Monthly Archives: July 2016



I stayed home again with this cold. Got some stuff done, off for coffee, a bottle of Seghesio wine for Uncle Bob. Back home, spaghetti breakfast. I surfaced the mahogany back plate I glued yesterday to 2 mm, I like this tool. I cut the back the same oversize as the front soundboard. The round sander leaves scallops in the wood, 220 grit doesn’t cut it, up to the corner mercantile for some 80, 180, more 220 sandpaper. That does the job smooth easy.
Next I had an idea. I picked up two fat pieces of MDF board glued up at the door store, together, they’re big enough to make a decent body mold for the ukuleles. I clamped and marked them to match the cut out plan, then cut each on the band saw just a little less than the line, tricky on the waist cut back and filled wider. Then I went around again with the free blade and trimmed to the line. A light sanding with the drum in the vised drill made a fine outer mold. I saved the inner cut outs too, lightly sanded on the lapidary. Trimmed the two halves even by cutting a 1/4 inch off the long one. Clamped the two outer halves with the long clamp, then clamped a cut piece of poplar, drilled and loose nailed to attach the mold sides together, 8 nails. This is a good mold.
I texted Joe with a picture of the two plates and the uke mold. Then I called him, “I’m home”.
I pulled out the 200 watt lamp, wet a piece of the mahogany side stock after hand sanding it. This is an experiment, got it hot on the lamp and bent it easy, wow, this is good, slightly over bent to make it. Getting the tight waist bend and upper bout put some light burn marks in the wood. I clamped the piece in the mold and let it set. As I clamped down the other side, Joe showed up.
I showed him the sander, cut a couple pieces of cedar to soundboard length. he sanded them down some, trued them with the walnut sandpaper square. I showed him how to glue them with slats behind, string woven between the slats and a rolling hitch to cinch it up. Wedges make it tight, with a couple big ones to keep it flat, let it dry. Next he tried the hot tube bender, exciting. He needs to over bend it, but he gets it. Great fun bending wood like wire. The burn marks in mine sand out OK.

We check out the fallen tree, the garden, a walk to the river. A heron flies as we clear the trees. The river is strong here. The calm deep above stream is so beautiful. We pick green pears in my hat and his tee shirt. The elder berries are close, some ripe. A couple garden garlic with seed heads, oregano.
Time I pack as Cat calls him home. What a fine day.



Well seeing as I have this cold I stayed home today and got a lot done. I started back up on the sander. I got a lot more done yesterday, trued the drum with course sandpaper, glued up most of the dust cover, turned a piece for the vacuum attachment. I had to bore it out to 1 1/8″ with a boring bar as I don’t have a hole saw that size. To do that I had to turn around the three jaw chuck on the lathe, fiddly that getting them lined up. Luis took a look at my truck, ball joint is nearly gone driver side, ordered.

So today, coffee at Bucky’s, cash for Luis and to Garrett’s. I need a one foot piece of all thread, 3/8-16 will do nicely, a T-nut and two more nuts to hold a handle for the sander riser. Back home I drilled the hole for the t-nut and riser shaft, hammering the t-nut three prongs into place. I used a piece of the poplar wood from the door store for a long knob, rounding it on the lapidary, double nutted to the threaded shaft. I dug out the slightly larger hole saw and cut a hole in the top of the dust cover. Another cross brace cut on the table saw, glue three braces inside of the dust cover, no clamps will do here (I had to remove the two below the vacuum hose to clear the drum, just in time as they were still damp). I glued on the vacuum attachment and the raised drive wheel cover I made from an old file card box cover.


It’s ready for Velcro and sand paper. Yesterday I figured out the circumference of the drum at an angle across the Velcro sets it at the correct angle to proceed to cover the drum in a smooth spiral. I stripped the backing and attached the first batch of Velcro, running out short. Why I ordered another batch, glued straight cut where I ended and proceeded to near the spiral end. I stopped stripping the backing and marked the first end, then coaxed it around for the second matching circumference mark. Unwound, I drew a straight edge angle and cut it with scissors, backing off and glued down, excellent. It took awhile to find the loop backed sandpaper, fallen behind the chair. Some clean up done in the search. This stuff is three inches wide so a different angle, but still the same drum circumference, same process. The differences should make the drum stronger.


