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Build A Guitar With The Minimum Tools.


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Most of the guys have a lot of stuff tho cant use them in my apartment I guess... Thats why I am leaning to a neck through setup...which would not need a neck pocket etc. I am 19 and been playing guitar for 11 years so now I decided to do my first attempt to build one.

What is the least tools a person should have to make an electric guitar?

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You can't see me but I am really laughing out loud now. How good are you with a sharpened spoon and a butter knife? Do you have lots of time to spare and unlimited patience? There are a couple threads rolling around which deal with this very topic. Hit the ol' search button.

I've cut 3 degree neck angles with a Skilsaw, cut out body with a jigsaw. Carved out cavities with drill and forstner bits. Lots of wood forming work with rasps, spokeshave, block plane, wood chisels and LOTS of sandpaper (80 to 320 grit). If its your first guitar it helps to have a bit of a bankroll. You will find yourself spending more money on tools than actual wood and parts for the guitar. The bottom line is if you are going to go the primitive route then you better have sufficient skill, time and patience to see it thru.

Edited by Southpa
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I guess a router.

Not exactly speaking from experience, but I have some old Luthier newsletters with a series called ' Making the best of it ' . And the guy pretty much builds a couple steinberger-ish neck-through and set-neck guitars with a router as the only power tool. I think he carves the neck with a spokeshave.

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Well I dont know what made you laugh so much. I want to make a guitar not because I am a cheap bastard but I would like to try it out. I am a student and live by myself away from my home with only a part-time job to live on... I hope this makes you understand!

I love guitar,i love wood and thought to give it a shot. Now how wierd is my wanting to do it the cheaperst way possible?

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Well I dont know what made you laugh so much. I want to make a guitar not because I am a cheap bastard but I would like to try it out. I am a student and live by myself away from my home with only a part-time job to live on... I hope this makes you understand!

I love guitar,i love wood and thought to give it a shot. Now how wierd is my wanting to do it the cheaperst way possible?

he is laughing because there are multiple tools that will do the same job,just at different rates of speed and levels of difficulty.

you can build a guitar body with a jigsaw,chisel,hammer, and sandpaper,or just a router and sandpaper,or a sharpened spoon if you are good enough with it

you can buy a premade neck...or you can build the neck with a router and sandpaper and buy a preslotted and radiused fretboard,or if you want to build it entirely you can buy a whole buttload of specialized tools,or you can technically build the entire thing with a swiss army knife,according to what i have heard

but you are going to find it very difficult to build a medium quality guitar for less than you can buy one.it is easier to build a top quality guitar for less than you can buy one,but that skill is usually not learned during the first guitar you build.

there are way too many variables in guitar building to simply give you a "back to school" style list.

and if you research some of the old threads in this site,you will find many versions of tool lists already typed out and waiting for you to read...all you have to do is LOOK...something too many people these days are too lazy to do,which usually indicates a low desire to learn.

there is a girl on this forum who lurked in silence for over a year,learning to inlay through reading old threads,and inlayed a pretty dang intricate guitar,on her FIRST attempt,without ever actually having to ask a direct question

that is why he is laughing....and that is how much information you can learn before ever finding something that has not already been answered.

and by the time you get to a question that you can't find the answer to,you will know enough to ask specific questions,and understand the answers

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Well, I've rented routers for $7.00 a day and borrowed a friend's garage to work on my guitars. There's always a way to do it if you really want to do it. I'd say find a friend who has a house, buy a Roto-Zip type tool, a drill, and a sander, and you might have something to start with. If you're lucky, you could probably get those three tools and a set of clamps for around $150-200.

You could start with something easy, like buying a Carvin neck-through neck and adding the body wings to it. It's going to be tough if you can't find a garage to work in because routers are loud, like any high-speed wood cutting tool. Check and see when your neighbors are away during the day and use the router/rotozip only when they're gone.

Keep in mind, you'll probably be only able to build very basic guitars with that setup. It will be very difficult to build a neck with only those tools, but it can be done if you take your time. The big iron in the shop gives you speed and precision. Hand tools give you character and patience.

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I ve been searching for a couple of months. The problem is that since I am greek I cant understand some of the stuff in guidances. Pics work more for me so what I need to know is what each tool does... and where can be used! In fact I have some nice skill with wood and I guess that I can do it well tho I want to be sure before I spend half a months earnings or a rent payment in tools... Obvious I guess!

