I got out the hot pipe to bend the rope rosette. This thing is heated with a soldering iron inside.
The dark stain is super glue that I had just applied. before using the super glue I had painted into the slot a coating of shellac to seal the wood. Otherwise, superglue will soak down the grain and be permanently visible.
Now they are run through the drum sander equipped with fine grit paper, taken down to final .080 thickness and the sound hole is cut out. Note that the superglue marks have disappeared,
Now it is time to plot out the bracing locations. This is the classic bracing invented by Michael Kasha. Note that none of the braces go entirely to the edge, thus the entire top can vibrate.
The first installation will be the brace under the bridge. The bridge will be shaped identically. The "trumpet" shape is because the bass strings need stouter bracing than the trebles. Kasha was a physicist and determined this by many tests. Now the whittling of tone bars begins.
Meet Ali El Anizi of Bordeaux, France. He just received his new tenor made of Sycamore and Western Red Cedar. He sent me these photos and expressed his extreme pleasure with his new instrument. I am very pleased and relieved as it sat in its case and packing box for several weeks in French customs during the 105 degree recent heat wave. All is well, Ali is delighted, I am relieved.
A lovely day, Worked in the workshop during the morning, and played music all afternoon at Community Players practice, and at our usual Wednesday ukulele session with friends.. Here is what got accomplished.
Thinned this lovely East Indian Rosewood down to near its final thickness. I use coarse sand paper in the drum sander to thin the wood down quckly. Then will change the sand paper on the drum to a much finer grit to do the final sanding. This will be the back for Kent's tenor.
Before we can join Kent's back we must plane the joining edges perfectly flat. For that I use this ancient old plane. The steel in these old tools is wonderful and sharpens like a razor. I simply turn it over and clamp it in the bench vise. Now it is easy to run the wood over it, straightening the sides.
And here it is in the joining clamps.
I thinned the Sycamore sides and back down to near finish thickness, Will finish with finer sandpaper.
And I got the channels cut for the rope decoration around both sound holes. The holes get cut in later after the rope is bent and securely glued in.
Those channels are cut with a router and this device that faithfully follows around the plexiglas pattern.
The sound board is slipped under the plexiglas which is tightly screwed down holding the wood securely in place for the cut. It must be carefully positioned before the screws are tightened.
I had little time for the worksop til this afternoon, but made some progress on the two new tenors. here is the Redwood top for Kent's tenor being glued together.
The Sycamore tenor will have a single piece Western Red Cedar top.
You want to carefully lay out the sound hole location and how it relates to the fretboard and the rope decoration that encircles the sound hole.
Here is the Redwood top now glued together.
And now the Sycamore back is in the clamping system. Wow what spectacular wood this is.
I almost finished sanding down the East Indian Rosewood sides for Kent's uke to bending thinness, but not quite. I will need to take it down to about .o85. they are sure looking pretty.
Today I selected the wood for the next generation of ukes, #s 125 & 126. the East Indian Rosewood and Redwood uke will be just like the one I built for Stuart Fuchs, yin/yang and all and is being built for Kent.. The second tenor will hopefully be a repeat of the Sycamore and Cedar uke that I sent off to Ali in Bordeaux France. I really liked that uke, and just might want one for myself.
Before the final sanding there were a few last minute things to do. First, the peg head had to be slimmed down to accommodate the Gotah tuners. I needed to reduce the thickness to 11 mm. or a hair more. That was a job for my new Shinto rasp.
and here is the result. It is going to work just fine.
Next was leveling the frets with this perfectly flat "fret guru", There is sandpaper on the bottom of this flat bar that levels any high frets, but the challenge now is to smooth the frets up again.
so with various tools you recreate the rounded, smooth fret. One way is simply fine sandpaper. Note the protective shield over the fret.
and then they are further smoothed with these "eraser" things with mild abrasive in them.
and finally you test your success with this "rocker" guage. It spans three frets and if you can rock it, the fret in the center is high. A great tool. the goal is that nothing rocks.
If there is a Patron Saint of Luthiers, they were working for me today. I learned that my friend Gordon Plume is approaching retirement and was having a Wood Sale today at his woodworking facility on Whatcom County's Smith Road. Wow! what a treasure trove of wonderful wood. Port Orford Cedar, Alaska Cedar, Honduran Mahogany, Doug Fir, Teak, Exotic woods. Most in large dimensions. Reasonable prices. Here is what I bought.
