Welcome to my danish ukuele workshop!
Project: DIY Ukulele
Once I laid hands on my first ukulele, I could not put it down. I was enraptured by the sheer fun of playing the little soprano pineapple, I took it with me everywhere I went. I took it to the park, I took it on the train. We never were apart, I kept it from the rain. I took it on vacation, and never saw it again.
I was hooked. As soon as I was back home, I bought brightly colored sopranos for Lilly and Simon, a good starter soprano for Gustav and a wonderful tenor (much mula) for myself. It is a thing of beauty and elegance, much like my classic guitar — too much like it in fact. Maybe I could build my own?
So I bought a kit from Grizzly.com (thanks Karin!) and did the deed — easy peasy. No bending or fretting, just gluing and laquering. Another ukulele in the house! But, the quality … could I do better? Yes I could! So I did. ☺
Planning and Planing Wood
Google is your friend for DIY projects. I watched videos, read blogs, and decided bulding a ukulele was like building a guitar, just smaller. So I bought a book, "Guitarmaking, tradition and technology" by William R. Cumpiano and Jonathan D. Natelson. I appreciate it more now that I have actually finished the build than before. When I read it first I would think "facinating", reading it now makes me think "Aha, thats why". Finally, I also bought a "Hana Lima 'Ia 'Ukulele Construction Manual" which is great for taking some of the complexity down from the heights of "Guitarmaking".
Next step: wood. There are so many choises! I spent too much time agonizong over what would be a good choice for my first hand-make uke. Finally I contacted Peter Hensberg from The Oak Men, one of the parents (of a child the same age as Gustav) in the neighborhood. We narrowed down the choices to walnut wood for the body and neck, wenge and zebrawood for the fretboard and bridge. The nuts and saddles are of corian from Hana-Lima Ia, who also supplied the fretwire.
Forming the Forms
Bending and Breaking Wood
There are now 6 ukuleles in the house, and I plan on building more. Once in a while I hear Gustav tinker with his, and recently Lilly had hers out to play (not play) with. I'm happy playing this ukulele.