Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

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Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

Postby Bryan Bear » Mon Apr 01, 2013 12:26 pm

Okay I'm in but it may be a while before I get started. I'll be using as much reclaimed woods as possible. I still need to pin down exactly what I will be using, as of now it is going to be:

Back and sides -- walnut scraps from resawing guitar sets. I have one piece that had some blade wander that junked the piece but there is enough length to do an Uke. For the sides, I will be using an orphaned slice from the same operation.

Top -- spruce lath. Walking through Lowe's I saw bundles of lath boards and many of them were quarter sawn spruce. The only problem is they are 1 1/2 inch wide. Two of the bundles had broken open and were just lying in a messy pile. I asked the manager if he could sell the pieces (no in bundle form). He said he had no price code for them and wasn't sure what he was going to do with them. Once he heard what I had in mind, he let me pick through for the good pieces and take what I wanted for free.

Bracing -- spruce. I will either get my braces from a tree that died in my parent's back yard last summer or an old back door.

Neck -- walnut left over from making a guitar neck blank. With a center strip, it should be wide enough for an Uke.

Fretboard and bridge -- oak from an old futon frame

Linings -- shipping palate

I'll probably use quarter sawn sycamore for bindings and such.


As an added bonus, the walnut and sycamore came from my local log recycler who rescues logs from going to landfill or being ground up into much and makes lumber from them.
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Re: Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

Postby Hans Bezemer » Tue Apr 02, 2013 4:03 pm

Bryan,

I hope you can start soon.
Good luck!

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Re: Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

Postby Bryan Bear » Wed Apr 03, 2013 2:21 pm

Thanks Hans. I'm glad to see more entries rolling in. If nobody else enters (and I manage to finish on time) I can place in the top 5 <g>.
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Re: Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

Postby Bryan Bear » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:37 pm

For the record, I am actually working on this project. I have about 30 min of shop time in. As proof I offer the only crappy cell phone shot I have that also happens to be small enough to post.

lathetop.JPG


This is the 48 x 1 1/2 x 3/8 inch spruce lathe board I got for free from Lowes. I slip matched the 4 pieces to fit the outline so that I would not have alternating runnout every 1 1/2 inch. Then resawed all the pieces and bookmatched the other side. I could have done the other half as a slip match of sorts and avoided the whole color mismatch all together, but I am hoping it will take your eye away from the extra joints.

I haven't had a chance to clean this up and see how it looks. I was lucky enough to be able to squeeze a second walnut plate out of my scrap wood, so if the spruce doesn't look good I can go with a walnut top.
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Re: Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

Postby Bryan Bear » Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:10 pm

Once I cut off the section of the board with the errant cut, I realized I had enough width to get two outlines. The grain on one side isn't so nice but it will serve as a nice backup plan if the 8 piece spruce top doesn't work out.
image.jpg


Here is the not so nice set with the knot shadow. If I go with a walnut top, this will be the back.
image.jpg
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Re: Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

Postby Bryan Bear » Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:13 pm

Well clearly I am not up to the task of posting photos from my phone without messing it up. I'll post more when I have time to sit down at a computer.
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Re: Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

Postby Warren May » Wed Apr 24, 2013 6:25 pm

Pics look good from here, Bryan. Glad to see you are making progress on your Uke. I like the look of the grain for the back. It will be interesting to see the lathe board in progress, I think.
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Re: Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

Postby Bryan Bear » Wed Apr 24, 2013 11:21 pm

Here is a shot of the nicer back section.
image.jpg


I thicknesses to top to almost final dimensions. I'm torn on how it turned out. It feels really nice but I neglected to notice the color variation along the width of the board. Slip matching the sections really highlights the problem. The pic with the naptha shows it from the worst angle. The top seems so nice, I would use it if it were for me, but since I am donating it. . . I should probably start looking for another softwood option.


image.jpg
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Re: Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

Postby Greg Robinson » Fri Apr 26, 2013 3:38 pm

Looks good Bryan, it should make a great donation to your charity auction. Hope you get a chance for some more shop time!
Good luck!
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Re: Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

Postby Hans Bezemer » Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:23 am

Your making some good progress. Keep it going!
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Re: Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

Postby Bryan Bear » Tue Apr 30, 2013 5:34 pm

I have an old exterior door made of spruce that I have been getting well seasoned brace stock from for some time now. I intended to use this for the bracing of this project and it aligns perfectly with the theme. So then why did it take me so long to realize that I should use this door for the whole soundboard? I suppose it didn't cross my mind because there are no sections close to large enough for a guitar top so I only see bracing. . . Anyway, I dug out the bottom rail and I can get a 4 piece top. This should look a bit nicer. Hopefully pics soon.
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Re: Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

Postby Bryan Bear » Fri May 24, 2013 11:35 pm

Progress has been slow. I have had a lot on my plate but am still in this challenge <G>

The lower rail of the old door that I wanted to use for the new top turns out to not be spruce. I believe it is Douglass Fir. The pieces ended up being too narrow for a two piece top so it will be 4 pieces, this will be better than the 8 pieces of the other option. First thing was to saw off the edges (and the 30+ years of lead paint). Then cut out a section that has enough space between the nail holes.
door kick.JPG


