Introduction: Need a Capo for Your Guitar? Build a Cejilla
After Finishing the custom nut for my cedar body Spanish classical guitar, which you can see here; "Making A New Nut For Your Guitar", I decided I'd have a bit of fun with some further custom work and build myself a new capo.
I had always wanted to try a cejilla, which is basically a capo that uses a rope that wraps around the neck of the guitar, and is tightened by a violin key on the top. A piece of leather is set into the cord to prevent the rope from damaging the neck of the guitar and another piece of leather rests on the strings.
For this instructable, I'm going to give a decimal value in inches rather than using fractions. Vernier calipers come with a chart on the back for converting, however I find it faster and more precise to simply deal with everything in decimal form. Where I've taken pics of my notes, for the most part, you'll find the fraction along side the decimal value for clarity sake.
NOTE: There's been an update in the design based on my off drilled hole mistake. As you can see by the second pic, I've completely moved the tuning peg off to one side, keeping it out of the way of your hands as you play. Secondly, the leather is now all one piece, which is glued to the base of the capo and wraps around the neck of the guitar. This makes it far easier and quicker to install and remove as you're playing.
Step 1: Tools and Supplies
- Saw - coping, Table, hand, circular
- Belt Sander - Not completely necessary but makes working with hard wood a lot easier
- Vernier Calipers - Precision is always good
- Round File - Optional, but good if you want to stylize your cejilla
- Bench Vise - For holding things as you work
- Drill and Bits - For making holes
- Wood or Bone - Enough to make your Cejilla out of
- Violin Tuning Key - Optional since I give direction on making your own.
- 3-4oz Leather - Can be veg tan, or recovered from an old jacket if you prefer.
- Strong Cord - Heavy nylon string works great. I used dacron B50 bow string for mine
- Sandpaper - always sanding, 150, 220, 400, 600 grit
Step 2: Creating the Base
I used a piece of Purple Heart for the base, but as I said, you can use any hard wood you have available. I wouldn't, however, recommend using softer wood such as pine or cedar since my first attempt at creating a cedar cejilla (meant to match my cedar guitar) failed pretty miserably.
First I measured the width of the neck at the third fret, then added an extra .125" giving me a total of 2.125". 99% of music I play puts that capo on the third fret, so it made a good choice, however having the additional material allowed me to slide it further up the neck if necessary.
Next I took a measurement of my store bought capo and found that it was .5" wide, so I decided to set that as my own width.
Finally I set the height at .75", which was a pretty arbitrary number to use, and had no bearing on anything other than it sounded good to me.
Step 3: Shaping Your Base
I decided to leave .5" for the key and taper the sides down to .25. Now, You can easily stop there and keep your cejilla simple, however it's at this point you can stylize it a bit. I used a round file to create indentations on either side of where the key would go, then filed channels down the edges as string guides (which I found out later really weren't necessary, but they add to the look anyway).
Another idea I had was simply rounding off the two top corners to create a half moon shape. The idea being that there's really no absolutes in how you want your cejilla to look.
Drilling the hole for your Key;
Yes, I did drill the hole for the key off center, please be easy on me, as I was ready to throw the whole thing out and start over, however I discovered something in the process that suggests that it may be a good idea to do so, so bare with me.
Step 4: Creating the Key
As I mentioned, you can just go out and purchase a violin tuning key, but where's the fun in that? I had some ebony pieces laying around and thought it would be great to make my key out of that. I started by roughly cutting the shape of the key, then working it on the belt sander until I achieved a basic shape. You really can't carve ebony very well, so expect to use a lot of sandpaper if you don't have a belt. To fine tune my key, I started by sanding with 150 grit, then slowly working my way to a wet 400 grit sanding.
Mating the Key to the Hole;
The hole I drilled in base was .375, so I created the peg by sanding it round until it was .380 with 150 grit, then switching to 220 and reducing slowly until I had a snug fit. I highly recommend taking your time with this or you could end up having to make yourself a new key.
Step 5: Adding the String
Drill a hole, straight through the base, roughly .75" in from the edge. Next, you'll want to make space for the knot, so you'll need to ream out a cavity like you see in the second pic. I can't really give you bit sizes, since the string you use will be different than mine, but I'm sure you can easily follow the examples in the pic.
After that you're going to drill a hole in the key, just where the peg meets the thumb turn that's the size of your string. Don't put the string in the key just yet. We need to add some protection for the guitar on our cejilla in the form of leather padding and finish up the sanding.
I'd suggest using graduates sanding from 220 grit to 600 wet sand to give it a nice finish.
Step 6: Leatherwork
You're going to need two pieces of leather. One for the base of the cejilla, and another that will wrap around the neck of the guitar. The piece that fits the base can be cut to shape, but I really can't give you an exact length of the other, as different guitars have different neck widths. I can only suggest taking a measurement around the neck at the 3rd fret, then adding between .3 and .5" on either side. That will give you enough play to slide it further up as the neck widens, but at the same time still offer protection.
Punch a hole in each end of the wrap leather. This is where you'll be feeding the cord through to hold it in place, and glue the pad leather to the bottom of the base using some 5 minute epoxy.
**Important, You need to make sure the cord runs along the outside of the leather wrap or you could end up damaging the neck of your guitar.
Step 7: Final Touch-Up
Now's a good time to clean up some of the extra glue that may have squeezed out the sides. 5 minute epoxy is great as you can carve it with a sharp knife for the first few hours after it sets. Just scrape off any extra and lightly give it a final wet sanding to blend it better with the base. When all is said and done, a nice coat of beeswax polish will bring out the color of the leather and wood. You can find a custom polish I created for my leather work here; Making a high grade natural beeswax leather polish and conditioner.
A note on drilling off center;
As mentioned, a dull drill bit caused it to skate before cutting and make the hole off center. This wasn't the catastrophe it first seemed to be as it allowed for a bit more play when tightening the strap, and also offering more leverage to the key. Suffice it to say, sometimes big mistakes can lead to interesting innovations, and for my next one, I think I'll move it over even more.
Step 8: Finished
Your new cejilla is ready to use. You just need to set the base over the fret you want to use it on, wrap the strap around the neck, insert the key and twist to tighten. The action of turning the key will pull the cejilla down to the fretboard, and the leather will protect your strings and neck.
As always, I hope you enjoyed the instructable and thanks for checking it out.