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G'day All,

After a year or so of wondering if i should attempt guitar building as a hobby, i've decided to start up my own little workshop at home in january and get under way. I will have a limited budget to begin with and was wondering what tools you would deem essential for building solid body guitars as a hobby and hopefully one day to sell. I would probably be willing to spend about $750US to get all my tools over the first few months but i would love to get going on a budget of $250US.



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G'day Chris,

The best advice I can give is to plan out your build. Even write down the steps and write down the minimum tools you'll need to do them. That said....

For solidbody guitars I would start with a good router. Lots of stuff that the router is great for. Look for one that has a lock on switch (one that you don't have to keep holding down the switch to keep it going). It's hard to find in Oz, but I think Carbatec has one. Just be careful with it.

Other than that, you'll need something to cut out the rough shape - a jigsaw will do, a bandsaw is better. Get lots of sandpaper. A drill press is useful too....even the smaller ones. You'll need a decent plane too.

Other things that may be a priority depend on whether you're going to slot your own fretboards, thickness boards on your own etc.

I'm sure there are other things you'll need.


Brian. :D

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Plan your first build out, that's the only real way to find out what you need, there really is no answer to your question as different people use different tools for different functions, and you won't know what you will need until you get to that step, so you'll buy these things one at a time as needed, that's how you build your tool collection, why would you buy a tool you're not even 100% sure you even need yet? :D

Just build ONE GUITAR before you start counting your profit on sold guitars, you might find out you don't even like it or you don't have the patience for it.

And if you want to sell them, you better double or even triple or possibly even quadruple your intended $750.00 tool budget. A couple thousand dollars in tools will most likely be required. Your initial $250.00 would barely cover the cost of ONE good power tool, let alone a half-dozen or more that will be needed.

And you don't make good quality guitars by buying cheapass power tools. :D

There is a thread somewhere that deals with exactly what you asked, what the basic tool startup list should consist of, look around for it, I don't know exactly where it is here. B)

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I can honestly say that 750 will be close, but not close enough.

Id say the biggest thing to get is a good router. either a adjustible fixed base or a plunge. that will be at least $200( I have a el-cheapo, and its not el-worthito)

you can use a hand drill, but if you dont have on yet Id get a 12" table top drill press from Menards or Sears. I like the ones at sears mainly for the laser and light. about $120 for a benchtop.

then you'll need a decent saw of sorts. I started using a jig-saw and it doesnt cut square enough for my tastes. especially with this hardwood. Id use a bandsaw, either a benchtop or a nice 13" model. Allthough its not required to use a bandsaw, Drak uses a Delta Scrollsaw "trumpets blare" and swears by it. I can say though that I dont have the patience for it, nor for the 3 blades per body cut. id say anywhere from $100 for a benchtop saw - $400 for a larger model. with the scroll saw being in the same range.

Then theres the handtools, files, rasps, spokshaves, sanders, etchers, screwdrivers, Chisels, etc. Ive spent over $150 here.

A palm sander,( I got mine super cheap for $20)

dremel tool(not required) I got mine for $12!

Then comes the special luthiery tools

fret presses, end nippers, fret dressing/crowning files, radius blocks, nut files, fret slotting saws and jigs, etc.

after everything, im more invested into my tools then I would be a American standard SRV made left handed.

oh well!

EDIT: Ill add that I have more power tools and supplys then I listed, and I have a decent table saw. But its not required...

and Im dreaming of a 20" planer... mmm...

Edited by Desopolis
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As mentioned above start by planning your build. Figure out the tools needed to acomplish these tasks. Asking guys on the board about how they go about these tasks and tools they use can help you with options. It will be a good idea to watch local classified ads, garage sales, etc... for used tools in good condition. This can really make that buget go much farther.


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Tools are great!!! When you know how to use them and where to apply those usages. I would say the first port of call would be a book:


In this, there is a section about tools and each other section gives you a decent enough idea of what tools you can apply to what tasks. There’s always more than one way to crack a nut but at least, if you follow this book, you won’t miss an important trick.

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