Port Orford Cedar--when re-sawn, this will be enough to provide tops for 30 tenor ukuleles.
Just look at this lovely mahogany. It is going to make some great instruments.
And then I found this wonderful block of fine grained cedar. I really don't need any more but I could not resist for $8.00. Imagine how many cedar tops I can cut from this. Any of you builders want cedar, give me a call. I will have too much. Long enough for baritones.
Then back to the workshop, the glue on the peg head plates had set up overnight. I took them to the bandsaw and roughed out the design, and then took up my favorite rasp to finish the job.
It only took about twenty minutes. With a little fine sanding, the peg heads will be done.
The next thing for this duo will be lots of careful sanding before the French Polish can begin.
Now it is time to make the fretboards. We start with a couple of Honduran Rosewood pieces exactly two inches wide and the nut end cut at a perfect 90 degrees. Then the thin slotting blade is put into the table saw, and with the aide of a special slotting sled, and a template, the fret slots are cut. Now it is time to place the marker dots on top and sides and cut the taper. Measure for the center.
Carefully measure and mark at either end, the desired saw line. I am making my fretboards 1 1/2 inches wide at the nut and 1 3/4 at the 12th fret.
This special sled holds the fretboard firmly in the proper position when cutting the tapers.
Here they are, tapers cut, the "gumby" cut on the bandsaw and finished on the vertical sander. Marked for the marker dots.
Now, with marker dots installed it is time to sand the 12 foot radius into the fretboard. The sanding block is concave at a 12 ft. radius on one side, 10 on the other. Stick on sandpaper does the cutting,
I am checking each slot to be sure that it is still deep enough to accept the entire tang of the fret wire.
A few of the slots needed a little deepening with this saw that is just the right thickness, .023. Just a couple of light strokes, don't want to weaken the fretboard.
The fretboard is held down with two strips of double backed tape. Now you must pry it loose without breaking the fretboard. Careful now-go slow! Now for installing the frets.
The frets are installed now and it is time to glue the fretboard to the neck.
And finally the pinecone peg head plate is installed. Now the sanding begins.
The backs are made, the bodies done, it is time to box them up, but first we need to be sure everything is perfectly flat, So this big piece of 80 grit sand paper clamped to a plywood circle will do that job.
Might as well smooth up the sides while we are at it.
And now, to apply the glue, carefully align back and body, and clamp them together tightly with these large rubber bands. They make a very tight clamp.
A few hours later it is time for some serious sanding and for that I open the shop door, turn on the outward blowing fan and the dust collection system at my almost outdoor sanding station.
That sawdust is not good for your health! it is also good to have sunlight to illuminate your work.
With the basic sanding done, now it is time for the heel plate, the fret board and the peg head plate. Maybe tomorrow.
I have not made a Pinecone for months but I currently have three in the works. Today I installed the bridge on Lindsey's instrument and will string it up tomorrow. It has gold frets and gold Gotah tuners, Gonna be pretty. Flanking it are Concert Pinecones under construction and a completed concave maple back for one of them.
This morning this was the status. one uke ready for its back, one back yet to be made, and one uke getting its final section of tentalones glued on.
The first project was to carve the back. Here is how it was done. It began with marking off guide marks for contouring the back.
The heavy duty work is done with a "smooth" woodworkers rasp. This hogs off wood very aggressively and I wear leather gloves when using it. A wonderful tool! It also gives you some pretty good exercise.
Clamped to a support in the Parrot vise, the rasp puts the curve in the first contour.
And then we flatten the rasp angle and attack the second contour. that is the rough outline we want.
Now we move to the drill press, using a Forstner drill bit to hog out the interior of the top. The drill press is set to stop at the desired depth, so it will not go all the way through the top. A great way to hollow things out.
Before you know it most of the wood is removed, Now to refine it with the disc sander and 36 grit paper.
This gets pretty messy. I recommend that you get your shop vac in place to remove the dust, and wear a respirator. Sand it down until you can no longer see the center hole left by the 'forstn er bit. That will tell you that you are at the desired depth/thickness.
'so here we are, both backs ready to glue on tommorow,