Monthly Archives: January 2018


An interesting day, I’ve been tinkering with ukuleles and cooking.
There is a potluck this week at work so I brined a 7 pound chicken yesterday. Today I roasted it in the oven, heated the house and cooked the bird. Picked, oiled and string trussed, baked at 375 F until it registered 165 on the thermometer. Cooled while I went to town for more sandpaper and a can of lacquer.
This bass ukulele is proving to be a problem, the shellac finish is not working. It’s  gumming up and rolling when I sand it. The front has too many parts and the angles won’t cooperate to shine. The sides don’t firm up in the cold and finger prints happen even in dried surfaces. I’m sanding the face and have bought a can of lacquer to change the finish. It’s raining so I can’t apply it today, next week.
Meanwhile the soprano I’ve been working on from Uncle Bob’s Mom’s pattern is coming along nicely. Two frets I hand cut were off, so I filled them with fillets, super glue and saw dust. I re cut them with a clamped guide, should be good now. As the frets are going in directly to the neck without a separate fret board this is a new challenge, I’m getting it.
Yesterday I cut the sound hole. I wedged the sides into the neck with small pieces. Today I glued the sound board to the glued up body flat on my bench jig. I put in a couple frets but stopped so the neck would be straight for the sound board. It’s drying.
I’ve been practicing “Five Foot Two”, I’m getting it but need to practice the chord changes to smooth.
Good times.


Friend Tom’s tablet front panel came in today. I had some trouble figuring out where the back cover came off and dinged it a bit, but I got it and have replaced the screen. everything works fine.
I also worked on a soprano ukulele the same size as the Kamaka my Uncle Bob gave me. I cut the sides gap a little wider than I should have, I’ll need to make up for it with the lower neck width button in the back. I could just move the sides in a little, less wide at the upper bout, easiest fix.
So I also bent one of the liners using the hot lamp, it fits well to be glued. And glued up a flat mahogany piece for the back.
I put some more shellac on the bass ukulele, especially the front as that needs the most work. It’s a slow process, sanding in between coats, but it’s getting there. I want it to be right.
More tomorrow and a trip to the boat Frolic as I have a birthday party to attend at the yacht club under the GG bridge.


Fun day, New Years Day. To town for coffee, home to make a stew. Jamin, next door neighbor’s grandson came over to finish his tiny rail project for his pocket size skate board. I helped him with the band saw while the beef cooked down, off and on until the stew was done.
Yesterday I glued up a sound board for a soprano uke, pulled the wedges and string, a little center offset, fed through the surfacer flattened it out. I used a flat scrap piece to feed it, I should make a thin piece with handle for this. Not today.
Jamin is tinkering with the sander. I brought out Uncle Bob’s Mom’s antique Kamaka ukulele and draw and cut a pattern on the card stock I picked up at the dollar store. I found a nice piece of thick plywood scrap from my friend Dave’s stash and cut out a pattern split in half first on the table saw, then cut to shape on the band saw. Sanded it’s a great mold for the bent sides.
I break out the hot 200 watt tube lamp and bend the mahogany side I cut yesterday to 2 inches wide. Damp in water first, then formed on the hot tube and fitted to the mold until it fits right, slow process but eventually it fits with a nudge here and there. I cut the ends square with the razor saw, a couple times to get it right. Clamped into the mold to dry to shape. Wow, one piece molded to shape for the whole sides, without a seam on the bottom.
I used a piece of cherry wood to cut out the neck blank, with two laminations for the heel, glued and clamped to fit the card stock pattern I cut out. This smaller ukulele is coming together much faster than the larger ones I’ve done before. Slam dunk.
I need to make a back plate, perhaps some bent molded liners. Build the neck in one piece, notched for the Spanish heel sides, frets in. Keep it simple like the Kamaka.
I added another coat of shellac to the bass ukulele. Slowly it builds up to shine.
I called Uncle Bob to wish him a Happy New Year and tell him of the progress of the uke build and the new job. So good to talk to him. He mentioned old friends singing “Five Foot Two”, I looked it up and am adding it to my repertoire.
A Happy New Years Day.