Hello, this is my experiment in creating a stringed instrument out of VCT on the cheap; version 1. Let me begin by explaining why in the I thought it would be a good idea to make a string instrument with purple VCT Tile; that really think heavy vinyl tile you see in commercial settings for those who don't know what it is. Well, the truth is, a large box of 30 was going for $1.50 that's five cents a tile you can't pass that up. I bought the box and it sat around for a while while I tried to figure out what to do with it/finish up other projects. Long story short, I decided I wanted a violin one day while jamming and figured I could make one and onto the box of vct I stumbled. Round up a few more materials I had laying around; cedar wood plank that happened to be about guitar neck wide, nuts, bolts, braces, liquid nails, and a cat food can. Bought 2 dollars worth of pegs, strings, and a violin bridge. Making this total project cost me about 15 bucks.
Step 1: I Don't Know What I'm Doing, and I Don't Really Care To
Now, I didn't really do much research. Like with most things I just went at it and hoped to learn a few things and expect the worst. That being said this experiment actually worked out halfway decent. Total failure but it is a 'playable instrument' and gives me a starting point for version 2. There are a few things I think I need to do to make this thing work better with out bending like it does now. First and most essential, a longer neck, use the neck for the tension rather than the tile and bracing pattern on its own. Next is to adjust how I brace it in total. The cat can resonator just doesn't work well enough to make it matter, so I bought a piezzo pick up, which works out quite well. I'm considering making a mini preamp to give it a full 1/4" jack and a little bit of wiggle room when fiddling with it.
Step 2: Starting the Project
I didn't start doing this to document, or upload to instructables but I've been a reader for such a long time, a little way into the project I decided to document. Forgive me for early missing pictures, I'll explain the best I can with out photos. I started out by doing a sketch of what I imagined the final body to look like, and my plans then I sized up how many tiles I needed to make my parts fit. to make the neck stand off the body enough to be about how high other guitars necks set I found I needed 5 total tiles, 2 uncut the other three cut to have the neck sit in. I'm using the bottom brace as both the bridge pin, and planned on having a violin bridge to lift the strings, but I found that didn't work out to my favor, more on that later.
Step 3: Cutting the Tile to Form
This is the easy part (and another part I went wrong), draw out on your top tile your pattern in pencil, take a sharp knife, score, and snap off. be sure you have a nice hard surface to do this on, warping the tiles and breaking what you don't want is rather easy. Don't worry about being to your exact profile, we are going to shape later, that's the fun part. The part I went wrong, I saved cutting the Fholes for later, big mistake, cutting them while the whole thing is stuck together is nigh impossible very time consuming and not very fun. Unless you happen to have a nice router then it'd be easy. Once it was cut out I started to drill out my brace pattern and screw it together. Now the drill bit got clogged up with vinyl real quick and it was a bitch to get that out of there. Set a bit aside just for the purpose of cutting vct. Once I got he pattern out, braced up and was happy with how sturdy it was I took my liquid nails and glued each tile together clamped it up and let the glue dry.
Step 4: Neck Love!
Tools, highly recomened for this step; Dremel (standard usefull bits sandpaper wheel, drill bits, various grades of sandpaper, and sharpening stone for sharpening that old dull chisel you had laying around), knife, knife sharpener, chisel, and a wood rasp (preferably like the one I got with a flat side, a curved side, and a side file). Take your chisel and lower the profile of where the headstock is going to be, its got to be lower than where the is going to be or else your string is just going to hang there (note if your guitar bows its going to do that anyways...) I went all fancy and took the rasp and made a nice curved profile and the break too, not necessary but its pretty. The rest of the neck shaping was done with the dremel because I'm lazy. Once I got the basic profile down I went in and drilled holes for my tuning pegs, much smaller than the bolts them self because I wanted to keep them real tight. I took a knife and widened the hole on each side as nessisary to make them just fit. this part is tedious. After I got that out the way I prettied it up, curving the headstock all fancy and almost real instrument like, sanded down the neck by hand to glass smooth and rounded out the edges.
Step 5: Setting the Neck and Body Shaping
After my glue dried I shaped my body up curved it and such this was more fun than it should be. I was covered in purple dust mindlessly shaping while watching star trek. I then took my neck and placed it in place, this is another real tight piece so it was cut just too small and I used my knife to carve it out so it just barley fits. After this, I Drilled some more holes this time through the neck and vct at the same time. Braced the back of the neck. Some further shaping till I was totally happy with it and placed my cat can resonator. (a hammerd round bottom just stuck in the hole. This provided a little sound amplification but ultimately was useless. I also began cutting my fhole here, as said should of done earlier. The fhole's function is not for sound its for weight reduction, this thing is almost heavy this helped much.
Step 6: String Time
I used violin strings, as I wanted this to be more of a violin than a guitar, and again I don't know what I'm doing. I took a bit of bambook skewer and wood glue placed it down as some frets/nut. the strings are simply put under the bottom brace and strung over the bridge (which I couldn't get to stay for the life of me so I just tossed it 2 dollar investment wasted!)
Step 7: Tuning Peg Experimentation, and a Note on Safety
At this point I was experimenting with how to actually use these things as pegs, wrapping the string around alone wouldn't stay. As I said earlier, my dremel just couldn't make through them to make a full hole, which would of been the optimal situation I think. Hole was purposely off center so when it turned it would be pulling as I wanted it too. I ended up taking my reinforced cutting wheel and making this notch shape, plus squared off the other side of the peg. (remember kids, when using high speed cutting wheels on metal make sure you hold it by hand and defiantly don't wear eye protection... Oh god I'm an unsafe idiot.)
Step 8: Strung Up for Failure
Looks fantastic no? I was quite happy for it for about 5 minutes, till it started bowing real bad. Its now settled into its shape, and I don't think its going to bow any more, and it still plays so that's good right?