Life in the Village and beyond, based around the interests of my life.

Life in the Village and beyond, based around the interests of my life. Sunset at Telegraph Point.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Rites of Spring - with apologies to Stravinsky

The Village in Springtime is a hive of activity and a cradle for new life.
Foggy mornings are the harbingers of beautiful balmy days, and although we need rain, the weather is just too pleasant to begrudge the sunshine.

From the bedroom window .....

Last year's wallaby joey has struck out on its own, and the jill has given birth to another one - just like it was twelve months ago.  She is back to the patch of level ground outside our lounge room window, where she spends the night.

The joey only leaves the pouch for short intervals, and is soon back inside.

Springtime also means that the Hastings Woodworkers Guild Annual Show and Exhibition is just around the corner.  It is all systems go, to get things ready and items finished.
The ukulele is almost done.

 Adding the fret-wires

Fretwire comes in rolls or lengths. This pack came by the pound, in 12 inch lengths.  It is the narrower type - suitable for ukuleles and mandolins.

 After cutting to length and seating gently, the frets are hammered home with a block of flat wood to keep them all level.  I swiped the bottom of each fret wire with a small smear of epoxy - to hold them fast. Epoxy is better than super glue, I think, because it gives more working time, and getting the fret wires level isn't such a rush.

Once seated and dry, the edges have to be filed level, and then bevelled.  This angled file does a great job.  Once finished, I glued the fretboard to the neck and body, before applying the finishing coats of shellac and lacquer.

I have had no end of trouble with the shellac finish.  Six coats were applied without incident, but from the seventh coat onwards, I have had an opaque milky finish appear after drying - and it looks horrible.
After washing with alcohol and sanding, additional coats dried no better, and I was becoming very discouraged.
One of the old hands at the Woodies Shed suggested drying it quickly after an application, by using a hair drier.
Success! Of course the girls aren't happy that the hair drier is down at the shed, but hey - get your priorities right!

The surface dries clean, and is gaining the gloss of finished shellac.
It is at the point (15 or 16 coats - not sure) where I can't see any improvement from successive coats, so I will leave it there and lacquer the neck, before stringing it.

Next post, I'll show off the finished ukulele, as well as some of the items I'll be putting in the HWWG Exhibition.

In the meantime here is an excerpt from Stravinsky's Rite of Spring:
This ballet caused a riot when it was first performed in 1913. It begins with bassoon - I wonder if he considered beginning with ukulele .........

The full score is HERE


  1. I came across your blog while contemplating building my own ukulele, and I have greatly enjoyed it. Thanks for posting! I have one question though: you skipped over a discussion of material thickness for the body. Do you have any guidance in this area?

    Nice looking ukulele! I trust it plays well, too.

    1. Thanks George, yes it plays very well - quite a loud and brash sound for a uke. I put that down to the depth of the body as well as the tonal quality of the timbers.
      For the thickness of the body timbers, I ripped them at just under 5mm and then brought them back to 2mm as the final finished thickness. I had to start thick-ish as my bandsaw does not cut a perfectly uniform thickness and I wanted some insurance. I used a drum sander for the final thicknessing.