Building a Ukulele from a Stewart-Macdonald Kit

Part 2: Gluing the  head and tail blocks to the ribs.

The instruction call for making a simple mold that will be used all along the way. It will get legs also, which show up in subsequent photos.


Here's how the pre-bent sides fit into the mold.


The width of the sides is a little different from one end to the other. This will sand out in a later step.


Here we hit the first challenge. The mold was made according to the length of the template of the body shape included in the instructions, But perhaps it was too short. The ends are pressed flat, but the tailblock shown here and the headblock both have curved mating surfaces, and the tail end is too flat for the tailblock. 


The headblock fits fine (at first).


To give the tail the curvature it needs, I cut some wedges and stuck them into the mold, lifting the tail a little way off the end of the mold.


When the tailblock is clamped in, it presses the rib back against the mold, giving it the proper curvature.


The bent rib has "sprung back" since bending, and needs a little help to get its waist narrow enough. Also, wedging the tail end and squeezing the waist has pushed the head end flatter, so it no longer fits close against the headblock. So i also wedged the head end to bring it back into curvature. You would think I would have wised up and moved an end of the mold an eighth of an inch or so. This kind of reminds me of the matron trying to get into her girdle in an old cartoon. Push it in here, it pops out there. In the end it formed a decent shape.

Later Note: it seems that later kits use a slightly shorter rib section. What this means is that you clamp the tail end in with the tailblock, and the head end doesn't quite reach the other end of the jig. When you stretch the head end out to meet the jig and clamp the head block in, it pulls the rib into the proper curve at both ends, and there is no need for wedges.

Previous   Next   Beginning of Ukulele pages

See about joining a weekend workshop to build one of these kits (click)

Look at these other sites of mine:

Carrot Creek (my dulcimer business)    

Osborne Atelier (my info pages on building a guitar, a harp, and a dulcimer)

Copyright 2005 Stephen Miklos

email me  by clicking here