Out of sight
A Bad Break
© Frank Ford, 2005; Photos by FF

I was originally going to title this piece "Kamaka Crunch" but that sounded a bit too much like a breakfast cereal. . .

"Gee, it was less than a year old when my 20 lb. cat jumped on it and killed it." The owner wanted an invisible repair, so we talked for a while, discussed the meaning of "invisible" and came up with this plan of action:

No point in blaming the cat, but you have to admit he hit HARD:

He punched a big hole clean through the top, and loosened the brace there, too:

In a separate operation which I forgot to photograph, I removed that brace to get better access to the inside of the top damage.


I knew I'd be pressing a lot of crunched wood fibers back into position, so I'd need a really solid flat caul on the inside. I took a piece of 1/4"acrylic and traced the perimeter of the damage, allowing a bit of clearance for the linings:


After a quick trip to the band saw, sander and buffer, I had a nice interior caul:


This one would need lotsa glue, so I slathered the area with nice hot hide glue, pressing it in first with a brush and then with my fingertips:


I covered the inside caul with wax paper, and used a similar but larger outside caul, also protected with wax paper to avoid gluing it to the top:


After the glue had dried overnight, I re-inserted and reglued the upper brace:


There were lots of tiny voids and cracks, so out came the "burn-in stick" to fill them with a reasonable matching color:


This material is pretty crumbly, so I find it neatest to actually shave it down with a razor blade, just as you'd shave hair:



Some block sanding with 600 grit lubricated with kerosene to level the fill to the surrounding finish:


Now the job looked almost presentable, but definitely visible to even the most casual observer:


Since ukulele players strum and flail around above the soundhole, both the owner and I thought it would be a reasonable idea to add some pickguards to this area:


Now, you'd be hard pressed to notice the repaired damage, and the instrument looks pretty cool, I think:

Back to Index Page