I AM GLUEING the butt plate to the top in this picture. The butt plate is made of walnut, curved to match the bottom curve of the uke and carved down a bit on the interior edges to lighten the weight of the instrument. This is a crucial part of the Luke's strength as both tone board, back and sides will be glued to it. Take the time to match the curve well. If the uke will one day have a pickup or just a strap button that will also be attached to this important part of the instrument. Notice the cedar sound hole braces with grain going opposite that of the spruce top. A strong but light brace to prevent splitting. Also the walnut brace that will be exactly under the bridge. The strings will come through the walnut and be knotted so that the knots pull against hard walnut and not soft spruce.
Now we must cut the ends of the braces to make room for the sides that will be bent and glued just inside that black pencil line. I make these cuts with a very fine toothed Exacto saw blade.
This will be the last best chance to shape the ends of the braces for proper vibration. I always seem to thin them down a bit more at this stage to encourage vibration and sound. The picture on the right shows what they ended up looking like.
Here they are, ready for the sides. So far this build is going well. To be sure that good fortune continues I have prepared five sides for bending. I have learned it is always nice to have an extra side. If you break a side in the bending you have a quick substitute and don't have to do the whole process again for just one side. Maybe tomorrow morning I will get the bending gear out.
Oh!, One final item that might be of interest. I set my new bass outside in the sun this afternoon to get a little oxidation going on the wood. It will richen and get darker when exposed to ultra-violet light. I have not quite finished the French Polish job on the bass but figured a little sun would not hurt it a bit. I played it yesterday at the B.U.G jam and just had a blast. I got a good two hours of playing in and am beginning to get the feel of it.