Spent some of the day whittling the tone bars and braces for Lloyds tenor. The shavings on the floor indicate the activity.
Got them all done and glued on.
Then I got to work on the many necks I made the other day. I am glueing the foot to the larger neck.
And then Fed Ex delivered a package from my luthier friend Jon Dale in Pennsylvania. I just sent him some nice quilt Big Leaf Maple. Look what he sent me, some of that amazing East Coast Sycamore. Anyone like a beautiful and unusual ukulele.
Hows this for a lovely book matched ukulele back??
Sometimes things just work out. Heated up the hot pipe to bend the purfling for the rosette on Lloyd's #145. While the pipe washeating up I sanded down the maple sides and the back to final thickness. By the time that was done the pipe was hot and I bent an installed the rosette. Then, because the pipe was hot I decided to bend the sides.
And I got an excellent bend. Tiger stripe Maple can be tough to bend but this went beautifully.
And here is the Bear Claw Sitka Spruce soundboard with the rosette nicely installed and the entire top sanded down to final thickness. A bit later I cut out the sound hole, it is now ready for the tone bars.
And here is the book matched back, thinned down and ready for it braces.
SOME DAYS THINGS JUST WORK OUT !
I found a huge and lovely board of Honduran Mahogany in the wood store today. 2 inches thick, eleven inches wide and perhaps 12 feet long. I could not resist and purchased 64 inches of it. Brought it home, cut it into 16 inch lengths and began making necks for future tenors. a big job but lots of fun and satisfaction.
I was able to rip each piece into four neck blanks. Here I am just beginning the first cut. I am using a 1/2 inch blade on the band saw.
Each blank is 2 3/4 inches wide, the width of the head stock on the completed uke. but I must cut the shape on the two inch side. I use a trusty old acrylic pattern that I have used for years.
Here they all are, marked with pencil and ready to saw. I changed to a 1/4 inch 6 tooth blade to be able to make the tight curves at the throat.
Here is the goal. I nice husky neck with just one glue lamination piece. The 6 tooth blade cut the wood like butter and I got excellent 90 degree results.
Seven more to cut, then lots of gluing on the feet and I will have a years supply of tenor necks stacked up and ready when I need them. Very pleased with the quality of the wood. A good find.
I also had the fretboards now glued on #s 144 & 145, so it was time to shape the necks.
The unshaped neck is always wider than the fretboard. This Japanese rasp makes short work of getting the excess wood down close.
It has been quite a day in the workshop
I'ts time to string up #142 and 143, twin Maple & bearclaw Spruce tenors. First we have to attach the bridge. Here it is glued on and braced with my unlikely but effective brace.
Once the glue has set the locations for the string holes are carefully determined and drilled. I insert tiny little plastic circles and drill the holes through them. Then the hole is rounded a bit so the string doesnt have to bend over a sharp edge. I usually use white circles, this time I used black.
The strings are put down the holes, brought out the sound hole, a knot tied in them and then pulled back to be attached to the tuners. Easy and secure way to connect strings. Last thing to do is attach the labels to be seen through the sound hole.
This is #142. It is staying here in Bellingham purchased by a friend. It's twin, #143, pictured in the first two photos, is headed to Joe in upper New York as soon as I get a couple of strap buttons installed. I played each of these tenors yesterday alternating between them during an hour &1/2 jam. I loved them both. Powerful, rich, warm and extremely playable. I think bearclaw sitka spruce may add something special in tone because of its different granular patterns.
These tiger stripe maple ukes are very pretty I think, and I am delighted with their tone when paired with Sitka Spruce. I now have a wonderful supply of "Bearclaw" which only adds to their attraction in my opinion. Maybe improves the tonal results as well.
And here is the start for another Maple/Spruce blonde for Lloyd in California. Wonderful tiger stripe, and look at the bear claw in that fine grained top. Going to be a special one. All book matched.
And here is the rough sawn Honduran Mahogany neck. Now the work begins again.
I like to cap the heel with a wood that matches the fingerboard, but in this case Stephen wanted some Koa on his instrument so I decided to match the koa on the end piece with this Koa end cap.
Preceding the end cap will be three pieces of thin veneer sandwiched to make a black/white/black detail under the thicker Koa Cap. Lets see how it goes.
and here is the final result after a little whittling and scraping. when this is all shaped and sanded it is going to look very nice.
They are all glued on now. The clamps are needed to keep the bindings tight in the groove at the neck joint. They work just fine and when the glue set and the tape came off I had good tight joints everywhere.
Now with tiny plane and scraper the binding is shaved down a bit so that it is perfectly smooth where the binding meets the body.
At the end of the day I often bring the ukes up for a close inspection as I relax in the living room. Here they are with bindings. The fretboards are just sitting on them for effect. The flowers, a gift from a friend to my wife. sorry about the knee.
The next day I had time to work on the end pieces. I take the black/white/black purfling from some spare binding material and fit it into the slot i cut the other day.
It gets glued in with superglue and the accelerator really comes in handy at this juncture. Next I select a matching piece of scrap wood to shape.
Stephen wanted some Koa on his ukulele for sentimental reasons, so I selected this nice piece of Koa for the end piece. And after a bit of fitting, slipped it in, glued and taped it down
And here it is, after a little rasp and sanding, nicely filling the gap. The Koa will really pop when the French polish is applied.
It takes a little more preparation before we can install the bindings. Knife, saw and chisel do the job.
Now it is time to heat up the hot pipe and bend each binding to the curves of the instrument
Once the four bindings for each uke are bent it is time to add glue and tape them on
This tough but rather gaudy tape does a nice job of holding the glued binding tight in its groove.
This is the best opportunity to sand the instrument smooth. The finish sander with 220 paper does a good job. Final sanding will be done by hand later in the build.
Then it is time to cut the slots for the binding to fit into. This is done with a downward spiral bitt in the router and a careful setting of the roller guide.
All Done, top and bottom
But we still have to cut the recess for the end piece. That requires adding this guide to the router. it will ride the clamp on jig and cut the diagonal shape I desire.
And here it is, ready to fill with a pretty piece of wood, but now what sort of binding would look best??
This ??? or this???
Thats a decision for tomorrow
Before putting on the backs the body must be leveled by sanding on this big chunk of sand paper.
once everything is level it is time to fit the back. First I clamp it in position in order to mark the cross brace locations.
And here they are, all boxed up and the edges trimmed. the fingerboards awaiting their frets and the bodies awaiting their bindings.
when Stuart Fuchs asked me to build that uke for him a year or so ago he asked me to inlay a YinYang symbol in the first fret. Now it seems to be a constant request as I get build orders. I kind of like it myself, adds a bit of intrigue to the instrument. Here I am marking the dot locations on a PauFerro fingerboard for #145.note the YinYang requested by the buyer.
After marking the dot positions with the awl I get out the old fashioned hand drill to carefully drill the right depth hole for the Paua Abalone markers. An electric drill is too hard to control.
A hole drilled just the right depth, a bit of glue, and the dots are installed. I love the abalone markers but they are getting hard to find.
Now it is time to sand the radius into the fretboard. I start out with a sanding block with 80 grit because I need to remove quite a bit of wood. Then finish it up with 220, 320 and finer.
this handy little gadget tells me when the radius is completed .
It also tells me that each fret slot is deep enough to properly seat a fret. If too shallow I would have to make a correcting cut with a fine saw. a simple but ingenious little tool.
First thing this morning I shipped the Cocobolo off to its new owner in Ventura CA. Note the nice tweed hard case that I ship all my ukes in. UPS does a nice job delivering them.