This Innovative Woodworker Created An Acoustic Guitar from Scratch

As with many artistic endeavors, woodworking often takes on a life of its own. While examining pieces of wood for one project, woodworkers begin thinking of all the innovative ways they could use that wood. Before they know it, their mind is already putting together a plan to make those ideas a reality. Woodworking, then, is not a passive hobby; to love this art is to constantly look for new ways to use it.

This drive to create and innovate played a clear role in one woodworker’s impressive DIY project: building an acoustic guitar. While looking at materials to use in a word clock, this arboreal artist began to imagine how that wood would look in a guitar. From these initial thoughts, they ended up creating a musical instrument that was not only fully functional, but also stunningly beautiful. Their success serves as an inspiration to all woodworkers, demonstrating just what can be done with this craft.

50. Wondering About Wood

The woodworker instantly recognized the musical potential of these ziricote sides, but didn’t yet know how to build a guitar. Rather than let this stifle the project, they enrolled in guitar making classes.

49. Sound Hole Savvy

The first step in producing the guitar was to mark a section of the wood where the sound hole would go. This ensured that no matter what design choices the woodworker made, there would always be room for this essential piece.

48. Abalone Application

Rather than cut first and design later, our woodworker did both simultaneously in a holistic process. They began by embellishing the sound hole with blue abalone.

47. Shape Specifications

After putting the abalone decoration in place, the designer cut the top and back of the guitar out, providing a precise shape to work with.

46. Go-Bars & Glue

The next step was to put a brace in place on the back of the guitar. The woodworker attached vertical go-bars, pictured here, to keep the brace in place as the glue dried.

45. Selective Side Bending

With the brace in place, our arboreal artist had to bend the sides of the guitar to match the front and back contours.

44. Comprehensive Clamping

The woodworker then clamped the sides into their final shape. The clamps would remain in place until the pieces were ready to be linked.

43. Hard Plane Handiwork

Next, they took a hard plane and used it to enhance the bracing’s shape, paying particular attention to the edges.

42. Top Techniques

After completing the bottom of the guitar, they applied a similar bracing to the top, using go-bars and a hand plane in the same way.

41. Piecing Together With Plywood

With the top and bottom braced, they were ready to join up the sides. They used a piece of plywood to hold the bottom together and a piece of mahogany for the top.

40. Strengthening The Sides

As they got the sides ready, they added additional braces every four inches in order to make it stronger. Clamps held the structure steady as the glue dried.

39. Sanding It Smooth

Once the sides had the strength they needed to hold together, they needed to be sanded. Our woodworker carefully sanded them from each direction, providing the desired texture and appearance.

38. Combining The Components

With the sanding complete, the next stage was to combine the sides, front, and back. They used clamps at every section to hold these parts together tightly.

37. A Sturdy Structure

Once the glue had dried, the guitar had a solid structure capable of supporting its other components with ease.

36. Eliminating The Edges

The guitar’s sides occupied a slightly smaller area than the top and bottom, so our woodworker cut them away to achieve a consistent appearance.

35. A Beautiful Back

Because it did not have to hold other musical components, the back could show off the full, natural beauty of the wood.

34. Cutting A Channel

Though the wood on the sides could remain mostly undisturbed, there had to be a triangular channel in the lower section to hold the end graft.

33. An Ebony Edge

With the channel in place, the woodworker proceeded to add an ebony edge. The edge’s dark color would contrast with the broader body, creating an intriguing appearance.

32. Eliminating The Excess

As with the guitar’s front and back, the edge was larger than the sides, so our woodworker cut it back to ensure consistency.

31. Spraying With Shellac

The next main step was to bind the guitar, but first, our arboreal artist sprayed it with a coat of shellac to protect the wood.

30. Careful Cuts

Our woodworker had to cut small holes in the sides of the guitar in order to create room for the binding. They removed as much wood as possible without making the holes too large.

