DIY Guitar Building – Day 6 – Rough Cutting the Body Shape

Okay, so the video is up for Day 6.  In this episode of DIY Guitar Building we have glued the wings of the body onto the neck.  Note, these are neck through body guitars, so we glue the body onto the side of the neck that extends through the body.  I think that made sense…

So, we’re watching Bob here cut away at the body using the band saw. Obviously for these guitars we don’t want the shape to be the shape of a rectangle, like one of those cigar box guitars. Those look pretty cool, and it might be fun to make one some day, but that’s not what we’re shooting for here.   We’re shooting for comfort as well as something that’s somewhat aesthetically pleasing to look at.  And I’ve always found the body shape of the Stratocaster to be very comfortable to play both sitting and standing.

So, on the top of the body we have mounted a template. It’s a template I made out of M.D.F., which stands for Medium Density Fiberboard, which is used in many applications like hi fi speaker cabinets, etc.. and in this case for making a guitar template. I use it because it’s really easy to work with, and its relatively inexpensive, so it serves this purpose great.  The template I made is roughly the shape of a fender Stratocaster, but it has some modifications to the pickup and control cavities to suit our needs and allow us to use different pickup configurations and such.   I’ll note that we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here.   However, these are custom guitars with slight modifications to their original counterparts.  In other words, if I wanted a strat, I’d go buy a strat. Cuz it’s a lot of work making these guitars, even though it’s totally fun to do.  Anyway, I designed the template and we mounted it to the top of the body using some double sided tape. The trick is to line up the center-line, as well as another point on the guitar to determine where the body sits lengthwise in relation to the fretboard. I picked a point that lines up with the 17th fret, and marked that on both the template and on the actual neck.

When I designed these guitars, I drew up a full scale plan. During that stage is when I made all the decisions like shape, scale length, body thickness, control and pickup cavities, bridge placement, pickguard shape, and so forth. I put a good amount of time into making the plan down to every last detail.  I would highly recommend if you’re building a custom guitar to do that ahead of time. It could save a lot heart ache, plus a lot of time in the wood shop if your time is limited.

So, Full scale plans.  I recommend it, and one day I might publish the plans here on the website.

Also something to note: when we glued on the body wings for these neck through guitars we rough cut the shape of the of the inside of the horns of the body, near where the neck meets the body.

So, what we’re doing with the band saw is cutting away the excess wood and getting it as close as comfortably possible to the shape of the template, being careful not to cut into the template, because that would just be bad. We’re doing this now, because in the next step we will be using a flush cut router bit to trim the shape to the exact shape of the template. We don’t want too much excess wood protruding outside the bounds of the template because there is the potential of large chunks of wood chipping off while routing if we’re trying to take off too much at once. So, we’re just trying to get as close as we can here to make the router’s job easier.

Check out the video, and thanks for stopping by,

–Mike