Concert Ukulele Build

Inspired by BrianPalmer’s builds, I decided to build a concert uke, and it turned out pretty well! This is the first instrument I’ve built, and also the first extensive woodworking project. It’s based on the 12 fret concert uke from Georgia Luthier Supply. The plans are very well done, and were a tremendous help to get all of the SVGs ready for Easel.

Speaking of Easel, everything I could do on the X-Carve I did. The jigs, neck, fingerboard, bridge bracing, kerfed lining, top, back, sides… all were milled to thickness and/or cut with the X-Carve. The only thing not touched by the X-Carve was the heel block! It might be argued that it was the wrong tool for [some of] the jobs. Well when you don’t have the right tools, you make do with what you have :slight_smile:

Back/Sides/Neck - Sapele
Soundboard/Bracing - Sitka Spruce
Kerfed Lining - Light Mahogany
Fretboard/Bridge - Bolivian Rosewood
Binding - Black Walnut (Felled in Michigan)
6 coats of Minwax Clear Satin Lacquer - I plan to wet sand and buff in a few weeks to smooth it out.



Looks great! I love the look of Sapele. I wasn’t brave enough to try binding.

What did you use to shape the neck? I’ve been practicing with a new set of rasps. I’m working on a modified (baritone) J45 model from Georgia Luthier right now. It’s nice that they provide you with the form plans. Also, you can open the PDFs in illustrator and access the layers for SVG export.

I used a cheapo kobalt rasp from lowes, a half inch chisel, and I split an 80 grit belt into multiple widths. I was woefully unprepared in the tool department, so shaping the neck took about a week to get it where I wanted it. A lot of that time was in the heel.

You don’t have to have the stewmac catalog of tools to build, but it would certainly make things faster.

The binding was surprisingly easy. I purchased a 1/4" Bosch flush trim bit and an Amana 1/16x1/2" rabbetting bit. I pulled my 611 off the Xcarve and put it on the base. It was done in 10 minutes. The arch in the back made it a little harder than the top, but just take your time and it will turn out fine.

This is my first job with lacquer. My brother in law has two Taylors with sapele (110e and 314). Neither of those have the grain filled and have soft finishes. The grain is present but it’s relatively smooth to the touch, so that’s what I’m attempting to replicate. My Taylor 414 is glossy and it’s not my favorite finish, especially in humid conditions.

I could be way off base so if you have any tips I’m certainly open eared!

If anyone has purchased the plans I’d be happy to share my svgs.

When working on a project that needs a great finish/look, I use a mixture of 4 parts polyurethane and 1 part linseed oil. Using a piece(~ 1" x 2" size) of “synthetic” steel wool, the maroon/green/white/gray stuff, I rub/scrub in the poly mixture. At this stage the wood is very wet/damp. When it starts to dry, working quickly, I hand rub the finish off with a cloth, then let it completely dry for 24-48 hours. Then repeat to get the film build I want. I get a couple things from this. The oil slows drying time, increasing soak in time. The pad helps smooth the surface after the final sanding. The pad drives finish into pores. I have no concerns about runs in the finish.