DIY Sopranino Ukulele Part 10 – fretboard and fitting neck

I’m reusing a reclaimed parquet floor tile for the fretboard and other fittings. I think it might be walnut – not sure. What I do know is that the grain is very wavy and horrible to work – tear out is hard to avoid. I also found out what happens if you use hand tools to plane down the top surface of a used parquet floor tile – it took me a long time to work out why the tools became blunt almost instantly. I assume that bits of grit had become embedded in the top surface. Memo to self – saw off the top of the next tile!

Planing the bottom of the fretboard using masking tape and CA glue to hold it down – spot the tearout!
Marking fret positions with fixed ruler

I used the fret calculator at StewMac. This is nice as it includes the amount to add to the measurement from the 12th fret to the saddle. I marked the positions using a scalpel – hopefully this will give something for the saw to follow – but this does mean you’ve got to be right first time. I am discovering that as time goes on the risks get higher – an accidental slip with knife or saw could ruin weeks of work.

Fretboard cut out and shaped – spot the fix

Shaping the end of the fretboard (with sandpaper wrapped round a rod) caused a slight chip at one corner. I glued the 1×1.5×0.5mm chip back on with CA glue and the damage is now invisible.

I think the order of assembly needs to go like this:

  1. Cut the neck joint – much easier to do without the soundboard in place.
  2. Fit the soundboard and neck – the neck (without fretboard) should be flush with the soundboard. Finish the joint to the body so it all looks nice.
  3. Fit the fretboard to the neck and finish the neck to size.
  4. Cut the fret slots and fit the frets. I don’t want to fit the frets until the fretboard is glued on as otherwise it might distort.
  5. Make the bridge and fit it – I need to clamp it on before the bottom is fitted.
  6. Fit the back and trim to size.
  7. Hope that it all works ok…

Anyway, next step was getting the neck onto the body.

Trimed the sides and soundboard to meet the neck block. Note the timber treatment on the block – this is a fencepost!
Trying to figure out where to cut the neck. Using a known flat plate made this much easier.
Lining up the tenon on the neck with the body to figure out where to cut the mortice
With everything cut the tenon didn’t fit into the mortice so careful trimming needed

I had to be careful not to push the neck into the neck block too hard – it would be so easy to split the neck block. The fit is snug and seems to put everything in the right place.

Woo – it fits together!
Lots more careful fitting needed on the neck but shouldn’t be too hard

Note to self – don’t cut the heel of the neck down next time – instead leave it until it is fitted to the body! I think there is enough material in the sides to blend the joint together but having a bigger heel would be less stressful.

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