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.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Making A Boat Paddle Tenor Ukulele - Part 4 - Sides - Bending and Fixing in Place

Bending the Sides to Shape

I use a small bending iron and an atomiser spray.

The heat from the iron and the sprayed on water act to steam the timber making it soft and pliable.

 Mango is surprisingly easy to bend and it took far less time than the sassafrass of my first uke.


The scrap pieces that were cut from the mould now come into play as clamps - holding the sides until dry.

I have positioned the end block in place with a mark down its centre line to keep it correctly positioned.  This will later be glued and clamped.

The waste-clamps are expanded by using nothing more than an expanding toggle, normally used for tensioning wire.  The top shaping blocks are forced apart with nothing more than a simple wedge - see below.

The end block is made from a small piece of Australian cedar - light but strong and with good acoustic properties.  It has been radiused to the same curve as the body at this point.

The two sides meet at the bottom of the body and are held in place by the glued end block.  As you can see, the two sides don't quite meet at the centre line.  I stressed about this in my first uke for a day or more but was never able to establish a clean middle join.
I don't worry about it now, and after the glue dries I will cut a wedge shape exactly in the middle and insert a decorative piece of African blackwood as a feature.

These two pieces will meet at a corner - a potential weak point in the body.  I have decided to strengthen the corner and eliminate the weak join with a small gusset that will also show through as a feature.  African blackwood again. This will come a little later.

I'll glue in the end blocks one at a time. Here, the bottom end block is glued into place.  The top block will come later on and it will have a mortice cut into it to house the tenon on the end of the neck.
Things are taking shape nicely.


  1. Tom many thanks Fletty told me about article in magazine I haven't seen it yet. Lost your email addy thats why posted here had HDD crash. Like the Euke build off to see Claw Hammers latest this afternoon at Roockwood.

    No need to post this comment but if you can pop me even a blank email so i have yours again would be apprieciated.


  2. Hi Tom:

    I'm really enjoying the step by step of your blog. Lots of great pictures, too. Just curious about your bending technique - does the atomiser give you enough moisture to bend the thin strips, or do you need to soak them before bending?

    Byron (preparing for a Winnipeg winter...)

    1. Hi Byron,
      thanks for the kind words.
      I find it works well but I have to spray it repeatedly and bend it a little at a time.
      The water evaporates quickly.
      It takes me a while but I get there.
      The uke is finished now and plays very well.
      Happy trails