August: End of summer

Hello, it’s certainly been a while. I am glad to say July’s and August’s ukuleles are done.

July’s namesake is ‘parallel.’ July is a time when I step from my work life to, well, my own life. It is literally like a parallel world for me. Due to work, I am constantly out of a social life, but when the summer comes I have nothing but no social lide :S

IMG_0582

The purple half is a concert ukulele with machine heads, along with Worth low g strings. The green half is a soprano, tuned by zither pins, and equipped with Aquila standard tuning strings. We have two very different ukuleles, a very parallel world situation here.

I wanted to think of this uke as the best of both worlds

IMG_0587 IMG_0586 IMG_0585 IMG_0584 IMG_0583

August’s namesake is ‘mega.’ It is homage to one of my favourite games, and to the long lazt summer days as a child, when I would play the games. It was almost called the ‘rock’ ukulele.

IMG_0588

Here you can see the front panel with some sprites engarved in.

IMG_0589

The headstock has the much needed E tank.

IMG_0590 IMG_0591

The back panel features boss characters from the games.

IMG_0592 IMG_0593

I am quite happy with what I learnt from these two ukes. These were actually prototypes for a laser cut ukulele, that turned out so well because of these two ukes, and what I learnt from them. Here is that laser cut ukulele.

IMG_0566

From now on, I will be leaving the woodwork out, and be designing my ukuleles purely from the laser cutter. I think it is the way forward for my designs. Now to think about September’s ukulele!

July 2: August too

July’s ukulele is late. I know, it’s startng to become a habit. I scrapped the original project for July’s uke in favour of using the laser cutting (which is possibly now my significant other.)

IMG_0425

Here you can see I’ve cut out cross sections which will pile up to form the body.

IMG_0422 IMG_0423 IMG_0424

Above you can see the beginning of August’s uke. My quick uke side project originally was to build an uke in 3 hours. I did that in just under about half an hour. It looks possible :)

IMG_0427

Here you can see the two (or three) ukes about ready for some more work.

IMG_0477 IMG_0478 IMG_0479

August’s uke is dedicated to a game I grew up with, the Mega Man series.

IMG_0480

So July’s uke needs its front and back panels, and then I can do some sanding, and gluing, but then it will be done… or ready for a paint job.

Side project 3: If you don’t paint it

So, my ‘quick uke’ project was basically a question I needed answering. Can you make an uke in 6 hours. Finally, I know the answer. If you don’t paint it, yes, yes you can.

IMG_0243

We have gotten to this stage at about 5hrs. A quick trip to the Notthingham Hackspace made sanding the headstock quicker. I mean a lot quicker! I love belt sanders.

IMG_0245

Once the headstock was done, the holes were drilled for the machine heads, and pretty much everything is done now! All it needs is a paint job.

IMG_0246 IMG_0247

I will however, be painting this uke. So as a proof of concept, I think it worked. I spent in total, just over 6 hours of work on this thing, and it’s nice to think all it needs is some string and it’d done. But with paint work, that’ll be another 4 hours I think, to get all those coats, and then sealers or varnish, so I think I’ll say ‘you can make an uke in 6 hours’ but as long as you don’t paint it.

Side project 2: Gorilla glue really does fix anything

So, a while back I was making an uke for a friend, and at the same time, I wanted to make a design for a ‘quick ukulele.’

That project was the spectrum, and it was a complete failure for making ukuleles quickly, or at least with the goal of building it in 6 hours.

I’m now making two more ukes for friends, and I think I’ve finally cracked it!

The following is the third design for the ‘quick ukulele.’ I should also note, I am not a very safe person.

IMG_0222 IMG_0223

First, jigsaw out a uke shape. I went with a traditional shape thingy. Keep the scraps, as these will be used to support and help with the router (the woodwork router, not the wifi one) I actually did this like last week, so I’ll say it took about an hour so far.IMG_0225 IMG_0226

Next step is to tape everything back together so the router can glide across the whole thing without making dents or imperfects when you do start.

IMG_0227

That’s the router. That’s the first power tool we’ll be using (besides the jigsaw.) It’s also the safest one unless you put it on your head. Please don’t put it on your head.

IMG_0228 IMG_0229

Do some test routes to see what depth you’re getting. Once you’re happy, go for it! You can save the sawdust for BBQs or to throw at people’s eyes. Please wear goggles as well. I don’t have a pair so I just close my eyes. Sensible adults do not work power tools with their eyes closed unless they’re professional idiots.

IMG_0231

Once you’re done, it should look better than this. Time elapsed is under 2 hours now.

IMG_0232 IMG_0233

Now, the spectrum was made by hollowing the body, and keeping a thin layer for the soundboard or back panel. This takes up to 3 hours, so I’ve opted to cut away the center piece now. Drill some nice big holes, and jigsaw the center out.

IMG_0234

Now you have something that looks like an uke that has no front or back. Time elapsed is 2hr40m

IMG_0235

So, this time around, I’ve got the front and back panels on birch plywood sheets. The front is 1.5mm and the back 3mm thick. Draw on the body shape. From what I’ve seen, you’ll want a nice big margin, or else!

IMG_0236

I used a scroll saw I recently acquired off a friend. The hardest thing about working the scroll saw is stopping it from vibrating off the work bench. Sensible adults secure their power tools to the work bench. The sound hole is a bit more delicate, so I swapped over to my other scroll saw.

IMG_0237

The sound hole looks a bit too big, but oh well. Time elapsed is about 3hr now?

IMG_0238

Use some scraps to make some supports for the sound board. I don’t normally have them, but then again, I’ve never had a soundboard at 1.5mm before. Better safe than sorry.

IMG_0239 IMG_0240

Here I’ve marked off where the fretboard will meet the soundboard. It’s best to cut within the cutting area, and then sand so it fits snuggly. Otherwise, just go for it.

IMG_0241

Now I am gluing everything, and waiting. The time elapsed so far is about 4 hours now.

With 2 hours left to meet my target, I think I can do it. But then again, maybe not, because I need to paint it and whatnot, so again I think I have failed the 6 hour target. But not by much.

I will update when I finish.

Prior to this third design though, I had a second, but the problem was the headstock snapped off!!! Here was the problem:

ukue problems

On the left is the previous design for the headstock. It involved cutting a notch, then a tilt and glue job. Problem was it basically gave a huge point of weakness in the uke. I’ve solved this gluing a thin veneer sheet over it.

The revised design of the ‘quick ukulele’ is to just sand the damn thing into shape. Takes ages though, so will need to consider how to make headstocks quickly, but still keep it strong enough to hit people with.

EDIT: 5hrs elapsed

IMG_0242

Totally forgot to factor the dry time for gorilla glue. An estimate for the total time is probably going to be 8 hrs. I honestly think it’s pretty hard to get an uke made in 6 now.

IMG_0243

Here it is rough. Took it to be sanded, went from 40grit to 180 to get a nice finish.

IMG_0244

And here it is just under 5 hours. The headstock will need to be sanded into shape, but I will need a belt sander, and not my weak power sander. Other than that, a paint job is needed afterwards and then it’s done!.