I got a sweet new guitar, and it didn't come with a case. The shop didn't have a reasonably priced one, so I figured it can't be that hard to make one. Nature deciding to turn Atlanta into a frozen wasteland this week gave me the opportunity to knock this out in 2 (snow) days. (This project can totally be completed in 1 day, as long as you calculate your material needs correctly before beginning. I did not do this.)
The dimensions here will work for most Gibson/Epiphone semi-hollowbody electric guitars or similar. Just change them to make it work for you. (An easy way, if your guitar isn't handy, is to find a case online and use its dimensions as a starting point.)
(2) 1/8" MFD, 2 x 4'
(3) 1/4" hardwood, 4" x 4'
(3) 1/4" hardwood, 2" x 4'
(1) 3/4" foam insulation sheet, 4 x 8'
(2) packs of corner covers (8)
(2) 2" hinges
(1) 1" hinge
(2) chest clasps
#6 screws, 1/2"
#6 screws, 1 1/4"
(3 1/2) yards of exterior cover material (I used vinyl)
(1 1/2) yards interior lining material (I used crushed velvet)
Step 1: Cutting
Cut the wood into the following pieces:
(2) 19 x 45" (lid/base)
(1) 4" X 18" (neck support)
4" & 2" hardwood:
(2 each) 44" long (sides)
(2 each) 19" long (front/back)
(1) 17 1/2 x 43 1/2"
(1) 17 1/2 x 33 1/2"
(2) 17 1/2 x 23 1/2"
(1) 17 1/2 x 10"
Step 2: Build the Case
- Lay a glue line at either end of one of the 45" MDF pieces.
- Place a 19" piece at either end, and clamp it down at both ends
- Flip the whole thing over so the MDF faces up
- Drill pilot holes along either end; 5 each should be sufficient
- Using the 1/2" screws, screw the MDF to the front/back pieces
- Repeat steps 2-5, but with the 44" pieces
- Drill a pilot hole (or holes) in each front/back-side join (1 each for the 2" sides, 2 each for the 4")
- Using the 1 1/4" screws, join the sides to each other
- Repeat steps 2-8 with the other 45" MDF and set of sides
- Line the top & bottom halves of the case, and clamp them together
- Use sandpaper to clean up any burrs and give the corners/edges a slight round-over
- Place the hinges and clasps (on opposite sides, obviously) and mark the screw points
- Do the same for the corner covers
- Drill pilot holes; make sure to drill them all the way through; this will make it easier to attach the hardware later
- (If using a pre-made handle, do whatever's required for attaching that instead of following the instructions here.) Drill holes for the handle (same side as the clasps); you'll need (2) 3/8" holes about 7" apart, and 2 bolt holes about 6" apart
Step 3: Prepare the Cushion
- Trace your guitar's body's outline onto the 23 1/2" pieces.
(This is a little different than I did it, as the pictures show. Trust me, this will cause less headache)
- On 1 piece, cut out the interior of the outline up to the line using a jigsaw (fast) or xacto knife (cleaner)
- On the other piece, cut out the center 8"; this is to accomadate the rounded back of the guitar (if your's has a flat back, just follow the exact outline on both pieces)
- Stack and align the 2 pieces onto the 33 1/2" piece (make sure to align them so the neck cutout of the shorter pieces is away from the edge), then, using masking or packing tape, tape the 3 pieces together
Step 4: Cover the Cushions
- Cut the lining material for each piece to size; you want to have enough so that there's at least an inch leftover when wrapping so you can staple it to the back of the piece
- For the body section, hot glue the fabric down on the top of the piece so it follows the contours of the cutouts
- Wrap the fabric around and staple it to the back
- Cut 2 strips of leather, about 18" long
- Staple and hot glue each to opposite sides of the back of the 10" piece, about 4" in from the edge
Step 5: Neck Support
- Measure 2" from the bottom of the 4 x 18" MDF piece, and mark it; then find the horizontal center and mark it
- Using a 2" hole saw, cut out the neck divot, lining up the bottom of the cutout so it hits your marked 2" up & center point
- Use a bandsaw and dremel to clean up the curve and give the top edges a round-over
- Wrap the piece in your lining material; if you cut it right, you can get it to show no seam (the bottom will be between 2 cushion pieces, so hide your work there)
- Cut a 1 x 24" strip of your cover material
- Trim the piece so that when laid on the top edge of the neck support, and following the curve, there's about 1 1/2" going down the side of the support
- Hot glue the piece to the top edge of the support
- Fold the piece over and glue it to the sides of the support
- If you're not great at this part, like me, cut a small piece of the cover material and hot glue it into the valley of the support to cover up the bend cut
(This piece looks different in the final photos because I cut it a smidge too wide and had to redo it.)
Step 6: Test Fit
Insert the cushion pieces for the base of the case, along with the neck support, just to make sure it's all going to work. I needed to do a bit of adjustment (originally had only 2 pieces stacked for the body, changed to 3). Once it's all good, carry on, my wayward son. There'll be case when you are done.
Step 7: Wrap the Case
- Cut your cover material to size: set each piece onto the material, pretty side down; measure your gap from the edges. For the lid, you need about 6" extra on each side; for the base, you need about 9"
The rest of this is far easier with a sidekick
- Cut the corners so that you don't have a bunch of overlap; this can be tricky, so probably a good idea to practice with a box and some paper first.
- Pull the various flaps tight and staple them down, at the base of the sides
- At the corners staple the overlap down to the base
- Take a lighter to the edges to burn off the fuzzies
Step 8: The Handle
(Forgot to take pictures of this part)
- Cut a piece of the lining material, 3 x 7", and four 1 1/2" squares
- Hot glue something not-stretchy (leather, nylon strap, etc.) to the center, then wrap the exterior material around it, with the final seam centered; the seam side is the bottom of the handle
- Find the strap holes in the body, and use an exacto knife to slit open the cover material
- Feed the ends of the strap through 1 square, then the hole, then another hole
- Bolt the strap to the case: put the bolt through a washer, the strap, the case, another washer, and a bolt
Step 9: Hardware
- Clamp the halves of the case together
- Find your hinge holes, and attach the hinges
- Flip 'er over and attach the clasps the same way
- Attach the corner pieces in the same way
Step 10: Insert Cushions
Apply spray adhesive to the base of each half's interior, and place the cushions; also insert the neck support on the body side. Put something heavy on top of each cushion to get a good adhesion.
Step 11: That's That
Put your guitar in there. Carry it places. Be pleased with yourself.
A couple notes:
- The clasps they sell at Lowes are hot garbage. Do yourself a favor and order a good set that are meant for more than decoration. I'm going to be switching these out ASAP.
- It's probably worth it to just buy a handle. Making one--specifically, a sturdy one--is a pain.
- All told, this cost as much to make as it would to buy a basic case from some online retailer that offers free shipping. It's obviously fancier looking, and there's of course the pleasure of making something for yourself; but if you're just wanting a basic case, save yourself the time & energy and just buy one.