Concerned about the edges unraveling, I added a strip of vinyl tape to the ends. Fired up, this thing works great, although the the left side is closer, not true flat. I found a piece of mahogany thin stuff to use for a shim under the pillow block, good now. I sanded a couple pieces of mahogany to make the back plate, flipping them each pass to ensure an even flatness. Wow, this is a wonderful tool. An abrasive planer that sands the parts smooth and true flat. Next I sanded down the cedar sound board. This proved more difficult as the only place to grip it out feed is at the waist. I got it.

Time to deliver the truck to Luis, part on order a little late, but due in fifteen minutes. He gave me a ride home and took the truck to fix. He liked the surfacer. I sanded true the book matched mahogany back plate edges, using the long maple neck plank with plumbers abrasive mesh clamped to the bench, a good fit, glued using string, slats and wedges.


The soundboard is thicknessed to 2 millimeters, perfect, and will need some ribs to keep it strong. I like this new machine, trued up two pieces of mahogany to make kerf boards. I still need to cut the kerfs.

Inside, the bass is waiting. A light sanding with 600 grit to cover the fret board and wing oopses, it will be alright. Time to install the hardware, bridge pickup in, fiddly springs, electronics in, yet to be soldered, humbucker screws and springs. Oops, I need the pick guard, loosen the electronics and fit it. It needs mounting screws, a nice small bit, drilled fast with a back plate to prevent cracks. installed less the screws. Tuning pegs installed. It still needs frets, we’ll get to that, but it’s looking good.


Luis showed up as I chopped herbs for spaghetti sauce, truck done. If the ball joint went out at speed, it could flip the truck, thanks for saving me, job well done. I have a couple new zucchinis, half one for the sauce, enjoy the rest. We’ll get the other ball joint soon. Thanks. A quick trip to town for the six screws to attach the pick guard, drilled and screwed.

It’s a really good sauce, tried on a baguette, yum. jarred and fridged for now. The new sander works great, an abrasive planer surfacer, what a tool. The bass is nearing completion as the new tenor ukulele conceives. And my truck lives to see another day. I feel alright, think I’ll go to work tomorrow. With Michigan reunions next weekend and a fishing trip the following, puts this blog on hold. Much done.



Saturday morning, I have a mild cold, dang. I got stuff done anyway. Off to town late but in time for coffee and the last half hour of farmers market, mushrooms, carrots, wala wala onions, a cantaloupe and a cucumber. Ground beef, chicken thighs and a half cabbage at Safeway. A stop at Salvation Army finds another ukulele, this one is Hawaiian purple with all the strings, only $2.40 on sale off $3. Wow, good score as this one is a little bigger and has strings ($12 a set). I’ll tune it when I get home. The tuners are a little loose, tightened up with a screwdriver. This will be a nice instrument. And it’s not pink.


The tenor soundboard I’m making is an 1/8 inch oversize, but a good scale at actual 1 foot.

Cooking time, I have the stuff for Alfredo sauce, water on for linguine. Two small cloves of my garden garlic minced. Garden herbs of thyme, tarragon and oregano even though the recipe doesn’t call for it. Half a stick of butter in, the garlic and herbs a minute or two, add just a little flour, maybe a teaspoon for a light rue. Heavy cream a little at a time mixed in to a cups worth of cream. A quarter stick of cream cheese, two sticks of string cheese mozzarella cut into medallions melted in. Maybe a quarter cup or more of Parmesan, a little more is good. Two tbsp. parsley chopped at the end. Steam a half garden zucchini with the linguine pasta for a fine lunch, plenty left over for lunches next week. As the noodles are cooking I chopped up stuff for a chicken soup, fresh carrots, celery, the other half zucchini, half an onion, mushrooms, cabbage, garlic, garden herbs, chicken breast meat, set aside half for a stir fry tomorrow fridged along with half the mushrooms. Cooked in the noodle pan with a box of TJ’s O chicken broth and a splash of cooking wine. I chopped up a large bunch of the extra linguine into smaller noodles added to the soup at the end, a dash of Worcestershire sauce and some salt, three lunch buckets.

