After making my PVC single ukulele stand I decided it was fine for what it was, but I could also use a stand for multiple ukuleles. Maybe not all the ones I own, but four or five.
Right around then I saw Janis Wilson Hughes's Lean-Back Cigar Box Guitar Rack on Cigar Box Nation and I said, yeah, something like that! I took her design as a starting point for mine.
The problem with ukuleles is the variation in size: mine went from soprano to baritone, and coming up with one stand that'll hold all of them isn't trivial. What I ended up doing was getting pictures of the kinds of ukes I have, adjusting them to a common scale, importing them into a drawing program, and designing around them.
I ended up deciding the upper front rail could only be a half inch above the lower one or the bari wouldn't fit, unless the rails were further apart and then the soprano would fall through. But half an inch is enough, especially since I offset the upper rail by two inches to allow the ukes to lean more.
I made mine initially long enough to hold four or five instruments comfortably, but it can be made longer or shorter. Later (see last step) I made a second, shorter set of rails I can swap in for a smaller, more transport-friendly version; back home I put the longer rails back in.
Recently I got a sopranino uke and was pleasantly astonished to find it sits on the rack without quite falling through! (Third photo here.) I didn't design for that but it works.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
Here's what I used:
- 1/2" PVC pipe. Two 10' pieces are enough. The lengths I ended up using were:
- 5 1/2" x 8 pieces
- 14 3/4" x 2 pieces
- 14 1/4" x 2 pieces
- 2 3/4" x 2 pieces
- 2 1/4" x 2 pieces
- 24" x 3 pieces
*All these dimensions are approximate and not critical.
- 1/2" PVC fittings:
- 90° elbows, 2 pieces
- 90° street elbows, 2 pieces
- Tees, 10 pieces
- Caps, 4 pieces
The PVC pipe, fittings, insulation, threaded rod, and socks cost about $20 or so altogether. The cleaner, primer, and cement cost another few dollars each, but a can is enough for several projects. (In fact it and many of the other parts were left over from previous builds.)
The purpose of the threaded rods is to support the lower PVC rails from bowing under the weight of the instruments. Smooth aluminum or steel rod can be used instead of the threaded rod, but the threaded rod came in 24" lengths in the store I went to vs. 36" or 48" for the others, and it was a little cheaper.
Tools and other supplies:
- Saw or pipe cutting tool. In the past I've used a saw for cutting PVC but while shopping for this project I decided to spend $10 on a tubing cutting tool.
- Scissors to cut the insulation and socks
- Safety glasses and nitrile gloves to wear while using the cleaner
I did not use PVC cement on most of the joints, nor did I use paint. Unlike my single ukulele stand this one is a simple box structure that mostly holds together well with friction fitting, so it can be taken apart for transport, storage, modification, or parts reuse. After some use I did identify a pair of joints that I felt needed to be more secure so I cemented them; see step 3. As for paint, maybe at some point I'll try dyeing the pieces, but for right now off-white is OK with me.
Step 2: Cleaning
I followed the instructions on the PVC cleaner to take the markings off the PVC tubing and fittings. A few marks, oddly, didn't want to come off. I also didn't have enough cleaner to do a really thorough job of getting all the color off the parts. Didn't care! If I wanted a nicer look I'd dye or paint the PVC, and maybe someday I'll pull the stand apart and do that. For now it's fine.
I didn't bother cleaning the 24" pieces at all, because they're covered up.
Step 3: Ends
To build one end I did the following:
Put three 5 1/2" pieces together in a line, connecting them with two tees.
Put caps on the two ends.
Put a 2 1/4" piece and a 14 3/4" piece together in a line, connecting them with a tee.
Put that into one of the tees in the first assembly.
Likewise put a 2 3/4" piece and a 14 1/4" piece together using a tee, and put that into the other tee in the first assembly.
Put a 5 1/2" piece and a street ell together in a line, connecting them with a tee.
Put an ell on the other end of the 5 1/2" piece.
Put that assembly onto the ends of the long pieces in the previous assembly.
Then I built another end exactly the same, but mirror image.
After using the completed stand for a while I decided the joints between the street ells and the tees needed to be more secure. The weight of the instruments leaning on the top rail pushes those joints apart and the consequences are, needless to say, potentially bad if the ells come off. So I cemented those joints. You might not have to depending on how tight the fit is for your parts. Or you might be able to get away with adding a single layer of Scotch tape around the street ell end to tighten the fit.
Step 4: Rails
Each of the 24" rail pieces got a piece of foam insulation about 23" long over it.
Two of the rails got a threaded rod inserted into it.
Next I put my socks on...
I was concerned about the possibility of foam sticking to a ukulele after prolonged contact. I thought about sewing a fabric tube to slip over the foam, but a friend of mine had an even better idea: socks! The socks I used were three pairs for $7 at Marshalls. They're more or less tube socks; there's a bit of a heel, but it's subtle. Each sock was over a foot long (see what I did there?) unstretched, so two are plenty to cover my rails.
I cut a small slice off the center of the toe of each sock, leaving a hole roughly 3/4" wide. For each rail I put two socks over the foam, with the PVC end sticking out the hole in the toe. The two socks overlapped by quite a bit.
Step 5: Final Assembly
Then came final assembly.
I put one rail into the street ell on one end assembly.
I put the other rails into the two tees on the end assembly.
I pushed the other end assembly onto the other ends of the rails.
That's it... done!
Step 6: Smaller Version
Here's a smaller version of the same stand. In fact it is the same stand, or at least the same ends; I just swapped out the 24" rails for 12" ones. I didn't bother with threaded rods — for rails this short, I don't think sagging is much of an issue. This'll hold my concert, tenor, and baritone ukes, with not much room to spare, or two of them comfortably while I play the third. A more practical stand for playing out with a group. I can always switch it back and forth with the larger version for use at home.