misterg’s spice rack uke build : Part 4 – Roughing out the body


At this point, I should have glued the fretboard to the neck
…but I wanted to finish the headstock before I did that
…and I couldn’t finish the headstock until I had the tuners
…and the tuners (bought on ebay) were on their way from China in a slow boat.

So I went ahead and routed (most of) the neck to match the fretboard width, just relying on the fret marker dowels to hold it in position. I could now finish the body shape so that it blended into the neck. The body shape was transferred onto a template for guiding the router:

The template is fastened to the body in the neck pocket area, and under the bridge, so the screw holes will be eventually be hidden or cut away.

I wanted to rout out the holes for the pickup, too (I only intended fitting one) so I could decide where the neck had to end. I looked at various options for pickups:Guitar pickups just look wrong, and the pole spacing isn’t right for my chosen string spacing; some people use half of a precision bass pickup, but the pole spacing is a bit narrow; Custom wound pickups are available (e.g. Almuse) for around £40; I thought about winding my own (and even bought the wire) but couldn’t find any cheap magnets; I didn’t want to use a piezo pickup; Then I found an American ebay shop selling 4 pole magnetic pickups for about £16 delivered to the UK – very happy with the service and the pickup:

This article suggests that the optimum position for a ‘neck’ pickup is 77.5% of the sale length from the nut. That looked OK, so I went with it. The end of the neck pocket was marked out just behind the pickup and the length of the neck trimmed to suit.

I wish I’d taken a picture part way through the body routing, but I didn’t. The router would only cut just over 1/2 way through, so I had to trim off the excess from the body and flip it over to rout the bottom half using the top half to guide a flush trim router cutter. I made a template to match the neck heel (two, actually – the first was too big) and cut the neck pocket, then modified the body template to suit the pickup cavity and cut that, too.

I had a vision of the pickup mounted in a closely fitting recess in the body, with just the wood all around. To do this, I needed to drill two holes from the back of the body to access the ends of the pickup. It’s a bad idea, and I wouldn’t do it again. I also planned to round over the front and back of the body, but after being horrified by how the back looked after being rounded over, I stopped!

I forgot to say above that before I glued the two halves of the body together, I routed out some channels that would hopefully match up with the pickup, bridge & control cavity to take the wiring:

This was the first body, but you can see the ends of the channels in the top photo.

I used a belt sander to smooth the sides of the body (which meant that the top horn got re-shaped a little so I could get the belt sander in ::) )

Yet another template and some metalwork got me a neck plate and a recess to put it in:

(There was a bit of elbow grease involved to polish the stainless steel plate, too.)

The neck fitted in pretty well:

We were getting excited now :)

To be continued…

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