These two ukuleles are completed, and now the French Polish begins. First we must fill the pores in order to get a smooth finish.
Many woods have large pores. East Indian Rosewood and Bubinga both require filling those pores before finishing. I use an old fashioned technique of sanding with fine sandpaper to make fine dust, and then rubbing that into the pores with a cloth impregnated with dilute shellac. The dust is rubbed into the pores and sealed by the shellac that has in turn impregnated the sawdust.
It dries quickly and now the first coat of French Polish can be applied. 8 drops of dilute shellac on the munica, then three drops of alcohol and one drop of olive oil. Tap it on the back of your hand to distribute through the munica, and vigorously rub it onto the wood.
All parts of the instrument get the French Polish except the fret board. I have always used only olive oil on it, however I have ordered some "Renaissance Wax" which will arrive Friday. It is recommended by several noted luthiers including Chuck Moore. I will experiment with it before using it on these ukes.
Stu's uke is beginning to take on a little patina after only one application of the French Polish. It will probably get 25 applications before it is done. Already the curly Koa binding is beginning to pop.
The Redwood soundboard is just beginning to show a little shine.
But look at how the finish is bringing out the figure in the maple neck and binding on Ron's Baritone.
I love this combination of woods, Bubinga and tiger stripe Big Leaf Maple. When finished this is going to be a very pretty instrument.
The next challenge was installing a LG Baggs Five 0 pickup for my friend Wes Lewis. Wes is the Jam Leader for the Bellingham Ukulele Group and he plays one of my early instruments, a tenor that was my fifth build.
Here is all the stuff that must be stuffed into that little ukulele, The pre-amp jack, (note I have a dowel inserted into it for installation.) Above the jack you see the battery case which must be stuck inside with sticky tape and is attached with velcro. and above that attached to a black wire you see the tiny little volume control wheel which is also stuck with tape to the edge of the sound hole. Lots of wires to keep track of.
First task is to drill a 1/2 inch hole through the tail block with a step drill.
The hole is successfully drilled leaving plenty of residue. I was reminded I used to make my tail blocks out of walnut scraps. Now I use a lighter wood, Honduran Mahogany.
Then, impaling the Jack on the dowel, you gently lead it out of the hole from the inside. You adjust the threaded lock nut several times to get the amount of the jack extruding, just right.
Then slipping the lock washer, washer and nut over the dowel, you slide it all down to the Jack and screw on tight, using a wrench and a small round file stuck through the hole in the jack for just this purpose.
Now the strap button is threaded onto the Jack, the braided piezo cable is fished out of a hole drilled in the saddle slot and laid out under the saddle, the battery box and volume control are stuck onto the inside of the uke and the job is done. Not too tough if you have the tools and have done it a few times before.