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>> Ukulele Hints >> HELP HELP! I screwed up :(

Message started by Acabooe on Mar 30th, 2008 at 7:07am

Title: HELP HELP! I screwed up :(
Post by Acabooe on Mar 30th, 2008 at 7:07am
I just finished gluing my neck to the soundboard.
I used a plexi caul, and pushpins to do the indexing, I followed the book's steps closely, and now I have a problem.

When I took the clamp off just now I noticed that the neck is not aligned properly, it must have shifted while I was seting the clamps or something.

At the bottom of the fret board mounting surface, the neck is where it is suppased to be.

But the neck is a few degrees off of centerline as it progresses up towards the head, as in, the neck slants off center.

Is there anything that I can do?

What if I just move the bridge a few degrees to keep it aligned with the neck, then the scale would still be ok, even if the neck was crooked.

Please, if there is any one that knows how I can fix this without making a new neck and sound board, I really want to hear from you.

Bob :-[

Title: Re: HELP HELP! I screwed up :(
Post by Matt Blacka on Mar 30th, 2008 at 12:02pm
Hi Bob,

Sometimes you just want to pull your hair out, huh.

I wouldn't go shifting the location of your bridge, as by now you would have done the patches and bracing on the inside of your soundboard, which are all specifically placed for the design bridge location. And I think there will be a better soultution than having a crooked neck.

I guess the important question is what type of glue you used for the neck/soundboard joint. Although I've never done it before myself, I have read many posts about people removing bridges, fretboards, and many other things that have been stuck in the wrong place or moved during glue-up, if the glue that was used was Titebond.

I believe a Titebond joint can be taken apart with some heat and some type flattened blade/spatchula type tool. I think stew-mac sell a bridge removal tool like this, so check their website for the type of thing I mean.

If I were you, I would do some searching in the Hana Lima Ia Forum for a post about someone sticking their bridge or fretboard in the wrong spot. I'm sure I've read a response from Ukeman about this type of thing in the past. You are lucky in that you have good access to the joint that you need to undo, and that the soundboard in that area will mostly be covered by the fretboard later on. Also any marks you put on the inside of the soundboard while prising the joint apart will not be able to be seen from the outside of your finished uke.

Good luck with it. If you can't find any other posts about undoing a stuck joint, write back here and I'll try to find the info that I have read about it previously.


Title: Re: HELP HELP! I screwed up :(
Post by lefty on Mar 30th, 2008 at 12:10pm

 I hate it when that happens.  I agree that just moving the bridge is not a good idea.  Not only will the bridge not be over the bridge patch, but the strings won't be centered over the sound hole.

 If you used regular Titebond glue you should be able to soften it up with some steam or heat.  One problem you might run into is that any steam used to loosen the soundboard from the neck will probably weaken the glue that attaches the two pieces of the soundboard joint.

Good luck,

Title: Re: HELP HELP! I screwed up :(
Post by konacat on Mar 30th, 2008 at 9:13pm
Don’t worry about it too much because frankly sometimes things just happen.  Now it’s time to make it right.

I’m going to be a bit different and tell you to remove the bridge and change the location.  It wouldn’t be the first time that a ukulele is not perfect. In fact there are a couple of ukuleles that Mike was working on that were all off a bit. He was finishing them for the family of a builder that passed away.

The most important thing is that if the nut and saddle (bridge) are not in the correct relationship with the neck the ukulele would not be playable. The strings must maintain their correct location over the neck or you have problems. The location of the sound hole won’t be a problem unless it bothers you that the strings may not be centered over it.  Most likely you placed the bridge plate in the correct position.  Remove you bridge and slide it over until everything lines up and you should be good. My thoughts are that you will still have a significant portion of the bridge over the bridge plate so you will be fine. My guess is that your soundboard will be plenty thick anyway. It would be very rare that a first build is built too thin.

If you used tite bond you will be able to get it to release under heat.  Take a piece of cardboard and cut it out so if fits around the bridge.  Cover the top in foil to help protect the top. You can use an iron to heat the bridge to release the glue. You can get a small specialty iron that will help you control the heat a bit better. Different names for them but a banding iron is one name. Here is a link to a hobby site that sells one to give you an idea. http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0001p?&I=LXHZ17&P=7  Use some very thin pallet knives and when you get glue release you can slowly pry the bridge up. Remember SLOW as you don’t want to tear the top. Also be sure to apply the knives with the grain to help avoid tear out. You can also create a little steam if you apply a damp washcloth on it once in a while. Remember the glue must release! As it is releasing you use the pallet knives to break the glue adhesion and to gently pry.  Don’t ask how I know this.   ::)    



Title: Re: HELP HELP! I screwed up :(
Post by Acabooe on Mar 31st, 2008 at 5:05am
Here are a few pictures of the neck to sound board connection.

I am going to try an fix it, now that I have gotten the good advice from all of you.

I will let you know how it turns out.

