Introduction: How to Make a Guitar Pedalboard
I am making this Pedalboard for one of my best friends that I have been playing music with for over 10 years. He is moving across the country and this Pedalboard is his going away gift. There were many challenges and firsts for me in this project but I learned a ton and it came out way better than expected!
The Pedalboard is 24" x 12.5" made from walnut and ½" plywood. It has a power harness and audio jacks built in along with a power switch and Fender style led lamp. It also opens and closes on hinges to make it easier to wire yours pedals and stays closed with magnets so you don't have to worry about it coming open while moving it. Enjoy the build!
- Walnut boards milled to 5/8"
- ½” Plywood
- ¼” plywood
- Wood glue - https://amzn.to/337WJV0
- Danish Oil - https://amzn.to/2YFvmOO
- Polyurethane - https://amzn.to/2YnjQw0
- Pedalboard Electronics - http://bit.ly/2KjP5OV
- Spray Adhesive -https://amzn.to/2ZzIx5i
- Pedalboard Carpet - http://bit.ly/2yxCpOL
- Rubber feet - http://bit.ly/2OSHb4L
- Hinges - https://amzn.to/2ZtQjgX
- Magnets - https://amzn.to/2KfWj7L
- Circular Saw - https://amzn.to/2QrYDwh
- Miter Saw (or circular saw)
- Table Saw - https://amzn.to/2yBtewM
- Jointer - https://amzn.to/2YmZvXR
- Planer - https://amzn.to/2T0M5Lf
- Drill and Impact Driver - https://amzn.to/2FTwOpi
- Jigsaw - https://amzn.to/2yylEmH
- Trim Router - https://amzn.to/2YF0VYX
- Forstner bit set - https://amzn.to/2yxnfJu
- Random Orbit Sander - https://amzn.to/2H2pgCJ
Step 1: Mill the Lumber
The first thing I had to do for this project was mill the lumber to a usable size. The overall size of my pedalboard was 24”x 12.5”. I started with a piece of rough sawn walnut.
First I cut each part to rough length. Then I ran one edge of each board through the jointer to give me one straight edge on each board. I then ran each board through the table saw and ripped them to about five inches wide so I could fit the face of the boards through jointer. Next I went back to the jointer and jointed one face and one edge of each board. I then ran the boards through the thickness planer until I got to my final thickness of ⅝”.At this point my boards were milled to a rough size that I could start building out the shape. This is a lot of steps to mill the lumber like this. If you don’t have the tools to do this, it is ok. Many hardwoods dealers will plane and rip lumber for you to the desired size. If you don’t want to use hardwoods, you could always just get lumber at your local home center and not have to do any milling at all.
Step 2: Taper and Cut to Width
The next thing I had to do was cut the boards to their final width. The sides have a taper from 3-½” down to 1-½” . The front would be 1-½” wide and the back would be 3-½” wide.
To make the tapered sides, I made a tapering jig for the table saw. I will have a video out soon about how I made the tapering jig. You can also purchase a tapering jig but I decided to just make it myself. When ripping the front and back boards to width, I used the same angle as the tapered sides to rip them. This way it would all fit together seamlessly.
Step 3: Join the Boards Together
There are many ways to join boards together.. You are essentially making a box so you could use butt joints, mitered corners, or use something more complex like dovetails. This is entirely up to you. I used single blade box joints for my pedalboard. To do this I made a jig for my table saw that allowed me to make precise cuts. This took a lot of practice and many test cuts and fits to get perfect but after a lot of reworking, I dialed the jig in perfectly. Here is a video I watched to learn about making a box joint jig. The jig consists of a board clamped to my crosscut sled with a small guide piece sticking out from it. I held the work piece on end against the jig and ran it across the table saw which rested a notch in the work piece. I then moved the new notch of the work piece onto the guide part of the jig. Then I repeated these steps creating the joints on the board.
Beforehand I had to layout where all the boards would go in relationship to each other and mark them, making the cutting process go much smoother. Again, you don't have to use box joints, but if you do, please watch this video to have some idea of what I did. It will be helpful to you. Once the box joints were cut, I assembled the boards together using wood glue between each of the joints. This created more surface area that is glued, which makes the box much stronger. Then I clamped them together to dry. There was a little bit of overhang from the joints after the glue up, but I just used the orbit sander to flush it up with the box.
Step 4: Top of the Pedalboard
Next was preparing the top of the Pedalboard. I measured the inside length and width of the Pedalboard once it was all together, and then I used a circular saw to cut out a piece of half-inch plywood to fit inside leaving about ⅛" gap between the top and the board sides on all sides. On the upper side of the top, I cut a small angle on the table saw that matched the angle of the Pedalboard just to make it easier to open and close.
