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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Fri Jul 16, 2010 2:50 am

Had a very productive day yesterday, but no pics to show for it. The two ukes have been getting out of synch due to a lack of consumables. I've been carrying on as best as I can to make the best use of the time, but it would be far better if I could get both back in synch again.

So, I've been shopping on town and on line. The #15 scalpel blades are in the post, as are the bits to complete the Go Bar Deck (I'll explain about the Go Bar Deck soon, it's important). Thanks to Mark's generosity I've also been able to order some more specialist tools (to speed up future projects) and the materials to make another Uke once these are finished.

Anyway, this afternoon I finished planing the cedar for the tone bars on the first uke. So it now has a complete set ready for glueing to the front and back.

And with some time on my hands I took the chance to make the 12th fret inlay for Ruth's Uke...

[image][img]http://i262.photobucket.com/albums/ii92/zenguitar2000/Project%20Ukulele/inlay.jpg"%20border="0"%20alt="inlay[/img][/image]

... Looks good so far. Just need to inlay it now. There will, of course, be pics when I get to that stage.

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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Sat Jul 17, 2010 2:54 am

The scalpel blades arrived. I ordered 15A instead of 15, but they work just as well. And I just ordered some 15's so I have them when I need them especially.

So I celebrated by cutting the channel for the second rosette and inlaid it this afternoon. I'll post pics tomorrow once it's cleaned up after glueing overnight.

Over the last couple of weeks I've let the two ukes get out of sync. I've done several things on one but not the other. Largely because I needed to order various things.

More to do tomorrow, but it does depend on what arrives in the post ;)

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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Sun Jul 18, 2010 2:30 am

Cleaned up the rosette today, and it came out fine.


[image][img]http://i262.photobucket.com/albums/ii92/zenguitar2000/Project%20Ukulele/rosetteandinlay.jpg"%20border="0"%20alt="rosette%20and%20inlay[/img][/image]

You can also see the note inlay glued at the twelfth fret. The yellow is acrylic paint. The technique is to apply the paint and let it dry, then use a spot of superglue on the inlay to hold it position while you score around it with a scalpel to mark the position. The score marks show better against the yellow. Then I got out the Dremel with a very fine dental burr to rout the cavity. Once routed, I mixed some epoxy and coloured it with black and brown dye. Ebony isn't jet black, the brown helps the stained epoxy blend into the wood better.

On monday I'll sand it back and get a pic or two so you can see better.

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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Tue Jul 20, 2010 2:18 am

Taking a day off ukuleles tomorrow. Visiting our chums at Sound Gallery there. But I did get some work done.

The courier arrived this morning with a useful package. Some 5mm GRP rod that I need for the Go Bar deck... more details soon with pics

Also in the package were my metal powders for inlay...

[image][img]http://i262.photobucket.com/albums/ii92/zenguitar2000/Project%20Ukulele/octaveinlays.jpg"%20border="0"%20alt="octave%20inlays[/img][/image]

Here's Ruths octave inlay after sanding back. Should look good once the frets are in place and it isn't sitting in a sea of ebony. I'm very pleased because I managed to get a very good match when colouring the epoxy resin I used to glue it. I'm considering engraving a highlight or two to really bring it to life, but I'll wait until the neck is fretted before deciding.

You can also see the other fretboard drilled for the octave marker, and the MOP dot I turned for it. I've since glued that in place too. The Idea was to have a total eclipse. The pearl dot for the moon, set in a metal powder and epoxy mix. Hence the metal powders mentioned before. I have aluminium, copper, and brass powders but this is the first time I've tried this method so I'm improvising a lot here. I mixed brass and copper together with the epoxy, which is a known technique (the metal powders are the same used for putting a metallic finish in moulded fibreglass). But as I am inlaying into ebony, I thought I should add some black dye too, to disguise the epoxy. However it's looking far too subtle right now. The idea is to sand back the epoxy/metal powder mix to reveal the metal itself. But the black stain is making it look very dark. If I'm lucky, it's just the stained epoxy coating the metal powder efficiently and sanding will reveal shiny copper and bronze. But I won't know now until wednesday. But I will put up a pic of how it comes out so we can all see. And if it really doesn't work right, I can always carefully rout out the pearl and epoxy, make another pearl dot, and try a mix without the black dye. And if I need a few attempts... there's nothing wrong with an inlay covering the 11th, 12th and 13th frets

