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.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Making A Boat Paddle Tenor Ukulele - Part 14 - The Finishing Touches

Final Steps

  1. Lacquering
  2. Fitting the tuners
  3. Stringing
  4. Play
I have used Mirotone spray lacquer  for this finish.
Because mango is such an open grained timber, I first gave it two coats of sanding sealer followed by Mirocat three coats.

 The beauty of this finish is that it is dry enough for re-coating after 15 minutes.
A light sand of 400 grit paper between coats was all that was needed.

The tuners are added to the head. I had previously spent time drilling out the tuner holes before the lacquering took place.  This gave a handy hook hole to hang the instrument while spraying.

The headstock has come up rather beautifully with the application of the lacquer

Adding ths strings is done incrementally, and the nut and bridge are adjusted for height to keep the strings at an appropriate height above the frets and to prevent buzzing.

I had to sand the back of both to lower the action before I was happy with it.

And finally - here is the finished product.
It is a super-tenor ukulele, as the scale length is 19 inches.

The intonation is spot on, with the 12th fret exactly an octave higher than open string tuning.
It has plenty of sustain and volume, and I will be looking forward to playing it once the strings stretch and keep their tuning, and the timber settles down and gets bedded in.

Happy trails partners

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Making A Boat Paddle Tenor Ukulele - Part 13 - Nearly There


I decided that the inlaid fretboard would be too busy aesthetically on this mango timber, and have opted instead for a straight plain-jane variety, with simple fret-marker inlays of mother of pearl (MOP)
Marking out the fretboard is very easy once the length of scale is known.
This wonderful online calculator is invaluable:

I mark mine with a scribing knife before cutting them with a narrow-kerf tenon saw.
While the piece of African blackwood is still square,  I mark the positions for the MOP markers - frets 3, 5, 7, 10 and 12 in this case.
These are glued in place and left to dry before cutting the tapers on the fretboard sides to match the existing neck.

Fret-wire is simply hammered into position in the grooves cut by the tenon saw, and snipped to size with a pair of side-cutters.

This little wooden mallet works very well.

A square file is used to trim the overhanging fret-wire from the edges.

When flush, the top edges are filed at 45 degrees to create a chamfer on the corners of the frets themselves.

I find it easiest to do this on a sanding mat that holds the fretboard in place while I file.
There isn't a lot of room for big fingers, so any assistance is welcome.
Once this is complete, I will seat all of the fret-wires with a straight board and an iron hammer to ensure that they are all straight and parallel to each other.

Here is a trial fit with the bone nut in place to see how well everything is coming together.  I don't glue the bone nut in at this stage, as it may need adjusting in height after the bridge is added - to obtain the correct playing action for the strings.

I have selected a piece of Indian rosewood for the headstock, and this has been glued over the laminated head to add a little beauty - and to hide the strip laminations.

I add tape alongside the end of the fretboard to cover the body from excess glue squeeze-out.  It is also a handy fitting guide when the fretboard is glued in place.

Here we are with the glued fret-board held in place by spring-clamps.  Notice that the bone nut is here to establish the fretboard position - it is removed once the clamps are all secure, as I don't want stray glue fixing it in position just yet.

Here we are then - all but finished.
I will next mark out and drill the holes for the headstock tuners.
Only the bridge to add, then follow that with final sanding and finishing.
Nearly there ................

Friday, October 3, 2014

Making A Boat Paddle Tenor Ukulele - Part 12 - The Parts Come Together

Well, it has been quite a while -  what a marathon - haha.
OK, here we go with the fitting of the back, the front and the neck.
The bridge will be added last to assure that it is square to the main axis of the instrument, as well as the precise distance from the nut for tuning.

The back is fitted first, and acts as a brace for the body while the other parts are glued in place.
The neck has to be fitted before the front (the soundboard).  This is because it is so much easier to trim and fit the neck tenon into its mortice, without the attendant problems of working around a covered in top.
There is enough space for clamps and it is simply easier to accomplish.

The soundboard (the top) also has to align with the upper surface of the neck as the fretboard will be glued over both of these.
So they must finish in the same plane.

I use a scrap of wood from the top as a guide to setting the height of the neck above the body - leaving space for the soundboard.

Once the neck and the front are securely glued in place, the fretboard will be added.
Here is a trial fit.

The position of the bridge determines where the re-inforcing will be glued on the back of the soundboard.

The re-inforcing strips are simply scrap pieces from the body construction which will be glued with the grain running at right angles to the grain of the soundboard.

Here they are in position prior to glue and clamp.

Laying Out the Fretboard
.............this will be the next task while the glued parts are drying.

The final tasks will include:
  1. Final sanding
  2. Lacquering and finishing
  3. Fitting the headstock tuners
  4. Stringing ...... and
  5. Voila ............... playing