Work has begun on July’s ukulele. Can you guess what it is yet?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once you’re done, it should look better than this. Time elapsed is under 2 hours now.
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.
Now you have something that looks like an uke that has no front or back. Time elapsed is 2hr40m
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!
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.
The sound hole looks a bit too big, but oh well. Time elapsed is about 3hr now?
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
Here it is rough. Took it to be sanded, went from 40grit to 180 to get a nice finish.
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!.
So, June has been a month of broken ukes for me. Not only did I not finish the ‘wave’ ukulele, I found a huge flaw while making an uke for a friend. I had to think things through again, and basically I gave up on a lot of projects in favour of starting from scratch.
So from scratch, here is the ‘wave ukulele’ build process.
Here is the wooden skeleton, and the fretboard being glued on. I opted for concert size this time around, because I recently had some spare from making my friend’s uke.
Here it is after I burnt my fingers on plastic yet again. I opted for more dark blue than the previous one.
Here it is after some work done on it, and the tuners put in for measurements or whatnot, I don’t know.
And here is the latest picture. I’m very surprised at the speed this has come out in, as this is the second day I’ve worked on this uke. It only needs the strings put on now, but I’ll wait a bit for everything to settle first.
I’ve also made the huge mistake of not angling my headstock far down enough, so the strings do not stay on the nut. This might end up as a decorative uke, which is a shame. I will do my best to make it sing though! I might have to force it onto the nut some how, which I don’t really want to do. Oh well.