Here you can see the jointed top, back and sides thicknessed, lining stock made from a palate and blocks made from spruce offcuts from my workbench.

parts.JPG


The top ended up having some interesting color variation. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but for some reason, I really like it. Here it is with naptha:

naptha top.JPG


I have the sides bent and the linings laminated. I routed the rosette channel and am trying to decide what to make the rosette out of. I'm going to try to find some scrap or otherwise reclaimed wood.

rim.JPG


that's all I have done so far.
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Re: Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

Postby Warren May » Sat May 25, 2013 7:35 am

The top looks good, Bryan. Nice job on jointing the top.
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Re: Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

Postby Patrick DeGreve » Mon May 27, 2013 3:24 pm

It's looking very nice Bryan. I like variation in the top plate. From the picture the top looks like it has some red in it, this will look great with the walnut. I like the proportions as well. The lower bout being larger should add to the tone. I think the back looks great. I like the way the grain converges at the top. I think it is going to be a very nice uke.
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Re: Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

Postby Bryan Bear » Mon May 27, 2013 4:28 pm

Thanks guys! The top has reddish bands that I fell in love with, I think you are right about it looking good with the walnut. I'm planning quarter sawn sycamore for the bindings. The shape is basically an OM reduced to 2/3 dimentions (I tweeked the curves a bit). Then I removed 1 inch from the center.

I braced the top last night, but it feels too stiff (to my uke novice hands) so I'll have to do some more shaving. I'll try to post a pic of the bracing soon.
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Re: Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

Postby Jon Whitney » Tue May 28, 2013 12:03 pm

The doug fir top looks great, but I think the lath top looks pretty good too. Maybe the contrast doesn't show up on the photo but even if there is a lot more color variation than I can see, I'll bet it will work out well. I guess you'll just have to build another tenor uke later (like you weren't going to anyway!).
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Re: Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

Postby Bryan Bear » Tue May 28, 2013 1:32 pm

Yeah, Jon. I like the other top too but in person it is pretty stripey in a distracting way. one edge of the board had some subtle silver tone to it which shows up much more under finish. That turned into 8 silver stripes with a straight edge at the joint line. I put it in the stash and I am sure I will use it one day. Probably when I want to do one that calls for a little color added to the finish.

It feels too nice to waste. If I were choosing between the two blindfolded, I would take the spruce. Though the fir is much harder and will stand up better to any harsh treatment the auction winner (or their children) might dish out.

It is funny how projects change as you start choosing woods and things. I originally was shooting for a miniature guitar look. Dark back and sides, light tight grained spruce top. . . Now seeing this top with the sides, I decided to go for a warmer more subdued look. I went with a subtle walnut and mahogany rosette that blends into the top rather than jumping out. I may even change my idea for the fretboard too.
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Re: Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

Postby Bryan Bear » Wed May 29, 2013 4:44 pm

I'm not doing a great job of posting pics. Mostly because I have been snapping hurried shots on my cell phone and it is cumbersome to reduce them to an up-loadable size. But here are a few that at least show that I am still working.

As I said, I am making this up as I go based on notes I took from some plans I had access to. I am already sure that I will make some changes on the next one. For starters, I will use a much smaller soundhole reinforcement and I will move the lower ladder brace closer to the waist. As it is now, I think both of those changes would really loosen up the lower bout.
I couldn't decide if I wanted to make a 12 fret or a 14 fret. I braced it for 12, but now I think I am changing my mind. We will see how it sounds. . . When I tap the braced, free plate, it doesn't sound too musical but with the top clamped to the rim, it feels about right when I push down on the bridge area. . .

monica_bracing.JPG


With the newborn, I am trying to jump into the shop for frequent short bursts to keep progress going. Often, I don't feel like I have time to heat up any HHG so I have been using TB for most of the gluing (plate jointing and bridge gluing are/will be HHG). I'm not one to claim that HHG is superior to TB in terms of sound or that one is cooler if s/he uses it. That said, I had forgotten how annoying TB is for glue cleanup and other workability aspects. I used it for the linings and bracing, I'm sure most won't notice but the terrible job I did of glue clean up irritates me.
monica_lining.JPG


Back to the topic of the top wood changing the aesthetic "feel" of the instrument, I tried to get a picture of the grain "irregularities" in this top wood. There are several of them, combined with the warm colors of the top it really has a cool vibe. Many of you are much more knowledgeable about wood, hopefully one of you will chime in with what this is called or what causes it.
monica_rose.JPG
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Re: Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

Postby Jason Rodgers » Wed May 29, 2013 4:51 pm

Bryan Bear's bearclaw uke?

Not sure if that is technically bearclaw figure, but I have some Western Hemlock with that irregularity all over.
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
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Re: Bryan Bear's tenor ukulele

Postby Bryan Bear » Wed May 29, 2013 5:13 pm

Bear claw would be the word I am tempted to use, but it's not exactly what I think of when I think of bear claw. There are several sections of it but they are all very small (only spanning a few growth lines), it does have that 3D effect but it seems very shallow and subdued. I had a sitka top that had something similar. It was sold as a low grade top, probably because of the irregularities, but ended up looking really nice once the shellac built up. Strangely enough the back and sides of this uke came from the miscut slices from the B&S set that ended up with that top. This one is starting to feel like its little brother.
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