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  #1  
Old 05-08-2020, 06:21 AM
sarah gingras sarah gingras is offline
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Default First Build | The Elsie Tenor Ukulele

I wanted to share the beginnings of my first instrument - a tenor ukulele with an asymmetrical body shape. I was recently offered an apprenticeship by luthier Mark Hatcher of Hatcher Guitars, after spending a bunch of time in his shop customizing my Jazzmaster and learning more about luthiery between coats of paint.



A little info about myself - Iím a multimedia artist based in New Hampshire and have been playing guitar since middle school. I have a background in sound design, 2D design, and photography, but I came into the shop knowing pretty much the bare minimum about woodworking.


Selecting the Wood & Re-Sawing

The lumber I selected for the back and sides is 100 year old Eastern Black Walnut salvaged from an old mill building in Worcester, MA, which isn't far from where I grew up. The top is a beautifully figured, old growth Redwood, also about 100 years old, and was salvaged from a standing deadwood tree in Oregon.





The Black Walnut really doesnít look like anything special prior to re-sawing, but has a rich brown color under that washed out patina.




This was one of my first times using a band saw, which Iíve since gotten a lot more comfortable with.




After re-sawing! Everything cleaned up beautifully with the drum sander.
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  #2  
Old 05-08-2020, 10:34 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Looks great so far - keep us up to date with in-progress pics...

Welcome to the forum...
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Last edited by Steve DeRosa; 05-09-2020 at 07:11 AM.
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  #3  
Old 05-08-2020, 11:27 PM
lfoo6952 lfoo6952 is offline
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Congratulations Sarah. Please keep us informed on your progress.
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  #4  
Old 05-09-2020, 06:28 AM
sarah gingras sarah gingras is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
Looks great so far - keep us up to date with i-progress pics...

Welcome to the forum...
Thanks Steve, that's the plan! Been lurking on the forum for a couple months, so I'm glad I finally have some work to share.

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Congratulations Sarah. Please keep us informed on your progress.
Thank you, really happy about how the process is going so far. Will do!
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  #5  
Old 05-09-2020, 06:39 AM
Kerbie Kerbie is offline
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Wow, that looks fantastic! Keep us up-to-date. Congrats... and welcome.
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  #6  
Old 05-09-2020, 03:51 PM
sarah gingras sarah gingras is offline
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Wow, that looks fantastic! Keep us up-to-date. Congrats... and welcome.
Thanks Kerbie, appreciate the kind words. Next photoset is on the way
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  #7  
Old 05-09-2020, 04:09 PM
sarah gingras sarah gingras is offline
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Default Prepping the Back

After a little edge cleanup, the back was glued together and clamped up to dry.



I quickly gained an understanding of just how many clamps are required for this kind of thing. After the glue dried, I rough cut the body shape with the band saw and glued in the back braces.




Iím still getting the hang of setting up go-bars and am currently not a big fan, but they do photograph well.




Back braces all carved out. This part was the most satisfying so far. Really enjoyed working with the chisels and finger planes.
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  #8  
Old 05-23-2020, 10:15 AM
static111 static111 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sarah gingras View Post
After a little edge cleanup, the back was glued together and clamped up to dry.



I quickly gained an understanding of just how many clamps are required for this kind of thing. After the glue dried, I rough cut the body shape with the band saw and glued in the back braces.




Iím still getting the hang of setting up go-bars and am currently not a big fan, but they do photograph well.




Back braces all carved out. This part was the most satisfying so far. Really enjoyed working with the chisels and finger planes.
Looking forward to updates on this project.
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  #9  
Old 05-24-2020, 04:26 PM
sarah gingras sarah gingras is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by static111 View Post
Looking forward to updates on this project.
Thank you! Next round of updates is on the way - putting a post together now.
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  #10  
Old 05-24-2020, 05:24 PM
sarah gingras sarah gingras is offline
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Default Prepping the Sides


The process of bending the sides technically started with building a custom 'ukulele sized' bending machine for the shop. Here's the finished product and a shot of it in action.






I managed to not take a single photo while gluing the sides together or making the heel and tail blocks, but the end results can be seen in the following shots of the kerfed lining being glued in.





The shop has a seemingly endless variety of specialized clamps.




Starting to take shape!
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  #11  
Old 05-26-2020, 10:57 AM
acoustigoat acoustigoat is online now
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Wow, the ukulele is looking great and your photographs are beautiful in their own right. Thank you so much for sharing!
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  #12  
Old 06-15-2020, 07:20 AM
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jgmaute jgmaute is offline
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Just found this thread, looking very good! It’s great info and pictures. Thanks for taking us along on this journey.
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  #13  
Old 06-16-2020, 11:19 AM
sarah gingras sarah gingras is offline
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Default Making the Rosette


Back with an update, thank you to everyone who has been following!

I decided to go with an oblong shaped rosette, which was achieved using a drill press with a pin router attachment. I used the laser cutter at my local makerspace to make the router template.



My practice attempt can be seen in the top right.


I was pretty in the zone while working on the rosette so most of the process was not well documented. I did manage to get a shot of these gorgeous ambonya burl slices before they were cut to shape on the scroll saw.





All inlaid and glued together. An (almost) perfect fit, but I was reassured that any small gaps would be an easy fix.

After leveling out the rosette I started the cleanup process. Ambonya burl has a lot of color variation, so I had about 3-4 piles of dust I sanded from different sections so any areas I needed to fill could be matched up.



Very satisfied with how everything cleaned up. I let everything dry overnight before starting the next round of bracing.
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  #14  
Old 06-16-2020, 11:50 AM
sarah gingras sarah gingras is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acoustigoat View Post
Wow, the ukulele is looking great and your photographs are beautiful in their own right. Thank you so much for sharing!
Thank you, I appreciate the kind words! I've really enjoyed photographing the process so far.

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Originally Posted by jgmaute View Post
Just found this thread, looking very good! Itís great info and pictures. Thanks for taking us along on this journey.
Thanks for taking a look, glad you've been enjoying the posts!
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  #15  
Old 06-16-2020, 12:14 PM
SCVJ SCVJ is offline
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Looks great, thanks for taking the time to share. I look forward to these posts!
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