Tenor uke pair

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Stray Feathers
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Location: Ladysmith, BC

Tenor uke pair

Post by Stray Feathers »

I started a pair of tenor ukuleles recently, working on them when I had gaps between guitar projects. I keep my eyes open for interesting wood, and see what goes together. I was in Haida Gwaii last summer and bought a chance billet of Sitka Spruce for guitars, not outstanding wood, but interesting, and very reasonably priced. The fellow also gave me a smaller billet I could get ukulele tops out of. I cut seven top sets from this piece, and these are two of them. Interesting to see what they sound like, so close to each other in the same piece of wood. One has back and sides of Narra which came up at a local supplier, with a bright ringy tone, and the other is Black Walnut. The Narra uke has a rosewood rosette ring and will have rosewood binding and headplate, The other will be Black Walnut, maybe maple binding. The rosette ring is just a piece of delicately figured Bigleaf Maple from my firewood pile. Necks will be mahogany and walnut respectively, and I was given a piece of what I think is Ovangkol which may work for fretboards. Bruce W.
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jread
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Re: Tenor uke pair

Post by jread »

Really cool projects. i've been wanting to get a uke going w/ some of the extra guitar sides I have laying around. Or a flat top mandolin.
Stray Feathers
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Re: Tenor uke pair

Post by Stray Feathers »

I bent the sides for these ukes using a Fox-style bender I made for guitars, and modified to do ukuleles too. I am using a guitar heating blanket (from John Hall) for now, but as you can see it is a little cumbersome for ukes, so I am on the lookout for a ukulele blanket - in Canada if I can find one. A company called Omega has some, and even a web page on bending guitar sides, but I have not called them yet. The Black Walnut sides bent quite well (still tweaking my bending form) but the Narra sides were less willing. I had to do a little hand bending on a pipe to get them closer.
IMG_7764_resize.jpg
I decided to try reverse kerfing for the first time, and made some up from some basswood I had around. It's a little easier to make, and, as I had read in a couple of places, it seems to add more stiffness to the sides - good when there is a little more springback than I would like.
IMG_7769_resize.jpg
The two ukes are now closed up - it seems to take just as many clamps to close a little body as a big one.
IMG_7772_resize.jpg
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Stray Feathers
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Re: Tenor uke pair

Post by Stray Feathers »

I put these aside for a time so I could get two guitars ready for spraying - outside in good weather. Then I went back to building the necks, inlaying some MOP, and fitting them, fretboards from a piece of I think Ovangkol I was given (a lovely piece of wood, and really dense, just big enough for some ukulele fretboards, and guitar bridges). After position dots I was ready to join the necks to the bodies-Black Walnut neck for the Black Walnut back and sides, and Mahogany for the Narra uke. Glad to have these done so I can do the frets, and then start the sealing, pore filling, and lacquer while we still have some summer-like weather. Bruce W.
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Diane Kauffmds
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Re: Tenor uke pair

Post by Diane Kauffmds »

These are really cool.
Diane Kauffmann
Country Roads Guitars
countryroadsguitars@gmail.com
Stray Feathers
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Re: Tenor uke pair

Post by Stray Feathers »

Our late, cool and wet spring turned into a long, warm and very dry summer - still breaking temperature records into October, and drought conditions for fall salmon runs - not good. But it has been good for this luthier, spraying lacquer outdoors, and finding multiple reasons to go back two steps snd make corrections and spray some more. These ukes are as done as they are going to get, and are are now curing six weeks or so for sanding and buffing. My spraying is getting better, but still inconsistent; some areas high gloss right out of the gun, and others not quite so good. But overall I feel more in control. ( The Narra uke is on the left in the rear view, and on the right in the front view). Slowly but surely . . . Bruce W.
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Morecowbell
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Re: Tenor uke pair

Post by Morecowbell »

Very cool, thanks for sharing these two!
"Facts seldom sway an opinion." - John Hall
"The difference between theory and practice is that in theory there is no difference." - van de Snepscheut
Stray Feathers
Posts: 540
Joined: Sun Sep 08, 2013 11:39 pm
Location: Ladysmith, BC

Re: Tenor uke pair

Post by Stray Feathers »

It seems a long wait while the lacquer cures, and the rest of life gets in the way, but I finally finished off these ukuleles. (Good thing as one is a Christmas gift, and the other for a February birthday.) Buffing the finish caused me some grief, and I'm not completely happy with the back on the Black Walnut uke. I'm still learning about this, and tried a little different approach on the Narra uke and it came out better. When gluing the bridges (made from rosewood scraps) I couldn't remember how I put a caul under the bridge plate. It has to fit around the bracing in there, and how do you get your hand in there? I finally realized the obvious, and stuck little cauls to the jaw of the c-clamp, using "ATG" tape. The ATG gun just lays the adhesive down, and takes up the backing paper on a separate reel inside. This makes it easier to clean up after.

Both ukuleles have sitka tops, cut from the same billet. The walnut uke is a little more mellow, maybe "woodier"; the Narra uke is a little brighter and a little louder. But neither is dramatically different from my first Bitter Cherry and Western Redcedar ukes, so I am wondering if the differences are more subtle in a small instrument. I've started three more so will be interested to see what they sound like. Bruce W.
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