Sunday, September 30, 2007

Stew Mac Diaries 20

I installed the bridge and started sanding down the body and neck of the uke. Locating the bridge was easy and installing it was a snap.
I sanded the body down to #240, but there are still a few spots along the curve where I am having trouble removing what appears to be either saw marks or burn marks from the bending process. I have sanded quite a bit and am afraid that I will sand right through to the other side.

Once I have sanded down to #320 I will do some wet sanding before applying layers upon layers of Tru Oil for the final finish.

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.

See you next time,

Kanagawa G

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Stew Mac Diaries 19

Well the time finally arrived where I glued the neck on to my ukulele. I spent quite a while sanding and marking the high points with carbon paper before sanding again. Believe it or not, it was very enjoyable, but that chapter has drawn to a close. The neck is now securely attached and I am ready to install the bridge and do the final sanding and preparations before finishing the wood.

These last two weeks have been pretty eventful as both weekends are/were three-day weekends due to a national holiday falling on Monday. I managed some time to work on my uke in addition to taking a short family vacation (which was an adventure in itself including a safari and car trouble) and a LOT of at home DIY which included my first forray into plumbing since I earned the plumbing merit badge way back when. Luckily I paid attention.

Here is a picture of the drying neck joint. I used a variety of sandpapers and tools (sanding block, large dowels, my fingers, an off-brand Dremel, etc.) to get the best fit possible.

I will be doing the bridge work soon!

Until then,

Kanagawa G

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Stew Mac Diaries 18

I invested a few hours into sanding the neck joint of the ukulele. I have it down to the point where most sane people would consider it good enough, but I am determined to get the joint lined up as tight as humanly possible. I started out as the instructions indicate and put a piece of 80-grit sandpaper between the neck and the body to smooth the neck to the shape of the body. I soon discovered that the cut of the neck was slightly off center so I worked to sort that out.

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.
My old chum "D" is a photo-buff (and audio-buff and movie-buff and BBQ-buff...) and is part of the photography club at the university where he is working as a professor. Last year I built a film roll dryer so his students wouldn't have to wait long for their film to dry during the development process. It was basically a hair dryer on top of a PVC pipe with a rod in the bottom to hold in the film cannisters. It was a surprising success and he asked that I build another one. In the true spirit of DIY, I naturally couldn't resist the urge to MAKE IT BETTER!

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).
LEFT: The two cylinders at the top are fully enclosed filtered fan mechanisms to prevent any airborne dust from blowing on to the film and resulting in a less-than-desireable outcome. As you can see, it has a pleasing silver and grey color scheme, which is coincidentally is the same color as the "handyman's secret weapon." I also designed a label to continue with the "brand name" that I started with the first one.

RIGHT: This is a detail of the filter. Each filter can be easily removed for cleaning or to perform maintenance on one of the internal two-speed fans.

So there you have it. It might not be the prettiest thing that you have ever seen, but it is guaranteed to work like a charm and was built for under 1000 yen (less than $10). This once again proves that you can build pretty good stuff with whatever you have on hand as long as you have a bit of ingenuity.
I will post more pics of the uke project once I finish the final sanding of the neck joint.
See you next time,
Kanagawa G