Get wood, cut wood, glue wood, sand wood, oil wood. Voila.
The sides are cut to roughly 1.8mm, endmatched, tapered along the lower edge, and soaked in hot water for an hour while the bending iron heats up.
This is an old soldering iron, with an offcut of galvanised water pipe added to increase diameter. It takes a minute or two to bend each side.
Clamp it in the jig and leave it to dry.
Trim the sides to length, and bring the two together, gluing in the neck and tail blocks.
The bandsaw with a simple depth stop makes a very effective kerfing cutter.
The kerfing can be shaped to suit, and held in place with pegs whilst gluing with Titebond.
All tops and backs are bookmatched to emphasise the grain patterns and features in the wood.
A simple jig to clamp the two-piece tops and backs.
Accurately controlling the thickness of the top is essential to get a good sound.
Depending on the instrument, and the soundboard wood itself, the ideal thickness will vary a little.
The secret to a good sound is the type and shape of bracing. Shaving the braces down until the flex is just right. Too stiff and the ukulele will sound like all those factory made ones. Too flexible and you'll be sending the ukulele back for a new soundboard.
These are curved, which along with the gently tapered sides, results in a slightly domed back - both aesthetically pleasing and stronger.
These soft-jawed irwin clamps are perfect for the job.
Roughly cut out on the bandsaw
This hunk of Puriri looks a bit gnarly on the outside, but it's the perfect colour, density and workability for fretboards.
The one part of the process that doesn't take part in the workshop. The rastering is done in town at Davy's Engravers.
...and ready for shaping
The trusty belt sander is a very useful tool for many things, and shaping necks is one of them. Start on 40g and end up on 120g, then it's off to the finishing sander.
...and ready for a whole lot more sanding.
No mitre box in this workshop! Just a good fretsaw and careful sawing.
An old panel beating hammer with a wood face to gently bash the frets in.
Checking for level frets, and then each fret is dressed on the ends so it'll be nice to play.
Titebond is used for all gluing. It's the 'original' red bottle, and is great to work with.
The nut and saddle are made from corian. Using proprietary nut files is recommended, in order to get them perfect. Otherwise buzzing will result.
Here is where it all happens. And if you think it looks like that now, you'd be mistaken. I haven't seen that floor in many years.