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
one piece.
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of 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! 

Step 2: Marking out the measurements

Picture of Marking out the measurements
So i did some research online, and there weren't really any free quality blueprints, so i found some measurements online to make a guide for. I could have traced from a real cello, but i was aiming to make a Full size, and i only have a 3/4 size at home. I used a canvas (waste of canvas i suggest you use a large poster board or project paper) to draw out the measurements, they aren't 100% perfect but for my purposes good enough.

Here's where i got my measurements:http://woodsoundstudio.com/setup.htm

Step 3: Cutting out the Faceplates

Picture of Cutting out the Faceplates
Here using the blank, i cut another blank, this one is thicker is important because later it will be used as a template to hold the curves together as they dry. Also it mentally prepares me to cut the actual two face plates 

Step 4: Bending the curves

Picture of Bending the curves
Unfortunately i didn't record this step, as it was too tedious, and my amazing brainpower forgot to, but i have taken a visual. I used plywood actually for this step, submerged in water. Here i used an old wagon, but I suggest you line it with a garbage can bag because there was substantial rusting on the wagon. Surprisingly on the plywood there was a thin layer of im not sure what you have to peel back- after you peel it back the wood turns a rich orange color which gives it a traditional wood color    

Step 5: Gluing everything together

Picture of gluing everything together
here's the face plate off the cello. still haven't rounded the insides out, but the f-holes have been cut and the sides have been glued together. As you can see i'm using small blocks of wood to keep the sides together as well as add structural strength. On the lower right of the bottom face plate i had a little accident with a car, so i just re-glued that portion.. not traditional but adds a touch of personality in my opinion. To make the f-holes i drilled two holes at the end and used a hack saw, removed the blade and reassembled it with the blade in the face plate and cut the form out. to cut the face plates i used my trusty recycling bin and hand held jig saw!
I had to taper down the sides with a belt sander to get the curvature. 

Step 6: The Endpin

Picture of The Endpin
The endpin must be both strong- light- and durable. for this purpose i highly suggest you visit blinds to go (or really any window curtain selling area).. i'm not kidding those rods that turn the windows? perfect. Here i'm using an actual cello endpin- but any rod will suffice  finally have some type of lock, a screw in a hole is fine enough- even two binder clips on the rod will work.  

Step 7: The Bridge, Peg Box and Tail piece

Picture of The Bridge, Peg Box and Tail piece
Okay here's where things get complicated. To build the bridge i drew the outline of a bridge onto a flat piece of wood and SLOWLY cut it out with a table saw. The key is to go slowly, we're not allowed to film in school so i can only take pictures after i finish them. Then i used a belt sander to taper the bridge form top to bottom. to make the heart i drilled three holes and slowly carved them out- same for the kidneys. 
The peg box as you can imagine, is a box fashioned out of 3 pieces of wood, which weren't hard to construct. The pegs were the harder part. I used 4 1inch wooden dowels with fashioned pegs attached with wood glue. To make sure the pegs "stuck" to the peg box first i used pencil graphite to make them slide better, than i used crushed rosin powder to make them stick. 
Finally the tail piece same as above i took a tail piece and traced it out, then cut it out. To get the "curve" I also sanded down the sides and center until it somewhat resembled a tailpiece...  now for the actual fine turners. 
for the fine turners i used a screw l-bracket set up- the more further screwed in the screw is, the higher the pitch, as you can see for the D string i didn't need one because the peg worked well enough for that one string- in this picture my G string is missing. 

Step 8: Finding the right fingerboard

Picture of Finding the right fingerboard
This is probably the most important step- the fingerboard. If your fingerboard is too flimsy, the neck will snap if it's too thick you won't be able to play it- find the right balance. 
In this picture i actually use part of a railing, and cut down the sides.
I highly suggest elevating the fingerboard- it saves you time as they do in real cellos- i didn't realize my mistake until after i attached the fingerboard
Also on this cello i used a l-brace to attach the board as well as glue and screws I MUST STRESS THIS PART THIS IS PROBABLY THE WEAKEST PART OF YOUR CELLO!! if you're going for a traditional look i highly suggest you use a PERFECT FIT and QUALITY GLUE or else you run the risk of snapping the neck!

Step 9: Putting Everything Together

Picture of Putting Everything Together
Now you should have 
-your body finished
-tail piece finished
-bridge, pegs and pegbox 
-fingerboard *note the fingerboard in this picture is not the actual final product*
Now all you have to do is put them together!

Step 10: The Bow!