29. Binding The Body

The designer began binding the guitar. They originally wanted to use ebony, but plastic proved better for protecting the brittle wood.

28. Bolstering The Binding

To ensure that the binding stayed in place, they used ample amounts of glue and kept it clamped until that glue had dried.

27. Supplementary Sanding

The guitar needed some additional sanding, and when that sanding flaked some of the wood out, it also required an additional ebony binding piece.

26. Sound Port Preparation

They decided to add a sound port on the guitar’s side. An increasingly common feature on modern instruments, sound ports allow the performer to hear and gauge their music better.

25. Obtaining A Rough Outline 

A dremel was used to cut the sound port’s outline. The resulting shape had rough edges, requiring it to be smoothed soon after.

24. Beyond The Base

The base of the guitar was ready, so they could move on to creating a neck for it.

23. Selecting A Shape

As they did with the base, they began by cutting out a rough shape for the neck, which they would refine going forward.

22. Cleaning The Cutout

After cutting the outline, they next had to clean it up. They used a router flush-trim bit to do this.

21. Creating Channels

Next, they had to create channels along the neck, which would be able to hold both a truss and carbon fiber rods for reinforcement.

20. Dry Fit Diligence

They conducted a dry fit with the reinforcement rods and truss, confirming that the channel was the proper size.

19. Mounting With A Mortise

To attach the neck to the rest of the guitar, the designer first had to add a mortise. They used a router to do this, providing a loose fit that they could tighten with a tenon and bolt.

18. Further Dry Fitting

As with the truss, they conducted a dry fit to make sure the neck would fit in the mortise. The results were promising.

17. Furnishing A Fretboard

Using a belt sander, our arboreal artist added a 16-inch radius to their fretboard, making it perfectly suited to the guitar’s neck.

16. Gorilla Glue

The designer connected the fretboard to the neck with gorilla glue, using clamps to keep it together until it dried.

15. Inlay Intel

While working on the guitar as a whole, our woodworker was also designing an inlay that would add beauty and give it a professional appearance.

14. Narrowing The Neck

Next, our arboreal artist had to take the neck and shape it, achieving both aesthetic beauty and ergonomic convenience.

13. Remaining Resources

The designer had some ziricote left over, so they decided to laminate the guitar’s headstock with it.

12. Head Stock Highlights

Laminating the headstock involved a process of clamping and gauging similar to that used when putting the guitar’s body together.

11. Masterful Matching

With the laminate in place, the headstock matched the back of the guitar, giving the entire instrument a consistent, crafted appearance.

10. Touch-Up Techniques

As the rest of the guitar was coming together, the neck needed to be sanded, carved, and otherwise touched up.

9. Installing The Inlay

To put the inlay on the guitar, the designer used a dremel to cut an outline. They could then install the inlay and glue it in place.

8. The Inlay’s Impact

Once it had been glued in, the inlay added beauty and sophistication to the guitar, giving it a professional look.

7. Laying On The Lacquer

Even after all the sanding, the guitar didn’t quite have the proper look or feel, so the designer added several coats of lacquer.

6. Component Connection

Our arboreal artist bolted the neck to the rest of the guitar and added a bridge below the sound hole.

5. Wire Work

No guitar is complete without fret wire, which the woodworker measured, cut, and put in place with precision.

4. Taking Care Of The Tuners

Tuners are a must on any guitar, and our arboreal artist made sure to find the most beautiful ones available.

3. Placing The Pins

They used a reamer to enhance the bridge holes, and then installed pins.

2. Closing Changes

Our woodworker made a few final changes to ensure the guitar would look and work properly…

1. A Stunning Success

…and voila! The final product met the highest standards of guitar design, showing the world just how much a dedicated artist can accomplish.

Thanks for enjoying this woodworking article! If you want to try some DIY projects of your own you can now access over 16,000 woodworking plans. Ted’s Woodworking plans have step-by-step instructions, photos and diagrams to make every project laughably easy. Watch this video to gain full access.

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