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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:54 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2015 7:46 pm
Posts: 124
Location: Arlington, WA
This has all been new but not all of it has been scary. Continuing on this tenor ukulele, I now have a fretboard prepared (without frets installed at this point). I have a neck that is roughed out and I have the body without the back attached. Perhaps it is simple at this point but it feels like a good opportunity for big mistakes.

I'm not sure how to approach fastening the fretboard onto the neck onto the body. This is a bolt-on neck so that part isn't the question. I am concerned about ensuring that the angle between the neck with fretboard and the top is as it should be to allow strings to hit a bridge where they should. I have heard of concerns about a 'hump' being created at the joint between the neck and the body if things are not perfectly flat. The top was radiused and so it is theoretically impossible for the fretboard to rest perfectly flatly on the top.

On the other extreme, what if the fit of the neck with fretboard is such that the fretboard rides up slightly from the straight line from nut to attach point at the body? then the 'hump' is reversed and that would create problems as well I would expect.

I welcome any helpful perspective and tricks you may have.

Chuck B


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:01 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:14 pm
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I put a thin wedge between the fretboard and the top to account for the top radius and/or random construction errors.

I do a dovetail joint for the neck so I don't know about any special considerations that may apply to a bolt-on neck, but this is probably what I'd do:

Glue fretboard to neck. Install frets, if you haven't already done so.

Fit neck to body. Put a straightedge on the centerlne of the fretboard and see where it hits the bridge.A uke isn't going to flex much from string tension, so you don't need to allow anything (or only a bit) for that. The straightedge probably ought to just graze the top of the bridge. When you put in the saddle, its height will determine how high the strings are off the fretboard (the "action.")

Also adjust neck angle left/right by putting a straightedge on either side of the fretboard and marking where those liens intersect the tail edge of top. The marks should be centered left/right on the top ceneterline. Add a shim, or shave one side of the heel, to adjust the left/right angle.

The fretboard extension should just touch the top. somewhere. If ti's full contact all over, or nearly so, great! If there is a gap, make a wedge to fit. If the extension doesn't touch the top, the neck will need to be moved down until it does. If the extension is jammed against the top so it bends upward, the neck will need to be moved up until there is no pressure on the extension. You can probably get this right by shimming the top or bottom of the heel to change the up/down neck angle. I don't know how one would do this with a bolt-on neck if the positioning is so far out that shimming to change the angle is not sufficient to fix it.

My technique may be a horrible example of how to do this. Somebody who actually knows how to build guitars may be appalled by my undisciplined approach. It does work though.

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There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:33 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2015 7:46 pm
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Location: Arlington, WA
Thank you, Mainegeezer! That's a lot of good stuff in your reply. To start with, you have answered the question, "Which comes first? Frets on fretboard or fretboard on neck." That at least gets me started.
And I like your detail on how to line up the neck with the instrument throughout. :-)


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:50 am 
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That's my way of doing it. Others may doubt things In a different order. I like to glue on the fretboard and then put in the frets because I think it feels more solid but if you feel more comfortable doing the frets first, that's fine.and

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Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:23 pm 
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Location: Arlington, WA
I think I'd prefer (never having done it) to install the frets in the fret board on a flat surface.

My only thought (born from inexperience) is that if you pound frets in before gluing to the neck is there the chance that the fret board will bow backwards a slight bit due to the fret tangs being forced into the slots?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:42 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:50 am
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Location: Chadds Ford, PA
ChuckBarnett wrote:
I think I'd prefer (never having done it) to install the frets in the fret board on a flat surface.

My only thought (born from inexperience) is that if you pound frets in before gluing to the neck is there the chance that the fret board will bow backwards a slight bit due to the fret tangs being forced into the slots?


Hey Chuck,
Everyone gets to choose their own way when it comes to laying in frets and no doubt with good reasons for doing their way. I do like what you state (at least for the last 10 instruments); put the frets in the FB before any gluing. I use a granite surface plate as support and a 1967 Mg Midget lead wire wheel hammer to gently pound the frets in. I get a back bow in the fretted board that flattens with 8 oz pressure or so. After gluing to the neck, I adjust the truss rod to get an ever so slight curve for relief. It does work for me and I am open to another way if I live long enuf to get around to it.
d.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 4:11 pm 
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Yes, you can get back-bow because of the wedging action of the frets in the slots. That's one reason I glue the fretboard on before putting in the frets. If you get the correct slot width for the tang thickness you're installing, however, it's not an issue. John sells fretwire with different tang thicknesses so you can choose exactly what works best for a particular slot width in a particular type of wood. I don't know why other companies don't call out the tang thickness of their fretwires more predominately than they do.

Actually, the full sequence I use is:

Shape the headstock and flatten the top of the neck.

Trim the sides of the neck so they project just slightly beyond the sides of the fretboard (or where the edges of the fretboard are going to be)

Shape the heel, mostly, and cut the dovetail

DO NOT shape the back of the neck yet.

Glue on the fretboard

Install the frets. The still-rectangluar neck shape lets you press/squieeze/pound in the frets with maximum support and no risk of denting or otherwise damaging a finished neck back.

Shape the back of the neck, using the glued-on fingerboard as a guiide to shaping the sides of the neck, and generally bring the neck to final form.

Apply the finish to the neck.....and, separately, to the body

When neck and body are completed, fit the two together.

But as said before, somebody else may have their own preferred sequence that is different. Figure out what you're most comfortable with, and do it that way.

_________________
Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:23 am 
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Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 8:03 am
Posts: 1011
Location: Chestertown Maryland
A uke is a great way to get introduced to guitar making - it is hard to make a geometry mistake. Your uke is a true flat top - there is no dome in it. If things go right for your body in the mold, the side at the neck block will be a 90 degree angle with the top, and the body end of the neck will be a 90 degree angle with the fretboard plane.

Bolt on the neck without a fretboard, and when you lay a straightedge on the top of the neck it should lay on top of the body - nice straight line. This is NOT the same as a guitar. If this is not the case, then sand as others have said (I use 80 grit with packing tape on the back to make it slippery on the body and keep it from tearing). Then use the sandpaper on one side or the other to move the centerline left and right. The fretboard is flat, not radiused like a guitar, so don't worry too much about centerlines of the neck here when you lay on the straightedge.

Look at this picture and scroll right to see a sequence you might consider:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ruby1638/26188084380/in/album-72157662606115293/

Once the fretboard goes on (I always fret before I glue on the board), you make your bridge (without a saddle) thick enough that a straight edge laid on top of the frets just sits on top of the bridge. The saddle then goes in and gives you all of the "action" height. And there is so little stress on things that you don't have to worry about the neck pulling up over time.

There is no one-way to do anything on an instrument - example - when I make my guitar necks, I shape the back, rounded part of a neck except for final sanding before I install the fretboard because the piece lays flatter and more rigidly on my jig than it would with the radiused fretboard installed. I just leave a little extra material at the fretboard joint to take down to final shape once it is glued on - I find this easier and more logical, but others won't. You will probably try a different method for a lot of steps on the next instrument you make (and there WILL be another instrument). I find if I take a lot of pictures, then I can better remember what I did last time

My daughter is right now running a ukulele camp for girls 10-15 years old in Brooklyn, NY. I was up there on Wednesday to help with neck sets on 10 ukes. She and I got a system down and had them all done in about an hour - these are Stew Mac kits, so most of the work is done already.

Good luck and ask questions

Ed


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