How to Make an Electric Lapsteel for a High School Physics Class

So this is my very first Instructable I did a lot of research for this project an it got me an A++ on my high school senior Physics project an I'm so proud i'm showing this to the whole internet. Pay attention.

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Step 1: Visualize

So here's the starting line. a basis average everyday chunk of wood. i got a 2'' by 10'' by 8' board from lowe's an those kind people cut it for me. Tried to get as little knots as possible but usiing such cheap wood (no such fortune.

Step 2: Plan-erize

I myself am a intricate planner so I used graph paper to sketch out the design of the body. my head stock designed changed as It was in popular opinion that it looked mid-eval.(thanks dad)

Step 3: Materialize

These part are easy enough to find * tuning keys from ebay $6.99 *Pickup from ebay $5.99 * small peices of metal $ free-ninety-nine from shop ( i'm in an auto collision repair technology @ school).

Step 4: More Plan-erizing

New headstock, planning out whre the part are going to go.

Step 5: Cut-erize

The first cut is deepest and most difficult when daddy is using a jig saw for the coutures and a, Circular Saw for the neck width!!!!!

Step 6: Conture-alize

A few very opinionated family members thought I thought should make it a little shorter. Dad cut the curves  out with a jig-sawI sand with a electric sander for about an hour to smoooth it out.

Step 7: Filler-ize

I uesd quite a bit of wood filler for the conture of the back first = timer's saw mistakes

Step 8:

more wood filler (that's daddy I don't like the texture of wood filler)

Step 9:

Primered the surface( just to see what it looked like to be honest) we still had more to do to the body

Step 10:

Start cutting holes for hardware

Step 11:

Carefully cut holes for hardware cut into th e back. the holes are the width of the volume and tone control knobs and DO NOT GO ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE WOOD TO THE OTHERSIDE, it stops about a 1/4 inch shy of the other side depending on the hard ware you get you'll need to map out where you want you knobs and pickup to go. also you'll want to drill through the side enough to connect the out put from the outside of the lap steel to the tunnels in the center the body.

Step 12:

Painted with white enamal paint I might change my mind and repaint it in a few weeks

Step 13:

Cut out peices that i used for fretboard, pickup mount, and strings board.

Step 14:

toothpicks painted silver for fret markers

Step 15:

All parts painted any ready to go on

Step 16: Finally the Finished Product

Step 17: Ta-da!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    10 Discussions

    Sorry I'm replying soo late. Its been awhile. I used Lowe's Top Choice whitewood.( Construction lumber Basically) I could've and probably should have gone for a higher-end peice of wood but it was what was available to me at the time.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    All together it cost me about $30, I wasn't too worried about using top quality materials since it was a class project, but if someone were to use higher end materials and tweak the measurements for sound quality it could come out as an amazing piece of customized musical equipment.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    There is a remarkable forum for people who build steel guitars, both with and without pedals. it's located at

    I refer to this site frequently.

    Nice job on the guitar, by the way. That's a heck of a physics project, and it's serve you well for years to come.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Cool I made a guitar for Physics as well. However, I had to make my own tuners.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    At what angle was the head cut at? and the width of the neck? is there a certain 'scale' that the strings had to be at for the 'frets' to be correct, or is that dependent upon the tuning? sorry for all the questions, but this looks rather intriguing and am now considering making one for myself. wonderful job, by the way.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, I tried :) . The headstock was cut at a 15 degree angle, the width of the neck is 2.25" it started off slightly more than that but I had to allow room for contouring so that it would be the correct size after it was the right shape. i got got my measuements from the stewart-mcdonald website first i gave the scale length (A guitar's scale length is calculated by measuring the distance from the front edge of the nut, where it butts against the end of the fingerboard, to the center of the 12th (octave) fret, then doubling that measurement.) definition from link above. They have nice diagrams to show you .And i gave how many frets I wanted and the sites calculator gave me the measuements. But just to let you know I put the frets there for show a lap steel does not require a fret board just markers. Hope that helps. :)


    9 years ago on Introduction

    how did this work for a physics project? what physics did you explain with it? not criticizing, just asking, i was really good at getting A's on projects that had nothing to do with the assignment

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Well we were on a unit involving sound waves. my essay explained the strings involvement in sound vibrations we had to explain resonance, amplitude, and the wavelength formula with frequency and velocity the actual learning portion of it was extremely involved but the demonstration was more for show. i got such a high grade because of the workmanship and the rest of the class made PVC pipe flutes, and snapple bottle xylophones.