Sunday, October 21, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
At long last, here is the final product!
I used multiple layers of Tru-Oil for the finish on the neck and body and opted for a wax on the headstock and fretboard. I strung it up with a set of clear nylon Martin strings instead of the ones that came with the kit. This was purely personal preference and I'm sure that the strings that are provided with the kit are just fine. In fact, I'll be hanging on to them just in case.
As can be expected, I will be tweaking a few things duringthe "breaking in" phase, mainly lowering the action by filing down the saddle. That being said, I think that I can safely declare this uke finished.
Having strung it up and played a few tunes, I am surprised at the amount of volume this little guy can produce. It has a full, bright sound that offers an interesting contrast to the rich, mellow tone of the pineapple-style ukulele that I am accustomed to.
I learned a lot through the course of this build and will be using the knowledge toward future projects both uke and non-uke related. I am very happy with the final result, but as the builder there are always a few things in the back of my mind that I would have liked to have done differently. I'll chalk this up to the learning process. If everything went perfectly, I wouldn't have learned anything and therefore wouldn't have grown as an individual. I'm happy to say that I have humbly managed to do a little of both.
I have a notebook full of notes, sketches and ideas for upcoming projects and can't wait for the next time I have access to a bandsaw and workshop. I'll have to warn family and friends ahead of time so they don't think (hope?) that I was kidnapped.
I would like to thank everyone for their suggestions and comments. Your help was (and still is) greatly appreciated.
As a final note (pun intended), I would like to add that Mrs. Kanagawa G, heretofore a uke fan but non-player, has laid claim to this ukulele and is expressing interest in learning how to play. That alone makes this uke worth its weight in gold.
Until the next time,
p.s.- the latest episode of the Ukecast is up. You can give it a listen at http://www.ukecast.com/. If you have a chance, drop Chris and Nipper a line to let them know what a great job they are doing. Keep up the good work, guys!
Sunday, September 30, 2007
I managed a quick trip to the hardware store the other day to pick up some supplies as well as poke around at materials for future projects. Well, it wasn't too quick of a trip because I was on foot and it was over a 5-mile trip. It was late afternoon and I figured that I could do for a little walk.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Next I used a handy sheet of carbon paper to mark the high spots on the neck. Seeing as this is the information age and people don't have carbon paper floating around like in the past, I had to think for a minute as to where I could get some. I ended up using one of the inside pages of a waybill from a recent delivery. How's that for recycling?
The joint is ever so close to being done, but in an effort to square up the corner of the neck and the underside of the fretboard, I went out and picked up a handheld roto-tool and some attachments. I tested it out on a few things around the house (I like the glass etching bit) and I think I am ready to give it a go. I only want to shave off a tiny amount without unnecessarily thinnng the fretboard.
I don't have any pictures of the uke in its current state (as nothing has changed visibly), so I am including a few pics of another DIY project I recently finished.
I'm proud to say that the second dryer was build at LESS expense than the first one DESPITE having TWICE the capacity. This was built using old junk around the house and two 300 yen fans that I found at an "end of summer" sale (despite the fact that it is still darn hot).
Sunday, August 26, 2007
I sat down last evening to shape the neck of the ukulele. My wife was watching a movie and our son was zonked out for the night after a busy day of splashing around in a kiddie pool and running around looking at bugs with some of his friends.
Shaping the neck was a very enjoyable process and it seemed to take no time at all. I sanded down the excess wood to make the neck even with the fretboard and smoothed the curvature of the neck to match appropriately. I also leveled the frets and polished them up a bit. After deciding that I had done enough work for one evening, I glanced at the clock as I started to clean up and saw that I had been at work for close to three hours. I aim to do some final sanding of the neck this week and attach the neck to the body.
I looked over the mighty John Colter's notes about the Stewart MacDonald kit and have to agree about his idea of attaching the neck to the body with a 1/4" dowel. Titebond is a very dependable glue, but I want the extra peace of mind in knowing that there is a solid joint at the neck. You can find his notes on the kit at: http://www.ukuke.co.uk/magazine.htm
John's notes are #12 in the table of contents. Many of my notes on building the kit closely echo his comments. I couldn't agree more with his closing comment about building for enjoyment. I have been taking my sweet time building this kit so that I can enjoy it as much as possible. I know that I will enjoy playing this uke for a long time once it has been finished, and that I will enjoy building more ukes in the future, but I can only enjoy the process of building this particular ukulele only once.
In other news, episode 223 of the Uke Cast is now available on the Uke Cast website. http://www.ukecast.com/Episode 223 is a music-filled celebration of the "birth" of the ukulele. For more information, visit the website and give it a listen!
See you next time,