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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby vinnyburns » Wed Jul 21, 2010 8:48 am

I have loved watching this take shape. You have the patience of a saint.
Great now they are taking shape. They look amazing.
All the very best.
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Dan LB » Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:27 pm

+1

They really are looking great! What sort of finish do you intend on applying?

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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Music Wolf » Wed Jul 21, 2010 4:16 pm

Quite apart from my admiration of the skills, not to say patience, involved Zen should also be congratulated for the way in which he has explained each step in such a detailed yet easy to follow manner. On top of all the hours spent building these two instruments (and teaching his new apprentice) to then find the time and energy to write the whole thing up (plus take the pictures) is quite remarkable and is greatly appreciated.

Well done Zen and thank you

Chris

PS I've also developed an urge to learn how to play the Ukulele (I'm going to buy my son one for his birthday)
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:38 am

Many thanks guys..

The finish will be French Polish !!! Hard work, but worth the effort. And no need for a spray booth. I have the compressor and spray gun, and cellulose too, but need a decent dust free, clean, space to get best results.

Meanwhile, I sanded back the inlay today... and it wasn't even worth taking a pic. Yes, the pearl dot was fine, but the metal in the stained epoxy was hardly visible. So I drilled it out, made another dot, and then did what I should have done before. I made some test pieces and filled them with different combinations so I can see what works best. An example each of all three metal powders with clear epoxy (no black stain), all three metal powders and superglue, and the copper and brass powders mixed with epoxy and yellow acrylic paint. Tomorrow I'll sand them back and see how they all worked.

After that, I finished preparing the second set of braces ready for curving. And then I'll build the go bar deck and start glueing braces.

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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Dynamic Mike » Sat Jul 24, 2010 12:21 am

zenguitar wrote:The finish will be French Polish !!! Hard work, but worth the effort. And no need for a spray booth.

You just reminded me, a few years back some jobsworth assistant in a local chemist refused to sell me a 20ml bottle of spirit for French Polishing. This was despite the fact I had a £20 note & there was an bargain booze shop next door! Fortunately the chemist just laughed & told her it was okay.

Maybe she was right though because I made a right mess of it & ended up having to remove it & spray it. Funny, it looked so easy whenever my Dad did it!!!
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Sat Jul 24, 2010 2:29 am

So true Mike, but the great thing with french polish is that you can always wipe it back and refinish it. And it's a great excuse to buy methylated spirits :)

Meanwhile, I've finished the go bar deck today. And here it is..

[image][img]http://i262.photobucket.com/albums/ii92/zenguitar2000/Project%20Ukulele/gobardeck.jpg"%20border="0"%20alt="go%20bar%20deck[/img][/image]

Since I took the pic I dismantled it again, cut off the excess length on the vertical struts, and epoxied the top nuts for the base board in place on the threaded rods. So it'll be quicker to assemble when needed.

The boards are 20" x 24" x 18mm MDF, and the go bars are 666mm long and made from 5mm GRP rods. There are 30 of them, and I found some nice rubber tips for them too. In the pic you can see how the top board is being flexed by the force they provide.

Lots of fun :)

And that means I'll be glueing braces soon.

Andy

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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Stan » Sat Jul 24, 2010 8:22 am

Ingenious!
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Sun Jul 25, 2010 2:19 am

Hi Stan :)

Go Bars are actually quite an old technique. Used by piano makers to attach the soundboards because you can get a lot of clamping pressure in a very small area, and you have a lot of control.

Here are a couple of pics of the braces being glued to the 1st front.



