I am into Pinecone ukes at the moment. 'fun to be making these excellent and beautiful ukes again. I spent most of the shoptime today making a set-up jig for a tenor pinecone. turned out well and have it to work at the moment.
Here is the soundboard for the experimental tenor.
And here is the soundboard for the Concert Pinecone
I must bend the narrow maple sides to the Pinccone shape and I do it with a heat blanket draped over this pinecone form. i can control there temp. with the blue router speed control on the right. I bent at 300 to 350 degrees.
Here is the successfully bent side for the new Kasha tenor drying in the new assembly jig that I made today. I will soon put the soundboard into this jig, glue the sides to it and and secure it with tentalones. got to finish the neck first. The sides will fit into slots on the neck.
and here is the smaller Concert jig with its sides. Again, I will need to get the neck a bit farther along as the side must be inserted into it. Perhaps tomorrow.
Sawing a really thick piece of hardwood into thin slices is a major challenge to a woodworker you need a powerful bandsaw, a large and sharp blade and the bandsaw properly adjusted. I was delighted to resaw this big piece of tiger stripe maple successfully. The result is a 3/4 inch thick slab which will become the back of my experimental Tenor Pinecone. Whew, it went perfectly.
This is what it looked like right off of the saw.
One side of this piece must be perfect flat. I am running it through the sanding machine to acheive flatness.
And here it is, perfectly flat and smooth and ready for the next step.
then the day went on to really heavy duty resawing. note the big half round of walnut cut from a fallen limb of a huge local tree. I have stored and dried it for two years, now it is time to cut it into ukulele necks. The blocks to its right are old growth Cedar that I will be cutting into tone boards.
'the results, Lots of ukulele necks.
And here is the finished tone bar setup for the experimental pinecone.
Yes- I am trying a Kasha Pinecone. The Kasha bracing has been so successful for me with standard tenors and baris that it seemed logical it would also be successful in a Pinecone. Here is my design.
The side sound ports are shown here on the wrong side. They will of course, be facing the player. the tenor Pinecone has more surface area on the soundboard than a standard tenor. with its concave maple back, I expect this uke will have great volume. I am using a cedar top. The tone should be rich and punchy. We will see, what fun it is to build an experimental. Who knows the result?
Here is the layout. The sound holes will receive a thin veneer bracing, the bridge patch will mimic the bridge above it, and the toner locations are shown in pencil. Notice how much of this soundboard will be vibrating. That is the secret of Kasha success.
Here are all the tone bars, shaped, sanded and ready to glue down. I may shorten a couple to make room for a sound hole patch, but this ought to work. In the meantime, I had other fish to fry.
I got the first coat of French Polish on Ali's tenor. Wow what interesting wood. I think it is going to look spectacular.
What do you think?
One of these days. Here you see two new starts. On the left will be one of my usual Concert Pinecones that have been so popular. I have not made one for awhile. this one , # 120, is for a lady in Portland. Englemann Spruce soundboard, curly maple sides and carved concave back, Black walnut neck.
To the right is the surprise, an experimental tenor pinecone, Western Red Cedar soundboard, curly maple sides and carved concave back, Walnut neck. All the standard stuff, but this will be very different. I should have it far enough along by tomorrow to show you.
These two ukes are built, now the beautification begins, with lots of sanding. First 180 grit, then 220, then 310. When that is done the French Polish begins.
Here is Laura's tenor with it's Cedar top and ebony fretboard and its East Indian Rosewood back and sides.
and here is Ali's Sycamore tenor with Cedar top.
Here is the rear end view of both of them.
These huge boxes in my workshop signal the departure of #s 116 and 117. The baritone goes to Beth in Illinois and the tenor to Lee in California. Kind of sorry to see them go, I was enjoying playing them both, But now it is time to concentrate on two tenors, #118 and 119. I took the boxes to the Post Office this morning.
Hello to the next generation. They are coming along nicely and will be receiving their fret boards very soon. I just got the frets installed this afternoon. Probably glue on the fretboards tomorrow.
Have you ever wondered what a Sycamore tree looked like. I asked my friend Jon of Jupiter Ukuleles to send me a picture of Platanus Occidentalis, the American Sycamore. Here they are.
'this native American tree was hybridized with the Oriental Plane Tree, Platanus Orientalis in London in the late 1800's, The result is the famous street tree, the London Plane tree, planted in cities all over the world.
And here is another wonderful tree, but it is just a baby. The great western maple, The Big Leaf Maple, Acer Macrophyllum. It's wood makes excellent instruments. One of the great woods native to the Pacific Northwest. But getting back to business, here are the tools and pieces necessary to install the frets.
