Shaping the Bridge and Fitting the Neck

Friday, July 30th, 2010:

It's now about 1:00 p.m. on Friday, and I've just finished what took me all morning to do — shaping the bridge!!! Using the Luthier's Friend sanding station in my drill press and some final hand-sanding, I turned this:

into this:







The reason it took me such a long time (around 4 hours) is that I had to make sure to stick the bridge blank on the backing board (with double-stick tape) very carefully, so the non-rectangular bridge was set at just the right angle to sand the correct upward slope onto the bridge. Also, I spent a lot of time doing practice pieces, so I would end up with the exact thickness I wanted at the ends.

Doing the two ends of the bridge was fairly easy; the portion above the saddle was a bit trickier, and I had to do the last part of it (the treble end) by hand. I think it came out pretty well! After I finished the shaping, I sanded the underside of the bridge to match the slight (25') radius of the top at the bridge position. (The way I did that was to stick sandpaper on the top, mark the bottom of the bridge with white pencil marks, and just sand it back and forth on the top.)

NOW I can finally move on to setting the neck angles. Stay tuned.


Later that day . . . . . .

Well, it's now late Friday evening, and I have finally finished my second task for the day, fitting the neck. It took me longer than I had expected. No real problems, just a slow job for me!

I don't have many pictures this time, as I was spending all my time just getting this thing done. If you want to see more of the process, take a look here — I pretty much followed the same procedures.

My neck started out angled about 5/16" towards the treble side (that is, my neck's centerline was 5/16" to the right of the uke's centerline at the tail end), so I needed to remove wood from the treble side of the heel. (Before I could do that, I had used a gouge to cove out all but the outer 1/8" edges of the heel, so there'd be less to have to sand away.) I stuck sandpaper on the treble side of the body at the neck end and sanded until the angle was right, and the neck was centered.

Next I dealt with the fact that the straightedge, when placed on top of the fretted fingerboard laid on the neck, ended up only 4/32" over the soundboard at the saddle location. Since my bridge was 9/32" tall, I needed to raise the straightedge about 6/32" (to reach the height of 10/32" above the soundboard, as I wanted the straightedge to end up around 1/32" over the bridge). That meant I needed to sand more from the bottom of the heel than the top, to provide more of a back-set to the neck.

This is what took some time. I first used a chisel to remove increasingly more wood from the top of the heel to the bottom, where I removed about 1/16". Then I switched to using the "flossing" method, where I pull a strip of 100-grit sandpaper from the top of the heel down to the bottom — as you pull the sandpaper, more is sanded from the bottom of the heel, since it is in contact with the paper for a longer time than the top of the heel is. Using the same number of sandpaper pulls on each side, eventually I got the neck to the right angle.

On other instruments in the past, I have used the belt/disc sander or a chisel to more quickly get the neck angle, but I wanted to be more careful this time, so I did it the slow way. But it finally got done!


Return to HOME PAGE

  1. Scatterbrained — Odds 'n' Ends
  2. Soundport and Closing Up the Box
  3. On to the Binding
  4. Beginning the Neck
  5. The Neck, Day 2
  6. The Neck, Day 3
  7. The Allen Wrench Dilemma and the Peghead
  8. Bridge Shaping and Neck Fitting
  9. The Deck is Finished! The Fingerboard is Glued!
  10. Neck Carved, Finish Sanding, Wash Coat, Pore-Filling, Sanding, Sealing, Tru-Oil
  11. Paraffin Oil Polishing and Finishing it All Up!
  12. Saddle Compensation Jig
  13. REALLY Finishing It Up Now!!!





The final result!!!





I probably won't be working on the uke tomorrow, as I'm going to be going up to San Francisco to see "The Fantasticks" with my sister. But the next thing I will be working on is carving the neck, so check it out Monday, probably.




Saturday, July 31st, 2010: THE FINAL "TO-DO" LIST

  1. File fret ends flush with fingerboard. (Done)
  2. Bevel fret ends. (Done)
  3. Fill in holes underneath fret tang ends. (Done --- the last thing for today, as I'm going off to San Francisco to see "The Fantasticks"!!!!)
  4. Glue fingerboard onto neck.
  5. Bolt neck to soundbox and figure out position & angle of heelcap end.
  6. Cut end of heel for heelcap & glue heelcap on.
  7. Carve neck.
  8. Level & recrown frets, round over fret ends, sand & polish frets.
  9. Clean up fingerboard between frets.
  10. Bolt on neck again & check neck angles again.
  11. Do peghead inlay.
  12. Do final cleanup & sanding of uke.
  13. Shellac wash coat.
  14. Fill pores.
  15. Shellac sealer coat.
  16. Start Tru-Oil finishing process.
  17. Let it cure.
  18. Remove finish under fingerboard extension.
  19. Bolt and glue on neck.
  20. Figure out bridge position.
  21. Remove finish under bridge position.
  22. Glue on bridge.
  23. Drill string holes in bridge.
  24. Lemon-oil bridge and fingerboard.
  25. Install tuners.
  26. Make nut and saddle.
  27. Install strings.
  28. Do set-up (adjust nut and saddle).
  29. PLAY!

Have I forgotten anything??????? (Let me know, if you think of anything.)


Previous Page


Next Page