Monday, June 2, 2014

Building a Soprano Ukelele Part 1

Building a soprano ukelele.

I have built many instruments over the years but have been out of it for a while due to getting our house finished. I decided to get back into the swing of lutherie (instrument building) by making a soprano ukelele. It's a small instrument, so it doesn't take a lot of materials or space BUT everthing that you have to do to make one of these little guys also applies to guitar construction. You could look at this as practice for making a bigger instrument. It is a real instrument, though.
First I needed a plan. A quick survey of the internet turned up a downloadable Soprano Ukelele Plan on Creative Commons.
Ukelele Plan
The next thing was to make some templates and forms. I used some 3/4" MDF (medium density fiberboard) that I had lying around. The template and forms were cut on a bandsaw and sanded smooth.
Ukelele template and forms
The inside form and the outside form need to have 1.5mm clearance between. These forms are used to hold the sides after they are bent whilst the linings and end blocks are glued in.
The pieces of walnut for the sides and back and the spruce for the top  were smoothed and thinned using some fixtures I made for my old Shopsmith. I took them down to about 1.8mm and then used a cabinet scraper to get a really smooth surface and thin to 1.5mm.
Shopsmith drum sander jointer
Off to a good start! Next time we'll look at bending the sides.