Building a simple cigar box guitar #1: Fitting and shaping the neck

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Blog entry by JJohnston posted 09-24-2012 02:38 AM 8715 reads 2 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Building a simple cigar box guitar series Part 2: Recovery and more neck shaping »

In this series, I’ll be building a simple cigar box guitar. You can see just how simple by comparing it to a proper instrument – Randall Price’s tenor guitar, for example.

It’s a “through neck” design, meaning the neck goes all the way through the body, and only it counteracts the tension in the strings. The box is non-structural; it just looks good, and serves as a resonating chamber.

The first step is to mill up a neck blank, then use it to lay out for a hole in each end of the box for the neck to pass through. It’s laid out with the top surface of the neck flush with the top surface of the box. The top of the neck needs a wide, shallow dado the same depth as the thickness of the box top to fit flush.

One hole and part of the dado:

The poplar neck blank fitted to the box. The strings will be anchored through the 3 holes in the end. To strengthen the wood at the ancorage, I’m using pop rivets with the stems removed, as bushings. At this point, the neck blank is 7/8×1 1/2×36”. Poplar isn’t normally used in guitar necks, but it will only have 3 light gauge strings.

Next is laying out the head end of the neck, for the tuning hardware and the nut (the upper bridge). I’ve got the holes for the tuning gears laid out, and you can see the layout line on the edge for reducing the thickness to accommodate the stems on the tuners. I will also have to narrow the neck slightly out near the end so it won’t interfere with the knob on the center string tuner.

Head shaped. This was done with drill press, bandsaw, disc sander and spindle sander. This took a couple of hours. The nut layout line is visible. This will get a dado about 1/4” wide and deep. Next step is putting a nice big roundover on the back edges of the neck, but for that, I have to build a router table first.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

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