If you're thinking about designing and building a custom guitar, or even if you're just curious, this Instructable can give you some valuable knowledge and a look at utilizing tools in a different way than maybe you would think was possible, with amazing results.
Applied learning colleges and universities often have a machine shop handy, and if you're a student and you ask nice enough, they might just let you use their tools to build your very own guitar with unparalleled precision.
I managed to put this project together for about $100, parts and finishing products included. This is because the neck I used was a donor from an old Fender "Stratocopy" and the wood was a leftover oak stair from my uncle. Recycling! If you purchased a nice quality complete neck, and a nice slab of wood,this project could bump up to $450, and up to $600 for premium pickups and electronics.
Now, since mills are large, expensive and potentially dangerous machines I am going to write this Instructable assuming you have little/no milling experience, but have someone close by to assist and answer your machine-specific questions. I won't be able to help with that kind of specific questions.
Alright, lets get to work!
Step 1: Materials and Tools
- Approx. 1.5" thick hardwood slab, large enough to accommodate your design
- Prefabricated bolt-on guitar neck
- Double coil humbucker pickups ($33 for two on eBay)
- Tune-o-matic bridge ($12 on eBay)
- String tail-piece ($6 on eBay)
- Jack plate ($3 on eBay)
- 1/4" mono jack
- 2x knobs ($3 each on eBay)
- 2x 100k audio-taper potentiometers (pots)
- Les Paul rear plate ($6 on eBay)
- Strap pins
- Sacrificial piece of 1/4" to 1/2" thick plywood
- Triangle wood wedge
- Large sheet of paper
- Wood conditoner
- Wood stain
- Urethane wood finish
- Paint thinner
- Assorted mill cutters
- Assorted Forstner bits
- Mill slot-clamps and assorted clamping bars/rests
- Drill press*
- An extremely long 3/8" drill bit
- Band saw**
- Sanding block or palm sander
- Wood rasp
- Soldering Iron
- Bubble level
* Unfortunately this will be required unless you want a major redesign
** A jigsaw will work fine, band saws just make life easier