Ukuleles made from WA timber by Les Brooker
February 2023 Meeting Report
Kevin Luff introduced tonight’s speaker and said that Les Brooker had brought one of his ukuleles into his workshop last year and knew we would all be interested in how they were made, and in the different varieties of timber that he had used with remarkable success.
Les talked about how he had been a production furniture maker, and in recent times had been involved with the Fremantle Men’s Shed, when he became interested in the making of ukuleles. He soon found that constructing them from the original timbers was very expensive and they were not always available, so he started making them from what was available locally.
His search for suitable timber found him trying Tasmanian as well as WA timbers to find a suitable sound board, together with species such as Goldfields Mulga for fret boards.
It was a very relaxed presentation, with Les answering questions from the floor as he went along, whilst explaining the construction details and the unique sound of the many ukuleles that he passed around.
He showed us the various jigs that he used, including one that was heated for bending the 2mm thick sides into shape, and how he selected the 4mm thick, special looking veneers, for the tops and backs which were between 7”-8” wide, preferably quarter sawn, that end up reinforced and shaped by hand to something like 2.5mm in the centre to very thin at the sides.
Les said that he would normally make two ukuleles at a time as this made more economical use of his time and he generally finished them with shellac to achieve the best finish.
Additional materials and hardware he used were sourced from “Grover” or “Stewmac”
We stopped for a tea break and then carried on with Les answering more questions from our members.
Show and Tell
Neal Bennet wanted to bring our attention to “Odif 404” temporary adhesive.
This is a water based repositionable spray on adhesive, that can stick many combinations of materials together, over and over again. This is intended for use with fabric and paper, but could have many uses around the workshop as it doesn’t transfer the adhesive to the base material.
You would need to source this from your local sewing or quilting shop, but it sounded very interesting.
Just some important dates for your diary!
4th March – We have a Swap Meet organised at Kevin’s workshop, so sort out all those unused tools and come along for a bargain.
13th March – This will be our next meeting and we have a special presenter to talk about the “Duyfkin” which was built in Fremantle and is a replica of the Dutch vessel that landed in WA some 400years ago.
You will not want to miss this!!
25th March – Special Event, we have been invited to visit “ForestOne” who are the premier supplier of plywood and timber products in Perth, so if you want to know more about all the different plywoods available, and how they are graded, put this date on your calendar.
23rd – 24th September is the date to set aside for our “Out of the Woods Exhibition”.
I was asked to make sure that you all knew that the “Members Competition” this year, was to produce a cutting board, this must include at least two species of timber and be no more than 600mm in any direction.
So, you will all need to get started on the design work now, because it will have to be “something really special” if it’s going to impress the OOTW judges!