Next was installing the hinges. To do this I just put the board in the open position, measured where I wanted to them, and then I pre drilled and screwed the hinges into place. After initially installing the hinges, I removed them to finish the top. After the hinges I drilled the holes for the electronics, which I cover in the next step. Next was time to make the slots in the top of the board that the all of the pedal wires would go through. The first thing I did was to mark where the slots would all go. This is all preference. I had a total of four slots about 8-10 inches long each. To make the slots I first drilled holes at the end of each slot with a ¾" forstner bit. I then used a jigsaw to cut out the remainder of the slots.
Step 5: Install Electronics
Next I could prep the Pedalboard for all of the electronics. I got all of my electronics from West Coast Pedalboard. They sell a lot of DIY pedalboard kits and parts for pedalboards. I got a preassembled power harness and audio harness from them to install for this pedalboard. The only thing I had to do was drill the holes for the parts. I put everything together and then took it back apart to apply finish.
I started with drilling the holes for the audio harness. I drilled a ⅞” hole on each side of the board for the chrome shields. They were secured in place with two small wood screws. After this, the audio jack threaded into the chrome shields from the inside. Next was the power harness. This was a little more complex because of the odd shape. I first I traced the power adapter end on the board where it would be. I then used a 3/4" forstner bit to get the majority of the material out and used a jigsaw to get the rest out until the power plug fit. It took a few tries to get the right fit, but I would rather go slow and make sure it fits then make it too big and mess the whole pedalboard up. Once it was in place, I pre drilled small holes for the wood screws that would hold the power plug in place. The last part of the electronics install was the switch and led light on top of the board. This was part of the power harness I got from West Coast, so I had to make sure the spacing of the switch was close to the power plug on the side of the board. To install these, I first marked where they would go and used a forstner bit to drill the holes. I used ½" bit for the switch and a ¾" bit for the light. The light needed a slightly bigger hole and I didn't have the bit size, so I used a router to make the hole a little bigger until it fit perfectly. After drilling the holes out, I flipped the board over and used a router to countersink the holes from the back side to make room for the components to fit properly. After dry fitting everything, I took it back apart.
Step 6: Sand and Apply Finish
After all of the electronics were fitted properly, I took the board all back apart so it was back down to just wood and I prepared for sanding. Before I did that I used a router with a ¼” roundover bit and went around the top and corners of the pedalboard. This gave the pedalboard a nice finished look. Then I sanded the pedalboard. This is only for the walnut sides of the Pedalboard. I will get to finishing the top in the next step. There were a few imperfections where the box joints were, so in those places I used a mixture of sawdust and wood glue to make a paste that I put in the imperfections. Once it dried, I sanded it down and it looked great.
After that was done, I started sanding with 80 grit paper and worked my way up to 600 grit on the entire pedalboard. This made the wood shine almost like glass. After I sanded it I applied finish. I first used two coats of Danish oil letting it dry for a couple of days in between each coat. Then I applied four very thin coats of polyurethane. Between each coat I went over it slightly with 600 grit paper and then wiped off with a tack cloth before applying the next coat. Make sure not to let it drip or run because it is very hard to get a dried drip out without completely stripping away the finish. Also make sure the coat of poly is completely dry before applying the next coat.
Step 7: Finish the Top
The top was a little different than the walnut sides. I first sanded the top up to 220 grit sandpaper. I then sprayed painted the bottom side of the Pedalboard black.
Since the top was where the pedals would go, I decided to use pedal carpet to put on the top. The pedals would attach to this with Velcro. To do this I used spray adhesive. I basically followed the instructions on the can which said to apply spray adhesive to both surfaces and let them sit for 30 seconds. I did this twice and then bonded the pedal carpet and top together holding tight with pressure for about a minute so the adhesive would bond. I used scissors and an exacto knife to trim the excess carpet and then made slits in the carpet along the slots I created for the pedal wires to go through. After this the top was complete and ready for assembly.
Step 8: Final Assembly
After all the parts were complete, it was time for the final assembly. This was a very exciting part. Since I had already dry fit everything, I just had to put it all back together. I started by installing too on with the hinges and then the electronics. There were a couple other things I added that I wanted to mention.
1 - Supports. I ended up adding support on the inside of the Pedalboard for the tip to rest on. I figured since this would be stepped on, it needed a bit of reinforcement. I added a strip of wood in the front inside and three small pieces along the back.
2 - Magnets I added magnets on the inside of the board so it would stay closed. That way if it needed moved around or something, it wouldn't pop open. This was a nice touch.
3 - Bottom I also put a bottom on the board. I used a piece of ¼" plywood that I also painter black and used a few small wood screws to attach it to the bottom. I also held it in place with rubber feet on the bottom corners of the board.
Step 9: Complete
After this, the project was complete! This had a lot of different parts to it, but hopefully I explained it well. If you have gotten this far in the build article, you deserve a cookie lol. If you are interested in making this, I hope this is helpful to you. Feel free to reach out to me if you need help or have any questions. You can send me a message or find me around the web. Thanks for reading!
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