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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Sun May 12, 2013 11:56 pm

Yep, plenty of protective cotton. And that carpet on the bench gets a regular vacuuming too.

And decided on the course of action. Monday or Tuesday should see it finished. And then I'll find a volunteer from the local ukulele group to play it while I grab a recording.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Frisonic » Mon May 13, 2013 1:49 pm

zenguitar wrote: ... then I'll find a volunteer from the local ukulele group to play it while I grab a recording.

Andy :beamup:

Every village should have one! This is now officially an exciting week :)
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Tue May 14, 2013 12:52 pm

Frisonic wrote: This is now officially an exciting week :)

And a frustratingly wet week too. Waiting for the weather to ease so I can get the uke on the bench and fit that saddle. It's all marked out ready to go, just need a dry day to cart everything to the the bench in Mark's garage, knock up some support for the jig, and make some ebony dust.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Wed May 15, 2013 12:32 am

And still raining !!!

I took my frustration out on the mandolin. Frets removed this afternoon. But it is fighting back far more than expected. I applied some SERIOUS heat to the fretboard but it just won't separate from the body. I bought it from a widow in the late 70's, it had belonged to her late husband and I do recall that she told me that he converted it (or had it converted) from an 8 string to a 12 string in the 60's or possibly earlier. Right now I'm starting to wonder what on earth was used to glue it back then. The fretboard is weeping resin under heat (and it smells great) but a hot knife is making no impression whatsoever. Looks like the next step is to apply a fresh Stanley knife blade and a hammer!!!

Lets hope the weather improves tomorrow so I can deal with a sensible ukulele instead.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Thu May 16, 2013 1:41 am

Typical !!!

I commit to taking on the freezer in a fight to the death (defrosting with the aid of the steam cleaner) and the weather makes a turn for the good !!!

But arrangements have been made, and the bridge will be slotted tomorrow afternoon. HURRAH

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Fri May 17, 2013 2:09 am

And so it came to pass that the sun shineth all afternooneth. So I packed everything that was needed and made the epic stroll up the road to Marks house where there was space on the workbench.

And with coffee on hand I found the bag of cork padding and worked out a nice clamping arrangement.

Image

Image

Frustratingly, I could have done this at home if my bench was 6" deeper !!

Anyway, then it was time to line up the router cutter. I had marked the location of the temporary saddle (the allen key) by making scalpel marks either side at the bass and treble sides. The jig allowed me to align the back of the saddle on base and treble sides with the router bit.

And after some fine tuning I could make the first cut.

Image

After a few passes, going deeper each time, I had to widen the slot. Easiest way is to use feeler gauges to measure the width of the 1st cut, then compare that with the saddle and see how much more you need to add. One important thing to remember is that you fit the saddle to the slot, not the slot to the saddle. So I picked a feeler gauge that added enough extra width without getting as wide as the saddle blank.

And once I had the gauge I used that to space the jig for the second cut.

Image

And after checking and double checking, I made the second cut with a few passes of the Dremel.

And here it is all finished.

Image

Tomorrow I fit the saddle and nut finally, shape them, polish them, and tune up.

And then I need to find the local tenor Uke champion to grab a recording.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Frisonic » Fri May 17, 2013 4:16 am

zenguitar wrote:And so it came to pass that the sun shineth

Andy :beamup:

And as the sun sort of rises over smelly old London I learn even more about how luthiers put fretted stringed instruments together. Somehow I have no worries that it's going to play and sound as it ought. Very cool Andy 8-)
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Sat May 18, 2013 1:03 am

Trimmed the saddle slightly over width, then 'Old School' thicknessing followed. Ages spent sanding the saddle blank to the correct width to fit the slot. And, lets be honest, it hurt :frown:

Then I roughly profiled the saddle with a curve to match the fretboard radius.

And at that point my hands hurt too much to do much more. So I strung the uke up and brought it up to pitch and decided to let the strings settle down to pitch before doing anything else.

Image

Image

So, almost done. And some test strumming shows plenty of tone and volume on tap. And more importantly, I know what needs to be done to get it finally finished.:D

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Folderol » Sat May 18, 2013 9:00 am

Woo! Strings! The uke's a real instrument now :bouncy:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Kev Adams » Sat May 18, 2013 2:16 pm

zenguitar wrote:Mixed up a potion today. Some rottenstone, a drop of soap, and some White Spirit.
Add a piece of felt.
And then apply potion to felt and start polishing ukulele.
Andy :beamup:

Andy- could you tell me more about this polishing mixure (or is it a Zen master's secret??)
How exactly do you mix it, what sort of soap, proportions of each ingredient and so on?
Would it serve to polish down a violin which has been revarnished with an oil based violin varnish?

