As the luthiers building experience grows, they will want to add additional luthier tools to their shop, which will give more versatility and focused attention to certain tasks, and at the same time giving better accuracy and repeatability to the build. The adjustable inside form is one of those tools. The adjustable inside form is a variation of our standard fixed inside forms that we offer with every ukulele drawing we have listed on our site Georgia Luthier Supply. This tool does many tasks and does them well, with minimal time and maintains a high degree of accuracy in the instrument building process.
The adjustable inside form gives you the freedom to use this tool with any size ukulele that we offer and therefore you don’t need a different form for each ukulele size. The process that makes this form adjustable is the use of a series of (6) adjustable retainers at the upper bout, the lower bout, and at the waist of each instrument.
The Three Elements That Make up This Tool:
The Form Base: The base is the 19mm piece of cabinet grade plywood where all the other adjustable elements are anchored. It consists of several curved channels which allow for complex adjustment angles of the side retainers. Also you can optionally install an option to this base so the form can easily be clamped into a woodworkers vice. This give the form incredible rigidity so major operations such as crown sanding can be completed without the concern of the form sliding around on the workbench.
The Inside Form Shape Insert: This is an additional insert made from 19mm plywood fits onto the top surface of the base. By installing smooth-shanked pocket screws around the perimeter of each of these inserts, you can glue down top and back plates with surprising speed. We include ample pocket screws to easily go around the edges of the insert for either rubber band attachement or elastic banding.
Side Retainer Clamps: The 6 retainers are key to the working of this form. Each retainers is attached to the base with a carriage bolt/free-spinning knob assembly, giving the luthier easy adjustability for any size instrument. The retainers can easily retracted to release the the instrument body, and again easily tightened to secure the instrument back in the form. The form is shipped with the front surface of the retainers that contact the instrument body curved to easily fit the subtle curves of the body. The retainer bases are slotted giving a lot a adjustability for different instrument body types.
The GLS Adjustable Inside Form – Ukulele – What You Get:
If you order the assembled tool, we will ship the tool with the Base, (6) Retainers and (1) Shape Insert of your choosing. Additional Shape Inserts are available as optional purchases. The base is shipped and it will have the shape insert attached to the base. The retainer clamps are shipped assembled complete with curved faces, but not attached to the base to minimize shipping damage.
Preparing The Tool For Use:
When the tool arrives you will need to complete a bit of preparation. First, if the shape is attached to the base, remove the shape insert. Drawn a centerline down the dead center of this form with a very sharp pencil or a marking knife. (This would be from the head block to the tail block). Also draw this centerline of each edge of the insert. This will represent the global centerline of the instrument mounted in the form.
If it is your intent you use this tool for attaching strapping or rubber bands to clamp
the plates of the instrument, you will need to install the included pocket screws into the Form Insert. Here is the procedure to accurately accomplish this task:
- If not already installed, install the shape insert on the form base. Next install the (6) retainer clamps onto the base and adjust to the proper setting to the inside shape insert. Mark the location of each side of each retainer clamp on the side of the insert so you know these areas cannot have the pocket screws installed that these locations.
- Remove the shape insert and clamp in a vice. You will want to mark the locations of each pocket screw around the perimeter of the form with a pencil. I usually stay away from the line of each retainer clamp about 12mm (1/2″) for the first hole. Then I take a flexible tape (like a seamstress tape) and measure between retainers and divide by about 1″ (25mm). Then mark each screw location using this method completely around the shape.
- Drill the pilot holes for each pocket screw. Use a pilot hole will allow the screw to grip, but not crack the plywood. Use a depth stop on the drill so you can drill a hole about 2/3 of the screw length. Try to drill these holes as closely to perpendicular to the edge of the form as possible. Upon completion of the side drilling, screw all the pocket screws into place so about 1/2″ (12mm) of the shank is exposed.
- Upon the installation of the instrument sides into the form, with the inside form shape insert in place, the tops of the retainer clamps may need to be trimmed for clearance needed for sanding edges of the instrument. You may want to make additional retainers if you use a wide range of instrument depths – although this really is not necessary. The retainers clamps at the lower bout of the instrument will naturally be higher than the clamps at the waist and upper bout.
This tool can be used for the following tasks:
- Installation of kerfed linings to the sides
- Finish sanding the sides to prepare for mounting the top and back plates
- Holding sides in place for fitting plates and cutting brace channels into the lining
- Holding sides during gluing of separate blocks for floating top installation
- Holding body during binding and purfling channel routing
- Holding body during purfling and binding installation
- Holding body for scraping, rough sanding and final sanding
Differences Between The Guitar & Ukulele Inside Form:
These forms basically operate and are setup identically. Of course the Guitar Form has a much larger footprint and the Retainer Clamps are large for more stability. The biggest difference is the Guitar Form has optional head and tail block retainers available as an additional option. Again this is for more stability for certain tasks. These instructions apply equally to both the guitar and ukulele versions of this tool.