Taking the router to the newly boxed body to cut the grooves for the binding is the most perilous part of the build. A mistake could be disastrous. Fortunately the day went well, Perfect cuts. The rest is easy.
First the edges of both back and top must be trimmed flush. The tape is to cause the flush cutter bit to leave the edge a little proud and not cut any of the side. The tape thin edge will be sanded flush to the side by hand.
The router follows the shape of the side because of the small roller bearing at the end of the cutter bit. The roller rolls on the blue tape thus cutting a tapes width away from the side.
The scary part is cutting this big groove that the binding will be glued into. Concentration and a steady hand are required.
This is a deep cut and splitting off chunks of wood is always a possibility. I do it in several passes cutting a little bit at a time. Always a relief when it is done successfully.
This is also a messy job that throws sawdust all over the work bench and floor. You want to wear eye, ear and lung protection.
The final cut is the space for the End Piece. It will be fitted and glued in after the binding is glued on. Now the final fun can begin.
Sound ports are a fairly new phenomenon in the Ukulele world, but I have put them in all of my tenors and baritones for the last few years. They send sound back to the player, a valuable thing if you are playing in a large group. I am convinced they do no harm to the tone or quality of sound of an instrument. Here is how I do it.
A little sanding and the job is done. When finished and touched up, this will be an excellent installation. With this job done, It is time to box these ukuleles up.
And here they are, backs glued on and clamped down tight. In the morning the edge trimming and binding can begin.
Excuse the bad pun, but putting the frets into the fretboard is a bit of a boring repetitive task. I was in the mood today so figured I had better get it done.
So here is the empty fretboard and a piece of fret wire, one of many that I had bent previously on my luthier friend George Thomas's fret bender. Pre-bent fret wire is a necessity if you are going to radius the fretboard.
And here we are all ready to start putting them in. Each one cut to approximately the width of a slot. This fretboard will have a Zero fret, the large one at the bottom of the picture.
I will drill a tiny hole at the first and the fifteenth fret just large enough for a brad to hold the fretboard perfectly in place when it is glued to the neck. These two frets will be put into place after the fret board is glued down.
Now a tiny bit of glue is spread onto the tang of the fret
And the fret is gently tapped into place
Then it is firmly pressed into its slot with the arbor press and the curved press blade that perfectly matches the radius curve of the fret board. Note the glue squeezed out in the pressing. That is wiped up with a damp cloth.
That process is repeated 38 times until the result is seen above. The empty slots will be filled after the fret boards are installed on the necks. Now to trim the ends and round them so they are smooth to the fingers.
All of the parts and pieces are now completed. Next step is attaching the back i.e 'boxing em up"
I sanded a 12 foot radius into the fret board with this sanding block. Makes the playing a little easier I think.
This is what the fret board will look like on the finished instrument. I must install the frets before glueing it on.
This uke needs tentalones along the bottom
and this is how they are glued and clamped. Neat little spring clamps I found at Grizzly, Better than the clothe pins I used to use.
So here are all the parts and pieces. Its just a matter of getting them connected.
First ya got to connect the neck to the soundboard.
while that glue is drying you have time to glue the marker dots in the fretboards and saw them to shape in preparation for sanding them to a 12 foot radius.
And you got to love Paua Abalone. When this is sanded it will be very nice.
And finally, the sides on Connie's uke are glued down.
A few hours in the workshop this Sunday just about got me caught up.
I got all of the tone bars glued on as well as the thin veneer braces around the sound hole and up the center seam.
I cut these narrow strips of veneer with scissors. They are glued up the center glue joint of two piece soundboards and backs just as a precaution. Of course the wood grain of the maple patch lies cross-ways across the joint for maximum strength. I also like to put a patch around the sound hole.
When it is roughly shaped I hog out the groove for the sound board on the table saw sled.
And glue the two together. Ill be putting the sides on these Ukes before you know it.
This new beginning means I get to whittle two more sets of tone bars for the new soundboards. I got it done in a couple of hours this afternoon. Here is the process.
First, I cut to length each of the tone bars and label them with their position number. Here are the rough pieces arranged in their proper places.
Next- after carefully setting the table saw blade to the proper height I cut the notch on each tone bar so that they will fit tightly over the bridge patch. I use a sled on the table saw. It is safe and efficient.
Now the rough tone bars need only carving and shaping.
perhaps I should have said Whittling, cuz that is what it is with a razor sharp exacto knife twenty-four tone bars are whittled in a bit over an hour. kind of fun actually . Here is the mess on the floor in front of my chair,
And here are finished tone bars sanded and waiting to be glued. In the background is the second set awaiting the whittling knife.
I got eleven of the twelve tone bars glued and clamped here. In a couple of hours I can get that last one glued on and move all these clamps to the next ukulele.
Sometimes the best way to fix a problem is just to start all over again. The lovely bear claw spruce soundboard on Connie's tenor revealed a dark pitch pocket when sanded down to final thickness. I tried o ignore it, I considered inlaying something over it, Finally I decided to set it aside and start another soundboard, and here is the result.
This will be a beauty when it is French Polished. I will now make the braces and attach a new neck and feel a great deal better about this new beginning.
I thinned this nice East Indian Rosewood down today, using planer and thickness sander. Took the sides down to .080 or a hair less. The new back was left thicker while I glue the two pieces together, then I will thin it.
After trimming the sides to final shape I took them to the hot pipe. This wood cooperated and I got a very nice bend that will sit in the mold to dry and set up for a coupLe of days. The new back is glued together and in the clamps. I will cut it to shape and thin it down tomorrow.
SOME DAYS ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS
It started well when I bent the Bubinga sides for Connies tenor, but then I tackled the East indian Rosewood that is destined for Australia- disaster!
This wood just did'nt want to bend. I have not had trouble with East Indian Rosewood before. Maybe just a tough piece of wood. The solution?--start over.
Even though the back has been completed, as seen above, I want to make both back and sides from the same piece of wood. So here is the next set to build with.
After running it through my planer, this is what back and sides will look like. Pretty wood, Lets hope it bends better. Next step is thinning the sides down in the thickness sander and making a new back. Breaking a side while bending is alway a pain, but seems to be part of the craft- Some days are better than others.