Build A StewMac Ukulele ... Enjoy Building Your Very Own Musical Instrument!

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Build A StewMac Ukulele ...
Enjoy Building Your Very Own Musical Instrument!

Have you ever thought about making a musical instrument? If you’re a woodworker, the thought has probably crossed your mind. The thing is, it’s not an easy thing to do if you’ve never built one. Even if you’re a skilled woodworker, it requires some guidance and know-how, and it can quickly become overwhelming. That’s where the folks from StewMac come in. They developed with instrument kits that include all the parts and pieces you need to build a quality musical instrument with easy to understand instructions to guide you through the process of building your instrument. Japan Woodworker now proudly offers StewMac Ukulele Kits in three sizes; soprano, tenor and concert.

Japan Woodworker offers StewMac Ukulele Kits in three sizes; soprano, tenor and concert.

The Stewart-MacDonald Company (StewMac) has supplied tools, parts and electronics to guitar techs and players since 1968.Their tools are used by major guitar companies and repair shops across the globe.


Not An Experienced Luthier? Don’t Worry!

Attention to detail and patience is what pays off when making a musical instrument.

“What’s so great about the StewMac kits is that most of the more difficult things are already done in the kit for you,” explained Darin Lawrence, Director of Product Development for Woodcraft and Japan Woodworker. “The sides are already bent, the tops are jointed, the backs are jointed, and the neck is rough shaped.”


“There are still several small steps, but it allows you to build a quality instrument that you’ll be happy to have for years and pass it on for generations,” continued Lawrence. “Also, while constructing the ukulele, you can upgrade it if you like by adding decorative inlays, choosing accent woods and those types of things. The great thing is, when you’re done with it, you have the satisfaction of building it yourself.”

By using a StewMac kit, suddenly making a musical instrument can be a pleasant and rewarding project that you can enjoy by building at your own pace, one step at a time.


A beautifully made ukulele is something to be proud of.

Darin is in the process of helping his daughter Daisy build a StewMac ukulele. This is really an ideal project for woodworkers to work with their children, grandchildren or anyone. The step-by-step progression is a lesson in patience and very rewarding when the project is completed. And seriously, the bonding experience and memories are as good as gold.


Having made his living in the past by handcrafting high-quality musical instruments for many years, Darin knows what he’s doing. He is quite accomplished with hand-cut inlays and engravings and all aspects of making custom musical instruments. Many of Darin’s handmade instruments are valuable and prized by collectors.

Darin’s father played professionally in the 1940s, before he was born, so Darin has been surrounded by music and instruments his whole life. Darin started playing most stringed instrument around the age of ten.


Progress On The Ukulele Build!

Daisy Lawrence and her father, Darin, are enjoying qualilty time spent together building a StewMac ukulele.

His background in building musical instruments made Darin the ideal guide for Daisy’s project, but rest assured you don’t have to have an extensive background like Darin’s to make a StewMac instrument.


I was fortunate enough to be able to stop by and see Darin and Daisy at work. That day in the Lawrence shop, Daisy was gluing on the back. She had a simple form that held the sides and heel and tail block stationary during the process.

By following instructions step by step, it’s exciting to see the ukulele take shape.

Darin cautioned to be careful not to use a heavy clamp on the light, delicate, thin wood because it tends to torque the piece which can result in a warped joint. Daisy put the glue on and stretched extra long rubber bands to hold the back in place until the glue dried. StewMac kits come with the rubber bands.

“Actually, rubber bands and old inner tubes make great clamps that you can use when you get into a situation where things are oddly shaped,” said Darin. “These rubber bands will give us enough pressure as you tighten it down to be able to make a quality glue joint.”

That particular day, Daisy also trimmed the edges and made nice progress on her ukulele. Her father also showed her how to cut mother-of-pearl. That skill will come in handy as Daisy has a design and plans to enhance her ukulele with inlays.

The project will require patience, as do all projects worth doing, and it will help Daisy hone her woodworking skills.

Daisy is enjoying time with her dad in the shop and building her ukulele.

“It’s great helping my daughter build an instrument,” said Darin. “It’s fun being able to share, but the biggest thing she’ll remember is that there are all these steps, just like in life. You know, you have to get from point A, to point B, to point C, and you’ll eventually get to where you need to go. It’s all about patience and patience pays off.”


“I really like working on this ukulele,” commented Daisy. “When it’s finished, it’s going to be something that I’m going to have with me, and I’ll remember making it with my dad in the shop. Even if I go far away, I’ll have a little piece of home. We spent a lot of time on it, so I’m going to be really proud when it’s finished.”

Here’s a short video of Darin and his daughter working on the ukulele and enjoying time in the shop.


The ukulele is one of the hottest instruments on the market right now. People of all ages really love them.

End Up With A Quality Musical Instrument ...
And A Feeling Of Satisfaction!

The folks at StewMac did a great job of eliminating a lot of the difficult tasks in these kits. For example, the sides are pre-curved, holes drilled, and the wood is dimensioned and cut correctly to simplify your build. It comes with all of the materials you need and good instructions to go by. You can use basic tools that you probably already have. Although it takes several steps, it’s fun and makes for a pleasurable project. You’ll enjoy seeing the ukulele take shape, and you’ll end up with quality musical instrument that you can be proud of and have fun playing. Music from a ukulele always lifts your spirits. Plus, if you work with someone else, you’ll also end up with some fond memories as well.


If you need additional products for your build, such as sanding products, glue and adhesives, finishes and hand tools, check out Japan Woodworker.

If you have any interesting projects or stories you'd like to share with us at Japan Woodworker, be sure to take a photo and send it to us along with your comments to Blog@JapanWoodworker.com.


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