Introduction: Guitar Suitcase
Firstly let me just say, I don't believe in ruining good instruments to make arty suitcases. But if like me you come across a run down guitar sitting by the side of the road with fret board barely hanging on, no tuning pegs, an odd paint job and a missing bridge, you have a choice whether to save it from ruin and restore it or save it from ruin and make something else with it.
Also, I have two other guitars, a ukelele, banjo, cajon, stomp boxes, shakers of all sorts, and a cello, so my wife was never going to let me keep it.
What you need:
Short screws (or rivets would be better)
A draw handle
PVA wood glue
A small piece of plywood
Pliers (longnosed and flat)
Step 1: Sawing Off the Neck
This is an interesting step.
There is an easy way and a hard way to do this, it merely depends if you have plans for the neck.
The issue is a piece of metal running down the inside of the neck called the truss rod. This huge bolt helps keep tension on the wood and gives it a nice straight neck.
Not all guitars have them. Some guitars have an hex bolt that you can see on the headstock (where the tuning pegs are) other guitars have them on the inside of the sound hole. As this one in the photo does.
The easy way is to saw through until you hit metal, then change to a hack saw and saw through, then change back to normal and keep going all the way.
The harder way is to undo the hex nut with an Allen Key, cut the neck all the way around the bolt with a wood saw, then pry the two sections apart, pulling the truss rod out of the main body. This is harder, but it gives me a neck for a ukelele or some other musical project.
Step 2: Sawing the Body Into Two Sections
Now ladies and gentlemen, I will attempt to saw this body in half!
So, I wanted the case to have some depth to it, and decided to make the cut line about 3 cm from the top all the way around (if you don't know what 3 cm is, it's 30mm or 0.03meters. Such a great system! … OK fine! 1.5 inches 4.5 barley corns or 0.125 feet).
The best way to get an even line is to set a square to the right length and sit it on the top of the guitar with the ruler hanging down the side. If you put a pencil at the end of the ruler, you can move the square around the top to get a perfect line all the way around (see the picture if you still don't get it ).
Then out comes the saw!
Use a fine toothed saw to get an even line, let the saw do the work and don't force it. Find a good stable surface to sit the saw on.
Step 3: Painting
This particular guitar had a previous owner who had tried to fix it and really just made a mess of it. So I sanded it back and gave it a paint with PVA wood glue since I didn't have any varnish. It gives it a rustic and textured look which is quite quirky.
Step 4: Hinges and Sound Hole
Cover the sound hole with a piece of wood.
Work out the size it should be and cut it out. Then glue it in and wait for the glue to dry.
It takes a bit of work to figure out where the hinges will go, but the best way I found was to sit the top at a 90 degree on the edge of the bottom and observe where they touch. Mark those points with a pencil and then tape them with masking tape. Try opening and closing it and see if the tape pulls.
One you have found the right spot, hold your hinges in place and pre drill the holes. Then you can screw small screws in or if you are cooler than me and you have a pop rivit tool, rivit them in place so you don't have to go through and file off all the sharp screws on the inside of the guitar.
The next step is to find a handle. I've used one from an old set of draws. Figure out where you want it, mark the places for the screws, predrill the holes and screw the handle on.
Step 5: The Latch
This is the most complicated part, only because I decided to use wire and make a mason jar type latch.
There are four parts to the latch.
The catch which screws to the guitar and creates something to pull. I've made it out of wire to match, but it could be some screws, a block of wood or anything sticking out to pull on.
The next piece is the mount, this screws to the guitar to hold the rest in place.
Piece three is the handle which attaches to the mount and latch. It pulls the latch tight against the catch and holds everything in place.
The final and easiest part to make is the latch. It is simply a piece that has a loop to go over the catch and it attaches to the handle.
See pictures for details.
These are all made with pliers and wire. They take patience and tough hands.
I used a hammer to flatten out the loops that I made for the screws.