Now I also make jewelry

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.

Sunday, 26 August 2012


Yes, it's been a while and all those instruments that I began last year have been nagging at my very Katholik guilty conscience. So, since there cannot be a resurrection without a previous destruction, I started off this week with "de-konstructing" one of the tenor ukes I had abandoned. First, I removed the top by sanding down the edges with a power sander in a frenzy of ritualized violence; since the top also covered the neck, I sawed off the neck where it joins the body and proceeded to sand down the top layer of cedar down to the mahogany core. Here is the result:
So, the box and the neck are nicely salvaged and, after some adjustments, ready to be re-used. I build a new soundboard out of Nootka cypress (also called yellow or Alaska cedar), which is my favorite wood for tops. I use left-over pieces of cypress for the braces (this is all very scientifik, of course).
I then re-attached the neck to the body, glued the top back on (this one does not cover the neck) and trimmed the edges, drilled the peg holes and finished shaping and sanding the neck, and voilĂ :

 I'm relieved that the back is intact after this grand operation. I made it out of honey locust which is a decidedly lovely wood with peach-colored lines:

The veneer over the peghead also exhibits a striking pattern of sinuous lines and a terrific purplish rose hue. I don't know the name of that wood.
I'm now working on the fingerboard.