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Aspiring luthiers will find this a satisfying first project, with its pre-assembled mahogany body and ready-to-attach neck; you’re left with the satisfying jobs of final assembly and finishing. The woods are nice despite the low price — the plywood fretboard being the only weak piece — and if you build it as instructed, you’ll end up with a very nice entry-level ukulele. Experiment with techniques like body-edge binding and inlay work to take it up a notch. Whether you aspire to be an exotic island crooner or to start the next post-punk, all-toy-instrument band, a ukulele is just a nice thing to have around.

Steve Lodefink

Steve Lodefink

An inveterate tinkerer and “broad-spectrum hobbyist,” Steve just can’t say no to a cool project. At 3, he was already reverse-engineering the peanut butter and jelly sandwich: “I figured out where all of the parts were, found a good tool, and built one. I’ve been doing it ever since.” He lives in Seattle with his wife and two sons, two cats, five tarantulas, and 24 African cichlids, and thinks that one of life’s great pleasures is a really sharp aged cheddar cheese. “I’m a simple man,” he says. He looks at life’s debris at

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