Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #81998  by ker1227
 Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:31 pm
I have been thinking about try to build my own guitar(electric) for a while and was just curious at the what tools were involved. I am a carpenter so i have most of the rough cut tools, but was curious about more of the "fine tuning" tools that are needed. Most specificly I am very perplexed as to what tool is used to cut the wood around fine inlay work?? I assume big companies have some sort of computerized mill/lathe and the only other thing i can think of is a tiny chisel. Also, anyone know a place, in nc or that will ship to get the wood for the guitar.
any help would be much appreciated!

 #82002  by JonnyBoy
 Wed Jun 16, 2010 11:13 pm
they have numerous video's on You Tube about how to build a guitar from the neck to the inlays to the body. I would assume they used really sharp razor knives and router type tools (dremel) rather than a mill or lathe. The better guitars, or actually the playable ones, are made with EXPENSIVE machines. If you don't plan on going into business doing this it is much cheaper to have one made for you. Some tools off the top of my head for a primitive setup I know you have to have are, planers and Joiners to get the wood straight,A dry workshop to age and bleed the wood properly, table saw, band saw, drill press(if you want precise holes), a couple of routers (Plunge, table mount & regular hand router plus all the bits), a few templates made to exact specifications for routing and shaping, table belt sander for fine shaping, a few hand sanders (palm,orbital) finish sanding/shaping, all of your usual hand tools(chisle,screw driver,hand drill), jig saw, mitre saw, fret machine (if you want it done right), there are a few specialty tools and jigs also that make the process more exact and easier. Its not impossible to say the least, just getting the basic tools will run a lot, and without the specialty industrial type tools the precision gets hairy. If You want it to sound good or be ornamental is another question. The wood isn't cheap, you have to hand pick it properly and make sure you know what a species behaves like ie..oils,moisture,density,etc.. It is a definite art form that most handy guys fall well short of experienced luthiers. I am a carpenter myself and I can get my mind around the process, but there is SOOO much learned info one has to have to get a worthy finished product that has fine playability and tone. But, you can't be an expert unless you are first green.
Good luck! and if it seems too much some luthiers will do some of the hard/intricate work for you so you can assemble the rest at home.

 #82049  by Rusty the Scoob
 Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:20 am
Stew-Mac will have the small guitar-specific tools but off the top of my head you'll also want:

A good band-saw

Router - the one we used was hand-held and had a home-made routing table that it fit into


Table Saw (could probably get away with a circular saw)


Drill Press

Forstner Bits

Drum Sander which also I think worked as a table-mount belt sander

Very long drill-bit to create wiring channels

Plus others that I'm sure I'm forgetting. And we didn't even build our own neck, we used a Warmoth.
 #82062  by strumminsix
 Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:50 am
Rusty the Scoob wrote:Stew-Mac will have the small guitar-specific tools but off the top of my head you'll also want
ker1227 wrote: I am a carpenter so i have most of the rough cut tools, but was curious about more of the "fine tuning" tools that are needed.
 #82074  by strumminsix
 Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:46 pm
Rusty the Scoob wrote:Well, there's a difference between a carpenter and a finish carpenter. Depending on your point of view a rough-cut tool could mean anything from a bandsaw to a chainsaw. :lol:
I'm disappointed in you, Rusty. I thought a joke was coming!!!

From my carpentry experience and those in the trade I just went with the industry definition.
 #82078  by Rusty the Scoob
 Thu Jun 17, 2010 2:04 pm
Can't think of a joke sorry! :lol: I've never been in the industry so I just listed pretty much every tool I remember using. It was all standard woodworking stuff, nothing specific to guitars except maybe the extra-long drillbit for the buried wiring, which I think he picked up at Rockler or maybe one of the big-box stores. Wood's wood... the fact that you want it to become a guitar body instead of an end table doesn't change all that much in terms of how you work with it.

That would change of course if you want to build the neck and/or fretboard or an acoustic guitar, and then it's off to Stew Mac for some reading.

Oh, reading more closely I see you're also asking about fine inlay work.... Cliff Suttle of Shark Inlay has some great Youtubes describing the process. He's here sometimes, mabye he'll have more info, otherwise just search for him on Youtube.
 #86276  by cSuttle
 Sat Sep 04, 2010 9:49 pm

Sorry I didn't chime in earlier, I just notice this thread. The main things you're going to need for fine inlay work is a dremel, router base, and as small a bit as you can get your hands on. I use 1/32" bits mainly, but I have smaller one when I need them all the way down to .01". They break easy. :-/ With tiny bits you really no need chisels.

As mentioned above I have some vids on my web-site under the workshop section and in the Special Project section "Viking Guitar". These show cam and hand routing, plus the entire process of glueing and leveling.

Hope this helps.