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Koa tenor ukulele

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Project by bonobo posted 06-25-2020 12:25 AM 415 views 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Lots went wrong but I was using hide glue and was able to re-do an number of steps, including re-setting the neck. It turned out to sound great and was made for a friend, who won’t notice the issues with the final finish. I’d made a walnut soprano previously, so had a basic idea of the process but hadn’t tried purfling, binding, a side sound hole, bound keyboard, side dots, inlay, bridge pins, and a few other things, so it was a great learning process.

The body is koa and the fretboard and bridge are Osage orange, which has darkened a lot more over the past year.

I bought a thickness calliper from Lee Valley, a bending iron from Stewmac and a gramil to score the channels for the binding. It was hand planes, saws and chisels other than that. Very do-able as an apartment project.

-- “The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” ― Mark Twain





4 comments so far

View DMiller's profile

DMiller

537 posts in 1272 days


#1 posted 06-25-2020 01:13 AM

Wow, that looks great! I can tell the time and detail that went into it! How easy was it to use a gramil vs. a binding router bit? I’ve used a router bit for cutting binding, considered a gramil though. Also, what finish did you use?
Keep up the great work!
-Dale

-- Dale Miller Modesto, CA "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13. "Woodworking minus patience equals firewood."

View bonobo's profile

bonobo

304 posts in 2855 days


#2 posted 06-25-2020 03:02 AM

Koa is pretty hard, so the gramil was only good to score the edges. Chiselling out the rebates for the purfling/binding was the most tedious process of the whole operation because it would have been so easy for the chisel to slip or open a long crack. It might be able to go deeper in a spruce top but you’d still have the sides to contend with. I don’t expect to make more than one instrument every two years but if that rate picks up, I’ll invest in a small router.

I gave it several coats of shellac and decided to try a water-based pore sealer. It seemed to work fine until I sanded it back and applied a second coat. Wherever the wood was bare, it turned an ugly olive green. I’d experimented with a piece of scrap but it was too small to notice the colour shift. I had to carefully scrape it all off but was afraid of thinning the shell too much and dint get back to wood everywhere, so it left a few patches of a very subtle haze under the oil finish I eventually went with. It was one of the Tried & True finishes…which worked really well otherwise.

-- “The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” ― Mark Twain

View Foghorn's profile

Foghorn

526 posts in 185 days


#3 posted 06-25-2020 02:51 PM

Nice work! They are a lot of fun to build and play. Looks like a Bushman tweed case too which are nice. Keep on building.

-- Darrel

View Sasha's profile

Sasha

1156 posts in 2011 days


#4 posted 06-27-2020 07:21 AM

I take off my hat …..

-- Ganchik Sasha. Life is not a draft, tomorrow you will not redo......

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