Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Making cigar box guitar part 1

How easy is it? Relatively easy providing you have some basic woodworking skills and tools. You can probably knock something playable together without too much fuss but if you get "bitten" by the CBG bug, you'll want to refine your instruments and make something a bit more pleasing to the eye and to play. I'm going to describe the basics of what's involved in making my guitars, then you can modify it to your own methods and styles. I will break it down into several posts so please keep coming back here for the next part.

Part 1 - initial considerations:-

Although they are fairly simple instruments you need to give it some thought if you want to make one. Do you have the skills and tools and materials needed? These are the bare necessities:-
Tools -

  • Some sort of workbench and ideally a vice to hold timber/lumber.
  • A small handsaw
  • measure
  • drill and various bits
  • couple of screwdrivers
  • tri-square
  • sandpaper
  • craft knife
  • small hammer

You'll struggle if that's all you've got though. Nice to have but - don't dash out and buy them all at once, you can get by without them:-

  • coping saw or jig saw for cutting shapes
  • circular or bandsaw to rip down wood for necks
  • router
  • smoothing plane
  • rasp for smoothing rough corners of wood
  • bradawl
  • soldering iron (if you want to fit electrics or burn on fret markings)
  • wood chisel
  • couple of small G clamps

Skills - obviously you need basic skills at using these tools but you don't need to be an expert cabinet maker!

Materials -

  • cigar box - wood not cardboard. It could be plain wood or the type that has paper covering it. A good size is about 10 x 6 x 2 inches roughly
  • a piece of hardwood - oak, mahogany, maple, beech etc. approx 2 x 1 inch and about 40 inches long
  • two screws about 2 inch long and washers to go with them
  • woodworking (PVA) glue
  • set of 12 guage acoustic guitar strings (cheapest will do)
  • threaded bolt for the "nut"
  • machine heads for tuning - you could improvise with wooden pegs or screw eyes but in the end it's worth buying some proper ones. I use "three in a line" types that fit at the back of the headstock. A full set will make two three string guitars so they are very economical. You don't need Kluson or Grovers either! - just something that does the job
  • three small eye screws - more about them later

Part 2 to follow - preparing the neck.

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