Instructables
Picture of Laser Cut Ukulele

I bet you have been tormented by the age-old question, "What can't I make with a laser cutter?" Well I'm here to tell you that the answer is most certainly not a ukulele because I'll show you how to use a laser cutter to make a nice, semi-attractive, decent sounding concert scale ukulele. This sweet baby will give you hours of Blue Hawaii strumming pleasure and can be made with minimal tools. As shown the ukulele uses a commercially made rosewood finger or fret board but if you prefer to set the frets yourself I've got plans that include a laser-cut finger or fret board as well. This project was undertaken as a gift for a youngster too small to handle a full sized guitar but with a hunger for music. If you have a similar youngster pestering you for their own instrument or you just have a hankering for the dulcet tones that can only be duplicated on the diminutive ukulele, then this is the instructable for you.

 
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

The pictured ukulele is made using 1/8" thick baltic birch plywood exclusively for the wooden parts. Mainly because it was handy, not for any acoustic reason. In general, stringed instruments such as this do not get made of plywood even though it can be cheap, light and strong. The reason, near as I can figure, is that the laminated layers and glue impact the resonant properties of the wood negatively. The instrument top and to a lesser extent bottom resonate during playing to produce the sound we (sometimes) associate with music. These parts are typically made of high quality single sheets of flawless light and stiff woods such as spruce. The thicknesses of these panels varies by need, are sometimes feathered even thinner near the edges, but they are typically thinner than 1/8", often in the 3/32" range for non-steel-stringed instruments. For a ukulele even thinner is possible. If you have access to high quality panels for your top, feel free to use them. The top would be the most important piece to be of this high quality wood since it anchors the bridge and thus accepts and vibrates due to the energy input from the plucking of the strings. I can tell you that having a 1/8" plywood top on the ukulele shown doesn't stop the instrument from playing although it doesn't have the tone and sustain of a high-end instrument. Not bad though.

Wood:
4x sheets of 12" x 18" 1/8" Baltic Birch Plywood
Optional - Spruce or other soundboard wood

Plastic:
1x piece of 2"x 3" 1/8" delrin

Misc:
4x string tuners
1x rosewood fret board
Titebond III wood glue

Tools:
Clamps
Sandpaper
Beltsander
Angle grinder
1/4 sheet sander

dylanfm7 months ago

Very nice! I tried twice to make a laser cut uke and neither one sounded right. Both were too quiet. This project has got me thinking about trying again.

jmengel (author)  dylanfm7 months ago

This one is a little quiet I think, but I don't have anything to compare it to except my guitar. I don't imagine a uke should be as loud as a full bodied steel stringed guitar.