Oor city hosts an annual world class event, The Ski to Sea race. This year 410 teams of eight members each raced from 4,500 feet elevation at the Mt Baker Ski area, to finish about 7 hours later in kayaks crossing the waters of Bellingham Bay. Running, skiing, bicycle riding, canoeing down a river and finally racing across the bay in kayaks. over 3,000 participants. This year was perfect weather. it ends in Fairhaven, a historic village in south Bellingham. The whole town is there to welcome the finishers. here is a view of the Village Green with just a few of the townspeople.
We also worked in the garden a bit. Notice our friendly crow sitting on the arbor watching Marya work with the azalea bush. We feed him daily and he has become quite tame.
I got some work done in the shop as well. The bodies of #118 & 119 are pretty well sanded and scraped, ready for final sanding when the fretboards are on and the necks finally contoured. Those hooks are looking good. Fretboards and bridges are just sitting in place to check color etc.
119 needs the Paua Abalone dots placed , so I got out the old fashioned hand drill.
Here were my selections of this fascinating shell. Each piece an individual
The next step is to sand in the radius. It is done with a concave wooden block with stickit 180 grit sand paper attached.
And here is the fretboard sanded to a 12 foot radius. That will help make it smooth to play.
I sometimes call the hook I build into the base of the neck, the heel. I like the look of that curved hook and always cap it with a piece of hardwood that matches the wood of the fretboard and bridge . Today was the 'hook heels"day for #'s 118 and 119.
First you must search in your scrap wood boxes for the right match, cut it roughly to shape and carefully fit it to the curve of the uke body. Then cut thin veneer to match as close as you can the purfling on the binding. I am matching white/black/white purfling in this case.
Each piece is glued to the next in a stack, and then clamped tightly while the glue sets.
Voila! I got a pretty good match. When this is finally shaped and sanded this will be a good looking hook.
Got a pretty good fit on Laura's #119 also. When this is cleaned up it will be just fine. It was a good day for "Hookin"
That lovely bottle of Sauternes that Ali sent me was a 2017 vintage, not 1917. Sorry about that typo. You can be sure I will drink it long before it even becomes ten years old. To make amends, I worked on Ali's tenor today, take a look, it will be very pretty.
I have glued in the white/black/white purfling and now am fitting the end piece selected from my scrap box of rosewood to match the binding. The dark stain is from the super glue catalyst used to set the purfling. It will disappear.
Now it is fitted, glued and taped in while the glue sets.
Planed and sanded down, The end piece is almost done.
I chose this dark Rosewood binding feeling that the Sycamore and Cedar needed some contrast. the fretboard will be Honduran Rosewood, which is a medium brown color. I like my decision.
A bit prematurely, this package was delivered by the mail many today. It is Ali's hard case that will carry his Sycamore uke to Bordeaux. No matter, I have lots of room to store it until the uke is ready. Lets see if the instrument fits in the case.
It fits perfectly- and a pretty nice case too.
Was a busy one today !--It began this morning at the lumber store where I found a nice piece of Honduran Mahogany. I could not resist.
Clear and sweet. - two by six and about 14 feet feet long. I can get two tenor necks out of each 18 inch piece. I bought 6 feet of it, When ripped, enough to make 8 tenor necks Just ripped the first piece on the band saw.
Eight future necks. Honduran Mahogany is light, stable, fairly soft and very pretty, Excellent instrument neck wood. One of these days I will saw them all into rough shape and stack them in my wood stash, meanwhile they will climatize in the workshop.
Then the doorbell rang. It was Fed Ex with a well padded package containing this elegant bottle of 1917 Chateau Miselles Sauternes, a gift from Ali, the resident of Bordeaux, France who is buying the Sycamore tenor. What a generous gift! In a note he said "I find that the color of Sauternes goes well with Sycamore and Western Red Cedar, Cheers". I am astonished and delighted and will save this fine wine for a special occasion. And Ali is right, they do go nicely together.
With that delightful incentive, I got right to work on Ali's tenor getting the binding trimmed and fitted.
A few hours later the bindings were on both tenors, glued, clamped and curing on the work table. Then the doorbell rang again. This time it was UPS with the hard case that Beth had ordered for her new instrument. Of course I had to be sure that her baritone fit into the case. Relax Beth, it is perfect. I now only need to put a label in your uke and it will be ready to take to the post office.
A few other projects were completed during this busy day which ended with a much needed Martini shared with my neighbor George.