Picture of The Bow!
By this point i was exhausted- but this is probably the most critical part- the part where everyone gives up and plucks their cello instead. For my bow i used  a simple wooden stick with an anchor at one end, and a simple set up at the other. The string attaches to a nut on a screw, which tightens as you turn the screw- simple and elegant.
Further for the hair, i used fishing line, i had horsehair on order but it didn't come in time for my purpose. To use fishing line, first make sure its attached then CAREFULLY run sandpiper on both sides of the fishing line until a fine powder forms and you can "feel" the barbs on the string. Afterwards be sure to rosin the bow!! or it will not work!

Step 11: Time to Play!

Picture of Time to Play!
That's IT!
Play test your cello and make any modifications to it as necessary, contact me with any questions or comments, and most of all have fun!

Strings are too high
- i personally had this problem- i didn't map out the angles, lower the bridge, your bridge is too high

No sound??
-First check that there is nothing there to muffle the string, for example the string is too close to the fingerboard to vibrate, then check that your bow is working properly a good rule of thumb would be to use a real bow- then use your homemade one

I can't tune it!/ The pegs won't stick!
-by this point you really want to use a lot of rosin powder on the pegs, but DON'T OVER DO IT you make hear a little bit of creaking, but if you hear A LOT of creaking that's not good your peg will break! use some pencil graphite to counter the rosin- and for the fine turners lets face it they're not regular fine tuners, use two small pliers or tweezers to get a firm grip and twist them.

That's it! hope you had fun, i did and enjoy your new cello.  

Here are some clips
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A lot of instruments are made from non-traditional materials. I have an inexpensive mandolin and owned a Harmony archtop that are both made from "laminated wood".
When I worked for a music store, we farmed out our violin repairs to a shop in Broad Ripple where they had a bass in the rack that had a body made of pressed aluminum. The story was that they were built during WWII for Army orchestras because they were light, rugged, and not made from as strategic a material as Spruce.
It sounded OK
AlexandraR24 months ago

Hi, there.

Thanks for your instructable. It's very nice.

I just want to add a piece of information which is actually a piece of wood to your cello. :)

It's missing its "soul": the sound post. It's the small rod that connects the bottom and the lid, below the A string, inside the "box".

You can find more info about it here:


And how to place it here:



You'll see that after this, your cello will gain a new soul and life when you play it!


KellyCraig5 months ago

This is pathetically ingenious (I hope that came out as a compliment).

mkeshti7 months ago
Thank you again for the cello.
Do you know the cubic inches of the bouts?
mkeshti7 months ago
Thank you for your cello. I've made one out of cardboard. It's an 'emulated cello - viol da Gamba'. My next build will be of 1/16 inch pine. Oh, G-D willing. Again thank you for your cello.

This should help...


Hi there!
I'm considering doing this myself. What did you use as a frame to bend the wood?

I made a cut out of the cello out of scrap wood, and used clamps as well as weights to hold it down

Hi there!
I'm considering doing this myself. What did you use as a frame to bend the faceplate?
shallnot2 years ago
I despair that so many "Instructables" are so poorly written and by no means is this one the worst I've seen but it is above average (or should that be below average?)

Previous commenters have pointed out the usage of "finishing line" instead of "fishing line" and "table [jig] saw" instead of "scroll saw" (with the ubiquity of Google or Bing search it should take seconds to find out the right term) in this document. They could have easily started with the first sentence "So i'm attempting to make a cello with my friend.. and here were the results." Here we have a confusion between present tense "attempting" and past tense "here were". "My friend and I attempted to make a cello--these are the results" or "My friend and I are attempting to make a cello and this will be a documentation of the results" might be better depending on when the text is being written.

To quote fully from AutoDesk co-founder John Walker's Reading Unedited Text http://www.fourmilab.ch/documents/strikeout/ :

'[Some argue that] the Internet is a dynamic medium; there's no time to carefully proofread text before posting it.

Consider what the folks who advance this argument are saying. "I'm in such a hurry that I can't be bothered to critically read what I've written before I dispatch it to be read by hundreds, thousands, or millions of other people. My time is so valuable, the five or ten minutes it would take to spelling and grammar check my posting, then read it over for coherence and edit it accordingly cannot be justified. Better all of my readers spend the time to figure out what I was trying to say than I spend a minute making it clear." '

Perhaps this site needs a cadre of editors to review first-time submissions? They could provide feedback to the poster to improve his or her writing. In the mean time I would suggest that posters ask three to five people to read their text and make suggestions for improvement. Perhaps then their writing may deserve the superlatives commenters give it.

