Scott's Guitar Blog: April 9, 2006

Ukulele Power

I LOVE ukuleles. They are so misunderstood and can be played so beautifully. Most people don’t get to hear the real stuff…single string work, finger style playing etc…I’ve always wanted to make a uke for myself and now I have the perfect chance. I’m sharing the process with my son, who is helping in the safe drawing, gluing and clamping stages. He is amazed at the process….What a great way to introduce a child to lutherie. It is a traditional Hawaiian “pineapple” shaped uke, made of highly flamed walnut. It will have the traditional rope binding seen on Hawaiian ukes and Weissenborns. In these shots we’re prepping, shaping and bending the sides then gluing in the head and tail blocks to form the rim. I’m bending in the traditional manner on a bending iron. The wood is moistened, bent slowly on the very hot metal element. I mean HOT! Steam escapes as the wood is heated and cooled, over and over until the curves are correct. The shop smells of cooking wood. I LOVE the smell. You can see the 3/16″ slot in the head block which accepts the neck joint spline. (Yes, with a uke there is so little tension that a simple spline joint works perfectly…this is how the famed Kamaka ukes are built.)
All the best, SBM