[image][img]http://i262.photobucket.com/albums/ii92/zenguitar2000/Project%20Ukulele/bracing1.jpg"%20border="0"%20alt="bracing%201[/img][/image]

[image][img]http://i262.photobucket.com/albums/ii92/zenguitar2000/Project%20Ukulele/bracing2.jpg"%20border="0"%20alt="bracing%202[/img][/image]

It was a little fiddly getting everything in place. And there were a couple of 'explosions' with go bars flying everywhere when I didn't get them lined up properly. But looking good now.

And before applying the braces, I remembered to get the circle cutter out and cut the soundhole out. Not the easiest thing to do once the front has been curved by attaching the braces.

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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Tue Jul 27, 2010 1:56 am

Greetings Earthlings, a day of Deep Joy and a minor hiccup was had today.

Despite my fears, the go bar deck hadn't exploded in a shower of GRP and softwood over the weekend. So it was just a matter of removing the bars to get the front and start work. However, I'm still getting a feel for this new go bar deck and learning how to fine tune it.

[image][img]http://i262.photobucket.com/albums/ii92/zenguitar2000/Project%20Ukulele/loweringfrontbraces.jpg"%20border="0"%20alt="lowering%20braces[/img][/image]

So here's the front ready for me to plane the tops of the braces down close to their final height. But if you look carefully you can see that the brace closest to the camera hasn't glued along it's length. You can clearly see a small gap. And once I started planing, that gap opened up. And the middle brace had a similar problem too, with the same side coming loose.

Nothing to worry about. Once I had planed the braces down it was straightforward to get some glue in there and clamp both braces securely. LIke this.. and you can see the arch on the front now too.

[image][img]http://i262.photobucket.com/albums/ii92/zenguitar2000/Project%20Ukulele/reglueingbraces.jpg"%20border="0"%20alt="reglueing%20braces[/img][/image]

Nothing wrong with making mistakes, as long as you learn from them. So I thought about it and realised that these GRP bars are a lot more powerful than I expected. I've previously used wooden laths that were also a little longer. The problem was caused by too much clamping pressure. So, with that in mind I moved on to glueing the back reinforcement strip. Like so...

[image][img]http://i262.photobucket.com/albums/ii92/zenguitar2000/Project%20Ukulele/glueingbackreinforcement.jpg"%20border="0"%20alt="glueing%20back%20reinforcement[/img][/image]

I had to adjust the deck anyway, but I made sure that I reduced the pressure as well. It's not easy to see, but I have much less bend in the bars now.

Once that was done, I got back to working on the braces for the second uke. So, the ones for the front are now ready, and the ones for the back are almost finished. I also decided to reduce the height of those braces, and the back braces for the 1st uke. They need to be planed down anyway, and to be honest, they were a little too tall. That didn't help the clamping with the go bars either.

So, tomorrow I'll be glueing the back braces on the 1st uke, and finishing making the braces for the second one.

Finally, there were a couple of bonuses today too. This morning I picked up a package with a full Koa set of back, sides, and front, for another tenor uke. I was expecting another delivery in a couple of days with the rest of the woods for that uke, some more funky tools, and the machine heads and french polishing materials for the current pair. But when I got home I found that that had arrived too. So lots more toys :)

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:38 am

Here's the first back all glued. Once I sanded the back re-inforcement I cut the sliots for the braces and applied glue and go bars...

[image][img]http://i262.photobucket.com/albums/ii92/zenguitar2000/Project%20Ukulele/backbracing.jpg"%20border="0"%20alt="back%20bracing[/img][/image]

Then I got on and examined the machine heads. Gotoh ukulele pegs with adjustable height posts.

[image][img]http://i262.photobucket.com/albums/ii92/zenguitar2000/Project%20Ukulele/artyukemachines.jpg"%20border="0"%20alt="arty%20uke%20machines[/img][/image]

[image][img]http://i262.photobucket.com/albums/ii92/zenguitar2000/Project%20Ukulele/adjustableposts.jpg"%20border="0"%20alt="adjustable%20posts[/img][/image]

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