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Making An Electric Guitar from Oak - THE WHOLE BUILD (Quick Version)

Here's the electric guitar build with no talking - just the action.  


Making An Electric Guitar from Oak (part 9 of 9)

In this video I play the guitar for the first time and go through my final thoughts, project costs, etc.


Making An Electric Guitar from Oak (part 8 of 9)

In this video I string up the guitar for the first time and encounter some bridge problems.  Eventually I overcome them!  Then we wire up the electrics and fit the final parts.

Making An Electric Guitar From Oak (part 7 of 9)

In this video I make a pickguard for the guitar, buff the finish and screw on the neck to the body

Making An Electric Guitar From Oak (part 6 of 9)

In this video I fit the bridge and the pickups, route out a cavity for the electrics to sit in, apply a headstock decal logo and start to apply the lacquer finish to the body and neck

Making An Electric Guitar from Oak (part 5 of 9)

In this video I work on the guitar body

Making An Electric Guitar from Oak (part 4 of 9)

In this video, I started by doing some shaping of the end of the frets with an electric file, a hand file, and the orbital sander to round over the sharp edges and make the neck more comfortable to play.

Next I wanted to add some fret dots to the side of the neck.  I had an idea to use cocktail sticks or “tooth picks” for this.  I first marked up where the holes would need to be drilled with an awl, and then I drilled appropriately sized holes to accommodate the sticks, added wood glue, inserted the cocktail sticks, flush cut them and sanded to finish.

To level the frets, I made a sanding block, marked up the fretwire with a sharpie marker pen and lightly sanded.

I was planning to use 2” thick Spruce to make the body which I glued up and cut out on the bandsaw, but I found it to be very light weight so I wasn’t sure how well it would work.  But at this point, someone donated me a big slab of oak – so I decided to re-make the body using the oak to match the neck. 

The body shape that I opted for was loosely based on that of the Charvel Surfcaster – a guitar I once owned and had very fond memories of, it is a very good looking guitar in my opinion – and that’s why I chose it.

The slab of oak had a big bow in it so it took quite a bit of effort to shape this using the jointer and thickness planer.  As oak is such a hard wood, this big slab really put my tablesaw and thickness planer to the test!

Once I had flattened the material, I marked up the body shape on to two pieces using a template.  I would later need to glue up the two pieces to form the complete body shape. 

I cut out the shape on the bandsaw, and then glued and clamped up the pieces to form the body using a couple of large bar clamps.

Making An Electric Guitar from Oak (part 3 of 9)

In this video I started by cutting a slot for the nut to slot in to the fretboard.  I did this on the cross cut sled on my tablesaw, making a couple of passes to get the slot to the right size.  Then I did a bit of shaping to the end of the fretboard using the belt sander.

Next I wanted to add the frets to the neck, and I used a free online tool by StewMac which accurately calculates the correct fret spacing for the scale of any guitar.  Then I carefully marked these up measuring the distance from the nut slot using a steel ruler.

Then I rigged up a jig using some scrap pieces of wood and some straight edge clamps. The scrap pieces of were sacrificial and would help me to assess how deep I was cutting the slots for the frets.

I used my thinnest kerfed tenon saw to make the cut and a speed square to guide each cut lined up with the marks I’d already made.  This method worked pretty well. 

Before adding the fretwire, I marked up where the fret markers would be.

To make the fretmarkers, I would use some round oak dowels which I hoped would contrast nicely against the Sapele fretboard.  I cut some pieces of oak square on the bandsaw, rounded over one end on the belt sander, and then I could put that rounded over end in to the chuck of my drill.  Then I used some aggressive sandpaper (40 grit) to round over the dowel while it was spinning in the drill. 

Next I cut the dowel in to small pieces, drilled the holes for the fret markers and glued in the dowels – some of them needed a hit with a mallet to seat them properly.  Once the glue had dried, I used a flush cut saw to trim them and sanded them flush with the random orbit sander.  I then cleaned out any dust or debris from the fret slots.

To cut the fretboard to the same shape as the neck, I traced around it with a pencil and then cut out the shape on the bandsaw.

Then I could install the fretwire, first using a mallet to seat the wire in to the slots, and then later using clamping pressure and the radius block to ensure all the frets were properly seated.  I also added a bit of super glue to the side of the fretboard just to help secure the frets a bit more.

I sanded the bottom of the fretboard perfectly flat, and then I could insert the truss rod in to the neck and glue the fretboard on to it.  I used a piece of tape over the truss rod so that wood glue didn’t overspill in to the truss rod slot.

Making An Electric Guitar from Oak (part 2 of 9)

In this video I began by drilling the holes for the tuners to fit in to the headstock.  I did lots of careful measuring to check that the tuners were eventy spaced out and level with the string slots of the nut.  I first drilled some pilot holes with a 2mm drill bit on the drill press, and then I drilled the holes to their final size. 

The heatstock wasn’t quite wide enough, so I glued on another strip of oak to it.  Once the glue had dried, I could then shape the headstock on the bandsaw and belt sander.

I like the shape of the Fender jumbo headstocks, so I opted for a shape similar to that, but I didn’t follow any templates so it retained an “original” appearance.

I then did a bit of shaping to the end of the neck that would fit in to the guitar’s body.

That was the neck basically done, so next I started working on the fretboard.  I used a piece of Sapele which was left over from the ukulele build. The workpiece wasn’t quite wide enough so after jointing and thickness planning the material to the desired thickness, I needed to laminate two pieces together.

Once the glue had dried, I thickness planed it once again to clean it up. 

I had already bought some fretwire on eBay, and I then needed to radius the neck to match the curve of the fretwire.  To do this, I made my own radius block, by cutting some thin, bevelled pieces of wood and attaching them to a thicker piece of wood.  I then hot glued some sandpaper to it (beginning with 80 grit).  I soon found that the 80 grit paper wasn’t aggressive enough to shape the fretboard, so I switched to 40 grit which made the process much quicker.

I kept making marks along the fretboard with a sharpie marker pen as a reference so that I could check where I was removing material from.

Eventually, the shape of the neck matched the curve of the fretwire pretty well – certainly good enough for me anyway.

Making An Electric Guitar from Oak (part 1 of 9)

Following my fairly successful ukelele build recently, I decided up the stakes a bit and have a go at building an electric guitar.  I’d never built a guitar before.

I would start by making the neck.  I used oak which came from some salvaged hat and coat stands – I had to cut them to length, thickness plane them and then laminate two pieces together to give me a workpiece which was the right size.  Then I could mark up where the headstock and nut would be, and also where the neck would meet the body.

Next I needed to cut a slot along most of the length of the centre of the neck for the truss rod (which I’d already bought on eBay) to fit in to.  This would later be hidden beneath the fretboard.  I used the tablesaw to cut the slot, by making two passes and moving the fence inbetween to give me a slot that once refining with a chisel and sandpaper, was wide enough to accommodate the truss rod. 

Then I did a bit of shaping to the neck, roughly cutting out the shape and profile of the headstock.  I used the belt sander to refine the shape.

I used combination of a couple of rasp files and a spoke shave to start shaping the neck, and smoothed it over with sandpaper and a cabinet scraper.