Cigar box guitar
I caught the itch to make my first instrument. It isn’t perfect but that’s partly why I chose a CBG. If it isn’t good enough to call perfect you can at least call it rustic!
#CBG #guitar #luthier
I started with rough red cedar pickets from the big box store. It’s winter so there haven’t been many sold lately. Hopefully this means they are as dry as they’ll ever be off the shelf. Got em jointed and planed by hand except the top.
I jointed but planed the top to thickness on my lunchbox planer because I’m not about to go all the way from 1/2 in to ~3mm by hand.
Glued the top with the best strait grain quarter sawn wood I could find in the pile. I matched grain so close you can barely see the seam.
The body is a no-frills box held together with butt-joints, wood glue, and good intentions. The back got flat sawn grain.
Top bracing is a bit unconventional because this is a square body with thick sides. Since the bridge will land more toward the middle I banked on two sound holes in the corners working well with the vibration mode of the top.
At this point I cut a slot for the neck and made the internal CBG bracing of an oak 1x2 sandwiched between the neck and a back block that spanned the body and was glued between two blocks at the tail. It was pretty sketchy woodwork and I forgot to take a picture...
I happened across some curly red oak in the big box store pile so I snapped it up. Every once in a while you’ll get lucky. For marking fret positions I placed it against my favorite guitar and copied the positions. Slots cut with a dozuki using a homemade miter box.
Making the scarf joint was tricky. I eventually settled on a jig rigged to my miter saw but in hind sight a table saw sled would have been much safer.
Glue and clamping this joint would be tough. I knew it was gonna slide everywhere.
Popping a staple into the scarf.
Cut off the top of the staple. My secret for keeping a joint in place.
With the staple cut off you now have two sharp prongs you can use to mark alignment to your headstock. Just apply glue and you can find the divots again easily. As you apply clamp pressure the staple nubs keep it from sliding and act as invisible internal nails.
At this point I glued the still strait square fretboard on the square neck and tapered using hand planes. Once shaped I pressed frets in with a tap of a rubber hammer and finished with a fancy luthier’s harbor freight file.
My first attempt at French polishing and it went great! I did accidentally stick the cloth once by moving too slow. A quick sand and repair with 600 grit, but it came back to a polish quickly.
Oh yeah after polish session 3 it’s all coming together.
Well, attempt #2. I foolishly clamped the body too the workbench to glue the neck in place when the finish wasn’t 100% cured. A big chunk came off on my bench when I lifted it off! Sanded to bare wood and started over Q_Q
Nicked these from the local music repair shop for 3$. They don’t have much use for machine heads in an odd set and will practically give 5 away as long as you aren’t picky how they look.
Also, I had set the green polar neck out in the sun for a couple days. It suntans down to mild and dark brown. Poor mans cherry.
Gluing the top on. I did use brown glue for parts that might have to come off later, and brown glue tends to pull things together and leave a very fine line.
Found the hinge at habitat for humanity . The bridge and nut are more cut offs of the curly oak. The nut slots were just cut with a triangular needle file. The sound holes were cut with a hole saw with a backing board to avoid tear out.
the action is still too high bit for now it plays! I was chicken with the strings and put on the lightest I could find. It turns out that the bracing and sound holes are great! This little thing is as loud as my full size guitar.