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Thread: Shoe String Acoustic Guitar Build Almost Anyone Can Build

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2015
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    256

    Default Shoe String Acoustic Guitar Build Almost Anyone Can Build

    I talked about doing a low dollar build (tool and materials) thread for a while and a kid wanting to build a guitar pushed me into starting one. Wonder if you would be interested in it? It is for six strings but is about as wide as a baritone uke body but just a little longer by two inches. I feel the number of strings is not important but showing you do not need a lot of tools to build an instrument.

  2. #2
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    Nov 2015
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    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
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    I'd say, post away, I'm sure there will be lots of similarities to a uke; & if it turns out as a cheap option, may encourage others to try their hand at building their own.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.
    Formerly known as uke1950.

  3. #3
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    Dec 2014
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    Philly
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    Interested? Absolutely!

  4. #4
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    Aug 2016
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    NYC
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    I would love to see such a build, especially the in-progress photos of a build-log.

    I am a big fan of 'How It's Made'.

    Please share if you can. Thanks!
    -Joe......Have uke, will travel...

  5. #5
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    May 2015
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    Alright here goes nothin'.

    This all started as a 14 year old young gentleman wanted to build himself an acoustic guitar but thought he would have to have hundreds of dollars in tools. And in a way he was right, that is unless you wanted to do it the hard way, my version of the hard way. Speaking of no money, let's make a guitar out of a fence board and a 2" x 4". No it will not turn out great or might not last too many seasons but the point was to get a person over the first guitar hump and they can build a good one with more confidence.

    Had a 6" board, maybe use it for the top back and sides. Try using a handsaw to cut out the sections then resaw the board, split it down the middle.



    That was doing it the hard way. The board sticking up out under the top pieces is the sides. I didn't notice the saw wondering away from center and ruined the one side. Enough of that, took the top to the table saw and cut all around, I have a small blade on it right now, then finished cutting it with a hand saw. Noticed the section that I was going to use for the back has developed a split slice cutting it around with the table saw



    Wanted to know if you could clean up the wood with a small plane. The top one is unplaned the bottom planed. It works well enough but just flexing the wood I could tell the major weakness of the flat sawn section, the ellipse portion. So much for this wood. Learned it is not worth the trouble to use wood not suitable for instrument making. Not bad wood, just cut wrong.



    But I am an inquisitive type. Is it really the flat sawn part really that floppier? I through the pieces through my drum sander and it seemed like the cathedral part just got planed off deeper and naturally was flimsier. I joined the two together, did not take a picture of the steps. I will have to do that with the back. In the picture I also have a 2" x 4" with the most common cut that is usable for us. I cut it in half and am going to glue the same side to itself to help counteract the movement of the wood in temperature and humidity changes. I grabbed the back and side wood from another board. It was not as good as the one I mucked up with the handsaw. I didn't want to bother going to Home Depot to get one piece of wood.


  6. #6
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    May 2015
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    Made more shavings. The knots are a problem, try to avoid any wood with them if you can. I could take the wood down to the thickness I want with the plane but I used my drum sander as, well I am lazy. And I developed a blister. These aren't working hands you know.



    So I decided to go with the spruce crappy board just to see if it can be done. Might do a poplar build or I have some maple for a little guitar. I think I will do a basic build on this one and maybe go a step further on the next one. A buddy wants me to build him a guitar that he can stick up on the wall, he just can't believe I can make these. He used to work in a furniture factory and he knows how stuff is built that way. The building the thing by hand stuff just blows him away.

    Jointing the edges. Marvelous looking 2" x 4" isn't it? Next time I will check the focus. I used the 2" x 4" as a square to run the top and backs over. I have a short length of laminate shelving I clamp to as a flat surface. At first I ran the two over the sandpaper together, then I candle the edges. You hold them together and hopefully the joint is so good no light leaks through. Of course that was not the case. The ends had more sanded off which gave them a barrel shape. I touched up the middle sections separately until they matched well enough. A very tedious method. Normally I clamp them down and leave a gap between them with a little less room than would fit my router bit. I have my straight edge (carpenter square) clamped on the one and run the flat of my router against the square and run down the gap. A little bit of a setup time and done in a minute. The sandpaper method took me a half hour. What I do to be famous.



    I am up to four clamps now. You stick a thin length of wood down the middle under the two edges and clamp down the 2" x 4"s. Then you pull the length of wood and press down on the joint. The edges are now under pressure. Too much and they just teepee up, not enough and they are not snug. After trying it a time or two you unclamp the one and run glue on the edge. Put it up against the side clamped down and rub the edges together to get glue all over them. Then clamp down again and pull the stick. If you messed up and you have too much tension just partly unclamp one clamp relaxing it and clamp again, do the same for the other end. I also put a strip of packaging tape down the center on the shelving board so the glue won't glue your wood to it. Wax paper will do the same thing for you.



    Top and back joined, I decided to make a smaller guitar that fit the wood. Just moved my template in a little. Bending softwood is tricky, we will see how it goes tomorrow. The sides are 0.080" thick.


  7. #7
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    May 2015
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    Picked up a 1" x 2" board for a couple of bucks. There are knots in it but the grain is quartered enough to work with and I should get enough brace material out of it.



    Cut the offending bits out and what is left.



    Started to split the wood along the grain lines. Rather than running the length of the piece the grain runs out the edge of the board. Probably why they call it runout.



    Split the wood with a hammer and chisel. While the grain takes a curve further back I can get a usable piece out of this one. The grain line took a detour around a knot.


  8. #8
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    May 2015
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    More examples of why this is not choice wood. A couple of pieces will work though.


    [/quote]


    I used a straight edge, file and block plane to square the piece up.



    A lot of waste to get a stick of wood. I can not imagine doing this without a vice of some sort. Even one that you can clamp on the bench.



    Drew a 15' radius on the piece. Remove the bulk with the plane and finish sand.


  9. #9
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    May 2015
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    The back brace locations.



    Gluing the bottom brace. Using the 2" x 4" and 1" x 2" to clamp the brace onto the back. I have some wedges in between the back and the 2" x 4" to press the back to the brace. I guess if the bottom brace were thinner and flexible you would not need to use the wedges.



    If you only had two clamps you would have to wait 30 minutes for the glue to dry before doing the next one. Since I have more clamps...


  10. #10
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    May 2015
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    Shaped both sides of the stick to 25' radius for the top. Since the pieces are not that high it was easier to radius both sizes and split down the middle. I used a razor saw to cut them. Flipped it around to do the other end and did the little bit in the middle cutting straight down



    While you can do the braces one at a time without a radius dish it takes a while. Glued up five braces at a time using the gobar deck method of clamping. I have a piece of plywood mounted to the floor joists above my bench.



    I wanted to double up the sound hole area. Cut a slice then use the plane, file, razor blade and then a little sandpaper. The small size and the two knots mad using the plane difficult.


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