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I got a cheap router on ebay for $40. I got a $29 black and decker jigsaw, and I have a $15 drill. I also have a real nice dremel that was given to me as a Christmas gift a few years ago. So far, I've made my body. I've made some mistakes along the way, but they were my fault, being too impatient, not from a lack of tools. However, I will say, that after the jigsaw took its turn cutting out the body, it took me over a week to hand sand the sides. After doing it for 4 hours. I finally went and bought a rasp and a file, and took as much wood off as I could, but still had to hand sand for another 4 hours or so. My point? If you are willing to put in the time, you can get a nice guitar for just a very small investment in tools. However, if you are one who is impatient, or willing to settle for "good enough", you will be disappointed in your end result.

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Pics work more for me so what I need to know is what each tool does... and where can be used! In fact I have some nice skill with wood and I guess that I can do it well tho I want to be sure before I spend half a months earnings or a rent payment in tools.

Um, okay...first of all, what kind of skills do you have with wood? Do you have a basic understanding of standard power tools? Or is you experience more with hand tools and sculpture? Either way, you can make a guitar, but you certainly don't want to get hurt if you don't know what you're doing.

Case in point: 13 years ago I was in Advanced Woodworking in school. I was walking past a friend who was using a router. He suddenly took the router he was using and turned it off while swinging it back behind him--driving the still spinning bit into my side. Fortunately, my sweatshirt stopped the bit (moving around 10,000 RPM) and my undershirt saved me from being cut. We both sort of messed our pants over that one.

My point is that power tools, especially jig saws, drills, and routers, can be very dangerous if you do not know how they work or if don't you have the proper environment in which to use them. You cannot learn how to use tools from pictures on the internet or messing around with them in a cramped space. If you want to know what a sander, jigsaw, and router do, check out Sears' website, or some tool manufacturers like DeWalt, Porter Cable, or Makita, to name a few. Try to find a basic woodworking course at a technical school, or hang out at some wood supply shops and talk with them. Please, just don't start anything until you have a basic understanding of how these things work.

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What is the cheapest way to paint a guitar that will give a nice clean finish?

Also gabriel, i got this tool called a rotozip. Its a mini miderhand saw( i dont know what its called, im a newb with this stuff too) and a dremel in one. Its very cool, and am planing to try and use it for a guitar.

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Sorry Gabe, I wasn't laughing AT you, I was laughing WITH you! Because we have all been there. For that matter I am STILL there. I have no shop, just a workbench with a canopy over it in the back yard and my dining room table. I live in a very small place and have tools secreted everywhere. Guitars everywhere too. The only power tools I own are a Skilsaw, jigsaw, spinsaw, palm sander (no I don't sand palm trees) :D and a few cordless drills. The rest is done "ye olde fashioned waye". Lots of sweat and some blood in my work as well as shavings and sawdust on my floor. B) If you are prepared to skin a few knuckles then dive right in!

Look around for "previously enjoyed" tools at garage sales, swap meets etc. Stuff like old chisels, planes, etc. pretty much anything with a blade that will cut wood is useful. Get good at keeping your blades sharp and straight and get good at using them properly and safely. Routers are noisy and can be difficult to control under certain conditions. I was recently working (painter) at a renovation job and the guy who was installing all the wood molding had an accident. Anyone can make mistakes, even a pro. This guy chewed up a finger with his table router. Doesn't take much with a unit that has razor sharp blades spinning at 30,000 rpm. Sometimes doing things the hard way is also the safer way.

Anyway, make sure you have a plan in mind (and on paper). Accumulate all your parts, tools and materials for your project. Figure out a proper order to do things that will make it easiest. Flat surfaces and square edges are easier for clamping. Lots of things you will learn along the way. And I'm STILL laughing, you will be too! :D

Edited by Southpa
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Sorry Gabe, I wasn't laughing AT you, I was laughing WITH you! Because we have all been there. For that matter I am STILL there. I have no shop, just a workbench with a canopy over it in the back yard and my dining room table. I live in a very small place and have tools secreted everywhere. Guitars everywhere too. The only power tools I own are a Skilsaw, jigsaw, spinsaw, palm sander (no I don't sand palm trees) :D and a few cordless drills. The rest is done "ye olde fashioned waye". Lots of sweat and some blood in my work as well as shavings and sawdust on my floor. B) If you are prepared to skin a few knuckles then dive right in!

Look around for "previously enjoyed" tools at garage sales, swap meets etc. Stuff like old chisels, planes, etc. pretty much anything with a blade that will cut wood is useful. Get good at keeping your blades sharp and straight and get good at using them properly and safely. Routers are noisy and can be difficult to control under certain conditions. I was recently working (painter) at a renovation job and the guy who was installing all the wood molding had an accident. Anyone can make mistakes, even a pro. This guy chewed up a finger with his table router. Doesn't take much with a unit that has razor sharp blades spinning at 30,000 rpm. Sometimes doing things the hard way is also the safer way.

