The binding around the edges of an instrument are important for more than just their looks. They protect the soft wood of the soundboard from dings and they seal the end grain of the top and sides preventing humidity from entering.
First a deep slot is cut around the edges with the router. Always a delicate and intimidating task.
Then each of the four pieces of binding is bent to fit on the hot pipe.
Here they are, eight pieces, ready to install.
And the first pair are installed, with glue and tape. they are going to look good.
It is always a good day when the backs are glued on and the ukuleles are "boxed". Today was that day for #142 and #143. Here was the process.
First the back surfaces were leveled by sanding them over a huge piece of 80 grit sandpaper resting on a flat surface. Then the back was clamped in place and the location of its braces carefully marked on the body.
With a small saw, tiny cuts are made and then notches are carved out to receive the back braces.
glue is then applied to the surface of the tentelones and the back is clamped into place.
Here it is clamped up tight. I takes a couple of hours for the glue to set up before the next step, trimming the edges .
The edges are trimmed close to the body with the router. Blue tape is placed around the body for the router wheel to ride and and extend the cutter a tiny bit away from the body. the uncut edge is easily sanded away. this is done to assure that the cutter will not cut into the body.
The next job is the scary one. I must cut a slot all around each edge to accept the binding. I must also decide on which binding to use on these curly maple bodies. Which would you choose?
I got a lot done today and should be able to get these two ukes boxed up tomorrow. They are coming along very quickly. The first thing this morning I glued on the back tentelones. These little green clips work perfectly.
They are spring loaded and force the flexible strips into curves very well.
Once that glue had set, it was time to install the Side Sound Ports. First a patch was glued inside to protect against a split . Then the Dremel and a small drill bitt is used to hog out the hole.
Then a sanding drum replaces the drill bit and the oval wooden liner is carefully fitted into the oval hole.
Once it is fitted it is permanently attached with super glue.
With just a little sanding and trimming to be done, these ukes can receive their backs tomorrow.
In those times that glue was drying I was slowly assembling the wood and making the parts of the next two tenors. #144will be a Mahogany/Spruce tenor, and #245 will be East Indian Rosewood and Redwood. Here is some of the assembled wood for that build.
After a busy day in the workshop I like to bring the instruments up to the living room to inspect them during the evening. They are looking good. They passed inspection with flying colors.
The parts are mostly made, now the challenge is to but three all together to make a ukulele. Here is where it begins.
the sides must be bent, U di ut ib the hot pipe. This is simply a piece of iron pipe with a soldering iron inside it. It gets up to 260 degrees, Hot enough to do the job. On the work table behind you can see sides that have been bent cooling and drying in molds.
This nice bend of tiger stripe maple will be left in the mold overnight to set it shape.
Next morning this nice set of sides is ready to install. First you must trim the ends a bit to be sure that it fits properly.
Here it is trimmed to fit and glued and clamped.
Now both 142 and 143 have their sides attached. Both sides fit nicely, These promise to be nice ukuleles
I had roughed out a bunch of tenor necks last year-so all I had to do was grab a couple, cut a groove for the carbon fiber rod, epoxy in the rod and take the neck blank to the band saw.
Next I set the table saw blade to cut a depth equal to that of the thickness of the soundboard and then with repeated passes hogged out the recess that will be glued to the soundboard.
To begin the shaping of the neck I use this very sharp draw knife. Does a great job on soft Honduran Mahogany, but take care not to cut too deeply. I sometimes use a spokeshave here, but this is faster.
Final shaping is done with chisel, rasp and scraper. the slots in the side will accept the ends of the insrument sides when finally assembled.
final shaping is done with the bow sander, and now the necks are ready to be glued to the soundboards. I have also made the butt blocks and glued them on.
Once the necks are glued on I need to attach some patches to the area around the sound hole and the center splice just to insure against splitting of the soundboard. I cut them out of very thin maple veneer. 'first you cut out the sound hole, then with scissors the rest is easy.
Whittled and sanded the braces for the backs today. here they are glued and clamped in the go-Bar rack. Anyone know how this efficient method of clamping got the name Go Bar? How ever it happened, it works very well. Next project will be refining and attaching the necks to the soundboards.
But the work goes on. Today I whittled the tone bars for two ukuleles in the shade of our house. A delightful couple of hours.
Once all 24 of them were made I repaired to the workshop and glued up one of the sound boards. Not enough clamps to do both.
Next I mixed up some epoxy and installed the carbon fiber rods strenghening the necks. that's enough for one warm day.
Now that the rosette is firmly glued in we can cut out the sound hole. I do it this way, starting on the drill press a hole is cut large enough to fit over the sanding tube.
Be careful to leave plenty of room between the bitt and the eventual edge. The drill can tear wood.
now you can carefully sand to the hole size that you desire. Go slowly, if you over sand you can't get it back.
This feels about right to me. What do you think? Most luthiers would probably do this with a router and a fancy jig. I confess to being a little old fashioned and prefer to do this by hand.
The decoration that surrounds the sound hole on an acoustic instrument is called a "ROSETTE" I use a simple purfling called rope around the oval sound holes of my ukes. Here is how it is done.
This multipurpose pattern guides the router as it cuts the groove for the Rosette. The soundboard is held firmly by the lucite pattern tightly screwed down. The router awaits.
The cut was successful. This is done before the soundboard is thinned to its final thickness.
Dilute shellac is brushed into the groove so that the super glue that will be used here will not leach into the spruce and discolor it.
Now the challenge is to successfully bend this stiff wooden purfling and fit it into the oval groove.
The heat of the hot pipe does the trick, but you must take it slow and easy.
Here it is, successfully tapped into the groove and secured with superglue. the joint on the left side will be covered by th tip of the fretboard.
Once the glue has hardened the soundboard is thinned to its final thickness. Tomorrow I will cut out the sound hole.
First I must join the two pieces that form the soundboards. here you see my clamping system joining the first Soundboard. Both will be joined today, Tomorrow I can install the rosette and cut the sound hole while the backs are in the joining rig.
The above photo shows the three generations, The new build, the two finished tenors, and the partially finished Pinecones behind them. I usually begin a new build when the former build is ready to be French polished.
And here is the final photo of the two tenors all dressed up with their colorful Guatemalan straps and ready to be sent to their new homes in Edmonton and New Jersey. Enjoy them Alan and Glenn.