Introduction: Custom Electric Guitar Body

This is an entry to the ShopBot Contest. Its been a long time in the making. Lenny and I have been planing this instructable for quite a while. The contest got us  to try and hurry up, unfortunately we ran into many obstacles. This in combination with our busy college lives (18+ hours a semester) turned 'DIY Custom Electric Guitars' into 'Custom Electric Guitar Bodies'. Hopefully we will be able to finish this instructable later and be able to share the guitar making process with everyone here at Instructables!

If we win we will be using our ShopBot to make custom guitars, of course, but we have much bigger plans. We have many generator ideas as well as designs for other projects that we wish to prototype. We even have a few things we want to develop and share here, along with many projects simply for fun. All of our designs have to do with cleaning the environment up, as well as true green energy, among other things. The environment is very dear to us here in this very beautiful neck of woods directly off the Appalachian Trail. (Picture of Laurel Falls attached.)

Enough of my rambling, on the 'ible. :)

- Christian and Lenny

Step 1: What You Need

Wood of your choice (24" X 16" or large enough for your design)
Pink Panther Foam (For prototyping)

CNC Router and Bits
A Computer
AutoCAD or Equivalent

Basic Skills with AutoCAD (Minimum)
Basic CNC Router Safety, Programming and Operation

AutoCAD 30-day trial is available here:

An educational (non-commercial) copy of AutoCAD is also available free if you have a .edu email address.

Step 2: AutoCAD Drawing

First you'll need to draw your guitar, or use an existing drawing. Lenny's Custom Guitar Rev2 is attached, for your use. You can share and edit this file, just don't sell it. Please give credit if redistributing. The files are in .dwg. IF you require them in a different format you may email me at KK4BPS @ QSL . NET (without the spaces).

Notes about Lenny Custom Guitar R2 Drawing:

*The drawing has a neck pocket sized for a store bought 22-fret neck. It should fit your neck, but measure to be sure. It can always be resized.

*The pickups for this guitar are Gibson Burstbuckers, but any Humbuckers should fit these pockets. Again measure to be sure, this is why you need some basic CAD skills (and foam).

*The electronics pocket is fairly small. You may need to adjust the size depending on your configuration as well as your electronics skills.

*Also attatched is the drawing for the head on Lenny's Custom Guitar Neck, lovingly dubbed Teh Beast. This is also for your use if you wish.

123D Gallery File Links
Guitar Top
Guitar Bottom
Beast Head Neck

Step 3: Programming

This is a step I cannot help with much. It really depends on your CNC router and software. For ours we used an old version of Tool Path. We will later attach a .RDY file as soon as we have time to reprogram it. The file was corrupted by our school computer.

*The screenshot is of the grouping for the Rev1 with Contours Tool Path. (Hence the extra magenta path.)

Step 4: Foam Prototype

Time to prototype in Foam! Safety first, common sense is a must and never work alone, yada yada yada. Safety is a priority, but I'm going to assume if you can program and run your router you know basic safety procedures. If I try to rush a safety spiel I will miss something so for now your off the hook.


Secure your foam blank in place on your tooling. "Plastic is playing." In other words, use plastic bolts and washers unitl you know for certain you aren't going to hit them. Better safe than sorry.

I again have to assume you know how to run your CNC router. We used our schools old and worn AXYZs. Our foam prototype was 1/4" off on either end of a pass, from a slipping Z drive. The result of student abuse of our poor machine that led to its recent untimely demise.

Step 5: Wooden Body

You've finally worked out the kinks by prototyping with foam and perhaps even ran an MDF body to see how it looks. You're finally ready for your real wood guitar blank. Bolt it on and cut away. This is where I would usually have a triumphant picture of our beautiful custom guitar. Unfortunately between the time we cut our foam today and when we came back to cut the wood the AXYZs basically died.

The combination of forgetful students (running it with out air), faulty flash memory, and a slipping Z drive have led it to its demise. Good thing we tried to cut another foam blank first. It forgot its tool tips and dived into the table on us twice, at which point we decided it was not worth risking our nice mahogany guitar blank. We couldn't afford another one if we ruined it on a malfunctioning machine. This pretty much shelves our guitar for a while, unless we get brave and attempt hand tools.

Hope you enjoyed! Please share picture of your completed guitar bodies in comments. We hope to have a start to finish Electric Guitar 'ible up in the near future, instead of just the body. We will find a way. IF we're lucky we'll win that Shopbot. :)

Thanks for reading (and 73),

Christan and Lenny

ShopBot Challenge

Participated in the
ShopBot Challenge

Make It Real Challenge

Participated in the
Make It Real Challenge