Sunday, December 28, 2014

DIY: Rubber Band Ukulele Toy

A few days ago, I wrote about the Wood Five Pointed Star Coin Bank that I made for our new granddaughter. Now, here is the toy I made for our grandson.

Our grandson enjoys seeing his dad play the ukulele. He also likes to see me, "grandpa", playing the ukulele and guitar. So, it was no surprise that our daughter put a ukulele (or guitar) on his Christmas list. He's only 1.5 years old, so it would have to be durable. I had already been trying to decide what to make for him for Christmas and already had an idea, but one day while looking at ideas for variations of what I had wanted to make, I saw a piece of wood cut out in the shape of a guitar. That's when a "light bulb" went on in my head and I realized that I could make him a toy rubber band ukulele!   If the rubber bands broke, they could easily be replaced with a new set.

The first attempt at cutting the wood with a Dremel tool went bad.  It went out of control and even with the routing attachment, I couldn't hold it steady.
All my scroll saw blades for my sabre saw were broken (another story for another day), so I went and bought some more. I was able to easily cut out the shape now. I traced the shape of a soprano ukulele (the smallest type of uke) and cut it out of a thin piece of luan plywood.
I cut the same same shape out of a 1 inch thick piece of pine stock. I also cut another piece of luan plywood for the back of the uke. I then hand traced a line on the inside edge of the 1 inch thick pine. This line was about a half inch inside the "body" of the uke.
I then used a drill bit to make a starter hole in the 1 inch thick wood and then cut it out with the sabre saw. I used a hole saw to cut out the sound hole on the top piece of luan plywood. You can see in this photo how the pieces overlapped to make the uke. 
Then it was time to carefully glue and clamp them together. 
clamps, clamps and more clamps. 
Next, I needed to cut out two "bridges" for the "strings." I used a piece of oak trim that would normally be used as a transition between maybe two oak floors. It was beveled on the edges. You can see in this photo how I kept it attached to the big piece of trim so that I had something to hold onto it with while working on it. After it was cut out, then I made a groove in it with the dremel tool and a knife (more on that below). I also marked and cut slots for the "strings" (which would be for the rubber band strings).
Here is a close-up of how I made the groove underneath in each of the two bridges. The groove allows the ends of the rubber bands to wrap underneath.

 I glued the two bridges on with wood glue and more clamps.  
Here you can see how two rubber bands went around.


Then I sanded it, stained it with wood stain, and painted it with polyurethane.  I then used a permanent marker and a paint marked to make the frets and the nuts. The finished project is shown at the start of this post.  

What do you think about this project? How would you improve on it? Please comment!

No comments: