Griffin Ukuleles is really a one man band. Just one old guy who loves woodworking and discovered the joy of the ukulele pretty late in life. A few years back I discovered the ukulele and my fascination and obsession began. After I had made a few, and joined the local ukulele society B.U.G. (Bellingham Ukulele Group). Building ukuleles is a labor of love for me.
Beth, and Torsten, it will not be much longer. They are almost at that point of rich luster that signals, they are done, It is time to string them up. Not that a moment you can calculate, it just comes. Not there quite yet, but your ukes are looking very nice.
A huge box appeared at my front door today. It looked large enough for a guitar, and "Breedlove" was printed on the outside. I thought I had received a Breedlove guitar by mistake instead of the tenor hard case I was expecting.
Upon opening it, I was relieved to find a beautiful Kala tenor ukulele case that Torsten had purchased and had delivered to me. It was extremely well packed, and when the uke is finished it will ride this great box all the way to Denmark.
'this is a lovely fabric covered hard case, three latches, key, and a very luxurious interior.
'A regal interior, padded velvet fit for a King.
And Torsten will be relieved to know that his new tenor fits into the case firmly and perfectly. It will be a soft and cushioned ride across the Atlantic. I am very impressed with the quality of this case. Kala is putting out good products.
It is often difficult to see how well wood has been snnded until you put the finish on it. the lovely maple neck on Torsten's instrument revealed sanding scratches from the coarse sandpaper of the bow sander. Each coating of French Polish seemed to make them stand out more- so today I sanded all the finish off and started again. First 220, then 310, then 410 and finally 500 grit. Now I feel better and that neck will be plenty smooth.
220 grit to take off the finish and remove the scratches.
The first application of French Polish and now scratches can be seen. We are on the road back now.
I always begin a build with the sound board. First you join the wood, then you cut the groove for the rosette, then you cut out the sound hole. Here is how I do it.
With a router, guided by this 1/4 inch thick guide I made, I first cut the rosette groove. Then the soundboard is repositioned and the sound hole is cut. The sound hole is not cut entirely through the wood but when this raw soundboard is sanded the "almost through' cut will be released and the sound hole will fall out.
Here is the raw beginning. The grooves are cut, the rosette groove shallower than the sound hole cut. I will install the rosette and then sand the soundboard down to its final thickness. In the process, the ugly glue line will disappear and by sanding from the back, the sound hole will fall out and reveal itself.
A remarkable day of progress. Finished the final sanding before lunch and began the French Polish after a bite. First the pore filling. Then the first applications with a munica made from a material other than cotton. It is working remarkably better and these ukes are beginning to glow a bit already.
Curly Koa binding and high grade East Indian Rosewood.
Curly Big Leaf Maple binding and Bubinga
Pretty wood beginning to glow after only two applications. Love this new cloth!
Shows a little lighter in the natural sunlight.
The bear claw begins to pop in the sunlight. The Redwood will darken
And so the weary luthier sits with his martini at the end of the day, admiring his beauties. The setting sun is streaming through the window and all is right with the world.
An incredible performance at last Saturdays BUG jam. Our leader Wes Lewis surprised us all by impersonating the late great British showman George Formby and his classic "leaning on a lamppost". Wes's talent knows no bounds. I hope I can get all 4.5 minutes on this blog. Be sure to watch. Amazing!!!
During our usual intermission Wes left the room to change into George Formby's typical white shirt and bow tie, Asking me to introduce our special guest from Britain, the immortal George Formby, Wes came striding back into the room with his banjo uke and gave us this charming impersonation. What a talent, what a leader for the Bellingham Ukulele Group, and what fun for all. Thanks Wes.
Meanwhile, back at the workshop. These tenors, #14 and #15 are built and ready for the final sanding and then the French Polish. The blonde is going to Denmark, the brunette to the mid-west. Lots of finishing to do yet however. It will be a couple of weeks,
I will have the sanding done in a couple of days, and then when the French polish begins I will start another build or two. Not sure just yet what I will be building. Anyone got any ideas?
Before the neck can be completed, the fretboard must be attached. Here it is, glued and clamped.
The neck is always left wider than the fretboard so now it must be shaved down to fit the fretboard and fit the hand. That begins with a pretty aggressive rasp.
Here we are getting pretty close to the fret board, Time for a finer tool.
This is my old reliable half round rasp. Had it for years and it still cuts well for fine work.
And now that the shape is pretty well established, I turn to the scraper for long fine strokes the length of the neck. This will continue until I get to the shape and feel i want. Then it will be sanded to finish.
The Yin/Yang symbol is important to Stuart Fuchs who recently commissioned a Uke from me. Stu is so popular that several folks have ordered identical ukes complete with the Yin/Yang as it was inlayed into Stu's tenor.
So here is the fretboard of Beth's Stu Fuchs model with it's Yin/Yang installed. I have taped it to the jig and am sanding it down to the 12 foot radius on her uke..
Doing the sanding--
Sanding done, this is ready to install. Once the frets are put in and the end scoop is cut. That is next.
In the meantime, work on Beth's continues. I have laid the fretboard and bridge in their approximate places.
On the left is Torsten's, heading to Denmark soon. It is about ready for it's final sanding and then the French Polishing will begin. I am expecting great things from this uke when completed.