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  #1  
Old 08-27-2018, 11:47 AM
ClaptonWannabe2 ClaptonWannabe2 is offline
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Default Guitar builds. How many of you find old wood and repurpose it?

Meaning an old piece of antique furniture and "seeing" a back and sides or even a top from it?

I've been all over the place on this topic. I believe that guitar building is just an itch that I am going to have to scratch.

The cost of proper tools is what is ominous. Just to build a few guitars.

What size equipment do you hobbyists get away with? Meaning for instance, a wood planer. You can get a hand planer all the way up to a $10000 planer that takes as much space in a garage as a car. Same can go for a table saw and a router with table. Drill press too.
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Old 08-27-2018, 01:13 PM
BT55 BT55 is offline
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Iíve built cabinets but not guitars. When it comes to tools look at the used market. In the last few years Iíve picked up a top of the line drill press, table saw, power miter and compressor for pennies on the dollar. Used tools have very low resale value and if youíre patient there are plenty of deals to be found.
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Old 08-27-2018, 05:58 PM
surveyor surveyor is offline
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I've used old furniture for guitars at first for back and sides but I probably won't any more. Almost all old (or new) furniture is made up of 3" or 4" strips that are laminated together with glue, pegs, dowels, etc. I believe the reasoning is that when laminated in that fashion and reversing the grain, the table top or desk side or whatever won't react as badly to changes in humidity as would a 1 piece build. As for tools, try garage sales, and used hand tools on E-Bay or Craig's List or even try Southeastexas.com. Be careful of buying used electrical equipment though , if you can't see and hear it run.
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Old 08-27-2018, 07:36 PM
JDaniel JDaniel is offline
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Default Re-purposing old wood

I'm currently using an old piano soundboard for bracing. I used the ivory key veneers for inlay and pulled out the soundboard which was local red spruce. The piano was built in Troy NY (south of the Adirondacks) before WWI. The case wood wasn't worth saving as instrument wood. A couple of decades ago I got a cord or two of old sugarbush firewood and that is being re-purposed for instrument building -- smaller stuff ukuleles and guitar peghead veneer, etc.
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Old 08-28-2018, 07:56 AM
ruby50 ruby50 is offline
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You don't really NEED a lot of things. You can make a mold for a few bucks, make a bending iron for a few bucks, and use simple hand tools throughout. A block plane does everything, including thicknessing, but a longer plane would be easier. A gramil (sp??) cuts binding and purfling channels by hand and you can make one. If you aren't cutting back and sides, a cheap band saw is plenty, even a 10" from Carigslist. There is a cabinetmaker within walking distance that has a 20 HP, 48" thickness sander with a 3 HP feed belt. He charges me $20 for whatever I want to put through it. I time it so I can do all the work on one guitar at once. Funny to see .055 ukulele sides going through that giant machine. He also cuts back and sides for those couple of times I have done that.

Just think about C F Martin's first shop - a few dozen hand tools and jigs. Here is what came up first on a search:

http://acousticguitarbuild.blogspot.com

My daughter (has her own repair shop) went to Cuba last year and looked up several back yard instrument makers. She found groups of guys building in the back yard on old tables for benches and no electrickery. They used the wide-slat cedar window shades glued up for tops, table tops for back and sides, and legs for necks - all cut by hand. She brought a bunch of handy commercial lutherie tools and they were much appreciated.

After 8 guitars I still use a radius beam instead of a radius dish, and don't have a go-bar deck. It just takes a little longer. Every guitar it seems I build a new jig or two for next time (there is ALWAYS a next time). And I have used carefully selected Blowe's and Home Despot wood for bracing.

All depends on your goal - if you want to build one a week, then you will need some sophistication. If not, and the process is the goal, I find it very rewarding to get by with less.

Oh, and a thickness planer is pretty useless at the thickness we are working in.
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Old 08-28-2018, 08:04 AM
ruby50 ruby50 is offline
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Here is a piece of Ash split from a tree from a friend's mountain top WVA farm - it was killed by the borers.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ruby16...7671458169080/

Scroll backwards to see what the guitar looks like. Text below.

The tunnel that John Henry died making is directly below where this tree grew. I wanted to make a steel body in honor of the steel driving man, but they didn't grow steel in that area. So I left some of the tunnels from the borers.

Ed
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Old 08-28-2018, 08:30 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ClaptonWannabe2 View Post
The cost of proper tools is what is ominous. Just to build a few guitars.

What size equipment do you hobbyists get away with? Meaning for instance, a wood planer. You can get a hand planer all the way up to a $10000 planer that takes as much space in a garage as a car. Same can go for a table saw and a router with table. Drill press too.
It depends upon what experience you want to have and how much you want it.

