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School for Ukulele making

'Uke Building Tips:

-Spanish Neck

-Spline Neck

-Tenon Neck

-Dovetail Neck

-Mechanical Neck

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718 Puuhale Rd.
Honolulu, HI
96819



Spline, Tenon, Dovetail, and Mechanical Joint 'Ukulele Neck Construction
The most common neck to body connection employs the use of a mortise tenon joint, a slotted spline joint, a dovetail joint or a simple mechanical fastener such as a screw or bolt.

These methods have one thing in common; the neckpiece and body of the 'ukulele are two separate features.

The neck can be finished as well as the body of the 'ukulele before final attachment. The methods require a separate head block which will go into the body of the 'ukulele and a separate neck that is attached via the above methods at a later date.

Tenon  


A jig and a router can be used to cut off the cheeks of the neckpiece, leaving an exposed tenon, and likewise a similar jig and router make the mortise tenon joint. The body of the 'ukulele is mortised to match the width and depth of the tenon or a shade larger making sure the mortise and tenon will fit both accurately and snugly when fitting the separate neck piece to the body of the 'ukulele.



Spline  


The spline joint is a simpler method whereby a jig is used with a 1/8th inch router bit and a slot of appropriate depth is cut into the center end of the neckpiece from the top of the neck stopping about a 1/4 inch from the bottom end of the neck end's heel.

The body is similarly mortised via a jig and the same 1/8" bit from the center of the top of the body to about a 1/4" from the bottom end of the body. A spline of the thickness of the slotted pieces is inserted into the slots fitting the separate neckpiece to the 'ukulele's body. A biscuit or a spline piece may also be used.



Dovetail  


The dovetailed joint is a more sophisticated variation of the mortise tenon joint. Again using a router, an appropriate dovetail bit and a secure jig, the dovetail is cut into the end portion of the neck using the end of the necks centerline as a guide.

The dovetail is an angled tenon. The matching mortise is used with a special router bit and a jig to slot the mortise of the body to match the dovetail of the neck end. Body and neck once dovetailed and fitted may be attached to each other after the final finishing of both pieces.


Mechanical  


A simple mechanical means of fastening uses a wood screw, bolts or dowels to mate the neck end to the body of the 'ukulele.

The neck is cut at the designated location of the joint. This is a simple 90-degree cut perpendicular to the top surface of the neck. The top of the 'Ukulele's body is sanded flat so it is also perpendicular and ninety degrees to the soundboard surface of the 'ukulele body.

The 'ukulele neck is aligned with the center of the body; the top of the neck is made flush with the soundboard. Screws, bolts or dowels will then be inserted from the head block and into the end of the neckpiece, drawing both pieces together tightly.

Pros and Cons of Spline, Tenon, Dovetail, and Mechanical Style neck construction

These methods of construction might look intimidating but once the appropriate jigs are created the actual jointing is done rather smoothly. Most 'Ukulele manufacturers use one or more of these methods in their production lines.

Fitting the neck to body and keeping the alignment centered from left to right as well as up and down needs patience and focus as well as a work board jig to keep things true and accurate. Special care should be taken when creating your jigs to assure these parameters are met.

A separate neck and body allows for easy assembly and installation of bindings or purflings. The heel shape may need more mass to accommodate mechanical fasteners and the top of the 'Ukuleles upper bout must be flat and ninety degrees to its soundboard.

Try all methods of construction and choose the method that suits your mode of working.




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