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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.