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Gretsch ukulele restoration

This old Gretsch has seen better days.  I'm told the grandchildren liked to use it as a hammer, but now it's in to be restored. This old Gretsch has seen better days. I'm told the grandchildren liked to use it as a hammer, but now it's in to be restored.
Just a few quick photos to show you what I'm up against. Just a few quick photos to show you what I'm up against.
Yup, neck needs to be reset. Yup, neck needs to be reset.
The back is just riddled with cracks and will need to come off. The back is just riddled with cracks and will need to come off.
Ouch! Ouch!
The ribs are loose too. The ribs are loose too.
First thing's first.  Let's take off the back and see what's inside. First thing's first. Let's take off the back and see what's inside.
That wasn't too bad.  Now that I can get to the braces and blocks, I can start gluing things up. That wasn't too bad. Now that I can get to the braces and blocks, I can start gluing things up.
Here I am mixing up a nice strong batch of hide glue that I'll be using throughout this restoration. Here I am mixing up a nice strong batch of hide glue that I'll be using throughout this restoration.
I usually like to start with the hardest part first. I usually like to start with the hardest part first.
I'm using my bench to clamp against and I'm using that third clamp in the middle to draw the crack together.  Cellophane keeps the glue from sticking to things it shouldn't. I'm using my bench to clamp against and I'm using that third clamp in the middle to draw the crack together. Cellophane keeps the glue from sticking to things it shouldn't.
Now that I have access to the lower block I can reattach the ribs.  This will help stiffen up the structure and make repairing the top easier. Now that I have access to the lower block I can reattach the ribs. This will help stiffen up the structure and make repairing the top easier.
More clamps, glue and plastic. More clamps, glue and plastic.
Now that the rim is sound again the structure carry a few clamps and I can glue up the crack on the top. Now that the rim is sound again the structure carry a few clamps and I can glue up the crack on the top.
This worked so well I decided to try it again, only this time I am gluing up two cracks and a loose brace all in one go. This worked so well I decided to try it again, only this time I am gluing up two cracks and a loose brace all in one go.
Now that the top cracks are taken care of, I can reattach the top to the ribs. Now that the top cracks are taken care of, I can reattach the top to the ribs.
The edge of the back is so destroyed I'm going to have to graft on new wood. The edge of the back is so destroyed I'm going to have to graft on new wood.
I decided to use a scarf joint because the back is so thin and the joint will be too close to the edge to cleat.  I used a small plane to bevel the edge and clean away all the crushed wood. I decided to use a scarf joint because the back is so thin and the joint will be too close to the edge to cleat. I used a small plane to bevel the edge and clean away all the crushed wood.
I grabbed a few blocks of old mahogany that I had to try and find a good match for grain and color. I grabbed a few blocks of old mahogany that I had to try and find a good match for grain and color.
After I picked the closest one, I ripped off a this slice and beveled it to match the back. After I picked the closest one, I ripped off a this slice and beveled it to match the back.
I used my go bar table to glue the two parts.  I used the bevel's to my advantage, wedging the two pieces together to create a clamping force along the scarf joint. I used my go bar table to glue the two parts. I used the bevel's to my advantage, wedging the two pieces together to create a clamping force along the scarf joint.
The neck needs to be reset, so I popped the old dowel joint.  You can see how little was actually holding the neck on.  The two pieces weren't fitted together at all and there was only a tiny contact patch. The neck needs to be reset, so I popped the old dowel joint. You can see how little was actually holding the neck on. The two pieces weren't fitted together at all and there was only a tiny contact patch.
I made up a batch of mahogany cleats and started reinforcing the top cracks.  I'll thin them down once they have a chance to dry. I made up a batch of mahogany cleats and started reinforcing the top cracks. I'll thin them down once they have a chance to dry.
The new graft now needs to be trimmed down to the original profile. The new graft now needs to be trimmed down to the original profile.
The cleats get shaped to reduce mass. The cleats get shaped to reduce mass.
The top cracks also get cleated up. The top cracks also get cleated up.
Time to put the back on. Time to put the back on.
More clamps finish gluing on the back. More clamps finish gluing on the back.
A little color matched filler to smooth out a ruff spot on the back.  This will all get sanded out later. A little color matched filler to smooth out a ruff spot on the back. This will all get sanded out later.
After a bit of sanding, I refinished the body with french polished shellac. After a bit of sanding, I refinished the body with french polished shellac.
The finish looks so much better after a good french polishing. The finish looks so much better after a good french polishing.
I decided to improve upon the factory neck joint a bit and went with a two dowel approach as opposed to the single it had in the past.  This should make it much stronger without altering the uke in any noticeable way. I decided to improve upon the factory neck joint a bit and went with a two dowel approach as opposed to the single it had in the past. This should make it much stronger without altering the uke in any noticeable way.
Now that the neck is back on straight and true, I can replace the fingerboard extension. Now that the neck is back on straight and true, I can replace the fingerboard extension.
Next I replaced the missing fret at the end of the board.  It was of course lowered to match the rest of the frets. Next I replaced the missing fret at the end of the board. It was of course lowered to match the rest of the frets.
Before I put the tuners back together, I took it upon myself to polish them up a bit. Before I put the tuners back together, I took it upon myself to polish them up a bit.
And there we have it.  This old uke is ready to hit the road and make some smiles.  I have to say she sounds better than I had imagined. And there we have it. This old uke is ready to hit the road and make some smiles. I have to say she sounds better than I had imagined.

This old girl was reunited with her original owner who bought it new when he was just a youngster.  Thank you Sam for letting me restore your baby.  I hope it was worth the wait.  And thanks to everyone who read the post, I hope you all enjoyed it.  

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