I'm a self-taught violin repairer. I've happily learnt most of the skills of violin making and repair, and bow rehairing, all to my own and to my customers' satisfaction and I've made a couple of violins. However, the one thing I've always struggled with a bit is finishing. You can read as much as you like, but there's nothing like getting as much personal advice as possible.

I've got a couple of nice old student violins to hand which were so badly distressed I decided to strip and revarnish them. I'm about to polish them down, and I'm intrigued by your 'potion'.

I've loved dipping into this thread, can't wait to hear the recording! :)
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Sun May 19, 2013 1:50 am

Thanks Kev.

Nothing magical or mystical about the polishing mixture. I just read the instructions that came with the Rottenstone I bought from Luthiers Mercantile and used those as a starting point.

As I mentioned much earlier in the thread, these are the first instruments I've finished with shellac so I am learning as I go.

The instructions basically pointed to using the Rottenstone with a mineral oil as a lubricant and applied with felt pads. There was also a recipe for a polish based on methanol that scared me (as that would soften the shellac) but was more directed at restoring old finishes.

So I searched online, and found some more articles. Read through them, and then bit the bullet and came up with something that made sense to me. I took some Rottenstone, added a drop of washing up liquid as an antistatic/antisurficant and then added White Spirit (mineral oil) until it was the consistency of pancake batter.

So, basically, I relied on existing knowledge and experience, did some reading, and came at it from 1st principles. It worked well, and there was nothing in the mix that could have done any harm.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Sun May 19, 2013 2:17 am

OK...

I needed to trim a little off the width of the nut, so I did. And then I applied a couple of tiny dots of glue to the bottom of the nut, put it in place with the strings on, and left it to dry.

The nut is never permanently glued in place, just enough to stop it slipping and sliding and dropping off when you take the strings off. A neatly applied tap with a hammer will ease it off if needed.

Then I watched the cricket and a vintage England batting collapse just as I was settling in for a commanding 2nd innings lead.

Then it didn't take long to file the nut slots to final depth, take the saddle down to final height, shape the top of the saddle, polish it nicely, remove the excess from the nut and polish that too.

And now it's looking and feeling good. I'm leaving it overnight for the strings to settle, but basically it's all done. The action is satisfactory, but I might take the nut slots a little lower tomorrow.

Image

Image

I've tried out a few chords and all sounds good. But, as always with nylon strings, it takes a while for the tuning to settle. And yes, it needs a truss rod cover. But I am always lazy when it comes to putting them on my own instruments. I'll get around to it sooner or later :)

But, essentially, this one is now finished !!!!

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Frisonic » Sun May 19, 2013 3:40 am

zenguitar wrote: I've tried out a few chords and all sounds good.. essentially, this one is now finished !!!!

Andy :beamup:

Far out Andy :) As for the strings, I always think steel ones take three or four days, maybe a week to settle in to my ear. Nylon ones somewhat longer... You may disagree (if you don't keep us on the hook before you record it). Have you signed it yet? The back of the truss rod cover might be a discreet place. Has anyone done that?
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby Goddard » Sun May 19, 2013 6:03 am

zenguitar wrote:And then I applied a couple of tiny dots of glue to the bottom of the nut, put it in place with the strings on, and left it to dry.

The nut is never permanently glued in place, just enough to stop it slipping and sliding and dropping off when you take the strings off. A neatly applied tap with a hammer will ease it off if needed.

Yep, deduced that bit long ago when I removed all the strings on my old cheapo archtop jazzbox and the bridge fell right off, and I had to line it back up using the outlines on the top left by glue reside.

Although violinists will scoff at gluing a bridge (and will sensibly change only one string at a time)...

Nice to see project uke back in action! Can't wait to hear it! :D
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Re: Project Ukulele

Postby zenguitar » Mon May 20, 2013 12:41 am

Thanks chaps. :)

The strings are settling in nicely. But I might give them a fright tomorrow when I fine tune the nut, still need to take the 1st fret action down by 1/3rd of a millimetre. But that's just a matter of popping the strings out of the slots, running through them with the fret files again, and re-polishing the slots.

I really must get around to making a label, but that can wait for now. When I do, it will probably be a piece of parchment lettered with Indian Ink and glued in place with hide glue.

I really am lazy about truss rod covers for my own guitars. I like to think of it as the luthier's equivalent of the plumber with a leaky tap, one of those easy jobs you keep meaning to get around to doing :)

One thing though Goddard... Whilst a dab of glue is normal for fitting a nut to a guitar, we don't glue arch top bridges in place because the exact location will vary depending on string gauge and action. And besides, its fun watching guitarists work out where it should go when it drops off unexpectedly :)

Anyway, by tomorrow I should be recovered from an accidental overdose of cayenne pepper in my chilli tonight. Trying to cook and watch the cricket at the same time. Note to self; pay attention in future.

Andy :beamup:
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