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List Of Guitar Building Tools

Lex Luthier

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To combat the "What tools do I need to build a guitar?" threads, I have started a list with descriptions of what I feel are the tools you need to contruct a guitar. It's still under construction, and I think input from other experienced members would be useful, as my way isn't THE way. Also, maybe listing websites of manufactures and stores where these tools are sold would be useful.

What tools do I need to build a guitar?

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Plunge, pro, fast depth adjustment to preset depths, con: you'rs is good.


for spokeshav , pro: fast wood remover, con: can cause tear out or bumps if used incorrectly or on certain grains.

Sander, pro, smooth accurate wood removal, con:lot's of dust, vacum needed for safe breathing.

something like that?

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Having the tools is nice but learning how to use them for the safest and best results is another thing altogether. That also involves understanding the properties of the wood(s) you are working with. Be sure to read instruction/maintenance manuals for power tools. If you have ANY doubts whatsoever about operating your 30,000 rpm router for the first time then find someone who can show you techniques and safe operation practices and procedures. You don't want to bugger up your project and moreso, you don't want to bugger up yourself!

Nice to see you around again Lex! Btw, what is a sanding "durm"? :D

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what bout hand planes very useful in finish work where you cant run the entire guitar thu a table planer/jointer

other random hand tools i can think of off the type of my head, chissels, exacto knife, router bits specific ones, drill bits like brad points, fostner bits


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There is also more than one way to skin a cat, as the saying goes. You don't necessarily NEED some specific tools but they do make the job easier. It all depends on how handy you are with "alternate" options and what kind of budget you have. After all, if you just plan to build one guitar and don't do any other kind of woodworking at home I wouldn't recommend buying expensive power tools like drill press, bandsaw, planer etc. For example, if you don't have a router for doing pickup/control cavities then you could also make those holes with a combination of drill bits, forstner bits, chisels etc. It might not turn out as clean and pretty as a router made hole but will still do the trick.

Also, if you are just planning to do a "one-off" custom guitar and don't have the funds to buy those machines, think about people you know who might let you borrow them. Everyone has an idea of what tools are considered "necessary" for building a guitar but there are also low budget options. Using those options might be taking the long road and a lot of it depends on how much patience and skill you have.

Anyway, to add to the list, Clamps, clamps clamps!

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Good call, Southpa.

I don't think I've ever heard a luthier say, "Wow...I have way too many clamps." :D

Also, instead of buying a $200 router, lots of hardware stores (even mom&pop ones) have tool rentals. For the first-timer, or the one-timer, this might be a more economical option.

HomeDepot and Lowes (and the like) also have free hobbyist classes for different projects. Check the list at the store or ask a manager for a schedule. These are great for learning basic skills and safety on new tools.

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  • 2 months later...

I have numerous sanders.

Bench Sander #1

4" belt (50 grit alum-oxide) + 6" disc (60 grit alum-oxide)

PRO: Can turn a square block of wood into a curvacious piece of wood in seconds.

CON: Can turn a square block of wood into a malformed piece of junk in seconds.

Bench Sander #2

1" belt (100 grit alum-oxide) + 6" disc (120 grit alum-oxide)

PRO: Gets into places that #1 (other sander) can't. Adjustable for complex angles.

CON: Not as heavy-duty as #1; it has a plastic cover on one side, which will eventually crack and break, then I'll get something personal caught in the belt because I got angry and removed what was left of the cheesy plastic cover.

Electric "Palm" Sander

4" x 4½" sanding pad with easy sandpaper release/attachment

PROS: Quickly change grits. I can move it in any direction with a twist of the wrist.

CONS: Who designed the %$@&! pad? The dimensions do not match an exact fraction of a piece of sandpaper! And it isn't long enough to guarantee a perfectly flat sanded surface. If you catch the edge of something, it may grab and twist your wrist. I should just use a sanding block.

Rubber Sanding Block

5" x 2¾" face with grooves on each end for holding the sandpaper

PROS: Sandpaper sheets can be torn into fractions that actually fit the face. Not as loud as the Palm sander. Really inexpensive.

CONS: Dam, my arm gets tired. Dam, the paper slipped out of the grooves. Dam, this is slow. Dam, my arm is really tired.

Short Piece of Pipe

You can wrap any size or grit around it

PROS: Real cheap, and it's perfect for sanding the barrel-channel on a rifle stock.

CONS: My wife keeps throwing them away because she thinks they are just pieces of junk that I've left laying around the shop. There's no "junk" in my shop! If I didn't need it (some day) I would throw it away myself. Who cares if guitar bodies don't have barrel-channels? I might decide to build another rifle. After all, she says I'm ADD... so maybe I'll change my mind again. HAH! That would shut her up! In the meantime, I have to go buy yet another piece of pipe.


Mulitdimensional Standard Operating Equipment (on most models)

PROS: They fit in all sorts of small places. Good for other uses, too.

CONS: Sandpaper creates friction, which creates heat, which can burn blister your finger if you sand really fast because you're mad that your wife just threw away another small piece of pipe.


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I don't have any power sanders. I do however have a lot of good quality sanding belt scrap pieces that I bought in bulk, and some are pretty big. I have a huge piece glued to a very flat thick piece of a door (about 24" x 20") The piece is particle board with thin ply on the outside.

Then there are endless sanding blocks that I use by hand.

I even just recently ground my own fret cutter end-nippers (8.5" long ones this time, WOO HOO) by using 1" square steel tube, with various grits of aluminum oxide, cloth backed sandpaper stuck to it, by hand, to get the nipper face ground down flat. Took me 3-4 hours over a period of 3-4 days. Didn't have 220 cloth-back paper, so bought some at Harbor freight. DO NOT BUY THIS STUFF, IT'S VERY CRAPPY

I use a router to machine stuff flat. I'm not one of those guys who uses sandpaper to really change the shape of things and to take off a lot of material, except for really rare cases, like making my fret-cutting tool

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10" bandsaw: $380 - this should be good enough.

Plunge Router: $99 (6cm) - should I invest an extra couple of hundred so it's a combo and has more depth?

drillpress: $99 (20cm plate) or $315 (38cm plate) - I don't know if the distance between the drill bit and the neck is big enough. 10cm isn't really enough, is 16cm enough? I'll be using this to drill some holes for the pickup cavity and tremolo, right?

electric hand drill: $60 - for the 1/4 mono socket.

I haven't done woodwork for about 6 or 7 years and I know next to nothing about it. I wish I could get that $99 drill, but alas, it's too small. It had lasers too.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 6 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...
Actually Lex's link doesn't work anymore, so I don't know how useful this post is to be still pinned.

Sorry. The site was on fullserve, and I don't have it backed up anywhere.

EDIT: I guess I *DO* have it backed up somewhere!

New Guitar Building Tools Page

Edited by M_A_T_T
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