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Saturday, April 25, 2015

A pressing matter

I'm at the cottage, where the unfinished reso skeletons are. And this time I brought dowels, and they're sharpened at the ends to facilitate insertion. 

First I tap them into the top half. 

Then I place the bottom half on the dowels and it doesn't snap in place. 

Some persuasion with a child's hammer gets it there. 

The neck block is placed and the whole assembly is shoved into the book press...

... which is superior to any other conceivable clamping method. The dowels are exactly 50 mm, the neck block 26 mm and a spacer of 18 mm is placed under the soundwell, and all things put together gives a finished skeleton of 50 mm. 

So today gave me two skeletons (I have a set of cone and coverplate at home I think, but it's time to buy more).

I also glued on the back on Simon's uke. I brought it just to use the press and it was worth carrying it on the bus since the clamping is so easy this way. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Making solid linings

Of course I could have made kerfed lining strips from the board I'm using, but solid linings are pretty cool and I have them on my number one which serves as the blueprint for this build. 

And the sides I bent were pretty wide so the material was at hand. I didn't post bending pics but I can tell you the wood bent like butter. 

I sliced the lining strips off on the mini table saw. 

The waist was fun. 

And here are the lining strips resting in the sides. Looks a mess doesn't it. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Single plank ukuleles

Ye olde mahogany that I resawed a couple of weeks ago will make a couple of sopranos first. In the spirit of old number one they will be made entirely from the same board, and on at least one of them everything will be mahogany. Maybe the other one will get a rosewood fretboard, I haven't decided yet. 

So the first pic is of me planing braces. I made them triangular on the bandsaw but they need some cleaning up. 

The planing board is clad with rubber to increase the friction, and the stop pieces are easily replaced if they get too knocked. 

And the second pic shows just how good it looks with a bridge patch and braces clamped down onto the one piece top. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Just glueing a top (yeah right)

This is a reso I've wanted to build for quite some time; it's for my friend Simon. The skeleton is the last of the three I made last year and It's gonna be clad with spalted curly alder. 

The sides went on a while back and I've started on the neck, but the top needs to go on before the neck is fitted. That means the holes and the nets must be made and glued... All actions have prequels that are easily forgotten. If I think about glueing the top, then that's exactly what I think of and plan for. But as I get closer to it I remember all the stuff that preceeds the actual glueing. 

So here's me laying out the holes. 

And cutting them out with my hefty and excellent circle cutter from Micheal Connor in Australia. One two three. 

The mesh is an aluminium reinforcement mesh for patching up cars. I attach it to the underside with globs of epoxy. Is there a better way? Write me. 

And when the epoxy FINALLY decided to harden it was time to do what I set out to do this morning - glueing the top. I use a thick piece of plexiglass as a caul, with a cheap mouse mat as padding between it and the top. I bought a few mouse mats on a sale. They're quite handy to have around but if they get any globs of glue on them they're pretty much effed up. The glue sticks like crazy. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Demo of finished piccolos 81 and 82

I'm going to take a few pics to a later post as well, but hopefully this youtube clip will be visible.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Resawing on a large scale

I have a couple of large boards of really old Honduran mahogany, ones that my dad bought in ghe 1960's. Ring a bell? Yup that's right - the same as my old number one soprano was made of. Also a couple of others, most notably number 29 which went to my good friend Milo. They're 15 mm thick, a good two metres long and taper in width from 300 to 400 mm. I want to use them but the bandsaw is up shit creek with no paddle, still. And it wouldn't have accepted the width anyway. 

But equipped with the marvellous inventions of Tom Fidgen I took them on. I cut a strip off along one edge to save for sides, I like one piece rims so I didn't want to shorten them yet. Then I cut off a length that will give me tops and backs, again one piece jobs. 

First I used the kerfing plane to score a deep slot all around the edges. I set the width so the board would yield three pieces. 

Then I started out with the frame saw, also a design of Tom Fidgen's. The slot guides the saw blade so it doesn't wander sideways. I did this on cherry last year and found that species to be more difficult, perhaps the grain lines are stronger and want to steer the blade. Mahogany didn't, but it was hard work. 

This took me over an hour! The surfaces are a bit hairy but overall the thickness is quite consistent. By now my back was a bit sore. 

So let's do it all over from the start! My family was away so I could take all the time I needed in the shop. 

And the result, after a looong time and much sweat. Three panels roughly 4 mm thick. Couldn't have gotten a better result, although I keep thinking about splitting the next one into four pieces. 

Then I did the same for the side pieces. I split that one in three as well. Next up is planing and sending it all through the drum sander, then a few ukes will be made. I think I will replicate number one and build at least one with all parts from the same board, blocks, patch and braces from mahogany. 

It's not commissioned but I do have a plan. If you find yourself in a rural part of England this summer, be sure you buy what is called "raffle tickets".

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Last stab at resos?

Oh no! More resos! And two long days of risking fingers and sanity by the router. 

First all parts were laid out on the plywood, and cut out with a handheld jigsaw. The closer to the line you cut, the less routing and that is a good thing. 

You can see here that I should have gone even closer to the lines. The SHIT CRAP router bits that were available for purchase are sooo bad and can't take much of a beating. What happens is that the bearings just disintegrate - the caps at either end fly off and then the bearing balls follow. Luckily I bought five bits. Before the third one broke I added a couple of tiny washers above and below the bearing, and that helped it through the day. 

The top halves get a layer of 4 mm plywood glued to the underside, and that is routed flush to the main part. 

Then the second layer of 4 mm plywood is added, in my ancient book press. This is to form the lip at the bottom of the well for the cone. 

That one is routed flush to the outside, and cut with a fly wheel cutter to open the bottom, leaving the lip or ledge for the cone. 

Are we having fun yet?

These are the finished halves. The thing that pleases me the most is that I have all fingers left. I really hate the router. 

With the halves securely taped together I drill for the 8 mm dowels (which I forgot to bring). 

And that's that. What remains to do is to glue them together with a solid piece as a neck block, and the dowels to hold the rest. 

These might be the last skeletons I make in this fashion. I have a feeling that the router will take at least a finger if I keep using it. So after lunch I'm gonna see if I can't resaw some mahogany instead, with the frame saw.