Make a Guitar With CNC




Introduction: Make a Guitar With CNC

About: I am a full-time online content creator, designing, creating and teaching the art of woodworking. I have an art background that I incorporate into my projects and focus on originality and design.

Step by step instructions on how to make a solid body guitar on the CNC using parts from a cheap Epiphone Les Paul. I purchased my Epiphone Les Paul online for only $120 just to gut it for the electronics, hardware and neck. I used some 8/4 ash for the body and carved out the neck pocket, pickup and electronics cavities on the X-Carve CNC. With an angle grinder and TurboPlane blade I did some final shaping. The pick guard, headstock laminate and truss rod cover was also cut out on the X-Carve CNC using carbide bits from ToolsToday. I'm very please with this guitar build and plan on filming a follow-up video answering your questions as well as discuss what I'd do differently for the next guitar build.

Step 1: Gut the Sacrificial Guitar

For this build I'm going to take an inexpensive Epiphone Les Paul and gut it for the electronics and the neck. This Les Paul only costs $120 brand new. One of the reasons it's so cheap is the low quality wood and where it was made.

Step 2: Milling

Now I'll mill up my lumber for the body.

Step 3: Glue and Clamp

I'm using eight quarter ash that will need to be glued up for width. I've have enough here for two guitars. After the glue dries I'll plane it down to 1 5/8 inch thick.

Step 4: Secure to Wasteboard

When CNCing wood this thick it needs to be rock solid secure so I'm going to screw my blank right to my waste board.

Step 5: Cutting the Neck Pocket

I'll cut out one pocket at a time starting with the neck. You'll want to do some test cuts in scrap wood to be sure your neck fits in very snug. One of the issues with cheap guitars is they don't fit in the neck pocket snugly where tone and sustain can be lost. I'm using a 1/4" 2 flute up cut bit from ToolsToday.

Step 6: Cutting Electronics Pockets

Next I'll move on to my pickup pockets and the cavity for the electronics.

Step 7: Cutting the Outer Shape

And then finally carve the outer shape. To save time I'm only carving about a quarter of the way through and then I'll finish it up on the bandsaw and router table.

Step 8: Rough Cutting on the Bandsaw

Following the grooves left by the CNC I'll rough cut the outer shape on the bandsaw.

Step 9: Flush Trimming

And then finish everything up with a flush trim bit installed in my router table.

Step 10: Round Over Edges

Next I'll round over the top and bottom face with a 1/4" round over bit.

Step 11: Angle Grind Arm Contour

I'm using an angle grinder and the Arbortech Turbo Plane blade to remove material for the arm contour`. This was my first time using the Turbo Plane and it removes a lot of waste very quickly. Not to mention it's very fun to use!

Step 12: Angle Grind the Belly Cut

I'll repeat the process for the belly cut on the back side.

Step 13: Cutting the Pick Guard

Now it's time to cut the pick guard and because I want a beveled edge I'm using a V Groove bit from ToolsToday. I'm using a 3-ply pick guard material that has a black decorative core.

Step 14: Headstock Laminate

And the last thing I need to cut is the headstock laminate. This material comes from the Inventables store and is black on top with a gold layer underneath. I'll etch my logo into the top to reveal the gold under layer.

Step 15: Gluing Up the Headstock Laminate

With some quick set epoxy I'll glue and clamp the laminate on the headstock. Once it dries I'll sand it flush and transfer the tuning peg holes.

Step 16: Transfer Neck Holes

Using some nails I'll transfer the screw holes on the neck to the body by applying pressure and marking the indentations.

Step 17: Drill Neck Holes

And then drill them out over on the drill press and assemble the neck. Normally, before attaching the neck at this point you paint and finish the guitar but I'm going to save that for another video.

Step 18: Installing the Bridge

Next I'll mark the lines where the bridge and tailpiece need to go. Distance from the nut to the bridge depends on the scale length and frets of your neck. I chose to buy a higher quality bridge than the one that was on the Ephiphone. For the tailpiece i'll keep it center aligned with the neck, drill the holes and pound in the threaded inserts.

Step 19: Aligning the Bridge

For the bridge I'll string up the high E and low E strings and use that as a guide to find the sweet spot. I then then visually see by wiggling it back and forth where I want the placement. Mark my holes with an ice pick, drill and pound in the treaded inserts.

Step 20: Drill the Jack Hole

And the final bit of work for the body is to drill a hole for the instrument cable jack.

Step 21: Install the Electronics

All the electronics will be attached to the underside of my pick guard so I'll need to drill holes for the knobs and the pickup switch.

Step 22: Attach the Pick Guard

Last thing to do is attach everything to the pick guard, drill the pilot holes and screw it down.

Step 23: That's It!

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    Question 2 years ago

    Very great job on the guitar! What size is the CNC bed?


    Question 4 years ago on Introduction

    Are you willing to share your CNC files? I have a friend that just got a CNC machine and he would like to try to make a guitar body for me. Thank you,


    7 years ago

    amazing!!! great job man!!!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very inspiring to see how you made this guitar!

    How did you end up finishing it?

    Make Something TV
    Make Something TV

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! I haven't finished it yet. I'm going to paint it with automotive lacquer. When I'm done with that I'll post that on Instructables as well.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Cool. It looks great so far!

    I've had a turbo plane on my list of to-get tools for a while. It looks so gnarly, but awesome!

    Make Something TV
    Make Something TV

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    It removes material really fast! It's really expensive too. I've wondered if there's a cheaper option?


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    It wouldn't work for concave surfaces like the power arbor, but would work for straight or convex... what about a rotary shaper from microplane?