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10 June 2012

How to make an electric ukulele scratch plate

Kingcaster Custom Electric Ukulele

I'm back and I have another update on my electric ukulele build. Most of the shaping has been done and now I'm on to the fiddly bits. In my last post I battled with my demons and fitted the frets. This post is a whole lot more laid back... but this is no time to become complacent! Today I show you how I made the scratch plate.

I had intended all along to use my router to cut out my scratch
plate. The thing is, I wasn't sure how I was going to do it. After much
head scratching I made a custom jig. I dug out the mdf template I had
previously made for the scratch plate
. Essentially all I did was to screw
it to a beam of wood that I secured in my work bench. Sandwiched
in between was 'spacer' bit of mdf and the plastic scratch plate
blank. The use of the 'spacer' is the a lesson I learnt from routing
the body. It simply allows a gap between the shaft of the router bit
(which I used to follow the template) and the blade of the router
bit (which cuts the plastic).

Here's the routed plastic still in the jig. The routing was easy! I was
worried that the weight of the router might have caused problems as I
worked my way around the bits furthest from the secured beam. I took
it easy and everything went according to plan. I wondered if I would
have any problems with melting plastic, but not at all... it cut quickly
producing a billion little chips.

Here's the scratch plate resting on the body. I've filed and smoothed to
give it a rounded edge. See the lettering I've put into this picture. I
photoshopped it in, but now I'm thinking that I'd like this on the final
paint job. I need to figure out whether it will be possible. Any suggestions
welcome!

Next I needed to put in the hole for the pickup, the pots and screws. I taped the pickup to
the mdf template and pulled out my drill. I'd already put guide holes in the mdf so it was
as simple as using them. The hardest bit was the pickup hole, but really this wasn't
hard. I drilled a number of holes and then set to it with a file. The template kept me honest.
The only thing worth mentioning here is that I made a point of ensuring that front of
the scratch plate was taped against the template; I didn't want to scratch it!

Here's the finished scratch plate.

And here's the scratch plate with the pickup fitted for size. It fits! Next I screwed the
scratch plate to the body. Check out those lines! Everything's turning out how I
planned it! Who'd have thought. I haven't tried fitting the pots yet. I'll do this when I
wire the Kingcaster up. About the only thing I think I need to do now with the scratch
plate is to countersink the screws and then it'll be done.

The last things I did on the body were to fit the pins. That's it!

The next thing to panic over is fitting the tuning heads. I'm nervous about this. Surely this must be the last chance for me to bugger it up! I'll probably drop this into a short post to clear the decks. Then it'll be onto the wiring and once I'm happy with that... the painting! Oh dear...

Wish me luck!

4 comments:

  1. thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for commenting :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. what kind of plastic is the scratch plate made of?

    ReplyDelete
  4. "what kind of plastic is the scratch plate made of?"

    It's a piece of plastic that would usually be used to make guitar scratch plates. I bought a 3-ply (white-black-white) guitar blank for that classic strat look.

    ReplyDelete