This would go a lot faster if I had room for my bandsaw. I’m using a 6″ coping saw to cut through pine, which with the grain isn’t too bad, but you have to be careful to let the tiny blade cool down otherwise the going gets rough. Also the blade itself is only about 6″ long so when cutting through 1.5″ of wood you’ve only got about 3.5-4″ of cut per stroke, plus a ton of friction. Slow going.
Anyways you can make very precise cuts; that’s not a problem at all. It probably took me an hour to rough out the shape of the Uke, and now I can get started on cutting out the sound hole, and then shape the headstock.
More below the cut…
The sound hole will be about an hour and a half of grueling work with the hand chisels, and then another hour shaping the headstock at a 15 degree angle and thinning it out for the tuners to poke through. The wood was too thick for the tuners when I started; I don’t know why I laminated the wood together at the headstock. This just gives me a chance to do some really gnarly headstock shaping in the neighborhood of double bass headstock carving…. just less formal-like. I’m also going to have 5 tuners on a side, even though only 4 on a side will be used. If I kept all 6 on a side I could experiment with a 12 string guitar but really even steel reinforced Pine isn’t that strong and those will end up just being ornamental.
Progress shots. There’s a dark mark in the center there, barely visible; that’s the planned location of the bridge, as well as the center of the sound board. Roughly a quarter inch below here the heel/neck meets the body is the end of the reinforcement rod, standard placement for an electric guitar, the top of the rod ends about halfway up the headstock, 1bout an inch ad a half above the normal location on an electric guitar. The book matching/tiger striping on the outer edges is looking pretty cool. I’m happy with how that’s coming together. Found a great video on youtube which has some good visuals on how to taper the Uke similar to a Stratocaster which I think is the look I’m going for.
The advantage of working with hand tools is that it takes that much longer and the cutting is slower than you can think which allows for thoughts on how you’re going to complete the project. This is better than wasting time planning it out in advance and then being unhappy that it didn’t work out like you initially planned. It also gives me plenty of time to figure out what I’m going to make the soundboard out of, and how I’m going to make it.
I guess I could make the soundboard out of the remains of a cigar box lid. That would make it a cigar box guitar, right?