Bob 8)

Title: Re: HELP HELP! I screwed up :(
Post by Hana Lima Ia on Mar 31st, 2008 at 10:39am
Accidents do happen, something to expect...I still get mad when they happen tho.

You'll want to fix it this now.  This is basically the foundation of your structure...if you build onto the mistake it will give you more problems down the line.  

Philip is right that you could make this work, but you will have to adjust everything from here on.   With the Spanish style neck your heel slots are going to be off now.  This could make assembly more difficult than fixing it.

Good point by Lefty, but your soundboard doesn't have a center joint (appears to be all one piece).  This works out in your favor for the repair.  

*Something to note:  the grain of your soundboard should always be vertical, not horizontal to the strings!!  This is going to significantly change the strength of your soundboard.

Title: Re: HELP HELP! I screwed up :(
Post by Acabooe on Apr 1st, 2008 at 5:45am
Dear Asa,

Thanks for the comment.
At first, I was positively panicky, because I though I was going to have to make a new neck and soundboard.

My worries were aliviated after everyone started fielding ideas to me to help fix it.
Thanks again to this wonderful forum, it really helps noobies like me.

I think that I am going to take Matt, and Lefty's suggestion and try to melt the glue with steam, and redo the gluing. ( No offense Philip, I just think that it would be easier to take off the neck rather than the bridge patch and the tone bars. )

You are correct Asa, my soundboard, and backboard are one piece each.
Before I started this build, I had an old skimboard, and I liked the way the wood looked ( some sort of shinny press board I think ), so I decided to use it for my top and bottom.
Because of the curvature of the skimboard, and because I knew that the back board will have a gentle curve I decided to make the grain vertical on the back, and horizontal on the front.
But now after reading your post, I am wondering if that was a mistake.
Do you think that it will be really weak having horizontal grain?
If so, is there anything that I can do to provide extra strength?
( btw my patches, tone bars, and enharmonic bars are already glued on. )

Bob 8)

Title: Re: HELP HELP! I screwed up :(
Post by konacat on Apr 1st, 2008 at 9:55pm
Bob,Sorry, I couldn’t see the photos at work I thought you had already boxed the ukulele and would just move the bridge. Yes, I agree remove the top and start anew.  Asa is correct; you need the grain to go the other way. Think of it this way, if you had a long hinge and placed it on the top the same way as you have the grain (horizontal) you would have a problem. The hinge would just fold up under pressure. Now if you placed the hinge length wise from head stock to bottom the same pressure would not fold the hinge. I don’t know if that’s a good analogy but it’s the best I can do after happy hour. I know this is a practice ukulele so just learn from it. Dump the top and use something else with the correct grain orientation.  You can use what you have but when you string it up it may want to collapse.  There is one important point to learn here and it is that almost anything can be repaired. Maybe this problem just makes you aware how easy it is to have difficulties. We all make mistakes or have problems occur. You are just joining our ranks so I wouldn’t beat yourself up about it because we have all been there. I participate on the Official Luthiers Forum and can attest that even seasoned professionals make plenty of mistakes. They often post about repairs or ways to overcome problem situations. Just remember the number one point of all and that is to enjoy the process of building.


Title: Re: HELP HELP! I screwed up :(
Post by Acabooe on Apr 2nd, 2008 at 4:04am
Hey Philip,

Sorry, I guess I should have made it clear that I haven't boxed up yet.

I am trying to follow the book's steps as close as possible in order.

Thanks for the tip, and analogy ( I did understand it )

Bob 8)

Title: Re: HELP HELP! I screwed up :(
Post by konacat on Apr 3rd, 2008 at 1:13pm

One of the first things I learned was to put center lines on everything and every side. That way I can always line things up. A good ruler as a straight edge or even a string stretched over your center lines will help avoid misalignment. Again, don't worry too much because we have all been there.  ;D


Title: Re: HELP HELP! I screwed up :(
Post by Acabooe on Apr 4th, 2008 at 2:57am
Ok, things are going better today.

Yesterday I took the suggestions posted here, and I steamed/pryed the neck and sound board apart.

It worked pretty well, only a little grain was lifted up.

Today I sanded the crap outta everything, and reglued.

I just took the clamps off a few min ago, and  ;D IT'S STRAIGHT ;D.
So that makes me very happy.

Thanks again to everyone that posted up suggestions, and comments, you guys kept me from pulling my hair out ( which would be a trick, because it isn't very long  :P).

I will put up some pics in a later post when I get time.

Bob 8)

Title: Re: HELP HELP! I screwed up :(
Post by lefty on Apr 7th, 2008 at 4:40pm
Glad everything worked out.  Don't think of this as a mistake, think of it as a learning experience,  ::)


Title: Re: HELP HELP! I screwed up :(
Post by Acabooe on Apr 8th, 2008 at 2:46am
That's right Lefty,

In luthiery, there are good experiences, and there are learning experiences. ( Luthier's motto )


Bob 8)

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