Working on the Neck & Fingerboard


Saturday, July 14th, 2012:

I just have a little time to work on the uke today --- going to my sister's for a belated July 4th get-together!

The first thing I did this morning was to scrape down the epoxy over the carbon fiber rod I installed yesterday. (You can see it to the right.)

Then I went to the bandsaw to cut out the rough neck shape. However, that was a little delayed, since the bandsaw blade broke on me; as a result, I had to spend a bit of time to install a new one, tension and track the new blade, and adjust the blade guides. But, after doing all that, the bandsaw cut much more smoothly than ever before!

Here's the roughly cut neck shape (I've cut about 1/16" or so outside the line):



Next, I glued on the peghead overlay. I'm using ebony, because I'd like to do a little inlay on this one, and it will stand out much more nicely in ebony.




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  1. Working on the Top and Back
  2. Finishing the Rosette, Harpbox Peghead Veneer
  3. Bracing
  4. Carving the Braces
  5. Bending the Sides
  6. Neck and Tail Blocks
  7. Pegheads & Top Kerfing
  8. Profiling the Sides for the Back
  9. Soundport and Side Reinforcements
  10. Gluing on the Top
  11. Gluing on the Back
  12. Trimming Overhang & Harpbox Peghead
  13. Routing for Binding
  14. End Wedge & Binding
  15. Scraping the Binding, Binding the Harpbox Peghead
  16. The Box is Done --- On to the Neck!!!
  17. Working on the Neck & Fingerboard
  18. The Neck is Finished!!! Now to the Bridge!!!
  19. Peghead Inlay, Final Sanding & Pore-Filling
  20. Shellac Seal Coats and Finishing!!!
  21. Finishing the Finish!!!
  22. The Final Steps
  23. It is Finished!!!

Monday, July 16th, 2012:

Didn't take any photos yesterday, but here's what happened:

The first thing I did yesterday was to thin the peghead to 1/2" and use the belt-sander jig I had made Friday to shape the volute ramp. Then I trimmed the peghead (bandsawing first, close to the veneer edges, and then using the Robo-sander to sand it flush to the peghead veneer, using the veneer as the template). So far, so good. HOWEVER, as I was cutting along the fingerboard line (about 1/16" or so outside the line) towards the peghead, I forgot about how the bandsaw blade can grab the wood towards the end of the cut (as the heel approaches the end of the bandsaw table), and it sliced a tiny bit (about 1/4") into the neck and peghead veneer. So, there was a slice the width of the bandsaw blade, cutting into the bottom of the veneer. Yikes!

At first I thought, "Oh, no...I'll have to re-do the neck up to this point!" But then I thought, "I don't really want to do that --- maybe I can patch it and it won't be too noticeable." (And, anyway, this one is for me, so a little flaw won't kill me.) So, I cut some mahogany shavings and glued them into the gap as far as I could, and filled the blade cut in the peghead veneer (luckily, it's ebony, so it's easy to fill and be fairly unnoticeable) with Titebond and ebony dust.

I let it sit overnight. Then, this morning, I sanded the volute to its rounded shape on the belt sander, to see if the patch would look okay. (If it wasn't going to look okay, I was resigned to making another neck --- to prepare for that possibility, last night I went to my local hardwoods store to see if they had any large mahogany blanks I could use --- they didn't, so I ended up ordering a neck blank from LMI. I could have made a new neck from 3/4" boards, but I really didn't want to have a stacked heel and scarf jointed neck this time.)

Anyway, I think it's not going to be too noticeable, so I think I'll keep it and move on with the build.

Here's what the patch looks like right now, after I had partially shaped the volute on the belt sander this morning:



Here's the belt-sanded volute. I found that it's easiest for me to control and see exactly what I'm doing if I set the belt sander table vertically, like this. I'm always afraid of sanding too far into the fingerboard/nut edge, so I'm able to see it better this way, rather than having to kneel down with the belt-sander table in its normal horizontal position.

And here are the tuner holes drilled, 1/2" from the edges, and 1-3/4" apart, vertically.


What I also did today was to start work on the fingerboard. I took out my stash of abalone fingerboard dots, and found I only had 1/4" ones, which looked too big for this ukulele. Then I thought, maybe I will try what I've always wanted to try, ever since I first saw it --- using aluminum or brass tubing for the dots, filled with colored epoxy. So, off I went to my local hobby store for the tubing. While there, I found some metallic-pearlescent dye powder, in a color called "Super Russet," which I thought would nicely complement the bloodwood binding scheme of this instrument.

So, I got some 3/16" aluminum tubing, put a 1/8" dowel inside to support it as I sawed the little pieces (about 1/8" or so tall) of tubing, and drilled the 3/16" diameter holes in the fingerboard. (Oh, yeah, I thinned the fingerboard to about 3/16" , also.) I inserted the tubing into the holes, hammered them down a little to seat them solidly, then filed them almost flush to the fingerboard. I mixed up epoxy and the reddish dye, and filled the tubing with the epoxy. Tomorrow I will scrape/sand it down.




Here are the side dots (1/16" aluminum tubing, with just ebony & superglue in the center of the tubing --- I tried dropping some more of the reddish color in there, but it didn't really show up in such a tiny hole):


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Tuesday, July 17th, 2012:

Just a couple of quick photos before I launch into today's work. Here are the fingerboard dots sanded down. I also plan to put little 1/16" aluminum tube dots on the side of the fingerboard.

Here's a YouTube video that helped clarify how to do it: Making Fingerboard Dots with Aluminum Tubing