Sharkfin Uke Build – Building Bridges

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s update, I’ve been inspired to do a little more on my Sharkfin ukulele build. In case you’re wondering about my bad back… it’s feeling a bit better… it’ll probably be fine by the time I have to return to work tomorrow 🙁


Brown-trouser Time!

First an update on my drill. You might remember that it broke yesterday just when I needed it most. I got onto Google+ and sought some advice on what to do about it. It was the best thing I could have done. Truth be told, I was feeling a bit grumpy and sorry for myself… and today I do believe that I can see the Sun! My drill is a Black and Decker that dates back to 1980. I bought a vintage drill press to fit it and everything was great… great that was until the bloody thing started sparking yesterday and scaring the life out of me. Damn! Damn! Damn!

Black & Decker SOL19 Electric Drill – 1980

Bill DeWitt and Barry “Chillibaz” Johnstone came to my rescue. I shared photos and cried a little. Their advice was simple: Take it to bits; clean it up; put it back together again; and stop crying! Their expert eyes had spotted that the carbon brushes were the likely cause of all this trouble. I did what they said and low and behold everything seemed fine when I switched it on. I went to get my phone to video it and the bloody thing only started sparking again. I could feel the devilish sharks of depression circling about me. Here’s the video I shared on Google+:


The dialogue that followed is priceless. I’ll share it with you now unabridged:

Barry: I doesn’t look all that bad to me.

Bill: Run it for a little while. That one brush was in pretty rough shape, until it smooths out you might get more sparking than normal. You may still have to replace them but give it a chance to work in first.

King Uke: Thank you gentlemen. So basically you’re saying that I’m a born worrier! Ha ha. I won’t be using it today… but I will use it… promise. What’s the worst that can happen if there is something wrong with it?

Bill: Never ask me what’s the worst that could happen is… Unless you enjoy vivid descriptions of raw Hell that haunt you just as you are trying to get to sleep. Just don’t run it unattended and check your insurance paperwork…

King Uke: Ha ha… I did realise that I was opening myself up there… but I did it anyway 😉

Barry: Don’t listen to Bill and video everything so we can see. 😉 Worst case scenario is that there will be a loud bang, some smoke and possibly the smell of poo and a drill that doesn’t work anymore.

King Uke: Ha ha ha….. can’t type because laughing so much… If only you knew…. I shit myself every time I turn the bloody thing on…

Bill: Yes, video everything and leave instructions with your family to have it posted on G+

So there you have it. Thanks Bill. Thanks Barry. We’ll just have to wait and see if I live long enough to give you an update on the drill.

Let’s talk about what I got up to today…

You will remember that the blank I’d cut for the bridge was huge. Safe in the
knowledge of what I am now aiming for, I started to trim it down a bit.
The more eagle-eyed amongst you will also note that I’ve started to cut
a slot in the top for the plastic saddle to fit into. I used a hand-held Dremel
for this and just kept working it deeper and deeper until I started to get
the saddle resting about the same height as my temporary bridge from


Once I got the saddle close, I worked a bit more on the shape of the bridge.
The back of the bridge is going to be sloped (top of picture). Next I cut
the hole for the piezo lead and worked more room beneath the saddle to
house the piezo itself. Once again, I got it all level and to the height I
think I’m going to need. One thing that’s worth pointing out here is that
I still intend to lower the profile of the bridge and make it less chunky.
For now, I just wanted to get the basics done so that I get a chance to
visualise what I’m making.


Here’s a shot of the back of the bridge. I’m going to have an interesting
challenge to fit the jack. That’ll no doubt be the next outing for my drill!


Finally, here you can see the bridge resting where it will eventually live. It’s
still a little to big for my liking, and too chunky. I will trim and round later.

And there you have it! Out of the ashes rises a phoenix! Until next time…

3 thoughts on “Sharkfin Uke Build – Building Bridges

  1. Oh Brian! I’m a long time replying to this! Sorry… I only just got the email notification. The saddle was a plastic one I reused from a saddle kit I’d bought. Nothing special. The piezo sits directly underneath the saddle and is fed “cleverly” through the body to the jack plug socket. I just glued the whole thing in place and Bob’s your uncle!

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