It is entirely possible to build a high quality guitar using only hand tools. I started out with a handful of hand tools and a router.

Good hand tools aren't necessarily cheap, though one can often recondition inexpensively-purchased second-hand tools.


Good wood is where you find it, re-purposed or "new". Not a huge amount of furniture, for example, was made with quartersawn lumber with little runout. Finding wood that is 8" wide that fits that bill is also less common. Building with 3, 4 or more narrower boards, and joining them, opens additional possibilities.

One doesn't make a guitar to save money on buying a guitar - particularly these days with off-shore imports. As someone on the forum once wrote, trying to save money by making one's own guitar is like trying to save money on fish by buying one's own fishing boat.
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Old 08-28-2018, 03:15 PM
John Arnold John Arnold is offline
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I like to use old wood because it is more stable, and probably sounds better. I am not a slave to using quartered wood for backs, sides, or necks, nor am I averse to using multi-piece tops or backs, so that opens up more possibilities for repurposing furniture and other wooden items. That doen't mean that I don't pay attention to grain straightness or freedom from runout. IMHO, besides the wood species, those are the main factors that determine suitability for instruments.
My repurposing (if you don't count my first few guitars that made extensive use of pallet boards), has come mainly from old pianos. The spruce soundboard braces often make excellent guitar braces, and the pin plank is frequently made of old growth sugar maple that is ideal for bridgeplates.
Re: tools
I built guitars for over a decade without any kind of thickness planer or sander. I would glue up tops and backs, and take those and the sides to a cabinet shop to be thicknessed on a wide belt sander. The price was always very reasonable, but the shop finally closed up.
I eventually bought a Ryobi 10" planer, which IMHO is the only one that will plane below 0.1" thick without sniping (or chewing it up and spitting out little pieces), assuming the wood is perfect and straight-grained.
Much later, I got a 16" open-ended drum sander, Ryobi's copy of the Performax 16-32.
I have always had a 10" Craftsman table saw, a 10" Rockwell bandsaw, a 4"jointer, a router, router table, and laminate trimmer. An old floor model Craftsman 15" drill press was also acquired early on.

Last edited by John Arnold; 08-28-2018 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 08-29-2018, 04:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
I eventually bought a Ryobi 10" planer, which IMHO is the only one that will plane below 0.1" thick without sniping (or chewing it up and spitting out little pieces), assuming the wood is perfect and straight-grained.
I would assume it goes without saying that you used the planer in conjunction with an MDF sled when planing stock as thin as that ?
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Old 08-29-2018, 07:36 AM
MC5C MC5C is offline
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I haven't re-purposed wood yet, but I do use wood from trees that I've sawn from the round. I use power tools because I happen to have them, but a friend of mine didn't get a drill press or a bandsaw until around her 10th guitar. Hand drills, planes, gramils, shop made circle cutter for the sound hole and rosette. It helps if you buy top, back and side sets from a luthier supply as they come very close to final thickness.
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Old 08-29-2018, 07:57 AM
H165 H165 is online now
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Quote:
You don't really NEED a lot of things. You can make a mold for a few bucks, make a bending iron for a few bucks, and use simple hand tools throughout.
+1

SCGC founder Richard Hoover wrote some notes about re-purposing furniture wood a few years ago.

I am currently building a resophonic guitar and some ukes using wood from a solid-koa bookshelf I bought at a garage sale for $2.00. I got 6 Weissenborn-size sets, four guitar sets, and four Uke sets from this shelf.

As noted above, there are shops around that will complete operations like re-sawing and thickness sanding for a very reasonable cost. Me, I'm just plain lucky, my brother-in-law has an Aggazani

I actually prefer re-purposing whole guitars. The Harmony H165 and H162 guitars contain some of the best wood I've ever seen in the guitar world over 50 years of repairing and building. These much-maligned old boxes have amazing wood in them. The basic shape is also excellent. Every H-165 is built with two 15"-wide pieces (top and back) of highest-quality solid mahogany. Many of these tops and backs are quarter-sawn. On the H-162, the tops are often highest-quality quarter-sawn spruce. The re-purposing luthier can use the wood from a 50-80 year-old 165 or 162 to build X-braced 0, 00, 000, and OM size guitars in style 17 or 18. They can also be left ladder braced for making the shorter-sustain guitars. All the 162s and 165s have hide glue and dovetail neck joints if you want to start out modifying stuff before you move on to building. A warning though: it's much easier to build or re-purpose than to modify or repair.

