#1
Ok so i'm building my first guitar i'm 15 and do have a job but am not wanting to buy machines. this is a summer project and don't have much money or space to spend on power tools (i do have a router) i also thought that since i was new to this i would have an easier time taking it slow cutting the wood and reduce chances of costly mistakes so i would like to know what tools are absolutely essential to building an electric completely by hand and could maybe be cost effective?

EDIT- So completely by hand is somewhat of an over statement i will use a drill and router and not even going to worry about making the fretboard or the neck right now that's something i know will take extra time and expierence that i'm not ready for but i took a wood tech class last semester and am relatively good with a saw in just wondering about cutting out the body and buying a neck and fretboard already made. Could cutting out the body with just hand saws files and sanders be acconplishable? also my fried has a les paul and i could trace it and gather everything i would need to know about dimensions etc.
Last edited by Jonen at Apr 12, 2017,
#2
Don't bother. Find a different project. 

You can whittle one, I suppose...

EDIT: Hmm. You do have a router. There's a LOT you can get done with a router. But you're still going to spend on router bits. How are you fixed for a drill? You're going to have to make a lot of the jibs, templates and other tools that will help you along the way, and you're definitely going to need some other hand tools along the way.  It can be done.
Last edited by dspellman at Apr 12, 2017,
#3
In my opinion its no use to do a homemade guitar out of polywood exept if your gonna be bragging to non musicians to get some pus** .  Your first guitar especialy since ur going cheap is going to sound worse than the cheapest guitar on the market. (cheap>substitute powertools>bad product). Hand/homemade guitars are the new custum shop, in most part exotic woods, custom pickupus, and as you know custom shops arent cheap , nider will a one summer project be (have you seen the prices on the wood, hardware, trussrod (i cant find any shops in my area that have trussrod) it all costs.
The goal in homemade guitars is to make something different and better quality than the offering market. basicly -same price but better quality , ur never going to cheap out, especcialy not on your first time.
https://scontent-frt3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t31.0-8/s960x960/14714989_706778556136650_4336205697732388619_o.jpg?oh=5f526de361b1df316e23a9cd8bc4f4c7&oe=594E4C59
Iff anithing like these is what your aming for, im assuming it costs about 500-800 euro to make (not counting the tools u need to buy ,working time,and being friends with the pickup guy or music shop to get some discounts), price for buyers is about double iff im not wrong.
Last edited by kristbubnjar at Apr 12, 2017,
#4
I'd say a router is the most essential power tool, since it can replace a lot of other tools. A drill is also necessary.
Most of the woodworking can be done with common hand tools (saws, rasps etc.) but it's the most guitar-specific stuff that will require more specialised tools: Making the nut, installing, leveling and crowning the frets, drilling holes for wiring and truss rod access.

My advice is to read many build threads. There are many ways to accomplish each task and it's important to see it being done using different tools and techniques. Do your research, and be certain of every step you're going to take before you begin.
#5
Honestly it's a nice idea but it takes lots of experience in wood working, often very expensive and specialized tools, and specific knowledge of so many aspects of the guitar that you will just get frustrated and waste a lot of time. I apprenticed with a great luthier for about a year and saw what it takes to build from scratch. It is very difficult and a labor of love. If you want to get a taste of that experience, buy an inexpensive guitar ($100 Bullet Strat or a cheap used guitar), take it completely apart (I mean every piece, every screw). Now start by just sanding down the body and refinishing it. If you get past that one task and can reassemble the guitar properly and make it play OK, there is hope. If nothing else it's a great learning experience. Good luck.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Apr 12, 2017,
#6
A few years ago there was a guy on here who posted a thread where he made a very splendid stratocaster using nothing but hand tools - no power tools whatsoever. If I recall correctly he was based in Israel and went by the name of 'rusty chisel'. Can't seem to find any trace of it now though, so maybe that was in a parallel universe. If you search you'll find plenty of accounts of people building guitars with nothing but hand tools.

However...that just seems like making things unneccesarily hard to me and that's really not what you want for your first attempt.

