Now I also make jewelry

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The neck

I've carved the neck out of mahogany. The heel, at bottom, is made with several layers that have been glued together and onto the neck itself: not as elegant as a single piece, but there's much less wastage of wood.
The sides, at the junction with the fretboard, have been covered with the same cherry veneer as the edges of the body. This is to cover the light-colored layer of cedar between the neck roper and the fretboard: in this instance, I've built the front of the uke with a single board of yellow cedar that extends from the bottom of the soundboard all the way to the nut at the top of the neck.
The headstock or peghead, at an angle to the the neck, was made with a scarf joint and later carved into this shape with much elbow grease. I've covered it with a layer of an exotic wood (I can't identify it) which has an extraordinary wavy grain and gorgeous color.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The sides

They're made from 1/16" (1.6mm) maple.  The banding is a very thin cherry veneer which I've glued directly onto the edges. It's always a challenge to bend the wood without breaking it when you want to have a "thin" waist, and this is as far as I could go.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Tenor uke back

The back is made from an exceptional "slice" of honey locust with remarkable grain and color. It is very slightly domed, due to the curved bracing: that is traditionally supposed to improve the sound, but it also makes the back sturdier and more resistant to knocks and such, should you happen to use the instrument as a defensive weapon in a scuffle:)

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Tenor ukulele soundboard

This figure-eight shape is the outcome of years of trying to achieve MY perfect silhouette... Not quite there yet, on account of my rather primitive method of bending wood, but pretty good.
The soundboard is made with my favorite: yellow cedar (yellow cypress, Alaskan cedar, nootka cedar... cupressus nootkatensis). The pale yellow has naturally darkened with the finish. There's a slight dark spot under the soundhole: a reminder that the wood comes from what was an actual living organism, warts and all.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Finally completed

after starting it in 2011, a tenor uke:

Details later...

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

All dressed

I've spent several hours today inserting the frets into their slots (both hammering and pressing them in), making sure they are all more or less level with each other (this will have to be re-checked carefully and adjusted after the fret-board has been glued onto the neck), and dressing them individually with files and sandpapers before and after fitting them in. Not a task I relish, but the hours spent being meticulous at this stage pay off to prevent disappointment and more difficult repair work later when you put the strings are on the newly-minted uke only to discover buzzes and to scratch your fingers on rough metal edges (the voice of experience!!).

Monday, 27 August 2012


I had already begun working on these two fret-boards last year, one for the tenor and the other for a baritone I've also just resurrected (more on that one later). That is, I had traced and cut the slots. I have now cut the sides into a "tie", shaped the lower ends, resawn all the slots to the same depth, drilled slots for the position markers, punched those out of maple veneer and glued them in. The last dot at the bottom is nickel silver and will provide a small accent at the top of the sound-hole (both fret-boards will overlap the sound-holes by a few millimeters).
This is cochen rosewood, which is very similar to cocobolo (also a rosewood) in workability.