#1
I have a strat clone. It is not a top-notch instrument but it is pretty good especially for a beginner's guitar. It is black with black headstock, rosewood fretboard and a boring white plastic pickguard.

I really don't like plastic and I have been thinking about swapping the pickguard. I thought about getting a metal one but I have absolute zero metalworking skills and they are too expensive to buy. I also like the wooden pickguards you can get. A rosewood pickguard would match the fretboard nicely I think - maybe with chrome or black knobs.

A wooden pickguard is also quite pricey so I have been thinking about making one myself as I have a little experience with woodworking. I have thought about making it of three layers of veneer to make it less prone to warping and cracking. I have thought about using rosewood, oak and rosewood. Hopefully the oak will show through as a thin contrasting stripe around the edge - something I miss on the pickguards you can buy.

As far as I can calculate I would need each piece of veneer to be about 0,8 mm thick to give the right thickness to the pickguard.

I could just go out and order the veneer online but that would defeat the purpose of doing this on the cheap. I would have to pay prohibitive shipping fees if I were to buy sheets of veneer as there is no place selling it in my town.

Instead I can get oak and rosewood lumber reletively cheap. I am planning to resaw this lumber into sheets of veneer. I don't have any fancy power tools like bandsaws, drum sanders and the like so I will have to do the resawing by hand using a rip saw. I hope I will be able to cut the wood thin and straight enough. To make the surfaces smooth I plan on using a vibrating sander and a hand plane.

Then when the veneer has been cut I will glue the whole thing together, cut it to shape with a fretsaw and somehow bevel the edges.

As for finishing I would like to have a mirror-like finish but I don't know what kind of varnish or laquer would be the best (I haven't dealt much with finishing before).

How does ny plans sound - is a job like this something a hobbyist like me can pull off with only a limited supply of tools? I am worried about how to cut the veneer straight and how to get a smooth surface. Any advice and experiences would be most welcome.
#2
Good luck not snapping your homemade veneer! Actual veneer is made using a giant industrial vegetable peeler style apparatus.

I really honestly doubt you'll be able to maintain a 0.8 mm thickness by hand. I doubt even a master craftsman could pull that poop off with a hand saw.

I don't think you realize just how thin 0.8mm is for wood, power tools or not. A hand plane or a vibrating sander is just gonna rip right through it. Too much glue when you put it together and it'll swell and wrinkle.
Last edited by johnnykbop at Jul 31, 2013,
#3
I can't say it's going to work. You will NEVER be able to get .8 mm of veneer with a hand held saw. Even an electric planer will destroy it.
Metal pickguards are around $30 US. Woods are between $50 and $80 depending. I can't see these being cost prohibitive considering a quality plastic one will be the same price.
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#4
Like everyone else said, I don't think you'll be able to hand cut your own veneer that thin. Have you considered cutting your wooden pick guard then sanding it down until it's at a thickness you like? I don't really like the look of pick guards, so all of my builds don't have them, so take my advice with a grain of salt.
#5
What if I first cut the sheets as thin as possible, then glued a piece of oak to the rosewood, sanded it down to thickness, then glued the final layer of rosewood on and sanded the front and back to thickness. It would be an awful lot of sanding though... Maybe I should just bite the bullet and pay for proper veneer.

Does any of you know a good (i.e. cheap) place to order veneer within the EU?
#6
Quote by Regicollis
What if I first cut the sheets as thin as possible, then glued a piece of oak to the rosewood, sanded it down to thickness, then glued the final layer of rosewood on and sanded the front and back to thickness. It would be an awful lot of sanding though... Maybe I should just bite the bullet and pay for proper veneer.

If you're extremely lucky and have the steadiest hand in the universe, "thin as possible" is still going to be in the range of 1cm. It's not as simple as cutting a 2x4 to length. You're talking about cutting a sheet of wood to a uniform thickness, using only your eyes and a hand saw. Have you even considered how you would clamp that up? The key word in all this is "uniform" even if you just glued 2 slabs of wood together and spent a couple of days sanding it down, do you have the confidence to keep it all to the same thickness?

As for just buying veneer and sticking it together, again, there's a great chance the glue would soak the wood and cause it to wrinkle and warp. Veneer is always stuck onto a solid piece of wood.
#7
As noted above, I was a little concerned regarding laminating veneers and the resulting warpage due to the moisture. Instead, I use 1/16 inch thick plywood and then add a veneer to that. what is nice about the plywood is that its essentially veneers that are laminated so the voids that are typically present in regular plywood are not present and you get the contrasting striations.
#8
I changed my plans and coughed up the money for a nice sheet of vavona burl veneer and some thin birch plywood to mount it on. I think it is going to look really good.

Now for my second question. What would be a good way of finishing it when it has been cut out? I would like to have a mirror finish but I guess shellac isn't going to be durable enough. What would you recommend? Clear auto laquer in a spray can?