I have now built several guitars with no proper workshop and only a few regular tools:
+ Router - essential, I would say
+ Jig saw (hand) - useful for rough shaping
+ Drill - one of these helps too
+ Soldering iron
+ Rasp
+ Screw drivers
+ Sandpaper

BUT

I have never yet made a neck - always bought them in - and that might require a few extra specialist tools. Sounds like that's the route you're heading down anyway.

I'd say you've probably got everything you need. Do lots of research. Make templates - as much, if not more, time is spent making jigs and templates as actually crafting the guitar. There are plenty of plans out there on the internet, get them printed out full size and stick them to MDF to make templates. Take your time and practice anything you're not sure of - especially using a router, they are excellent but can spoil your day really quickly.

What else? Oh, yeah...HAVE FUN...and don't expect to turn out a Mayones on your first attempt.
#7
Quote by von Layzonfon
A few years ago there was a guy on here who posted a thread where he made a very splendid stratocaster using nothing but hand tools - no power tools whatsoever.  If I recall correctly he was based in Israel and went by the name of 'rusty chisel'.  Can't seem to find any trace of it now though, so maybe that was in a parallel universe.  If you search you'll find plenty of accounts of people building guitars with nothing but hand tools.

However...that just seems like making things unneccesarily hard to me and that's really not what you want for your first attempt.

I have now built several guitars with no proper workshop and only a few regular tools:
+ Router - essential, I would say
+ Jig saw (hand) - useful for rough shaping
+ Drill - one of these helps too
+ Soldering iron
+ Rasp
+ Screw drivers
+ Sandpaper

BUT

I have never yet made a neck - always bought them in - and that might require a few extra specialist tools.  Sounds like that's the route you're heading down anyway.

I'd say you've probably got everything you need.  Do lots of research.  Make templates - as much, if not more, time is spent making jigs and templates as actually crafting the guitar.  There are plenty of plans out there on the internet, get them printed out full size and stick them to MDF to make templates.  Take your time and practice anything you're not sure of - especially using a router, they are excellent but can spoil your day really quickly.

What else?  Oh, yeah...HAVE FUN...and don't expect to turn out a Mayones on your first attempt.
#8
 A few years ago there was a guy on here who posted a thread where he made a very splendid stratocaster using nothing but hand tools - no power tools whatsoever.  If I recall correctly he was based in Israel and went by the name of 'rusty chisel'. 

I am Rusty Chisel as that was definitely not me as I live in Towson, MD and have essentially all of the woodworking tools of a small cabinet shop. 

However, I think that Von Layzonfon's list is pretty close if you go the hand tool route although I would add some chisels, card scraper and hand plane to the list. Also learn how to sharpen them. Dull tools will result in an enormous amount of blood when they slip.

Power tools are nice but they only get the project roughed out, hand tools are still necessary to make it look good.
#9
Quote by Rusty_Chisel
 A few years ago there was a guy on here who posted a thread where he made a very splendid stratocaster using nothing but hand tools - no power tools whatsoever.  If I recall correctly he was based in Israel and went by the name of 'rusty chisel'. 

I am Rusty Chisel as that was definitely not me as I live in Towson, MD and have essentially all of the woodworking tools of a small cabinet shop. 

However, I think that Von Layzonfon's list is pretty close if you go the hand tool route although I would add some chisels, card scraper and hand plane to the list. Also learn how to sharpen them. Dull tools will result in an enormous amount of blood when they slip.

Power tools are nice but they only get the project roughed out, hand tools are still necessary to make it look good.
Well, apologies for my imperfect recall. I've obviously mashed a couple of things together in my head...I'm getting to that sort of age, you know. What was that Israeli dude's name?
#10
Start watching the tutorials of Crimson Guitars on Youtube. I'm just about to finish my first build this weekend and the series was an immense help.
I bought the book of Martin Koch which was very userful at times, but this youtube series will get you a really good feeling of what you can and can't do. Probably the most complete information about building guitars you will get without actually building one.
Ben Crowe of the series announced that he will make a short video series in which he will use as few tools as possible; probably perfect for you. But i don't know if it's out yet or maybe only watchable if you pay.

