Guitar picks, an often overlooked piece of gear that most guitarist rely on to create their music. It's also a great way to fine tune your guitar's tone.
It's pretty cool how such a small accessory can have such an impact on the way a guitarist plays, from how they feel in ones hands, to how they deliver the intended expression onto the strings.
So here we're going to show you how you can make a custom pick that can be tailored to your exact specifications & style of playing. Not only that but a handmade wooden pick can make a stunning gift for any guitar enthusiast and be useful for making guitar jewelry!
After all, it's just more satisfying when you make something on your own. Something mass produced picks simply don't carry.
Below you'll find a 5-step article on how to make your own wooden guitar picks, a quick run-through video to help you visualize the process, and a sound/tone demo of the pick made in the video sounds like!
- 1.5in Block of wood
- Some type of saw to slice the block ( scroll, table, band, even a hand saw will do)
- A guitar pick to trace the shape & Pen or fine tip marker
- Sandpaper, Fine (500-800) & Coarse (120-320)
- Disc Sander (Optional but preferred)
- Dremel (Optional)
- Dust mask for safety
Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
Step 1: Slice the Wood Block
You can choose to use any type of wood you like, you can try anything from walnut, to maple, exotics like ebony & coconut shell, or even some nice burled wood. For this instructional, I chose to use a bright red Padauk timber. A piece this size will only run you a few dollars shipped to your door.
The size preferred is 1.5 inches because this allows you to cut just about any sized pick.
So first thing is to cut a slice off the block using whatever cutting tool you have at your disposal.
I used a scroll saw for this, although it's probably not the best choice for the job.
The slice came out a little wave but I fixed it by simply sanding it flat.
The ideal tool would be a table saw but you can even try using a fine-toothed hand saw if nothing else is available.
Just remember to sand your square blank so it's nice & flat on both sides.
The thickness of my blank was 3mm.
However, you can slice yours as thin as you would like. I do recommend going above 1.5mm though, as going below that can increase the risk of breaking your pick while playing.
Step 2: Draw the Pick's Shape
Next, take your pen or fine-tipped marker & trace your guitar pick's shape onto the wood blank.
It's best to trace the shape with the wood's grain pointing towards the tip to prevent it from catching on the strings later on. I made the mistake here by having the grain horizontal instead of vertical as you can see in the picture.
My pick should of been pointing to the bottom right instead of bottom left. Just something to consider if you're making your pick with the intent to play it, for jewelry it's not all that important.
Step 3: Cut or Sand Into Shape
Now it's time to cut out the shape, or in this case, sand off the excess.
You can cut the excess using a scroll saw or any other cutting tool such as a dremel, then finish it with the coarse grit sandpaper to fine-tune your pick's shape.
If you don't have any of these other tools, you can also sand it all down by hand, although it might take considerable extra effort.
Step 4: Lightly Finish the Edges
Now that you have your shape and it matches your original pick, you might notice it's a little rough around the edges. To give it a more presentable look, take your coarse grit sandpaper & give it a light bevel all around for a uniform appearance that's less "blocky".
We'll go over it again with the fine grit after the next step to blend it all together.
Step 5: Bevel the Pick
Finally, we bevel the tip to make it playable. This is the most important step & is very dependent on preference.
You can make your bevel as steep or graduated as you would like, this will all have an affect on how your pick performs & sounds overall, so feel free to experiment.
You can do this step with a disc sander but it might take some practice because it can be unforgiving to mistakes.I did mine by hand using the coarse grit sandpaper and just sanded all 4 edges at about 30 degrees.
Take your time getting your bevel to your desired shape, then go over your entire pick with the fine grit sandpaper to blend all the edges together & give it a satin finish.
To bring out a bit more shine, rinse it off in some water to cleanse it of any wood dust particles. Then just give it a buff using a cotton cloth. This will help spread the wood's natural oils & complete the look.
Your new pick will be ready to play at this point so take your amp off of standby & get ready to enjoy your new-found tone!
Step 6: Videos
Here's a 3-minute run-through of the process I used to make my pick.
And a sound demonstration of how it sounds compared to the plastic acetal pick.
For more information, you can check out my blog post at Iron Age Guitar Blog
I hope you found this article useful!
If you have any questions regarding the process,
feel free to comment below or catch us on social media.