Starting with a picture of the final product.
This is my first attempt at building a guitar and it was a lot of fun! I have several six string guitars already and thought it would be fun to have something a little different, so I decided to make an 8 string guitar.
Freshly ripped Maple and walnut strips
The final layout of the neck wood
The first glue up begins! You really cant have too many clamps at his point.
After letting the glue dry for 24 hours I needed to plane down the surface to get it nice and flat.
I used an old Stanley hand plane I inherited from my great grandfather. It's almost 100 years old and still works really well.
Marking out the cut for the head stock.
This is called a scarf joint and creates a very strong angled joint in wood.
Cutting/Gluing jig the vertical board is angled at 13 degrees to give the head stock a nice angle.
By flipping the head stock and aligning with the neck and sanding both at the same time it should line up perfectly
Gluing the head stock onto the neck. Clamps,clamps and more clamps!
Using a router to cut the truss rod channel. A guide on the side keeps the line straight.
After the neck is glued and flattened it's time to cut the truss rod channel. The truss rod helps keep the neck form bending too much after the instrument is strung at full tension.
The completed route with an access area so you can get a tool onto the truss rod nut to tighten or loosen it.
Truss rod in place. This will help keep the neck straight after the strings are put on and tensioned.
Testing out the fret board layout
Gluing the fret board to the neck blank. Once again, lots of clamps are a must.
I used a very thin Japanese Pull Saw to cut the fret slots
The fret wire is shaped like a T with the top being the part of the fret you see. The bottom goes into the slots which hold it in place.
Freshly cut fret slots. Now it's on to the neck inlay
Measure out and mark the locations and then drill the holes with a forstner bit to get mostly flat holes
Preparing to glue in the inlay dots. I used aluminum rod and cut small pieces to use as the inlay.
Inlay dots complete! Lots of sanding and filing to get them nice and flat.
The process for installing side dots. Drill, Glue, Cut, File down
Test fitting the rough cut frets
The hardest part here was getting the radius into the frets. I had purchased straight fret wire but my neck has a radius to the fret board.
The fret board is really coming together
Glued some "ears' onto the sides of the head-stock to accommodate the width of the design
Roughing out the head-stock design on a scrap piece of wood before doing the real thing.
Transferred the design over to the real wood.
Rough cut of the head stock. It will get cleaned up later with files and sandpaper.
Taking some big chunks out of the back of the neck so I can carve it down to final thickness
SO MUCH SAWDUST!
A sampling of how much sawdust was generated from working on different sections of the guitar
Body wood blanks. I chose poplar, because it's relatively light weight and also inexpensive.
It's not the most interesting wood in the world, but these pieces have some fairly nice grain lines.
Sizing it up to see what it might look like
(Yes, this picture is out of sequence, but I didn't take another one later… oh well.)
Gluing up the body wings to the neck. Bar clamps are amazing.
To add extra strength to the glue joint I made it a three dowel joint. That way it's less likely the poplar will break if it get hit from the side of the joint.
Rough cut of the approximate shape the guitar will have. Really cuts down on the working weight
Roughing out the body shape to make a template
The final body template. Time to cut!
Using the template and a router bit with a follower bearing I get an exact cutout of the template
The template is clamped, but its also attached with double sided tape so that even if i have to move the clamps around the template won't budge.
The body shape almost complete. Still requires some carving and sanding, but its almost there
Getting the final size of the neck roughed in. Still lots of sanding to go.
Carving the heel
This area took a lot of work. Carving the transition between the neck and the body took lots of small changes with lots of testing to find just the right shape and contour.
Heel carving complete!
I like the feel of it in tandem with the deep cutaway it makes the high notes on the neck really accessible.
Working on the bridge. I decided to go custom and make my own bridge plate.
I bought a bunch of single string saddles and mounted them in a piece of angle aluminum. There was more cutting and shaping beyond this, but I forgot to take pictures…
Locking in the bridge position so I can figure out where the pickups and other hardware will go.
Drilled holes through the body for the strings
Using a template to route out the pickup cavities
Testing out the fit. Looks pretty good.
The second cavity nearly brought disaster. The router bit had worked itself loose and started cutting deeper.
Fortunately I caught it before anything too bad happened. All told, the damage happened in about second worth of time.
Drilling the channel for the pickup wired to pass through. It required a really long drill bit.
Test fit of both pickups
Roughing out the the control cavity
It actually changed a lot over the course of routing it out. My initial size estimate was too small!
Routed out and making the cover. I used magnets to attach it for a clean look on the outside.
The back cover is a piece of Zebra Wood, really light weight and has a really strange odor when you cut it, sort of a musky smell.
Test fit of the electronics. I had to route the underside of the cover a bit to get it to all fit.
Drilled the hole for the output jack
Overview of where its at at this point. Most of the woodwork is done.
At this point I applied an oil finish to the guitar, you can see the difference between the wood color in this picture and the next one. What the pictures can't really show is about 8 hours of sanding to get everything smooth.
Putting in the string ferules which hold the strings in the back of the body
The bridge shape finalized and mounted. I forgot to take pictures of the final shaping process…
The hardware in place. Volume, three way switch and tone with a push/pull knob for coil tapping
The knobs are actually of an old pair of computer speakers that had broken. I liked the knobs and so I saved them thinking they could come in handy in the future, and I was right!
Strap buttons mounted on the body
Figuring out the aluminum nut and the string slots
All strung up with the new nut.
The finished body
The final product
Overall it was a really fun project. It took me a couple months of working in my spare time to build the whole thing.