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Message started by killin5 on Aug 3rd, 2004 at 9:32am

Title: Carbon Fiber Rod
Post by killin5 on Aug 3rd, 2004 at 9:32am
One of the features I have noticed on many ukulele builder’s provide is a carbon fiber reinforcement rod in the neck.

How necessary is this on a tenor uke? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

On a Spanish style neck, where exactly do you place the rod? Does it go from the nut all the way through the heal? Or do you stop at the neck joint?

What is the best size rod stock to buy?

I’m about to place an order with Stewart MacDonald and if this is one of those small items that I should be using, I should probably pick one up in this order.


Title: Re: Carbon Fiber Rod
Post by John_Mayes on Aug 4th, 2004 at 10:38am
Yes, yes and yes.  Use it.  It stiffens the neck considerably which will help longevity as well as tone.  On my ukes that have 5 piece necks it is not nessicary (although I still do it) as I can stand on the neck where the nut is and it will no budge..they are that strong, but on a mahogany neck over time the tension of the string will pull the neck forward and cause action, tone, intonation issues.  So YES by all means use one.

Title: Re: Carbon Fiber Rod
Post by killin5 on Aug 11th, 2004 at 5:56am
I received my carbon fiber rod from Stewart MacDonald yesterday. So now that I have decided to use it. I am wondering about placement.

Where exactly do you start and stop with the rod on a Spanish style neck? Do you go under the nut? Do you go through the Web? Or do you stop before the web?

Thanks for the advice.


Title: Re: Carbon Fiber Rod
Post by John_Mayes on Aug 11th, 2004 at 11:03am
just put it right down the middle.  As long as you give yourself enough clearance under the rod then you can take it under the nut and out the face of the peghead.  And I would let it run all the way to the end of the neck.

Title: Re: Carbon Fiber Rod
Post by John_Mayes on Aug 11th, 2004 at 11:04am
if nothing else start it about a inch away from the nut and run it to the end of the neck.

Title: Re: Carbon Fiber Rod
Post by killin5 on Sep 4th, 2004 at 11:40am
I just installed the rod. I cut a channel through the entire length of the neck with my table saw. It worked out really well.

I have the heal carved, cut the table/shelf for the soundboard and just glued on the headpiece veneer.

Next I will be shaping the headpiece and cutting my bracing.

Thanks for the advice on installing the rod. I think it will be a good piece of insurance.


Title: Re: Carbon Fiber Rod
Post by Dominator on Sep 4th, 2004 at 11:58am
Did you already have the scarf joint cut and glued on for your 15 degree taper before cutting your groove?  Got any photos of the process?

Title: Re: Carbon Fiber Rod
Post by John_Mayes on Sep 4th, 2004 at 1:07pm
I don't scarf joint.  I use one piece necks.  More expensive to do that way but I like the look much better.  And the other style I use is a 5 piece neck.  Much more expensive (about $50 per neck in materials) but VERY stiff and really cool looking.  I don't put carbon in these necks anymore as they are stiff enough on their own.  Sorry no pics..., but on my one piece necks I cut the neck reinforcement bar channel after the blank has been cut out.

Title: Re: Carbon Fiber Rod
Post by killin5 on Sep 5th, 2004 at 6:55am
When I installed the rod in my neck, I did have the scarf joint cut. I also had the heal block glued together and had slotted the grooves in the heal for the Spanish style joint. I had also glued the ears on the headstock.

To cut the groove:
    • I drew a centerline.
    • I marked the width of the groove and set the rip fence on my table saw to cut to one side. Since I had already glued the ears on, I used a spacer in between the neck shaft and the rip fence.
    • I set the depth of the blade to be as close to the thickness of the rod as I could get. I actually made the grove just a bit shallow.
    • I then ran the entire length of the neck through from the heal block to the headstock.
    • Then I adjusted the rip fence so that the blade would cut the remaining section of the grove and ran the neck through again.

