Introduction: One-Stringed Shovel Guitar

Hello my name is Alyssa Lane and in this Instructable I will be showing you how I made a One-Stringed Shovel Guitar. I started this project on March 8th, and fully finished on April 20th. A price range for this project would probably be about $20-$30, depending if you have any of the supplies laying around. I found a video on how to make this on a page on YouTube called "I Like To Make Stuff". The guy's name is Bob and he seems like a really cool guy. Go check him out. Good luck!!

Step 1: Materials

Machinery, tools, and electrical things you'll need for this project:

- A Shovel

- Grinder

- Level

- Belt Sander

- Metal file

- Coping saw

- Bandsaw

- Disk sander

- Flathead Screwdriver

- 4 small flathead screws

- Drill Press

- Guitar Pickup

- Guitar string

- Tuning Peg

- Guitar Pickup (plus any other materials that comes with it to hook it up)

- Step Bit

- Wire Buffer

- Polyurethane

Step 2: Get Yourself a Shovel

To do this whole thing, you need a shovel. So get yourself an old beat up shovel. No need to buy a new one. The more beat up, the better. I found a nice, old coal shovel in my basement.

Step 3: Clamp Down and Get Ready

When you find your shovel, you're going to want to clamp it down in a nice workplace.

Step 4: Taking Off the Top of the Metal

What you need to do in this step is take off the top part of the metal on the shovel. I have myself a nice Ryobi grinder. One thing I would like to add is, that this is my first time ever using this tool. It was a GREAT time. what you want to do is make a straight line above wherever your nail is placed on the metal part of your shovel. Make just a straight line. If this is your first time using a grinder then PLEASE ASK FOR HELP. And you know.....SAFETY FIRST!!!! I tied back my hair and put on safety glasses and a shield.. You could never be too safe.

Step 5: Getting the Metal Off

So as you are doing your straight lines on each side, you're going to have to get your grinder and go head on the top of it. You are going to need to cut off little sections to split the metal piece by piece and take it off ****wait for metal to cool down before getting too excited to take it off!!!**** In the second picture you could see my first piece that came off.. Now if you're a pro with this.. You're not going to have a problem at all.. But... If you're not a pro (like me) it's going to take a little bit to do. But the final image shows you all my pieces off the shovel.

Step 6: Curve of the Metal

Now, at the end of your shovel, you have that curve that you need take off.. This was fun to do. But it's very easy actually.. Just try to make a guideline to follow around the curve, and take your time!

Step 7: Cleaning Up the Metal

Now you're going to want to clean up around the metal to avoid cutting your hands. Because, this is where your hands are going to be. So I recommend getting your grinder disk semi flat onto the metal and just drag it toward you to make a nice, flat cut line.
As you could see in the images I used a file to get into spots I couldn't really get into with the grinder.

Step 8: Flexibility Where You Cut the Metal

When you take the top part of the metal off the shovel, you're going to have a lot of flexibility of the wood. What you want to do is get small flathead wood screws to put in the sides of the metal. You're going to have to use a drill press to help you pre drill some holes through the metal into the wood. I had my teacher help me out with this part because of the bending of the bit. Once we got those holes drilled, I got the screws and I hand screwed them in. I did two on each side

Step 9: Marking Your Shovel

Before you start sanding, you have to mark where you want your tuning peg and your bridge. Once you have that marked you could go on to the next step.

Step 10: Sanding the Top of the Shovel

The goal of this is to get the top of the shovel AS FLAT AS YOU CAN. Sadly I didn't get any pictures of me using the belt sander. But I did use it. Sanding is a big deal in this project. So do it well. What you want to do is start where you took off your metal and go all the way up to where you marked where you want your fret to be. From these two points, use a level to make sure the top of the shovel is, well, level

Step 11: Making the Whole Shovel Smooth

I took a palm sander and got the lowest grade sandpaper I could find. Then I just ran it over the whole wooden part of the shovel.

