Instructables
Picture of Building an Ukulele from scratch
Hi, this is my first Instructable and it's about how to make your own individual ukulele mainly from ordinary wood, found in an ordinary wood shop.


 
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Step 1: Material List

For building your Uke you need mainly wood, but also some other, mechanical, parts. Here is the full list of things you need.

 The size of the parts vary with your own individual design. And the meassurements are all in millimeters(mm). If you need it in inches, you have to multiply the millimeters with a factor of 0,03937. So 1mm equals 0,03937 inches.

What to buy(more or less):
2 x thin wood lathes (60 x 5 x 100)
1 x thin wood lathe (10 x 20 x 100)
1 x thick wood lathe (60 x 20 x 100)
1 x thin large sheet of chipboard
2 x sticks (diameter = 10mm, length = 1000mm)
4 x strings
4 x machine heads for the strings
14 x frets



If you're not familiar with the metric system, here's a little cheat-list:
1 meter(m) = 100 centimeter(cm)
1 cm = 10 millimeters(mm)

Step 2: Bending the Wood for the shape, Part 1

The very first step in building an ukulele is bending the wood for shape. You bend the wood very easy by putting it in a steam box. Most probably you won't be a carpenter and thus don't have one. Don't worry, there are a lot of other instructables around here on how to build a steam box for bending wood.

Another way of making the wood soft and flexible is by putting it into a bathtub filled with water and let it in there for several hours(e.g. overnight). Since the wood will swim in the bathtub, put some towels on top of the wood, so the wood will sink and be completely under water.
AntMan2322 years ago
I am far from an expert, but I noticed one thing. On the head, the holes for tuning pegs (machine heads? told you I was clueless) are in line. Shouldn't they be arranged such that the pack ones run down the centre, or is there some other way of getting the strings into the right places?
Well if you make the grooves in the nut go down enough, the nut will hold the strings in place.
Is it possible if you could include a neck making section as I am undertaking this project but I can't seem to find the measurements for the neck width, length and the position of the frets themselves anywhere on the web, I may just be incompetent at finding templates but it would be a real help if you could include anything on the position of the frets, thankyou :)
Nvm, after reading the rest of the way through the ible you'll find these in step 12:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal_temperament)
http://liutaiomottola.com/formulae/fret.htm
Yes agreed, please add measurements. A picture with measurements would be good.
Nice uke and tutorial! I'm just curious, though: how does 3/16" wood as the sides (5mm) compare to the recommended 0.08" (2mm) thickness as for sound?
jetlund4 years ago
Wouldn't plywood be better for the body. Also, it seems that your neck is made from one piece of wood (except for the part where it is fixed) to the body. Thus, I am wondering wether your uke is able to stay tuned at all.
blkhawk4 years ago
I always wanted to build a dulcimer, which is a string instrument. After seeing your instructable I am inspired to build it. Thank you for posting it.
brassclams4 years ago
I guess you mean "laths" rather than "lathes", the latter being a tool. Can't help correcting. Sorry!
Clayton H.4 years ago
It's a very nice project. But I have a few recommendations.
1) Add kerfling the inside edge of the sides on the top and bottom edges to give you more glue strength.
2) Use wood glue instead of hot glue due to the fact that if you enter a hot enough room, the glue will melt and you'll have a pile of ukulele parts on the floor.
3) Rubber bands are a good way to glue on the top and back in one easy step.
4) put a coat of lacquer or Polyurethane on it to protect it (and any artwork) from moisture and dirt.
5) If you want to completely eliminate metal from the uke ( I follow the Wishnevsky method that metal dampers tone) then you could attach the neck using a dovetail.
But those are just my opinions and without them, I bet your uke is great!
Phil B4 years ago
Very nice. Thank you for posting a nice project.
MichiTechnologies (author)  Phil B4 years ago
I'm very pleased that you like it :-), thank you