A friend in work recently brought in some sweets in a cool little tin. I decided to have a go at making a soprano ukulele with it. It's my first uke build and it could have been better, but I learned a lot from doing it and am now making about half a dozen tin ukuleles for friends and colleagues who have seen this one. I hope you enjoy the process.
Step 1: Materials
The materials for this build were pretty simple: sweet tin, pallet wood, some hardwood, tuners, strings.
Step 2: Measuring and Marking
I did some research online to get basic measurements and scale lengths for a soprano ukulele. Once I'd figured it all out, I marked up my pallet board.
Step 3: Cutting
Next, I used an ordinary wood saw to cut the basic shape.
Step 4: Making a Hole
Then I marked out where I was going to cut a hole in the tin.
Step 5: Neck and Body
Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of how I made the hole in the tin, but basically I used a mixture of drilling and tin snips.
Step 6: A Clearer Look
Hopefully this pic shows what I did. It's important to center everything with good measurements and marks.
Step 7: Fingerboard
I bought an 8 foot length of rosewood from a timber yard for £3, and cut a small piece for the fingerboard. It is 45mm wide so that's how wide I made the neck. (I am now experimenting with tapered necks.)
Step 8: Fingerboard 2
Once cut, I held it in place to make sure it looked and felt ok.
Step 9: Fret Marking
I googled 'fret calculator' and ended up using stew mac's perfect little calculator to get my measurements. I first marked them out with a pencil and square, then scored them with a craft knife. I then used a junior hacksaw to cut shallow grooves.
Step 10: Toothpicks
I deccided on toothpicks for frets after researching various other builds. One, they are dirt cheap, two, they can be glued down, three, they can be easily filed or sanded to solve fret buzz. I put superglue into the grooves I had cut, then placed the toothpicks into the grooves. After only a few seconds they were glued fast, and I then used wire cutters and a file to cut them to fit the neck.
Step 11: Nut
I found a short pen, like the ones you get in bookies or Argos, and it was perfect for the nut. I cut it down to the width of the neck and glued it into place.
Step 12: Shaping the Neck
Using a file and a sander I shaped the neck. It's far from perfect, but good enough for a first, quick build.
Step 13: Tuners and Bridge
The tuners I bought from ebay. I did consider making them, but they were so cheap I couldn't be bothered. I doubt I could make anything as effective. They are simple friction tuners and I have found them to be very good.
The bridge I made from an offcut. It's very simple but it does the job.
Step 14: Rear View
I wish I could have made this uke so that the lid was at the front, but it has a raised pattern and it was my first attempt - oh well. All my current build are front facing.
Step 15: The (sort Of) Finished Article.
I think it sounds pretty good. I mainly play guitar, so I had to learn a few uke chords for this video. I hope you enjoyed this instructable.