Back to work, I cut the flooring Chin gave me to length, 23 7/8″ one piece in half fit with a tiny bit more to cover. I cut the other piece he gave me to the same length. Setting the fence I cut the wider stock square an inch short, then cut an inch plus the tongue and groove off the last piece to fit. Two large pieces and a small 1 inch section fits the sander table. The floor board bottoms were slick, I roughed them up on the lapidary. I removed the hinge pins and used the table saw as support while I clamped and glued the floor boards to the hinge table, lots of clamps and a center weight.


Time to glue the rollers, I cleaned off the last leftover foot of 1/2 inch rod. I glued up two stacks of four MDF disks clamped to the spare rod, and three more sets of four clamped with the long clamps to the sander frame rod.


Once dry tomorrow, they should all fit the drive shaft to be sanded true to the swing table. I’ll leave a small gap between the rollers for expansion. I may need to glue the rollers to the shaft or cut a key way, we’ll see.

I cut a piece of cedar panel to fit the flush cut saw I’ve been using for a fret saw, drilled two holes, found some screws and nuts to fit it. I had to file it a bit with a round needle file to get things lined up. A perfect depth of cut for frets. I cleared all the frets on the bass. I messed up on one, nicked the fret board as the saw slipped out. Sanded it back and touched it up with a dab of lacquer to be sanded out again. Oh well, careful. This depth gauge on the saw should help make the ukuleles easier, but the initial fret cut with the miter I made will need to be done lighter without the depth set. The depth gauge won’t fit the miter. A light sanding on the fret board and the bass is ready to be final assembled. Electronics in, frets on and true, tune in the nut and bridge heights and notches. Knobs need making and strap buttons made and installed. It’s finally getting close to done.

A good day, more tomorrow.



Another busy day. I actually got quite a bit done. I left early for coffee, I need turmeric and vinegar for the bread and butter pickles, quick before it gets hot. Bucky’s coffee, chicken legs, beef, and pork and beans on sale, 2 buckets of 24 waters also on sale, I’ll use them. To Shelton’s for bulk turmeric and some green beans. Halfway home I remembered I need jar lids, U turn to Garrett’s for lids and rings.

Back home I cooked up a hamburger steak and half a can of pork and beans, the other half will make lunch tomorrow.  I also fried up all the chicken legs with garlic powder and salt, 6 in baggie packs of 2 each, lunches, even good cold. I guess I’ll freeze a couple.

Pickle time, I drained the pickles and soaked them in water to leach out some of the salt, tastes good. As I pulled out Joy of Cooking the spark lighter fell out, wow, I’ve been missing that for a couple weeks, excellent. 4 cups vinegar, 4 cups sugar, mostly brown, 1 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 1/2 tsp allspice, 1 1/2 tsp celery seeds, 2 Tblsp. mustard seeds, cut back a half spoon for Gary. 1/2 tsp cinnamon, skip the 1/2 tsp cloves. Bring it to a simmer as the canning water is coming to a boil. Sterilize everything tools and the lid/rings in the net bag stashed in the sterile colander. Jars in the oven at 215 F. Pickles in the juice brought back to a simmer. It’s time. Pull a jar with tongs, canning funnel on, ladle it in using a pan cover to collect the drips, sterile butter knife to fit it in and release the bubbles. A little more juice to cover, funnel off, wipe the rim for a good seal. Lid on, ring on, next jar, repeat. I got 5 and a half pints, saved a smaller cup jar for the end. Into the water bath 10 minutes. Toc, toc as the seals formed.

