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Matthew Mueller

Project by

Matthew Mueller

General Information

Cut out a plywood travel ukulele and assemble it in a few hours.

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Material Description Price
Baltic Birch Plywood

Baltic Birch Plywood

12" × 24" × 3/4" Baltic Birch Plywood

$15.49

$15.49
from Inventables

File Description Unit Price
File-type-blank

Capt_U_Bridge_(3).stl

3D printed bridge

$0

File-type-blank

Capt_U_Nut_(3).stl

3D printed nut

$0

Download Zip

$0
from Inventables

1

Cutting the fret slots

5 minutes

I matched the milling bit size to the fret wire that I use – a 0.025" bit for the ukulele fret wire I used.

2

Cutting the tuner holes, bridge and nut slot, and outline

15 minutes

Using a 1/8" bit, I then cut the holes for the tuners to go through (as well as the pocket for the strings to be pulled down just past the bridge), the slots for the bridge and nut to rest in, and the outline of the instrument.

3

Fret Work

15 minutes

Once the instrument is cut out, you can place your frets into the slots that were cut. I cut the fret wire to be slightly wider than the neck, then tap them in one at a time with a plastic mallet. The goal when doing fret work is to make each fret as you go towards the end of the neck be slightly higher than the one in front of it (so they form a sort of amphitheater). If this is not done well, the notes will not come out clearly because the string will hit the fret in front of the one you are pushing.

Once the frets are in place, you can cut off the extra bits so they are not sticking off of the neck. I then squeeze some cyanoacrylate down the side of the milled slots to make sure they stay in place.

4

3D printing the Saddle and Nut

Once it is cut out, you can start printing the saddle (in the middle of the body where the bridge usually is) and nut (at the end of the neck). The string spacing can be uniformly spread out over the width of the neck, but the height of the pieces should be customized based on how well your frets work. If you are experiencing buzz on the frets, you can make the saddle a bit higher.

You can view my onshape project with bridge and saddle designs here:
https://cad.onshape.com/documents/c0859018179ffd0fe3274f58/w/7c1e345c54a2f51b59fd9cbe/e/4e34a2b0c681a8ffb30eefe3

5

Drilling string holes

The final step before stringing up the instrument (after adding the tuners to the holes) is to drill holes for the strings to be held in. I used a 1/16" bit and drill at an angle to make the strings easier to thread. For the end of the neck, I go from the top face of the neck just beyond the nut through to the end of the instrument at the tip of the neck. The to hold the strings down onto the saddle, I drill a hole just past the slot for the saddle diagonally into the cut out pocket so the string gets threaded through them before being wound around the tuners.

Adam Harris
Awesome job! Would you post a vid of how these guys sound? Also I'd like to see how you did the spoilboard with the chipboard behind the wood.
Adam Harris
mark
This Inkscape plugin allows you to calculate fret positions and neck lengths for different sizes. Simply save as PDF and print out for a 1:1 scaled drawing you can cut the lines with. - https://inkscape.org/en/~Neon22/%E2%98%85luthier-fret-ruler
mark
Adam Prince
@Matthew Mueller, I love this and will definitely give it a try. Also, try using a box fan with a used HVAC filter on the back of it. That will help control the fine dust particles since you don't have a vaccum.
Adam Prince