Building a ukulele

My friend Pat Hawley encouraged me to try to build a ukulele.

Having an experienced guitar builder such as Pat to turn to for advice gave me the courage to build one. But once I got started, I experimented with how I could build it without the specialized equipment that many guitar builders use. I will also be covering Pat Hawley's more professional build of a ukulele alongside my experiments. I also have Free ukulele plans available


My ukulele build

Pat's ukulele build

I experimented with different methods of steam bending the sides, while Pat used his jigs and a heating blanket. I'd say Pat's method is definitely better, if you have the right equipment.
I made my soundboard using spruce from a 2x10 bought at the Home Depot. Pat made his out of Hawaian koa wood, with a nice rosette around the sound hole. No rosette on mine.
I largely built my ukulele body without a form, but using a form helps to ensure the shape of the instrument is exact.

Pat mouned the front and back, and added "binding" around the edges. I left the back of mine open for now, and skipped the binding.

Pat and I used very different sets of tools for making the necks of our instruments. There are many ways to do it, and the best way typically involves making the best tools you have.
I cut my fret slots with a dozuki saw, and figured out how to insert the frets with a vise. Pat added fancy inlays to his fretboards. No inlays on my fretboard.
Installing tuners, mounting the fret board, closing up the back. I saved a lot of tasks until quite late.
In pat hawley's build,
most of this work was
done as part of earlier
steps.
Finishing the body, installing bridge and nut, stringing it up.
An instrument case for my homemade ukulele.


And here's the finished instruments.
Pat's looks quite exquisite compared to mine.

Some fun with the ukulele
with Go Long(!) music
Some Final thoughts on building a ukulele.



See also:

Pat Hawley's custom fan
fret eight-string guitar
Chris pinney's
cigar box banjo
Building an air raid siren
Experimenting with
UV finish

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