Guitar Making Tools
Try these specialist suppliers for guitar making tools and materials:
Small Wonder for unusual inlay materials, nuts, saddles etc.
Touchstone Tonewoods: guitar making tools and matrerials
Make your own circle cutter for rosettes and sound holes (click here for PDF of drawings)
Specialist tools for guitar makign can be expensive to buy. Some, like a simple circle cutter, can be made yourself.
Approaches to Guitar Making
There are various approaches to guitar making. The guitar body can be built in a mould in the same way violins and cellos are built. This is an ancient method of constructing stringed instruments and was used certainly as far back as Baroque times, when viols, citterns and other early plucked guitar-like musical instruments were common. With the development of the true Spanish or classical guitar in the mid nineteenth century, a different system developed, often referred to as the 'free' or 'open' method. Here a work board is used (the Spanish word for this is 'solera') and the guitar is built soundboard-down; the sides are retained by a number of moveable blocks that are positioned wherever needed to keep the sides in place.
This more open method allows access to the outside of the sides and to an extent it is adjustable to take different guitar outline shapes, whereas with a solid mould, each mould can only be used for that one shape.
The work board has a long extension on which the neck is placed, and this makes integrating the neck and body quite straightforward. The precise angle of the neck, both laterally and vertically, can easily be established, and the sides are glued into the heel of the neck in their final position early on in the process. This contrasts with the violin mould method which is also used in the commercial production of steel-string guitars, where the neck is only joined to the body at the end of the process, once the body has been completed. A form of dovetail joint is used, and this lacks the strength of the Spanish heel, as well as allowing more possibility of errors in angle being introduced.