I was browsing through google books and came across this article: ‘A Homemade Hawaiian Ukulele‘ in Popular Mechanics June, 1917 (pages 946-947).
S.H. Samuels gives instructions on making a cigar-box ukulele. If you’re handy, it might be worth a look.
In 1917, Samuels could say, “This neat ukulele was made at a cost of 30 cents, by careful selection of materials from the shop scrap stock.”