To the sander, I need to mount the big 2 HP motor. Only one hinge will fit the piece of plywood I have cut. I move the hing over to the center, using machine screws, nuts, washers and lock washers to secure the motor. Attaching the belt on the inside flat plywood disk I turned it on at a distance. It ran for awhile, then spit out the belt. I added a block of wood and a clamp to hold the motor level. That worked for a while, then spit the belt. More tension on the clamp kept it running, this thing runs way too fast, I’ll need a smaller motor drive pulley. I searched everywhere for my chisels, found them buried where they should be on the tool bench. I carved out a V notch and trued as much as I could of the wooden pulley wheel using a clamped 2 x 4 as a tool rest from the back side. I drilled and moved the long set screw to the inside to true the outer pulley wheel using the small chisel. I cut the 3/4 plywood to 15 3/4″ using the skill saw, sanded and glued it together with the last of the glue, clamped.

I opened up the motor electric wire, wrapped in tape. It’s crimped with blue through connectors. I cut the black line to insert the switch. I attached the switch box to the frame, but I’ll need some wire, switch plate screws, crimps, E tape, a new smaller 5/8 x 2″ pulley to slow it down. Back to Garrett’s I got all that and glue. Wires crimped in place, taped up and secured with electrical tape and E-staples, secure. The new 2″ pulley brought it down to a manageable RPM. The switch works.

I added hinges to the frame for the hinged table, marked the table position. Using a spare hinge I marked and drilled the screw locations, secured. The table is in place, needs Chin’s flooring to make it slick. It’s getting late, I add the MDF disks to see, they’ll need gluing. And the Velcro for looks, I have another roll.


The motor is scary strong, more than adequate, but will work fine geared down. Once the wheels are glued together and trued with sand paper, Velcroed, this machine will work fine for surfacing boards to make even flat parts for instruments and more. A new tool.

And a fine day.


Today was only a little productive here as I got a message from Joe. He needed help as he’s putting in a new bathroom, installing plumbing under the house. He needed me to cut PVC pipe with the crosscut saw and pass it under.
Before I left, I cut out the sound board for the tenor ukulele glued last week to a 1/4 inch larger than the front pattern using the band saw. I packed a light deck of medium sand paper. I also removed the wimpy motor from the surface sander I’m building and studied how the new powerful 2 HP motor will be mounted. I may need one more hinge from my collection as this is a big motor and needs the support. Friday I bought a switch, E box and cover at Restore for a buck, on – off for the sander. I have everything to make this machine work, except the flooring to cover the hinged plywood bed, Chin has that for me. I’m hoping to get it together tomorrow.
Joe needs time to get the holes cut in the floor, no rush. To Bucky’s for coffee, and the Farmers Market. I bought cucumbers and onions to go with the TJ red bell peppers for a batch of bread and butter pickles. To Salvation Army, Joe asked to look for a possible cabinet suitable for a bathroom sink, nope. I did find a large piece of purple cotton fabric, a mortar and pestle and a small French press for coffee. A brief stop to the Banana music shop, they don’t carry violin strings, never mind, it’s for Joe’s violin. I did bring the rosin I found last week at Sally’s.
I stopped at the Door store free wood bin a half mile from Joe’s, a bunch of small mahogany 1 by stock, several thin cut mahogany 6 inch panels and some poplar stock should make good interior kerf wood.
At Joe’s, we put in the plumbing mostly done as I sanded the Western cedar soundboard for new tenor ukulele down to 220 grit. I picked up a piece of maple for the neck. It will need laminating to make it thick enough for the neck heel, that’s normal, with an angle cut for the head stock lamination.
I showed Joe the chords I’ve been practicing on the tiny soprano $1 uke from Sally’s. I really need a bigger fret board. Hence the tenor uke.
More to do tomorrow, with bread and butter pickles prepped and salted in the fridge.