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What do I need to start making blanks with tops on them?

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Hi and welcome!

There's a ton of lists of "essential" tools needed for building a solidbody electric guitar. Do I need to say that every list has dozens of tools?

A lot depends on the type of woods: How close they are to the final dimensions etc. For shaping the outlines even a handsaw will do and if you buy readily cut fingerboards a fret saw may also not be needed. You can also carve the neck pocket and control cavity as well as the pickup cavities using a drill and a chisel - some high class builders here do exactly that! But I'm digressing... You'll need at least

  • a saw - bandsaw, hand saw, jigsaw... be creative, they all can be used for outlines and you can even cut a top out of a thicker plank with a hand saw
  • a plane - a hand plane or rather several sizes, a jointer plane especially
  • a drill
  • chisels and gouges - for a flat top mainly for tidying the cavities
  • files and rasps
  • a router and a variety of bits unless you're going to use chisels and drills for cavities
  • a ruler/straightedge for a) measuring the scale and b) maintaining your centerline and c) presetting the action
  • sandpaper - don't skimp on quality, good quality sandpaper cuts both faster and cleaner and doesn't clog so it lasts longer
  • scrapers are nice too...
  • sharpening stones for your chisels, gouges and planers
  • glue
  • clamps
  • a fret saw
  • flat head end cutting pliers for cutting frets close to the fretboard
  • a set of screwdrivers
  • a soldering iron for electrickery
  • whatever I've missed like templates (make your own), fret files, fret rocker...

For bare necessities I recommend this video from a Refugee camp:



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have seen so many different perspectives on building... I don't think I'd wager a guess of what one actually "needs".  Am fully convinced that there is someone out there who has built an entire guitar via single chisel.  

I think it would depend a lot on you, but for me I think the most essential tool at the beginning was just a router.  Can use it to plane down raw wood with a planer sled, and obviously make just about any cut you need.  The next most essential tool for me was a drillpress... you can obviously use it to hog out wood with fostner bits but for me, early on, it was essentially my spindle sander and was instrumental in making templates.  Jigsaw was used a lot to rough cut out stuff but I spose I could have made due with a simple wiresaw.  

It would also depend a lot on what you have on hand.  if you have literally zero tools it would tell me that you probably want to start off differently.  Most of us ramped up our skill sets over time.  You do one small thing like route out a pickup cavity on a partscaster, and build on that with the next thing... maybe building a body for a manufactured neck.  No reason you can't just dive in but the list of tools given zero tools would probably start with screwdrivers, basic files, tape measure, etc.

There are a lot of skills that are peripheral to actually building the guitar like setup, wiring, intonnation... that all can be learned prior to ever working with wood... and employ a tool list of their own.  If you don't have those tools... well that changes the list quite a bit.  screw driver, hand drill, soldering iron, ruler, etc.

hope something there helps... and welcome aboard.

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So here is what I have:
-table saw and a jig saw for rough cuts
-nokogiri saw (japanese saw) or however it is called for more precise stuff (scarf join on neck, fret slots)
-router + various drill bits and homemade jigs/templates to get stuff done (truss rod channel, flattening surfaces for joining...)
-aku drill + various drill bits (don't have a drill press)
-various rasps for rough and fine contouring
-a chisel (there is some stuff, like squaring off the truss rod channel, that can be done with a chisel only pretty much)
-sheet sander and hand sander (would like to get random orbital sander, but I get it done this way as well)
-glue, clamps and a looong metal ruler

So yeah, seems like I get away without having some of the tools people listed in here, but I do tend to spend more time on certain tasks I guess (for example setting up the sled to flatten surfaces for joining can take time, and then sliding the router itself across the whole surface instead of having a plainer). 

And for some, even this list would be too much, and they get away with even less tools/do much more by hand. 

All in all, depends on your skill set, preferences etc. etc... some here basically have a CNC and not much else :P 

Edited by Gogzs
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