Howard's Trip

Formerly: 'Roadstory News, an ongoing travel log'

Lutherie Jigs and Fixtures

I've created a new website for my instrument building which supersedes this page.  Please go to Ebi Ukuleles to see more.

I'm in the process of tooling-up to build stringed instruments, more specifically ukuleles.  These are some of the tools I've made to help with the various processes.

Note - These will be more interesting to, and understandable by, my luthier friends!  My apologies to others for the tech-speak.

Thickness Gauge

This thickness gauge is for measuring the thickness of instrument tops, backs and sides as I shape them.  Accurate to 0.0005 of an inch.



This one-to-one Pantograph is used for cutting inlay and corresponding channels.  It uses a Dremel tool for cutting, a pin vise for following, and drawer sliders for movement.  Boards are MDF with laminate on both sides for rigidity.  This video explains how it works.


Scarf Joint Jig

This adjustable Scarf Joint Jig is for cutting scarf joints in instrument necks on the bandsaw and then for gluing the scarf joint.  It adjusts from 10° to 15°.


Binding Jig

This Binding fixture is for cutting binding channels with a trim router.  The bearing points are made from slippery UHMW plastic.


Dovetail Jig

This fairly complex jig is for cutting dovetail mortise and tenon joints on instrument bodies and necks with a plunge router.  I found the design (for guitar necks) online, bought the plans from Robbie O'brien, adapted the design to ukuleles, and made a few changes to make the tool more rigid.  To see how it works, watch the video by it's designer Robbie O'brien.


DT Joint - Open

This is what the dovetail jig above does. Shown are tests on scrap wood.  The wood on the left has the mortise and represents a guitar body, the one on the right, the neck tenon.  Both were roughed-out with a spiral upcut bit and finished with a dovetail bit.


DT Joint - open

Dovetail mortise and tenon joint. This is the closed joint formed by the pieces above.  Strong, even without glue.


Concert Ukulele Mold - The clasp is to hold the mold shut when building the body and to release the body after it's built.  The curved slot is also the band-saw entry point.


Block Grinder

Head and tail block grinder on bumper table shown with my new 1 1/2 hp JET belt sander.  Each end of the base forms the curve for a particular head and tail block.  The one shown is for a concert ukulele.  I made 4 bases for 4 different sizes of ukes.  I built this originally to use on my much smaller edge sander but it was too tall for the 4" belt.  So I bought a much bigger sander that I wanted anyway.  The metal stops were added to resist the sideways motion of the edge sander, but they are superfluous on this vertical belt.


Adjustable Angle Table with Spline - primarily for micro adjustments of neck angle.  The spline fits a 1/8" slot in the neck which will later accommodate a graphite rod.



Acrylic half templates for ukuleles - from top to bottom, Soprano, Concert, Tenor, Baritone.  The 12 inch ruler is for scale.  The black template is a master 15 foot radius (two long edges).


Brace Grinder

Edge Sander Bumper (bottom) and Brace Grinder (top) - The reference curve shown is a 15 foot radius for backs.  The opposite curve is straight but will probably become a 25 foot radius for guitar or uke soundboard bracing.  The sander is a Ridgid combo oscillating belt and spindle sander.  This is the diminutive "edge sander" mentioned above.


Fingerboard Taper

Fingerboard Taper Jig - shown with a soprano test-piece (plastic coated MDF) from a fret slotting jig test.  The empty threaded inserts are for relocating two of the guides for longer fingerboards. Soprano uke fingerboards are so short I could hardly cram in all of the guides and clamps!  Also shown is a shop-made zero-clearance table saw insert (poplar and formica) with replaceable sliding dovetail insert (hardboard).  And a commercial splitter (yellow).


Plate Joiner

Plate Joiner - Particle board, formica, and plywood.  The bottom is covered by formica as well.  All surfaces exposed to glue will be waxed formica.  This is an ancient clamp design and uses light rope (not shown) and the wedges (shown) to simultaneously apply downward and sideways pressure while joining book-matched front and back plates.


Power fret slotting jig

Power Fret Slotting Sled - For use with LMI blades and spacers.  Shown with an LMI template.  A fingerboard blank is under the template.  You can't see it here but there's a tiny index pin in the fence that engages the template.  The extra wide slot is to accommodate the .023" blade plus stiffeners.


Circle cutting router base

Circle cutting router base for a trim-router.


Go-bar frame

Go-bar clamping frame - disassembled.  Used plywood, threaded rod, 1/4" dowels with plastic tips, threaded inserts.


Go-Bar Deck

Go-Bar deck and radiused dish in use.  In this photo I'm gluing the center graft on a ukulele back.


Radiused dish with sandpaper

Radiused dish.  15 foot radius (purchased from LMI) backed with MDF, with 80 grit paper (purchased from Super-Grit).


Headpiece drilling pedestal

Headpiece drilling pedestal on 1/4" locating pin.  Also shown - drill press table and fence.


Side Bender

And last but not least - a repeat from my home page. - Ukulele size Fox Side Bender jig for bending instrument sides with heat. Shown with forms (front to back, left to right) for Soprano, Baritone, Tenor and Concert (mounted). Heating blanket and controls (not shown) purchased from LMI.


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