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Ukulele Making Course.

This is where we don't want anything but evidence of your finest wood butchering in all its glorious, and photograph laden glory. Bring your finished products or WIP's, we love them all, so long as there's pictures, and plenty of 'em!

Ukulele Making Course.

Postby Malc2098 » 22 Jun 2022, 11:59

I've been away for a while, a week and a bit, working with a professional ukulele maker who offers 1 to 1 courses. This was my opportunity to learn how an experienced luthier makes his instruments.

I chose Granadillo for the top and Flamed Myrtle for the sides and back. Both are from Oregon.
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On the very first day, he asked me to sign my name on the whiteboard, photograph it and send it to him via email. He then imported the image into his Cad/Cam software for it eventually to become my logo in Mother of Pearl!
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I was so engaged in the next part that I wasn't able to take any photos. The sides were laminated from two 1.05mm thick pieces of the Myrtle. Both leaves were hand bent around a bending iron to fit the form, without water. At that thickness, water isn't needed. Both leaves are glued with Titebond Original and clamped between two side shaped moulds. I also chose this model to be a cutaway design. So, the cutaway was also laminated.

The leaf joints were cut and the mitre joint for the cutaway carefully planed and all three were dry fitted to the outside mould. The tail and neck blocks and the cutaway mitre fillet were shaped on the CNC machine and the combination were glued in place.
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The back had it's centre joint reinforcement and braces glued in place.
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(Ha! The first one not to be in original orientation!)

The book matched top was glued. The CNC was then employed again to rout the rosette grooves, the soundhole and the pre-sized outline of the top.
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The top's sound hole reinforcement (CNC shaped), bridge reinforcement and braces were fitted.
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The rosette purfling was glued in.

The CNC then cut the MoP logo of my signature, shown here with a pencilled version.
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The sides were fitted to the back with kerfed linings, followed in the same way by the top.
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The top was routed to shape and the tortoiseshell binding and plastic purfling was fitted.

In the meantime, while the top was being glued, work had begun on the neck. It had been rough cut to shape. The headstock angle sanded flat both sides and the Indonesian Rosewood veneer fitted to the headstock. The carbon fibre trussed groove was routed and the trussed epoxied in the slot.
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Work now started on the fretboard. traditionally the fret slots have been cut with a fine saw. These days, the CNC router with a 0.6mm diameter end mill cutter can cut the slots much more consistently and accurately.
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The CNC was then used with the same 0.6mm end mill to rout out the socket for the signature logo.
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The MoP did not fit straightaway, but the CNC is then programmed to offset the socket by 0.005mm. It still did not fit, but after the second 0.005mm offset, it pushed in like a dream!
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Frets were fitted.
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The neck carving began.
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This was the single most difficult thing I found to do in the whole project. But then that's why I paid to be taught by a professional. I used various rasps to achieve the eventual shape which was then finish sanded.
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I chose gold plated hardware to complement the timbers.
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The bridge, nut and saddle were fitted.
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby Malc2098 » 22 Jun 2022, 12:25

It was sprayed with satin nitrocellulose.

Then the strings were fitted.

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I think it look stunning, (says he, modestly).
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It was quite an intense 7 days, but absolutely worth it. It's fired me up to think more creatively about how to use the CNC machine. I'm chuffed to bits with the result. I can't play it yet, but I'm going to learn.
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby AJB Temple » 22 Jun 2022, 12:52

Superb. That looks very professionally made indeed. Nice straight grained top too. Clearly well set up with jigs for positioning and glue up, and the CNC work is impressive. This is the way to get production consistency I suppose.

No doubt someone is applying similar methods to violin making, where the carving challenges are more involved for hand workers (curved/scooped top and back, scroll etc) which I imagine would lend itself to CNC machining.

Good post.
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby StevieB » 22 Jun 2022, 13:11

Very impressive, enjoyed reading this - thank you for posting!
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby MattS » 22 Jun 2022, 13:46

You're not wrong, absolutely stunning! Interesting quite how much use the CNC gets
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby novocaine » 22 Jun 2022, 14:16

Stunning.

did he show you at what point they fit the rattling plectrum to the the body? I know it's an industry secret so you can't show pictures.
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby Malc2098 » 22 Jun 2022, 14:29

Thank you, Gents, and Dave, get yer hat and coat! :D
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby DaveL » 22 Jun 2022, 15:28

Well that is very nice
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby Robert » 22 Jun 2022, 15:29

Need to change your posting avatar now.

So why didn't the CNC carve the neck?

Excellent thread and excellent result btw.

:)
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby Tiresias » 22 Jun 2022, 15:39

I very seldom comment on other people’s work. Because my opinions are generally worthless.

But that looks good.

We only have one uke in the house. And I can’t play it at all. Bass and sax is about my limit (not at the same time, mind you).

Thank you for posting that,
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby Doug » 22 Jun 2022, 15:46

Always interesting to see how professionals go about things & a great result :eusa-clap:
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby Malc2098 » 22 Jun 2022, 17:46

Thank you, Gents. Your words help to keep me fired up to be more creative with the CNC to make more instruments.

Robert, I've been trying to 'draw' a 3D neck, including angled headstock and heel in Fusion 360, following a US luthier. It would take me a while, and I'd have to work itthat the neck was on its side and carve one side, turn it over and carve the mirror image.

It turns out, that it didn't take that long to cut and carve the neck. The headstock profile was cnc'd, the logo was cnc'd and the tuner holes were cnc'd.

The heel sides were rough shaped using a template and bearing follower routed cutter.

The hand carving of the heel and the fore and aft neck profiles didn't take that long, and I felt more confident having been shown how the professional did it, which wasn't too far removed from how I did it myself in my previous two instruments, but much more accurate and consistent.

For the few instruments that I would make, it would be quicker to do what I have described above, using the cnc, but not for all of it.
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby Rezi » 22 Jun 2022, 18:10

Wow! Absolutely lovely work.
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby Andyp » 22 Jun 2022, 18:46

Knowing nothing about musical instruments of any sort I can only marvel at how nice everything you have shown us looks.
I would happily bet that they play as well as they look too.
That CNC mother of pearl signature is a fine touch.
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby Malc2098 » 22 Jun 2022, 20:21

Rezi wrote:Wow! Absolutely lovely work.


Thanks, Steve.
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby Malc2098 » 22 Jun 2022, 20:23

Andyp wrote:Knowing nothing about musical instruments of any sort I can only marvel at how nice everything you have shown us looks.
I would happily bet that they play as well as they look too.
That CNC mother of pearl signature is a fine touch.


Thanks, Andy. It plays as well as it looks in the hands of the luthier who mentored me. I've yet to learn how to play it.

He's sending me the CNC files for the signature so I can continue using it on future instruments.
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby NickM » 22 Jun 2022, 21:36

What a great course! That’s a beautiful instrument.
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby BigMonka » 22 Jun 2022, 22:11

Wow, that’s a stunning instrument! There must be a huge sense of satisfaction to play a beautiful instrument that you made with your own hands.
I’d be interested to hear more about who runs the course and where it is please.
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby Malc2098 » 23 Jun 2022, 09:42

NickM wrote:What a great course! That’s a beautiful instrument.



Thanks, Nick.
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby Malc2098 » 23 Jun 2022, 09:43

BigMonka wrote:Wow, that’s a stunning instrument! There must be a huge sense of satisfaction to play a beautiful instrument that you made with your own hands.
I’d be interested to hear more about who runs the course and where it is please.



Thanks, BM.

I'll PM you.
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby Woodbloke » 23 Jun 2022, 10:34

Nice 8-) - Rob
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby Malc2098 » 23 Jun 2022, 10:53

Woodbloke wrote:Nice 8-) - Rob


Thanks. Big words from you. I'm touched. :)
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby Woodbloke » 23 Jun 2022, 11:40

Malc2098 wrote:
Woodbloke wrote:Nice 8-) - Rob


Thanks. Big words from you. I'm touched. :)

One of your favourite words Malc; responding in kind :lol: - Rob
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby Malc2098 » 23 Jun 2022, 12:12

Woodbloke wrote:
Malc2098 wrote:
Woodbloke wrote:Nice 8-) - Rob


Thanks. Big words from you. I'm touched. :)

One of your favourite words Malc; responding in kind :lol: - Rob


I realised that, and I'm still touched. :D
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Re: Ukulele Making Course.

Postby Woodbloke » 23 Jun 2022, 12:47

Malc2098 wrote:
I realised that, and I'm still touched. :D


:lol: - Rob
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