Build Your First Guitar

Build Your First Guitar

The luthier trade uses a lot of common tools, along with the tools of the trade. To build a guitar I think that most common woodworking tools are good to have, how- ever the specific tools needed are what this section is about.

I like to see molds used in building. The mold will hold the shape of the particular style of guitar body you are building. The mold will hold the sides square and the neck block in the proper position. The neck block needs to be positioned as close to perfect as can be as the neck center line, parallel to the top and neck angle are all done with the neck joint. The better position the block is in to start, the less work later and the higher degree of a good result.

After the mold I found that clamps of all sorts are needed. Cloths pins work well for setting in the kerfing. Large C clamps and bar clamps for top and back gluing. I have a guitar press to glue up the top and back. Also a Go Bar Deck is good for gluing in bracing. Your imagination is also a great tool to have. All guitars can test your skills and unless you have built a few guitars, you will have some problems somewhere. Don’t panic and keep your mind open to the possibilities.

Tool for carving wood
A tool for making pasta

A sharp set of chisels is needed along with a good wood rasp. This will come in handy for setting the neck. Also a nice set of sanding blocks in a few grits is a handy thing to have. A set of rifle files, and good sharp Exacto knife and sharp utility knife. A laminate trimmer and rasp are needed for the binding. Freizing is the cutting of the channel for the binding and even with a good laminate trimmer this is difficult because of the back radius. I use a binding jig but a trimmer with an adjustable or tiltable base will help. Five degrees is needed to compensate for the throw off the arc of the 18 foot radius.

As stated earlier a variety of sandpaper grits is needed. 120 – 220 – 320 – 420 – 600 – 800 – 1000 – 1500 – 2000 – and polishing paper are my choices. I get non-loading and wet dry paper. The uses are from rough sanding and scuffing to polishing the high gloss on the lacquer finishes. I also use a paint sprayer and air compressor for spraying the lacquer and sealer coats. I have seen some impressive finishes using lacquer out of an aerosol can. If you are building a single guitar then I wouldn’t recommend the sprayer set up but should you consider building more in the future, an air compressor and spray system is a great tool
to have.

Learn To Build Acoustic Guitars
From John F. Hall, Jr.

Blues Creek Guitars offers acoustic guitar building classes. Timing and schedule
are flexible to accomodate your needs.

Acoustic Guitar Building Class

  • Class runs for one week
  • Materials are included
  • Room & board provided by the student
  • Cost: Call For Price