tulipwood concert ukulele build blog:


october 18 2021

i am starting a spruce and tulipwood concert ukulele for a friend. it may be a little bit fancy for me as she is really in to having a shell rosette and purflings. i always thought tulipwood was poplar and rather plain. this wood is figured with good tonal properties. after helping someone on line with some plans, i was sent the set. maybe some one recognizes this wood. (i have since learned that this is, dalbergia decipularis origin: south america. a true rosewood.

tulipwood is an exotic wood native to the tropical region of south america, mainly brazil. it is a hard and heavy wood, with a rather fine texture. the sapwood is a solid yellow color, while the heartwood color ranges from a pink to a darker red, with a straw colored background. tulipwood is excellent for wood turning, as well as knife handles, furniture, and cabinets. it is a lustrous wood, has excellent polishing qualities, and glues well.

i have never made a concert before, i once bought a complete set of martin ukulele forms at an auction so i was some what ready. i got a mold from john hall modified it and combined it with a work board for a spanish neck joint. in the background you will see i have a second mold that i will use if i ever do a bolt on.

i used an old record plane to joint the plates. i used my guitar plate jointing jig to clamp the plates together but it really was too big.

here is most of the tonewood i will use. a couple of years ago i accidently rift sawed large mahogany neck blank. i also had a nice plate of ebony, so i used two rift saw mahogany pieces and the ebony to mack a neck blank. i will need some thin wings for the head stock to get enough width.

i used my bandsaw to profile the top and the back.

i installed a paua abalone rosette with black fiber purflings. i used my bishop cochren router base to to cut a 1/16" + 1 mm channel. i carefully set the diameter of the rosette using a set of calipers. i am using a 1/16" bit. i cut to the inside line, make the diameter 1 mm larger and cut for the purfling. i use a bit of the shell to set the depth.

once routed i tested it and ultimately made it a smidge wider to deal with swelling from the glue.

once the glue set i leveled the fiber strips and cleaned out (well sort of cleaned out) the channel

then i just worked my way around breaking the abolone into the channel. i would start at one end jam as much as i could along the channel until the strip broke. i would use that pointy tool to push in the piece and once in, push back tight against the previous piece and repeat. i used thin ca to set the shell as i went. the spruce was sealed with the purfling and the glue i used to install the purfling.

level sanded.

used the same bit to cut out the sound hole. i set the bit depth a little more than my final top thickness. i sanded the back of the top until the sound hole dropped out.

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october 20 2021

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i got a little done yesterday and i may have a bit more time this afternoon.

i profiled, thicknessed and bent the sides for the rims.

my eyes are not what they once were, so instead of penciling in the profile lines i just taped on the template. really easy to follow, with careful placement of the waist, i ended up with perfectly book matched and profiled sides.

to keep the book match through sanding i marked it on the side of the sides. i sanded to .080" as that is the thickness of the blade i use to cut the heel slots. also a good thickness to bend. on a bolt on i might go as low as .070" for a ukulele.

i use a john hall ukulele side bender from [url=]blues creek guitars[/url]. at an [url=]asia[/url] auction i bought at a very good price a complete set of ukulele bending forms and molds that john hall donated.

i used just a sprits of water and paper towel, i starting with the waist at 225? i bent the waist most of the way, lower bout then upper bout and a tightening of the waist. i set the temp at 280? and let it set for 12 minutes.

after cooling i removed it from the side bender with very little spring back. what ever this wood is it is really easy to work with.

with both sides bent, i used the molds center lines to mark one of the sides. i cut close on the bandsaw and finished on my belt sander. with the one side trimmed i used it to mark the other side. i cut the second side a little long and touch fit on the belt sander until it fits in the mold.

with the sides trimmed i rough profiled the neck and used my special purpose sled to cut the slots.

i trimmed the heel side of the sides back 5 mm and fit it all into my new work board and mold.

october 23 2021

i have mostly been doing website maintenance the last few days, but i did get a bit of time on the rims and clean up the neck a bit.

before i get ahead of myself and glue the rims to the neck i decided to do a bit more work on it. i use a safe t planer for both the head stock and the taper of the neck. i shim up the nut side of the neck to give me the thickness. i have measurements for the 1st and 7th fret of 11 mm and 12.5 mm respectively. as shown in the first picture the distance between the 2 frets is 105 mm, the distance from the 1st fret to the end of the neck 200 mm. so i calculated the slope of the taper rise/run and determined a shim height needed when pivoting on the end of the neck by taking the 200 mm multiplied by the slope. so 2.88 mm. i glued the shim right on the 1st fret location.

then i planed away with the safe-t planer where i could until i had my desired thickness.

i also made a few passes on the head stock to get close. i need the veneer to do the final thickness. i left a thick area around the nut to give me options for the transitions between the neck and the head stock.

i made some wings for the headstock with some cutoff from the original neck blank.

i really hate routing out the end graft late in the building process, so i generally glue it to the tail block and then glue the sides to the tail block. if i am careful and get the end graph on square it is really easy to glue the sides to block one at a time and still have the rims square. pictures show it better.

first i use a machinist square to glue on the end graft square.

i use my belt sander to cleanly take off half of the end graft from each side. i scratch a line. make sure the top is down as it is square to the center line

one side then the other and done!

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