My friend and I attempted to make a cello--these are the results.
1) We made a functioning cello, as well as a bow from scratch. The main body of the cello i used plywood, not traditional, but soaked- and compressed pinewood can become pretty dense and resonates well, also it bends well! For the fingerboard, I'm not sure what kind of wood it is, but if you go to any local home improvement shop, you should be able to find some railing. Also, i used regular wood glue to glue the body, then I added hot glue where i felt necessary. The bridge and peg box are oak, the only metal pieces are a bar near the area where the neck meets the peg box, and the strings which are regular cello strings. All the tools i used i either own, or in the wood shop at my school, I list some of them later.. You can play all the regular notes on a real cello from C2 to F6.
2) We began the project for an event called Sound of Music in the New Jersey Science Olympiad
Competition, in which we placed second at states in. In this event, we were required to build a treble instrument, for which we built a flute, and a bass instrument, for which we decided to take on the ambitious project of a cello.
We were also required to arrange two pieces of music. However, the cello soon became the
centerpiece of the project. Beginning as a simple outline, the cello took weeks and months to
3) We began the construction of the cello, including the faceplates and sound post, in Justin’s
garage. But in order to make the more delicate pieces of the cello
including the bridge and the end pins, we worked in the woodworking classroom in our school.
This room had both more powerful tools as well as more delicate tools that we could use to
construct the more difficult parts of the cello.
4) The first obstacle we had to overcome was the sheer magnitude of the idea of building a
playable cello from scratch. The most difficult parts of the construction included building the
bridge and the other more delicate parts of the cello. However, we were able to use our school’s
woodworking classroom which helped us tremendously. The proudest part of the experience
happened when we were completely done building the cello and we played it for the first
time. We were so excited and shocked that it produced such a deep, rich tone. After months of
construction and weeks of practicing, we were able to play actual pieces of music. If we had to do it again, we would have used the woodworking classroom to begin with because the tools we used in Justin’s garage made it take hours to build
Step 1: Materials
What you'll really need for this project varies with how nice you want your cello to be. I was under time restrains and with school and everything between i shot for a moderate quality homemade feel. For the most part i only used 3 tools a power drill/screw a handheld jig saw and a mutli-purpose sander, and for a table i used a recycling bin- not exactly safe but hey you got to do what you got to do. For making the bridge i did quickly have access to a school wood shop for two weeks- that's where i cut the tail piece and bridge with a band saw, and where i made the pegbox otherwise it would've been impossible. I also suggest you buy two sets of strings, one low quality one medium, and one high (only if you are pro). I got low quality strings imported form china from my friend.. and used it to model where the strings go- i say this because i went through 2-3 D strings before i finally got the right angle (the strings snap where there is too extreme of an angle especially where the fingerboard meets the pegbox, i used a metal edge which is probably the reason it snapped so often), then use the medium quality string for the final construction Finally i suggest getting horse hair for the bow hair, and if you can't find some fishing line and repose it, i'll talk about that later and it actually really works!
I would really suggest having at least a handheld hacksaw, a belt sander, wood glue, wood.., goggles, a powerdrill/drill bits, a table jigsaw (or really any fixed saw that you can cut curves with) and a strong sense of creativity!