Making Kerfed Linings for the Ukulele

I started two new ukuleles last week. Both of them are tenor resonators – one is going to MIchael in Germany and one is going to Marco on Reunion Island. I don’t know about you, but I have NEVER heard of Reunion Island. It turns out it’s a French colony near Africa. Small world, eh? Marco wants the full rope treatment on his uke. He wants rope binding on the top, back and neck! Rope binding is totally sexy

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but a real pain in the rear to make. More on that later – we’re talking about kerfed lining today.

Most guitar-like instruments have lining. The lining gives you more meat at the joint where the top and the back join the sides. In the old days, they used individual pieces of wood glued next to each other.

martin interior

This Martin guitar was made in 1887. See the little wedges of wood glued all along the perimeter of the body? That is lining. On later guitars & ukes, luthiers made their lining so it was all connected in a strip. Like this:

kerfed liningThis is called ‘kerfed’ lining. if you cut halfway into a board with a saw, it would leave a slot where the saw blade cut away wood. This slot is called a kerf. All those slots in the above strips of wood are saw kerfs. Hence the name.

There is also solid lining and it looks like this:

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I prefer the solid lining but since Marco wanted rope binding, I thought it would be wise to have the extra bulk of the kerfed lining.

You can buy kerfed lining but it is fairly easy to make. Here’s how I make mine.

I bought 3 thin saw blades at a wood show years ago. They are thin so they create a thin kerf. I made some wooden spacers to go between them and mounted them on my old Craftsman table saw.

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My good friend Roy Moon gave me this saw and it has been a great second saw to use for special purposes like this. Here’s how it looks once it’s ready:

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Now all I need to do is prepare some wood strips and start cutting!

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Pretty cool, eh? Now I have a flexible strip that I can easily glue into a ukulele body.

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This is the inside of Marco’s uke.

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Published in: on August 20, 2013 at 10:26 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for such an awesome, detailed, informative post Russ. Just fantastic.

  2. What kind of wood do you use for the lining? Or does it matter?

    • I’ve been using mahogany a lot lately but other strong, light-weight, flexible wood would work.

  3. Russ, inspirational! I can’t wait to get my shop relocated so I can start utilizing some of your excellent instruction.

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