I might use the Spanish heel depending on how I feel that day! I bent a mahogany side I had left over and cut a piece out of it to reinforce the port area.
Did you orient it with the grain perpendicular to or parallel to the grain of the side? Sorry for all the questions - I’m just curious about these intricacies of building.
 
I bent a spare side so the grain runs parallel to the side. It might be better perpendicular, maybe next time! I recommend the book Guitar Making Tradition and Technology by Natelson and Cumpiano. They take you step by step building a classical guitar and a steel string. Lot's of the techniques they teach are useful in ukulele building, just make every thing lighter and thinner!
 
I bent a spare side so the grain runs parallel to the side. It might be better perpendicular, maybe next time! I recommend the book Guitar Making Tradition and Technology by Natelson and Cumpiano. They take you step by step building a classical guitar and a steel string. Lot's of the techniques they teach are useful in ukulele building, just make every thing lighter and thinner!
Thank you Jim!
 
I bend the side first then bend a thin piece of scrap to match the curve of the upper rim. Once I've glued the scrap to the inside of the side I use a 1/2" drill bit on my drill press to start the hole. I then us a rat tail file to widen the hole into something resembling the shape of an eye. Here's a picture taken once I had attached the top to the sides. The ukulele is a Spanish heel kasha braced tenor.
 

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