Introduction: A Cardboard Bodied Ukulele
In The beginning, I had a huggies box. Then there was an idea, and it was good. So, Tyson did the thing, and it was surprisingly good.
All that pandering aside, I did a thing that I was sure would not work. I was sure that this cardboard ukulele would stay in the state of trash that is was before my idea came along. BUT in a dashing turn of events it turned out that this; a cardboard ukulele, looks, and sound not half bad! WELCOME TO THE TWIGHLIGHT ZONE (or, you know, my dirty garage)
Step 1: Let's Start Off With the Front/back!
First things first, let's cut out the front (the soundboard) and the back. I just traced around the soprano ukulele that I have, if you don't have one you can use the template. Afterwards I used a sharp X-acto knife to cut it out on the line. Make sure the corrugations are running top to bottom!
I now used a hole saw of 2 1/2'' to cut the sound hole. I did mine in the top left, mostly for looks, partially for strength as I don't want the thing to fold when I put my strings on. Go slow as to not make a mess ;)
After this you must make a channel for the sides to go in. I took my blade, cut 3/4 of the way through, 1/4 in from the edge of the cardboard. Then put the blade on it's side and cut the corrugations through to the vertical cut. Now just pull out the scrap and that's that!
The next thing I did was add some strength with glue. I scored up the inside face of the front and back and then squished glue into the cuts/smeared it all over the inside. Strength is good!
Finally for fun I drew a squiggle on the soundboard with a sharpie. Be creative! Or not and just draw a freaking squiggle like me ;)
Step 2: Split Your Gut...or Sides...or Whatever
The time has come to cut out the sides. I did mine 2 1/4" tall as that's how tall they were on my model uke. Find the length by laying out a piece of string around the sides and then measuring it. I used a hand saw to cut it out nice and straight, it worked better than I thought it would! Bonus! After cutting out the side piece, you have to break up the corrugations so it will form the round edges, just work it around a tube of some kind/break it up with your hands. Now you should have a floppy strip of cardboard congrats!
Step 3: Glue the Front to the Sides!
Ok time to glue it up, but only the front to the sides as we have more work to do on the inside:)
Put a bead of glue in the notch and put the sides in the notch and just form it to shape. Hold it together temporarily with frog tape. Be careful when removing the tape as you can take the paper off the cardboard if you just rip it.
Also: when the glue has dried do the same strengthening technique to the inside of the sides :)
Step 4: Make the Neck!
Ok so it is time to make a neck from wood! This is a fretless ukulele but if you want you can add frets, wither with real fret wire or by gluing on finishing nails. I used some scrap spruce for mine, I didn't have any hardwood laying around but you can use really whatever you want...except balsa, never balsa XD
The first thing is the neck/fretboard itself mine is x long (make sure you add 4" for the headstock), x at the base and x at the nut. I just cut the length then sanded in the taper with my belt sander. You could use a just a hand saw, or files, or whatever you see fit.
Next is the headstock. See the diagram? You make that sharp angled cut, reconfigure and glue! There is not much to it :0
You will also need a heel, that is the part that comes down the neck to the back of the uke. We will screw the neck on, later, into this piece.
Now that you have the basic shape, round it off and mat it comfortable! I used files then sanded up to 360 grit, the finish will smooth it out the rest!
Step 5: Avengers Assemble!
Ok maybe not avengers, but let's go with the neck and body eh? So, first is some prep, let's start with trimming the top to the sides. I used a disc sander but, again, if you don't have one you can use something els like, for instance, you could take a sharp knife and cut it as close to the sides as carefully as you can. Or sandpaper is another option.
After this is done you just need to curve the heel to match the curve of the body to insure a tight glue up.
Now cut a little block to go on the inside of the uke, kind of like a washer.
Finally it is time for the glue up, first a dry fit, assemble it and clamp it, but before you take the clamp off drill two holes through the washer block, into the heel (but not all of the way through).
What you will need to do now is put some glue on all of the surfaces, then drive in them screws nice and tight! If you want you can add a clamp to make sure everything is aligned right, and you'll want to make sure that how you leave it to dry, is how you want it to stay. Make sure it's all true!!
Step 6: Finishing!
OK!! The time is nigh! It's time to finish it off!! Start off by making a back brace. Now somehow my image of this got corrupted :( Oh well, It is fairly straightforward I just had a 1/2" by 1/2" piece of square dowel/scrap. As for the length you play with it a bit, it goes from the top of the body (the upper bout) to the bottom riding flush with the back. Put a little glue on the top of it, and on the bottom and slide it into place and leave it to dry, that'll do it!
Next glue the back on, it's far easier this time as the sides are in place. So just put a bead of glue down in the notch and hold the back down with some masking tape. If you need to add another notch for the brace you can do that, always dry fit!
What I did next was apply some semi-gloss spray polyurethane, I did like 4 coats, letting it dry in between.
Now the tuner holes, here is a tip, make sure you have room for the them all to turn. I eyeballed it and failed! oh well fixed now. Mark the holes and drill them out real slow like. Drill bit size; follow the specs of the tuners you get.
Next glue on your bridge and nut, my bridge is just a 2" piece of square dowel with a slant. The scale length of a soprano uke is 13" so have the string contact point 13" from your nut. As for the nut, I just put four shallow notches in a nail that I cut to width and sanded the point off of then crazy glued it in place, easy stuff!
Finally the tailpiece I just took some the angle iron and cut it to the same width as the bridge then brought it to a point on the butt end. Next drill 5 holes, 4 1/32" for the strings and then 1 at the point at 1/8". Make sure you take off the sharp edges with a small file or sandpaper on the inside of the string holes so they don't cut the strings. Now just align the tailpiece with the neck and screw it into the brace through the 1/8" hole, you may want to drill a pilot how so you don't split the brace. Lastly bend the tailpiece up a bit from the front, so you can get the strings in there.
Step 7: This Is Where I Say Thanks for Reading 'n' Junk
Hey you! Yeah, you! You're done!!! WOOO
Tank you so much for reading this here instructable! Now that you are done, tie some knots in the end of the strings, string up your uke and then just throw it into the pile of all your other instruments!