Step 12: Setting Up Where to Put the Tuning Peg

What you want to do is get your shovel and cut a rough curve on the top. Now going to knowledge with guitars. With the tuning peg, you need the string to be feeding out of it and going up on an angle. This is why I cut the top like this. When you get it cut, get a bit, and center where you want your hole (Depending on the diameter of your tuning peg, you would have to choose what bit you need to use).Once you are centered, you're ready to drill your hole! When that's done, put in your tuning peg and screw it into your shovel (See image 3). When you have that done, try to tighten it as much as you can so that it doesn't budge when you tighten the string (See image 4).

Step 13: Setting Up Where to Put Your Pickup

If you have a shovel like me, you're out of luck. But if you have a flat shovel, you're good! I had a tough time with this part because I had no idea what're to place my pickup. My shovel had this huge hump. But I got around that obstacle. What I did was grab my pickup and drew two lines where the width was (See image 2). Then I cut out that hole. Now my pickup lays much better and I could bolt it into my shovel. If your shovel is flat you can just find bolts to put on your pickup.

Step 14: The Bridge

As you see in image one, what I had to do was take a coping saw, and make a wedge where I wanted to put my bridge. I had my teacher help me out with this also. Once I had that all cut out I went on to drawing up, and cutting out my piece on the Bandsaw. Once I had it cut out. I took pliers and used a wire buffer to get the rough parts off. After this I took it to the sander and sanded down to my markings. Once my piece was all shaped out, I took it back to the wire buffer to, again, just get it to be smooth. After that was done I got some Epoxy Glue and glued it into my wedge (Let dry for at least 5 minutes or more time if needed). Once your bridge is set and dried, you could go on and make your small slit where your string will be placed. I made a mark before I did it (See image 11). After you make your mark, get a metal, triangular shaped file, and make your small slit (See image 12). This is where your string will be placed.

Step 15: Polyurethane on the Wooden Part of Your Shovel

As you can see in my 5 images, all I did was take an old rag and put some polyurethane on it and put a nice finishing look on my shovel.

Step 16: Your String

For this step, you're going to want to grab a straight edge to estimate where you want your hole to be on your shovel. Once you mark where you want the string to be, you could drill a hole in that spot. (I unfortunately can not tell you what size bit to use because it depends on the size of the string you are going to use for your shovel) just be sure to check that your string is not touching any part of the wood AT ALL (See image 3 and 4). As you could see in image two, this is the hole where your string will be feeding through. Once the string is fed through, take it all the way to the top, where your tuning peg is, and wrap it up and tune it to how you desire.

Step 17: Drilling Holes for Your Electronics

For this,I first started my hole with a 1/8 bit. (See image 1) Then I used the step bit to drill a hole big enough for my potentiometers. I drilled 2 holes, and then one more for the connection to the amp (see image 5). Once you have your 3 holes drilled, you could move on to step 18.

Step 18: Electronics

For this step I can't really tell you what to do because everyone is going to have a different pickup. But what I can tell you is, what I did. For my shovel, I used an old school pickup. I followed a simple schematic to do this (see image 1). And I started with a simple hard wiring without soldering, just to see if I was setting up the circuit correctly (see image 2). Once you're all set up and wired correctly, go ahead and put everything where it should go on the shovel (see images 3-7). Image 8 shows you everything connected.
Image 9 and 10 shows my pickup bolted down. Make sure your soldering is good and that everything is grounded. I'll show you how I grounded in the next step.

Step 19: Grounding the Circuit

For this step, I had to use the grinder to get off the rust and caked on old cement to get to the metal part of the shovel (See images 1 and 2). Once I got to the metal part, I soldered the wire to that spot to ground the circuit. I had to heat up my spot first so that the wire would stick on to the shovel and soldier easily (See image 3). Images 4-6 shows me soldiering the wire to the spot.

Step 20: My Shovel Guitar

Here is my a video of my shovel guitar working.

Step 21: Questions

If you were to completely restart this project, what would you do differently?
If I were to restart this whole project, I would really study and read up on guitars and get at least some knowledge on them. I came to the table with no knowledge of guitars at all. I would try to move the tuning peg in a better spot/position and get a much longer string to work with.
How could you make this project better?
To make this project better, I would sand the top of the shovel a lot better than what it is. I would really try hard to get rid of the dead spots . Another thing about the string and the tuning peg, I would get a longer string and move the tuning peg so I could get rid of the buzzing.