I ordered the tuning machines and strings. Nylgut (made by Aquila) is a synthetic substitute for authentic gut strings. They have been engineered to retain the resonance and sound qualities of gut, without the extreme sensitivity to humidity and temperature and without the short life span. Nylgut is also more readily available, and significantly less expensive. I have used them on my ukuleles and have been very pleased with their performance and sound.
These final materials should arrive within the week.
I hate waiting.
In the meantime, Husband has helped me by carving the bridge from oak (a bona fide hardwood, I wasn’t strong enough to hand carve it on my own):
We have also applied the mandatory second coat of Tung Oil finish to the instrument. My concerns about the carved design standing out have proved to be unfounded: as the oil finish dried, the carved sections turned darker in comparison to the rest of the wood.
I’ve also spent some time sanding down the headstock. The specs for the tuners say they will fit head stocks 11/32nds of an inch thick (just a shade under 3/4ths), so my almost-an-inch thick board needs to be skinnified. I’m so sick of sanding, haha.
In the meantime, I’m trying to locate anything I can find on playing the instrument, so I have something to get me started instead of “oh, just make it up…”