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first build - done (Read 3906 times)
Harold O.
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another good day

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West Hills, SoCal
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first build - done
Feb 20th, 2009 at 6:03am
 
Hello.

I've lurked here a bit. This is my first post on this board. The main idea was to make enough mistakes so I could ask an informed question rather than go for a too-broad open ender.

Anyways, I got a pre-bent kit through Hana Lima along with a straight pieces kit. The manual is still on a slow boat somewhere on the Pacific. My eventual goal is to build a ukulele from scratch (I have a large supply of figured walnut - but that's another thread).

It took me four days to complete the kit. I chronicled the build on my site: † http://www.westhillswood.com/ukulele-build.html

The next kit will require me to first make the decision on which bending method is best suited to my way of doing things.

In the meantime, thanks to you guys for blazing the trail. Some nerves are still to be dealt with, but there's comfort in footprints.

Harold O.
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lefty
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I love YaBB 1G - SP1!

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Riverside, California
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Re: first build - done
Reply #1 - Mar 15th, 2009 at 6:11pm
 
Harold,

  That is a beautiful looking uke.  Well done.  I too started with the Stew-Mac kit and would recommend it to everyone who wants to get into uke building.

  Two questions.  How does it sound and have you started another uke yet?

Lefty
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Harold O.
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another good day

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West Hills, SoCal
Gender: male
Re: first build - done
Reply #2 - Mar 27th, 2009 at 11:26am
 
Thanks Lefty!

My shop has filled with work (google "Fletcher Aviation Desk" -- I have three in for restoration). It will be a couple of weeks before I can get to the Hana-Lima kit that's been sitting on the bench. I'll get to bend the sides and glue the top halves together. Big adventure!

Sound on the Stew-Mac is pretty good. Surprising even. Rings out loud and clear. I play it often. If I had plans to play it more, I would change to Aguila strings. Of course, the bridge popped off the first time I strung it up and I haven't gotten over that shock yet...so I am hesitant.

Besides, I built this one in order to learn a few lessons before building the next. Which should lead to the next. Which will lead to...
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dochughes
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Re: first build - done
Reply #3 - Mar 27th, 2009 at 12:12pm
 
Harold, Hana Lima uses a pretty good method to attach strings that nearly eliminates the problem of the bridge popping off - they recommend attaching the strings by drilling a hole through the bridge and soundboard, and using a small bead on the end of the string, inside the uke.  It's similar to the method used to attach strings on some electric and steel guitars.

The method works really well, and takes the stress off your glue joint.

You may not want to take the time to go back and do that on your first uke, but it's something you can look forward to on the next one!
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konacat
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Re: first build - done
Reply #4 - Mar 27th, 2009 at 1:57pm
 
The ukulele looks good. Thatís too bad about the bridge situation. Dochughes is correct about less stress on the bridge using the thru string approach. It would be easy to build one to replace the junky tie bridge that comes with the kit. Here is a link to this site with a photo (bridge looks pretty thick). http://www.hanalima.com/gallery_shrimp.shtml

Question: Did you have any finish under the bridge or did you glue bare wood to wood? If there was finish on the top then that would be a problem. If you had bare wood to wood then it was just a bad glue joint. You can clean up the parts and make sure the surfaces are flat and clean wood. †More pressure can be used on the bridge for gluing if you support the top. Take a thin dowel and drill a small hole near the end from side to side. Then make a block of wood that is close in height to match the distance from back t the top inside the ukulele. Drill a couple of holds near the bottom of this block. Now take a strand of wire and make a circle connecting the two pieces. You can work this piece of wood with the help of the dowel to sit under the bridge. You can now reglue your bridge with more pressure without damaging the ukulele because it is now supported under the pressure. You can always make a caul for the bridge if it will help put even pressure over it. Once itís glued up you just retrieve the block with by pulling the dowel out.

Regards,

Philip
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Harold O.
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another good day

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West Hills, SoCal
Gender: male
Re: first build - done
Reply #5 - Mar 27th, 2009 at 2:50pm
 
The bridge was put on according to the instructions that came with the kit. It went onto bare wood with "a couple of drops of glue". Clearly not enough glue.

I fixed it by drilling two small holes under the saddle and inserting/gluing 1/8-inch wood dowels in place. I also added more glue to the mounting surface. It works fine. But whoooeee what a pop that thing made first time around!

I am aware of other methods and will employ them on the next build. The nut could be lowered a bit, the strings changed, the finish rubbed out some more, overall this kit has served its purpose and gives me a story to tell.

The next one will be a Hana-Lima tenor. Bending and jig building will be high on the forum SEARCH function list. Gotta clear the shop of paying customers first.
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dochughes
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Re: first build - done
Reply #6 - Mar 28th, 2009 at 7:43am
 
Sounds like you found a good method to solve the problem. †That's half the fun of building ukes - solving the new problems that seem to come up with every new build.

BTW, I really like the web site you put together to chronicle your build - very nicely done.  And your uke looks great!
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konacat
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Re: first build - done
Reply #7 - Mar 28th, 2009 at 12:22pm
 
Harold,

What glue did you use on the bridge? Did you use the same glue the second time around?

Philip
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Harold O.
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another good day

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West Hills, SoCal
Gender: male
Re: first build - done
Reply #8 - Mar 28th, 2009 at 5:40pm
 
I used Titebond when first setting the bridge. But again, the instructions called for "two small drops."

For the fix, I cleaned up both surfaces before using medium CA on the bridge and pins. The pins were a tight fit and I wanted to ensure glue got into, alongside, and around them. Seemed simple enough to spread a little extra on the bridge bottom. Next time I will use more Titebond at the outset and probably tie the strings through the top.
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