Anyway, make sure you have a plan in mind (and on paper). Accumulate all your parts, tools and materials for your project. Figure out a proper order to do things that will make it easiest. Flat surfaces and square edges are easier for clamping. Lots of things you will learn along the way. And I'm STILL laughing, you will be too! :D

I want to use if possible no power tools other than a drill. That is not in order to save money but thats how I have always been working. With knifes,saws hammer and nails (the old fashioned natural way). I know that it is going to be hard to make a neck pocket without a router but I guess that I could either avoid it (call me neck through) and scalop the neck. Since I am going to make like one guitar annualy I dont really care about time. I know that my firt guitar wont be a Gibson Les Paul "bang for the buck" alternative but I really enjoy the idea of playing somethuing I made (reminds me of Brian May who I admire for some reason)

Now it is nice laughing with me! I really enjoy your sympathy guys! Makes me feel that I am not alone one this one!

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OK Gabriel, lets get busy. Building a guitar with minimal 'lectricity will give you a great deal of satisfaction when you are done. But don't blow your horn until finished, :D .

Some of your main goals during the process are to maintain crisp, clean edges, flat surfaces and smooth curves, to name a few. The basic idea is "uniform" construction from all angles. Try not to do any straight cuts freehand, you will regret it. Make and use jigs, guides etc. for sawing straight edges. Mark out all your cuts and triple check them.

I stressed the need to keep blades sharp and straight. Get some sharpening files and whetstones and learn how to use them. A dull chisel blade forces you to push harder, but it is still sharp enough to damage you or your work. One slip and you have serious problems. With a properly sharpened wood chisel you should be able to make a straight cut with little effort, even across the wood grain!

I have found, thru experience, that buying ridiculously cheap tools of little known brand names tend to be garbage. You will spend most of your time sharpening and repairing them and eventually, replacing them. The internet is a wonderful place, you can find most any kind of information, including info on tool brands.

I also stress the need to check what you do frequently from every angle. This involves the use of straight edges, carpenter's square and calipers. You can check your curves with what is called a "batten". This is a thin flexible straight edge (small steel ruler works good) that can be wrapped, at a slight angle, around a curve and is used to identify the low spots (gaps) and high spots.

Making your cuts perfect (like with a machine) are hard to do but it is something to strive for. Prepare to do a lot of sanding. I've done so much sanding that I've worn out my fingerprints on numerous occasions, :D . Use rigid and sponge blocks where applicable.

The good thing about doing this with hand tools is that its harder to screw up your work in one fell swoop. Some cutting and shaping processes can be so slow and tedious that you can constantly monitor your progress...instead of doing it in 30 seconds and realizing that you measured wrong! :D

A quality job requires quality work, its up to you. "Thats good enough" is a bad attitude to have. If you can't get something quite right, just snap a picture with a question and post it here. Anyway, just a few "rules of thumb" to set you on your way. Good luck and have fun! B)

Edited by Southpa
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Making a neck pocket without a router isn't too bad...just use a good set of sharp chisels after milling out most of the wood with the drill. Not very pretty, but it'll work.

If I'd be willing to look at the s*** results I'd get from doing something that way, I might as well become a plumber to get better paid for looking at s***

Everyone should start with all the essential guitar set-up tools, to make a guitar play good. If they're going to skip the set-up/ "fine tuning" tools, then yeah, they can build their own guitar and probably be back where they started with a guitar that's not so fun to play.

I prefer the neck carving , etc, to have been done by a Japanese person, say 10-20 years ago.

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What I learned so far, is having acces to bandsaw and planer can be very handy.

Not saying you need to buy'm. Just ask around at lumber yards, builders, woodworkers, etc. For 6 pack they will be happy to do some work for you.

I would consider a router to be a very handly tool. These also don't have to cost much.

I bought one similar to this one (only European version of it, as I'm in Europe)

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Disp...temnumber=47937

I very happy with the machine. Gravity has gotten hold of it a couple of times but still it's spinning like a cat. It's nothing fancy but just doing the job.

Pawnshops, and yardsales can be good source for secondhand power tools. Just look around.

Good luck, bro....

And would love to see someone use that spoon to built a guitar.......and not the chocolate pudding kind. ;-)

Edited by RGGR
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After going to some hardware shops I found out that I ll probably get a jig-saw,a sander and a set of japanese Knifes. Saw routers and some other stuff at good prices but I want to keep this all exciting and not easen it up at all. Anyway, since the tools problem is over I guess that I ll have to research about woods and tonal qualitites of each kind. Thanks for your input guys! Made me me feel really good!

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