Hardware Store Fretted Cigar Box Guitar




About: I like turning boring things into awesome things! Usually on video.

A cigar box guitar tutorial was the first project video of this kind I ever filmed. That was 4 years ago. I've always wanted to build a fretted version from the ground up, and for this video I finally got around to it. I hope you enjoy! The goal I set for the design was to use only tools and materials that can be purchased at a local hardware store, other than a cigar box and guitar strings.

Below are the parts and tools used for this project. I occasionally overlook an item in a video this long so let me know if you notice anything missing from the lists. If you try this project be sure to let me know! I would love to see a video of your own cigar box guitars.


  • Tape Measure
  • Pen/Pencil
  • Hand Saw
  • Hammer(Mallet)/Chisel
  • Drill w/Bits
  • Sand Paper/Sanding Block
  • Fine Grain File
  • Gel Super Glue
  • Tape
  • Razor
  • Paste Wax (optional)


  • 1” x 3” Maple Plank (must not be warped)
  • Wood Cigar Box
  • 1 1/2” Inside Corner Brace (x3)
  • 4” Eye Bolts/Nuts (x3)
  • Door Hinge Pin
  • Fencing Staples
  • 1 1/2” Finish Nails (x12)
  • #18 x 5/8” Pins (x4)
  • Acoustic Guitar Strings

Total build time should be around 8 hours, so the project can fit comfortably into a weekend. The cost of the materials not including any of the tools is about $35. Not bad for a guitar! I suspect I am going to receive quite a few comments saying I should have used wing nuts on the tuners so a wrench wouldn't be required, and that was initially my plan. The bolts are a little too close together on my model for wing nuts to spin without hitting each other, but feel free to try it yourself.

If you would like to build a guitar with a different scale length than 24" you can use this website to calculate fret measurements: http://www.harpkit.com/category/fretcalc.html



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    12 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Could you make a cigar box guitar with the standard six strings? Or is the box/neck too small?

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Definitely. If you think of how wide a 1x3 really is, it's around the range of common sizes for electric guitar necks. You'd just have to use a different system for the tuners so the strings could be closer together.


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Great video! How did you gauge the straight edge/parallel of the fret cut marks - surely not just by eye with your chisel edge? If so great job!

    1 reply

    Yeah just by eye, I got them a little off but it didn't hurt the result too badly. Obviously a square would have been better, or to measure for both sides of the neck and draw lines across.


    3 years ago

    You got skills dude! Love how all your projects can be made without expensive tools or materials. Really informative, easy to follow instructions. Nice work!


    3 years ago

    I think I found a weekend project

    I have built several cigar box instruments in the past and have to say that your video is one of the best. the work on the instrument is top notch as well.

    1 reply

    4 years ago

    This is a great instructable! You should put this in the cheap contest!

    1 reply