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Sunday, September 27, 2009

More mahogany

Not very well hidden, more of my dad's stash of 40 year old honduran
mahogany lies behind a sofa. I have given him an offer to trade it for
more contemporary african mahogany. He remains sceptical.

The planks in the photo are 45 centimeters wide, 3 centimeters thick
and... 4 meters long!

Wenge neck, cont.

After some quality time on the stationary belt sander it looks like
this. I have a feeling this could be ultra sleek and still hold up,
but a certain thickness is needed for playing. I know this after my
tenor no. 2 came out too thin, neck-wise. (On the other hand; the
soundboard was too thick.)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Safety first!

I recommend all aspiring builders to get a proper pair of shoes before
you attempt anything crucial. A pair not designed specifically for
these things simply do not work.

And they could jeopardize the future mojo of the uke your building.

Do. Not. Take. Any. Chances.

Melker's tenor

At dad's workshop again, for some smokin' wenge action. Neck is
roughly shaped and the cedar top is planed near final thickness.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Built for speed

Sleek neck profile, wafer thin top, braces and patch reduced and
trimmed in situ. It's already loud, and I think it will suit Robin.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cedar top mock up

This is exactly what it's gonna look like...

Robin, you got the spruce blocks btw.

Neck carving, and the tools to do it

Started shaping Robin's neck (really the neck for Robin's ukulele). I
use a rasp, a file, a draw knife, a japanese kiridashi knife, my home
made small carving knife, the Little Victor plane and a small Ibex
finger plane.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Group photo

Four small toy guitars. Numbers 1, 5 and 4 with the piccolo thrown in.

This represents half of the ukuleles I've built since December last
year, the rest consists of three tenors and two sopranos.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cherry soprano done!

The mess in the workshop is awful but the cherry uke looks really
nice. I suspect the sophisticated sheen doesn't come across the grainy
pic though. I'm gonna try and make a Youtube presentation tonight.

Wenge neck roughly shaped

It's tough on tools, but it will be interesting to work with. Took
this out with my small bandsaw.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Linings in place

At least along the soundboard edge. Once I get them planar I'll start
with the tops, one cedar and one mahogany.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cherry uke, finish

Third coat of oil drying, the surface gets more and more convincingly

Blocks and linings

So one got spruce blocks and the other one got mahogany blocks. One of
them will have a cedar top, so I have to decide which one is which.

Kerfed linings are made and I glued some.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Chisel, 2

I defy anyone that doesn't get goose bumps from this pic. Shaving is
cross-grain. The resulting surface underneath smooth as a china plate.

Oh the joy of sharp tools.

Now where are those kids... School starts in 5 minutes...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sides cut to length

Every morning I swear that I'll go to bed earlier. So no blocks
tonight. But Robin's or Thomas' sides are shaping up to be quite nice.

Must decide on wood for the blocks. On the walnut uke I used spruce.
It is easy to work with and seem to go well with mahogany too. But
mahogany blocks are elegant.

Bridge redux

Whew. This took its' fair amount of time. This time I use brads in the
saddle slot to stop it sliding.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

My biggest mess-up this far

The one mistake you can't hide or live with. The bridge somehow
slipped during cure time and ended up at an angle. One corner of it
was 1.5 mm further away from the nut than the other.

Luckily I managed to pop it off before the glue was totally dry and

And why this sloppiness? I was in a slight hurry this afternoon. I was
on my way to play ukulele with some guys.

Good thing 1 in this shit misery: it won't show or affect the uke.
Neither the top nor the bridge was damaged.

Good thing 2: the bridge clamp works wonders. This was the best fit I
ever achieved. Wouldn't even have been necessary with a string through
solution. Speaking of which, there is that smart strategy with
drilling two of the holes and to use brads during glueing. Ought to try.

My choice to publish this may be ill adviced. I'll seem like a hack.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cherry soprano looking like a uke

I'm very pleased with this one so far. Mange was interested initially,
but he really wanted binding so I don't know.

I have some very nice wood for the bridge, swedish gullregn. And the
fretboard will be african walnut.

Haven't decided on the frets, bar frets or standard.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A long day

This has been the best day since I don't know when. Apart from the
stuff already posted I put the neck onto the cherry sop, and also put
back braces and the back on.

In the background you can see the three-piece wenge back for Tenor no.
4, and somewhere there's also a laminated walnut/maple neck for
Markus' pineapple.

And in the holding form are four sides for the two mahogany sopranos,
for Robin and Thomas.

Piccolo done

The prototype is done, strung up and subsequently stolen by little
Johan. It actually sounds decent, like a tiny toy ukulele. I tuned it
in D, which seems to work. I'll try to record it, or post a video on

Really need to make a couple jigs before I attempt to start on any
kind of batch - this was a bit shaky.


I amaze me! Wenge sides (well, side actually) turned out perfect!

What a good day so far.

Now off to make lunch for the kids.

Wenge sides bent

They're cooling in the big bending mould. I don't think they cracked.
I'm dead nervous.

Side bending

Easily my best bend ever. Zero springback, after cooling for five
minutes! This time I soaked the mahogany for 15 minutes, with a drop
of glycerine in the water.

Wenge neck

Glueing a stacked heel for a tenor with spanish neck. This is wenge
wood, a heavy dense wood that feels like a real challenge. Melker who
ordered this one will also get a wenge body with a cedar top.

Hopefully it is possible to bend.