Before we make the ukes with the kids, we thought a couple of “test” ukes would be a good idea.  The above picture is my third attempt at epoxying the neck of the ukulele to the body. After 24 hours of curing the epoxy was still gooey and I could easily peel the neck off of the body.  BLAST!

After exchanging emails and texts and two visits to the Home Depot, I came to the conclusion that the only possible error could be in the mixing of the epoxy.  Chuck at the Home Depot was very helpful at getting all the gooey epoxy off for me and also in educating me about epoxy.  Epoxy or polyepoxide comes in a syringe with two separate compartments that contain a resin and a hardener.  When you push the plunger and the resin and hardener come out you only have a limited amount of time to fiddle around before it sets.  Each epoxy is different and the box usually denotes how much time you will have.

As I have learned, ratios are super important.  Making sure that you have the same amount of resin as hardener and that the two are well mixed is paramount.  Just a little too much of one or the other will prevent the epoxy from hardening and cause you a considerable amount of grief.

What I have learned from my three failed epoxy experiments and eventual victory on my fourth try:

  1. The ratio of resin to hardener must be exact.  Squirt a little bit of the epoxy out onto some cardboard before applying to your surface to make sure that both compartments are flowing equally and at the same time.
  2. The resin and hardener must be mixed, thoroughly.  You can use the syringe to mix them or your finger(fear not, it will wash off, I promise!), but you must make sure that they mix together!!
  3. Don’t use too much, or too little epoxy.  Too much causes a mess, but can be sanded away.  Too little is problematic, make sure that both surfaces have an even coat of epoxy covering them.  A little seeping is ok– I’d air on the too much side always.  
  4. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.  I spent much of this week trying to epoxy the neck to the body and failing miserably.  Ultimately getting my hand a little dirty was what made the difference.  Epoxy is smelly but it’s not caustic and it does wash off.  

For me, the fourth time was the charm.  I did it! I’m happy we are testing things out first. Re-epoxying 1 ukulele 4 times is an inconvenience, re-epoxying 300 ukuleles 4 times would be a disaster— fixable but a disaster nonetheless.  So, step one (epoxying the neck to the body) is done.  Tomorrow we will glue the fingerboard onto the neck, hopefully the wood glue will behave.