The channel came out just a bit crooked due to some sanding I did to the neck shaft after I glued the scarf joint. I think that if I had had the table saw from the beginning, the stock would have been straight and the channel would have been straight as well.

On my next neck I will install the ears after I have done the basic milling on the neck.

As I mentioned earlier, I cut the channel just a bit shallow. I was using the “it is much easier to take away wood than add it back” theory. To get the channel to the final dept. I glued some sandpaper to the rod, clamped it to my workbench and ran the neck over the rod until I had sanded the groove to the proper depth.

I do have some photos, but I don’t have a website to post them to.


Title: Re: Carbon Fiber Rod
Post by Dominator on Sep 5th, 2004 at 12:01pm
Hey John,
Thanks for the info.  You can post your pics right here but I am not sure if you can do it without having some space in cyberdum to place them.  RC Hawaii is the guru when it comes to this sort of stuff.  Maybe he will chime in and straighten us out.  How bout it RC?

Title: Re: Carbon Fiber Rod
Post by killin5 on Sep 6th, 2004 at 5:16pm
I have to apologize for these photos being blurry. I will have to work harder at holding the camera steady.

This photo shows the channel I cut on my table saw.

Here is the rod laid out in the channel.

I cut the angle of the neck and the shelf. I then sanded them flush.

This is the first time I have installed one of these rods. Actually this is the first neck I have built, so there may be better ways to do this. All in all, using the table saw, this turned out being easier than I thought.

Oh, and thanks RC Hawaii for the photo web space.


Title: Re: Carbon Fiber Rod
Post by Rick on Sep 6th, 2004 at 6:42pm
Hi -
I'm working on my second uke neck using a carbon rod. I follow the same process, but used a laminate trimmer to route the slot for the rod. I'm using a 1/8 x 3/8 rod from StewMac and routing the slot just a hair deeper than 3/8 rod so It will sit flush with the neck.


Title: Re: Carbon Fiber Rod
Post by Dominator on Sep 6th, 2004 at 7:07pm
See John,
I new RC would fix you up.  I had forgotten about his post in the Recent News section of this forum about him providing space for forum members to post their pics.
Thanks again RC.

John, It looks like your rod is wider than Rick's.  What size did you use?

Title: Re: Carbon Fiber Rod
Post by killin5 on Sep 7th, 2004 at 10:51am

I used the Stewart MacDonald #4400 rod. It measures 0.200" x 1/4" x 24" length. I figured for a few dollars more the 24 inch length would give me enough for my next uke.

The rod is thicker that the 1/8” x 3/8” rod. I chose it because it could be set 1/8th of an inch shallower than the thinner rod.


Title: Re: Carbon Fiber Rod
Post by Dominator on Sep 7th, 2004 at 5:23pm
Thanks for the info John.  I am on my first tenor.  Actually almost finished but the day job just keeps getting in the way.  I didn't put any rod in mine.  We'll see how she holds up.

Title: Re: Carbon Fiber Rod
Post by ukeman on Sep 20th, 2004 at 2:36pm
aloha all!

Am another of the computer inept and must rely on son Asa for any postings of pictures...some day!

I always insert a 1/4 by 1/4 carbion graphite rod in all my ukes from concert to baritone..always better safe than sorry...I run em through a table sawplaced headstock first....draw a centerline...adjust depth of saw height to 1/4 inch ..adjust fence to nibble right side of the centerline...draw a stop line on my fence a bit past the heel slots...and make the firat pass....use the stop pencil mark on the fence so you dont cut all the way through...readjust fence so it nibbles the left side of the pencil mark and do the same thing.

Then fit in rod and you'll find you have to chisel out the last inch or so as the blade curved in your end slot at the heel. Insert rod with epoxy, mask of both sides of the groove..saves on sanding and at the headstock end I fit a scrap piece of spanish cedar into the overcut of the slot and sand the headstock following the angle of the headstock and thats it.....laters ukeman...someones at the door!

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