There are also a vast array of Brazilian rosewood guitars out there also suitable for re-purposing. The ones I like are no-name failed attempts at building, made of high-quality solid Brw. I am working on one of these right now - a Brw SJ which started life as a very crude Dread.

The koa reso, and the SJ:









Last edited by H165; 08-29-2018 at 08:49 AM.
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Old 08-29-2018, 08:39 AM
Truckjohn Truckjohn is offline
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If you want to build a guitar then do it.....

Donít start off with grand master plans of starting off by recycling old furniture.... Start off with purchased tonewood. You may easily spend $2,700 on a band saw, drum thickness sander, and dust collector just to reprocess the recycled wood....

The reason is simple - you really havenít proven to yourself that you enjoy the practice of guitar building in real life..... Thatís a lot of money to drop on ďmaybeĒ.....

Initially - the power tools I think you ought to have are a laminate trimmer and an electric hand drill. A decent random orbital sander would be a nice addition but not mandatory. A drill press would be good if you already have one. A power planer and jointer are not on my list as anywhere close to needed....

Hand tool wise - a good block plane, a #4 bench plane, a decent rasp like a Nicholson #50, a spoke shave, some chisels, and a decent hand saw.

Then add a quality 3í steel ruler, an Exacto knife, a soft face hammer, a bunch of clamps, sanding blocks and lots of sand paper....

If you do furniture work - you probably already own most all this stuff....
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Old 08-29-2018, 10:34 AM
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If you come across a piece of furniture that is of less use as is then a guitar then fine but I would not go out looking at furniture with the thought of runing it into a guitar. Most are not solid wood, cut wrong, not straight grained and with little runout as John said. But there is always those exceptions. A set of lower grade wood is a good place to start and find out what tools you really need along with learning the methods that can be used to build an instrument. I like to recommend that someone start by building a tenor or baritone ukulele to start.

As far as wood, my first guitar top was a quartered cedar fence board and the back and sides were non-quartered pine that a lumber supplier sliced off of pine boards for a project. I made a simple drum sander (under $50, many plans online) and still use it, one of my more used tools. For power tools I have done most of my work on a metal bandsaw, a bandsaw is not necessary but really convenient. I would say get a laminate trimmer router as a minimum. You could us it as a thicknesser using a router sled, use it for your truss rod slot, doing your binding, rosette. You could get away with a drill press as a thickness sander with the sanding drums you can stick in them or even make your own. You can do the same operations with different tools given a jig.

I made a small nylon guitar built out of a spruce fence board and a 2x4 as an experiment on how to do a minimal build. A kid wanted to build himself a guitar and said it would cost $800 in tools to do it. I showed that a person could get away with mainly hand tools if they really had to. I cut the wood with a hand saw and thicknessed it with a block plane. Not easy but doable. Afterward the kid said he had more tools available than I used and went ahead and started his guitar. The biggest hurdle is to resaw wood, after that hand tools are useable and power tools just makes it easier, or easier to screw up.

I have one body I need to finish which is made of birch from a pallet. I was walking down the street and came across a table leg, turned out to be mahogany, probably will go with the body. I have found decent wood for guitar tops at Home Depot, I have used the same spruce/pine as back and sides. Mot all that softer or less dense as Spanish Cedar, made necks out of straight grained 2x4's. Pretty unorthodox as related to what normally is build with but shows that a reasonable instrument can be built out of almost anything.
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Old 08-30-2018, 09:34 AM
John Arnold John Arnold is offline
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Quote:
I would assume it goes without saying that you used the planer in conjunction with an MDF sled when planing stock as thin as that ?
Nope. I have planed to 0.060" with no sled. As I mentioned, the Ryobi AP-10 (long out of production) is the only portable planer I have seen that will do it. The secret is the closeness of the infeed/outfeed rollers to the cutter head.
The AP-10 revolutionized the planer market, being the first affordable portable thickness planer. Today there are many others to choose from, but all are inspired by the Ryobi. But the tendency has been to increase capacity to 12", 13" or more, and as a result, the architecture is such that they don't do as well on thin stock. In this case, bigger is not better.
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Old 08-30-2018, 09:47 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
Nope. I have planed to 0.060" with no sled. As I mentioned, the Ryobi AP-10 (long out of production) is the only portable planer I have seen that will do it. The secret is the closeness of the infeed/outfeed rollers to the cutter head.
Any experience with planing with helical/segmented cutters? I wonder if they would allow work that thin.

I put a helical cutter head on my jointer and it's a night and day difference on difficult/figured woods. (Quieter, too.)
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