I highly recommend borrowing the book How Not to Write Bad, by Ben Yagoda, from your local library. It is a quick read and very useful.
That proves that we are all human beings (but I don't know about you, I think you're an exception to that) :)
That proves that we are all human beings (but I don't know about you, I think you're an exception to that) :)
Are you just constantly complaining about things? You always talk about how poorly written instructables are and I've yet to see you publish a single one. If you want to offer friendly criticism that's one thing, but sod off if you're gonna just complain about everything.
This man obviously spent a fair bit of time working on this project.
Why are you insulting him?
If you have nothing positive to contribute to the article why even bother.
As far as "How Not to Write Bad" how about you spending some of your time reading "How Not to be Obnoxious"
I'm just glad he posted this. There were some typos, but nothing I would cry about. It was a very good instructable, considering that it's the only one I know of to make a cello from scratch.
I understand you were trying to help, but it came off slightly offensive. Just thought I'd let you know.
innovation redesigned (author)  shallnot2 years ago
Thank you for the feedback, it will definitely help in writing future instructables. I have no excuse for my many typos- and this comment is a testament to how little time i have spent revising the text. Hopefully this experience will help me learn and grow, again thank you for the constructive criticism.
Benbear1 year ago
How does a Cardboard Cello sound? I'm making one of out of Cardboard (well, Chipboard actually) and I'm making it stiff enough to resonate the sound and take the pressure of the strings... but i need help "how do I make chipboard stiff enough? what chemical can I use to stiffen it (not fiberglass please)? some chemical that doesn't change the acoustic properties of the paper...
ccarter232 years ago
I was in science olympiad in texas for sounds of music we made a flute and a guitar
staples_2 years ago
How much did all of the materials cost?
browfurd2 years ago
This may be the solution to school orchestras experiencing a cello shortage (thanks to "The Piano Guys") I'm now inspired to make one of my own!
innovation redesigned (author)  browfurd2 years ago
Good luck!
Jasonlju112 years ago
I noticed you don't have the bridge on the finished version does it not work? how about a sample video of it in action luv to hear it thx
I added a video to step eleven!
greenmagic2 years ago
Can I please a audio sample of this violin? Have you ever thought of an electric version?
I've added a video to step 11! Currently I'm working on an electric balalaika, should be up soon
Its a cello.
workwood2 years ago
Nice. I only have one little unasked (mea culpa) tip for you: which I fell over, once, making an upright bass (not on instructables).

Your bridge, the thing with the hearts in it needs to be quarter sawn (kwartiers gezaagd: in Holland-isch). If I say this right. This means the lines of the wood need to be horizontal, yours is vertical I believe.
Why is this?
Because of the vibrations, which give the sound, etc. Vertical lines will break or "bite in" over time. Also every snare should meet air in the bridge; that is what the "hearts" are for. This also has to do with the vibrations of the bridge moving to the body etc.
All in all I do like your project!
NOODLE!2 years ago
O.o wow.
NOODLE!2 years ago
O.o wow.
NOODLE!2 years ago
O.o wow.
cfwalton2 years ago
Great job! this is awesome
mikemenzie2 years ago
I really appreciate this project. I've been teaching myself to build instruments for a few years now, and it's nice to see what a couple of non-professionals can accomplish.
If you ever want to, feel free to bug me and I may have information or design information about some instrume t you might be building. My current project is 3 simultaneous lyres. :-)

roninlong2 years ago
Since I have deep rooted conections with Paraguay I want to share how others have made insturments. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/405192963/landfill-harmonic-inspiring-dreams-one-note-at-a-t?ref=live
great group. I've been following them on Facebook for a while now

This is amazing! Well goes beyond the level at which I made my instruments, the caliber of sound compared to the materials used is amazing- simply amazing.
Whoa! You just lost me. One moment you're cutting out some blank as a reference, then you're putting pieces of wood in a pan, now most of the cello is complete. What happened? How do I construct the rest of the cello.
jaxboy2 years ago
I so wish you had shown how you did the side bending, as it looks awesome! To me, that would seem to be the hardest part, because you can glue the top and bottom on and then trim them to fit. Your side piece looks quite professionally done. I'm impressed. What was the wood you used? It would have been nice to get pieces of mahogany or oak. How many pieces did you you use, how thick was it, and how did you join the ends together? Whatever you did to make it, you did a very fine job! How did you curve the top and bottom as well? I love music, but have no talent. I have had a violin, a viola, a,mandolin, several 6-string guitars, and now own an electric bass which I use to play along with my music. It sounds terrible most of the time, but occasionally I will get into the right cord and play along well. I love the sound of the cello, and I think this will be my next indeavor. That you for giving me the inspiration to tackle it. I, too, Can't wait to hear your video of you playing it. By the way, there are several sites on ebay that sell pegs, nuts saddles and bridges for very little. "songtieling" seems to have god prices.
:"in this picture my G string is missing"
I laughed so hard at that.
I'm sorry I'm so immature.
camileo2 years ago
i want to listen how it sounds....make a video

that was my first question. I sort of assumed it would sound terrible, but then I remembered a video I saw on youtube of this old Mexican guy playing beautiful music using a plastic 2 liter coke bottle as an improvised trumpet, so I suspect that it sounds wonderful.
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