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Stewart Macdonald Tenor Ukulele Kit part 7

Been a long time since I had the opportunity to work on the ukulele and post any progress. I have been busy with many family functions. Also, I'm at the point where most of the sanding is done and that takes up a lot of time.

I know from my first posts about building the ukulele I wrote that I will follow the instructions and not skip around. I felt that I needed to skip around a bit and follow my own instinct from here on out. What I did was mixture of advice from reading ukulele building sources and my own experience from refretting guitars. So the following is not exactly following the instructions.

The first thing I needed to do was flatten the top of the neck. The neck had many scalloped indents as if they rushed it through the milling process. The scallops are barely visible in the picture below because I had started to sand it and then decided to take a picture of the scallops.

The instructions give directions to work on the fretboard by fretting and leveling the frets. I felt that this would best be done later. My concern was that what if my neck is not perfectly level with the soundboard. The fretboard would then bend where the neck meets the body and now the frets won't be level. I figure better to add the frets after the neck is attached and level then. Whether or not this is a good idea remains to be seen.

I skipped the part about attaching the fretboard to the neck. The neck did not quite mate up nicely with the body. People have suggested sanding the neck heel to the body is easier without the fretboard attached. This way you can attach the sandpaper to the body and sand the neck up and down without the fretboard getting in the way.

Also along the line of not attaching the fretboard to the neck, I decided to drill the holes for the pegs without the fretboard. This way I would not need spacer boards the same height as the fretboard to prop up the body to be level with the neck. I could just lay the neck and body flat on the work surface and use a drilling guide.

I used a scrap piece of wood as the drill guide as my drill press is not tall enough and I don't trust my hand drill skills. I know wood can distort after so many drills, but I only need it to drill four holes. I drew a line on the back of the jig that would server as a guide for lining up the neck and drill guide. Before drilling the holes I sanded the body and neck to two grits away from finishing.

Then I also did the same for the body. Draw a line, match up the guide and body, and drill.

The neck fit was almost perfect. The neck sits just a slither lower than the soundboard. I don't think this will be a problem as I can push on the neck with little force and it will be level. The neck should be level when clamped.

The heel of the neck still needs to be trimmed. I will trim it after I have glued the neck to the body.

I dry clamped the neck to the body for test fitting and for drawing a centering guide line across the neck and body to align the fretboard. This way even if the neck is not perfectly centered, I can still glue the fretboard centered to the body as the neck still needs to be trimmed to the fretboard. So if the neck is a bit off, the only thing a little off will be the headstock but the strings will still run across the center of the body.

I drilled the holes for the side dots according to the instructions but the 1/16" hole was too small. I had to drill 5/64" holes for the side dot to fit. I then glued the fretboard to the neck carefully aligned to the center guide line. I couldn't get good alignment with the rubberbands during the dry fit so I switched to hand clamps and another scrap wood to apply the pressure evenly.

Here is the neck cleaned up and trimmed to the fretboard. The fit is good and there is a slight angle downward of the neck. There will be a very little hump on the fretboard where the neck meets the body. Hopefully my instinct earlier about adding the frets after neck attachment pays off. I'm not sure if this is the correct way to do frets on a new instrument. I have refretted a few guitars so adding frets to an already attached neck is not much trouble. Though come to think of it now, I could have placed the frets in and just not leveled them before attaching the fretboard to the neck, oh well. 

Next up attaching the neck to the body and fretting? I have that as a question since I might skip around on the instructions again.

Thanks for looking.


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