These cigar box ukulele plans by Shelley Rickey of the Mourning Glories offer some of the easiest methods for constructing your own playable uke. 

Originally published in Bust Magazine in 2011, the design requires no fretting tools (the frets are black zip ties!) and utilize a simple stick-through-box construction.  

So how does it sound?  Here's Shelley playing the first one she ever built:

Material Costs: 
Under $20

Materials:

  • Cigar box
  • 4 tuners (such as these Shane Speal tuners)
  • Ukulele strings
  • Wood
  • Wood glue
  • Wooden plank, 1.5" x .75" x 26"  (a 1x2 plank of poplar from Lowe's or Home Depot works great)
  • Small piece of hardwood, 1.5" x .375 x .5
  • Linseed oil or bees wax furniture polish
  • 12 small plastic cable zip ties

Download the entire set of plans as a 7 page PDF document:

Cigar Box Ukulele Plans by Shelley Rickey

Related:  VIDEO - The Mourning Glories "Jailhouse Blues"

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Excellent price point - $20 - to make a ukelele building workshop very affordable. Thanks for sharing!

I'm surprised you aren't using slack key tuning. GCEG

I'm going to build one o' those!

Two things though:

1.)  How do you get the zip ties to lie down flush with the fingerboard and not with a gap?

2.)  What is the title of that song Shelley sings/plays, and where do I find the lyrics/chords for it?  It's a REALLY pretty song, especially the way Shelley sings it! 

are the tuners in the wrong way around? string tension will pull the gear away from the worm no into it??

My thoughts exactly, but I guess it's not the same issue with nylon strings

Dennis, most players don’t know much about their instruments like we do?

Brian, most people on here have forgotten more than I'll ever know. That's why I stick around

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