Introduction: 10 Easy Steps to Make Your Own Cello!

Picture of 10 Easy Steps to Make Your Own Cello!

*Updated 12/13/15 I apologize for any trauma or

bodily harm inflicted by my 9th grade grammar

My friend and I attempted to build a cello for my 9th grade Science Olympiad Sounds of Music competition--these are the results.


-Body: plywood (not the most traditional material I can readily admit)

-Fingerboard: unknown, scrap railing found at Home Depot


-Strings: Stock cello strings bought from local music store.

-Tuners: An L-bracket, a washer, and a screw.

-Metal Bar: I used a metal bar for the area where the fingerboard met the peg box.


C2 to F6, the range of a normal cello

Sound quality

Relatively muffled but plays well for a homemade instrument


A quick timeline

1. Construction began with finding dimensions. Plans and measurements are readily accessible on the internet

2. Once plans were obtained, I mapped out a blank of the faceplates.

3. Using these blanks, I copied them onto two sheets of plywood.

4. Taking the leftover wood (save the planet!) I cut out the bouts (sides) of the cello.

5. I soaked the plywood in water overnight, this unorthodox method surprisingly worked! You will notice that the veneer of the plywood peels off.

6. I cut out two f-holes onto the faceplate using a power drill and handheld jig saw.

7. Creating the bridge was a bit more involved, I had to borrow a table saw and a belt sander from my school’s woodshop.

8. The scrolls and peg box were simplified for ease of construction. Note that the pegs are lubricated with graphite and/or bow rosin to control its coefficient of friction.

9. The Fingerboard was created (see above)

10. All the pieces were glued together using wood glue, with hot glue where needed, or with deck screws.

This cello was constructed for a retired Science Olympiad event called Sounds of Music. We had to created two different instruments of different registers, take a sound physics test, play Canon in D by Pachelbel, compose an original piece of music, and play both pieces. We placed second at states.

Step 1: Tools

Picture of Tools

What you'll really need for this project varies
with how nice you want your cello to be. I was under a deadline (the competition) but depending on your skill and time limits you can obviously take this above and beyond!

-Handheld Jigsaw: this gives you so much freedom when it comes to cutting the plywood, just be sure to use the proper safety procedures

-Power drill: this will help, especially when it comes to creating the peg holes and the f holes

-Hot Glue Gun: self-explanatory

-Ruler, pencil, calculator

-Sandpaper/ belt sander: this is imperative! It saved me so much time by cleaning up rough edges and sanding down the wood where I wanted slopes and curvatures, especially on the bouts.

-Access to a woodshop: this will help but is not necessary.

-A reliable recycling bin: I used a trusty recycling bin in lieu of an actual table.

-Creativity & Innovation: to have as much fun as you possibly can!

Step 2: Marking Out the Measurements

Picture of Marking Out the Measurements

After doing some preliminary research online, I
found some blueprints. I translated them to a canvas- yes a painter’s canvas- as a basic guide. It’s probably faster and more accurate to trace the outline from a cello, but at the time I only had a ¾ size cello at home and was aiming to create a full size cello.


Step 3: Cutting Out the Faceplates

Picture of Cutting Out the Faceplates

Here I used the guide created in the last step to cut out a wooden blank. This blank will be used later to help set bouts.

Step 4: Bending the Bouts

Picture of Bending the Bouts

Unfortunately it didn't occur to me to take many pictures of this process, but it is relatively simple to recreate. I poured hot water into a garbage bag lined wagon and set the cut bout pieces overnight. In the morning the plywood gave more slack, just enough to bend without worry. It is important to note that I peeled off the veneer. Using the blank, I bent the pieces and fit them on the sides of the blank using dumbbells to hold them in place. Then I glued them together and to the back face plate and set it overnight.

Step 5: Putting Everything Together

Picture of Putting Everything Together

Here you can see the process by which the bouts were glued down. The face plates were then subsequently placed on top, followed by drilling the f-holes.

Step 6: The Endpin

Picture of The Endpin

The end pin was somewhat of a pain to create. I used a small block of wood to reinforce the bout and used a scrap rod that can easily be scavenged from a blinds to go.

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 the jigsaw. Slow and steady wins the race. 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. For the pegs, I used 4 1 inch wooden dowels with fashioned pegs attached with wood glue. To make sure the pegs sticks to the peg box I used pencil graphite to make them easier to tune, then crushed rosin stop them from sliding.
The tuners are created using an L-bracket, a screw and a washer to control the tension.

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.

For this cello I used a l-brace, glue, and a screw to attach the board to the body. I MUST STRESS THIS PART, AS IT IS PROBABLY THE WEAKEST PART OF YOUR CELLO!! In fact I dropped a cello once and this is the exact area where it broke.

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!

The bow is simply made from fishing line under high tension. I used sandpaper to barb the fishing line to give it more drag on the strings of the cello. The tension on the bow is achieved the same way the tuners on the cello operate.

Step 11: Time to Play!

Picture of Time to Play!

That's IT!
Test your cello and make any modifications if necessary. Feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns.

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. Make sure to hear a bit of creaking, but if you hear A LOT of creaking that's not good your, pegs will break! Use some pencil graphite to counter the rosin.

That's it! Hope you had as much fun as I did and enjoy your new cello :).


Jack of Most Trades (author)2013-04-14

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

billbillt (author)2017-02-28


brewgoat (author)2017-01-28

Nice job on the instructable. Don't "despair" on the comment below. The poster leans toward critizing without actually having created one himself.

JaredL16 (author)2016-03-02

That's awesome! I play violin but want to learn cello. All the cellos are way too expensive. I would like to build my own if I can. What thickness plywood did you use? It sounded really good in the video. I think it's awesome. Could this simplistic design idea be applied to other string instruments?

Lelmaster1000 (author)2016-02-05

How did you make the angle that the cello takes? Im trying tobuild a cello myselff and I dond know how to make it. I was thinking about using a cello but im not sure.

i mean a wedge.

shallnot (author)2013-04-14

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 :

'[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.

cellochic (author)shallnot2015-12-13

I am aware that this response was written three years ago, however I felt the need to inform you that in the second to last sentence in the sixth paragraph "their" needs to be changed to "his or her." This is called pronoun confusion, now a days rather than saying "his or her" people trying not be gender specific so they wind up saying "their." Their is a plural pronoun and does not agree with the singular antecede nt (singular pronoun=singular antecedent and plural pronoun=plural antecedent). The sentence says "I would suggest that posters ask three to five people to read their text and make suggestions for improvement" this makes it sound as five people should read his or her own text rather than five people should read the writers text before it is posted. Even though is sounds correct being "their" it is very much wrong.

Benbear (author)shallnot2013-09-21

That proves that we are all human beings (but I don't know about you, I think you're an exception to that) :)

Benbear (author)shallnot2013-09-21

That proves that we are all human beings (but I don't know about you, I think you're an exception to that) :)

bugman113 (author)shallnot2013-07-27

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.

allnight (author)shallnot2013-04-14

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"

lightning r fun (author)shallnot2013-04-14

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.

AlexandraR2 (author)2015-03-12

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!


KellyCraig (author)2015-02-09

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

mkeshti (author)2014-12-22

Thank you again for the cello.
Do you know the cubic inches of the bouts?

mkeshti (author)2014-12-22

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.

BrendanTheSequeira (author)2014-11-06

This should help...

turtledrake (author)2014-01-02

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

turtledrake (author)2014-01-02

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

Benbear (author)2013-09-21

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...

ccarter23 (author)2013-06-05

I was in science olympiad in texas for sounds of music we made a flute and a guitar

staples_ (author)2013-05-12

How much did all of the materials cost?

browfurd (author)2013-04-17

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!

Good luck!

Jasonlju11 (author)2013-05-02

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!

greenmagic (author)2013-04-19

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

chocolatechip (author)greenmagic2013-04-29

Its a cello.

workwood (author)2013-04-23

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! (author)2013-04-21

O.o wow.

NOODLE! (author)2013-04-21

O.o wow.

NOODLE! (author)2013-04-21

O.o wow.

cfwalton (author)2013-04-19

Great job! this is awesome

mikemenzie (author)2013-04-18

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. :-)

roninlong (author)2013-04-13

Since I have deep rooted conections with Paraguay I want to share how others have made insturments.

Xonk61 (author)roninlong2013-04-17

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.

RocKiN Ranen (author)2013-04-16

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.

jaxboy (author)2013-04-15

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.

lightning r fun (author)2013-04-14

:"in this picture my G string is missing"
I laughed so hard at that.
I'm sorry I'm so immature.

camileo (author)2013-04-11

i want to listen how it sounds....make a video

jarikcbol (author)camileo2013-04-12

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.

Ayavaron (author)jarikcbol2013-04-14

Do you have a link to that? It sounds awesome.

jarikcbol (author)Ayavaron2013-04-14

the one I saw first is this one,
video is pretty low quality, but you see the skill. There are a few other videos on youtube of the same trick.

Okay i'll try to make one soon!

Zergling_pack (author)2013-04-14

Can you post a video comparing the sound between the cello you made and one you bought? Also do you know if this would the same as making a violin just scaling down?

tiger12506 (author)2013-04-14

I think that would be quite impossible to do on a table saw. Perhaps you meant scroll saw??

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