Owl Shaped Guitar Soundhole Cover




About: Tiny projects from wood and bone with minimal tools. I like to use handtools for better controll and to feel the workpiece. This way I can escape a little bit from this automated, instant and digital world. ...

I inherited a nice guitar from my friend. The guitar was in bad condition so at first I must had to clean and restorate it. It was a slow process and an interesting journey since I never had a guitar before.

I've documented this whole process on my Google Plus wall and collected those articles on Pinterest: Cremona guitar cleaning and restorating Each picture (are in reverse order) links back to an article. These articles are written in Hungarian language, but You can use the translate button on GPlus.

Now the Cremona - old Czech guitar manufacturer - is in good health, and I wanted to make her something nice and interesting. Maybe a decorative soundhole cover? I saw many nice, e.g. the laser cutted Lute Hole and many hand carved ones. I noticed those are all a „simple" round shape. And thats where the fun begun: I wanted something different.

Step 1: Initial Research, Finding Inspirations

So I wanted something out of circle. I imagined a head, e.g. cat, dragon or owl. Then I found the art of Jessica Stokes and a wonderful, detailed owl head. Here is the awesome original illustration. (Credit: Jessica Rose Anne http://whatjessdrew.blogspot.hu/)

As You can see it's mind blowingly detailed, too detailed to cut those tiny lines with fretsaw, so I must had to simplify it first to work with it. The final plan is still a nice owl head.

Step 2: Materials

At first I wanted to start with birch, pine laminate, but finally I took a try with a crap fruit box. Not bad at all, but I will make another one from a better piece.

Step 3: Tools

In this project You will work with tiny holes and gaps, so there are some essential tool:

  • various sandpapers
  • fret saw
  • small drill bits (1-1,5mm)
  • needle files
  • matchsticks
  • soldering iron or pyrography tool
  • nail polishing sticks
  • Olfa cutting knife

I found that the fret saw is huge for this project so I dissected it and used the handle of it only. I added support for the blade on the opposite side with nail. It was slow but accurate enough.

(I tried to make a smaller fret saw frame out of bike brake frame, but it failed since it was impossible to tension the blade enough.)

Another improvement is a grinded needle file, but it was still huge. So I made tiny files out of thinned matchsticks with superglued sandpaper on it. This way You can have any fineness You want with the right grit sandpaper.

Third thing is a small chisel grinded from precision screwdriver.

Finally let me mention a must have helping hand. My cat assisted the whole soundhole project actively. Note the cats loves to lie upon workpieces...

Step 4: Predrill Holes for Fret Sawing

For working with fret saw You need drill small holes to insert the blade. At some areas the 1.5mm drill bit was too huge so here came the 0.6mm engraving bit that worked perfectly in this soft wood laminate.

Step 5: Sawing, Fitting

This was the slowest process with my ultra lightened saw. An early stage a started to drill smaller holes to the corners of the cutting lines. This helped to change direction easier with the blade.

The arc on the bottom of the fretboard needed extra alignment to fit perfectly. The sidewall is not vertical here it has a skewed side.

Step 6: Pyrography, Polishing

Finally apply some pyrography to the designed areas then fine polish it. Will apply a touch of citrone oil and a small rubberfoam piece to the underside to hold it in place.

So that was an attempt with crapwood. It's time to select some nicer one to work with although I'm happy with this one too. :)

You can see more photos and articles about the whole process on my Google Plus profile. It's not written in English, but You can use the translate button. My soundholecover project on GPlus.



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21 Discussions


3 years ago

Hello Author. So i want to do this for myself and i created a pretty awesome design but i was wondering how you made it stay instide the soundhole? Is it removable r is it glued on?

1 reply

Reply 3 years ago

Good question Connorb7324. :)

What I documented in the instructable was not the final stage.

Yes, it is removable. I made two additional part to hold it in place. At first the top one. It slides under the fingerboard, see the pictures (You can use the translate too):

top part on G+

After that I simple added two tiny pieces of rubber eraser to the bottom:

bottom parts on G+

This way it stays in place securely and can be removed to chnage to another design.


4 years ago

Nice skills.
You made something rather unique and nice without using loads of expensive tools or matereals.
Really beautifull.

4 replies

Reply 4 years ago

Thank You! There were the option to go to a shop to lasercut it but I wanted to do it myself. This way it's much more fun, I like to work with tiny details and to search the solutions and how to do it, to achieve what I dream.


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

It makes it personal and gives it a soul.
Well done on taking the harder route.


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

Thanks again!

BTW, I just realised that You made a nice robot with superglue and baking soda. Fun part is that this guitar contains baking soda too, I corrected the a slot height on the bone with this method. :) Useful trick and it seems to be versatile. :)


Reply 4 years ago

Thanks grols!


4 years ago

What exactly does a soundhole cover do? I've seen a couple before, but never quite figured them out.

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago

This open type is mainly for fecorative reason especially on classical guitars like mine.

But on western or acoustic ones with pickup unwanted feedback may occure between the pickup and an outside microphone especially when play loud. In this case a soundhole cover can help. It's guitar and setup specific, some uses it as a precaution.

But in my case it's simply a decoration without any alteration on the instrument.


4 years ago

looks nice but doesn't this affect the sound coming from the guitar?

3 replies

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

Just a little bit, not too much. It's lightweight and not fully closed.