There are so many tools which can aid you in many or just in one special case but it all comes down to if you really wan't to continue this hobby/job or build just one guitar. Like kristbubnjar said: crappy tools = crappy guitar; but there are reasonable shortcuts you can take. 
-I think a cheap router is an option
-some cheap rasps for body/neckshape will take more time and definitely won't last as long
-cheap fret files: dito
-if you can sharp chisels yourself, cheap will do
-clamps; cheap will really do, but you got to know how to handle them
-planer for joints and flattening; never worked with a cheap one; probably won't be as easy to adjust

And then a ton of special tools like round sanding block for fretboard radius, round control lineal for this radius, string spacing ruler, etc. etc.; they are not strictly necessary but you probably want to use them because they mean you will have a lot less to worry about.
I paid with a friend about 1,600 euro for high end tools, which we didn't have at this point;
but i'm pretty shure you can get lower than 600$, especially when you can loan some tools from friends or do some planing at your local carpenter.
Last edited by dopeT at Apr 14, 2017,
#11
make a cigar box guitar. a lot easier to do without tools. its on my to-do list
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#12
Depends on how you define "by hand."  Most luthiers that build hand made guitars still use a thickness sander, band saw, and router, drill, and a belt sander or grinder equipped with a sanding disk and a palm sander.

I would say that to get a professional looking guitar you need a drill and a router.  I wouldn't advise making a guitar without a band saw either however it can be done, it's just a lot more work.  The hand tools you will need are a couple types of hand saws, some chisels, hand planes, card scrapers, a machinist rule, tape measure, a square,  Rotary Protractor, files for fretwork, files for wood work, files for the nut, screwdrivers, allen keys, wrenches, a brass hammer,  a lot of various types of clamps, and a soldering iron, assuming you are building an electric.  I'm sure I've missed some stuff off the list.
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#13
Sandpaper, a shitload of sandpaper of varying grits from 80-600, and a huge bucket of elbow grease.
"It's better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war"
#14
If you are willing to buy a neck and build the body yourself this is doable with a drill, router, hand saws and maybe a sander.  If you want to fret the neck yourself, this requires pretty advanced skills and probably requires access to a well stocked wood shop.  At 15 I don't know what your experience level is but if you can build one of these you can build a complete guitar:
https://thewoodwhispererguild.com/product/sculpted-rocker/

We played a gig at the Maloof foundation a few years ago and were surrounded by some of the finest wood craftsmen on earth.  I was overwhelmed at the freehand wood working skills these artisans have.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Apr 15, 2017,
#15
Quote by CorduroyEW
Depends on how you define "by hand."  Most luthiers that build hand made guitars still use a thickness sander, band saw, and router, drill, and a belt sander or grinder equipped with a sanding disk and a palm sander.

I would say that to get a professional looking guitar you need a drill and a router.  I wouldn't advise making a guitar without a band saw either however it can be done, it's just a lot more work.  The hand tools you will need are a couple types of hand saws, some chisels, hand planes, card scrapers, a machinist rule, tape measure, a square,  Rotary Protractor, files for fretwork, files for wood work, files for the nut, screwdrivers, allen keys, wrenches, a brass hammer,  a lot of various types of clamps, and a soldering iron, assuming you are building an electric.  I'm sure I've missed some stuff off the list.

I was going to chime in with card/cabinet scrapers! They're one of the cheapest and most useful tools everyone should have in their kit. Chisels are underrated too. Also, I build without a bandsaw and it's a royal pain in the backside!
#16
My father was a carpenter before I was born and growing up I did a lot of home work with him. We did everything completely by hand. Built cabinets, furniture, etc.

The most important thing to have will be good chisels/planes and a way to keep them sharp. I would recommend a router plane to make routing for the pickups, controls, and truss rod easier. In general you need good tools to do things by hand. Not extremely expensive necessary, but often bargain barrel won't work.

Cutting the body may be difficult just because you have to keep a hand saw at a right angle. You could purchase a jig saw and get a stout blade rather than buying a handsaw. Since you have a router you could always buy a les Paul template and make one with that, a hand saw or jigsaw, and a router with a pattern bit.

I would suggest you do a lot of reading on the Les Paul, the top is angled towards the neck which really requires a router sled to do well if your not used to working with chisels.