#1 resource for Cigar Box Guitars, Free Plans, How-To, Parts & More!
Cigar Box Nation is sponsored by C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply, your one-stop-shop for Cigar Box Guitar parts and accessories!
I'm working on my second build, an eight-string bouzouki using an Edge cigar box. My first build was a simple three-string with a one-piece neck through box glued to the underside of the box top and toothpick frets. This one will have a lot of firsts for me: offset neck, fretboard overlapping the top, mag pickup, and real frets.
All the wood is cut to size, but I'm not sure what order to do the assembly in. There seems to be some conflicting information here on the forums and other how-to places I've looked at. Here's what I think makes sense; please let me know if I'm about to make a huge mistake:
Glue on headstock wings, mark and drill holes for tuners, shape the end of the headstock
Shape the back of the neck
Glue the fretboard/headstock end of the neck to the thru-box piece
Rasp and sand the heel joint into a nice-looking shape without losing too much wood
Slide the neck through the hole in the end of the box, glue (and screw?)
Dry-fit the box top, mark and cut soundholes and the holes for the pickup and pots
A coat or two of clear poly on every surface that isn't going to be glued
All the electronics stuff
Glue the box top to the rest of the box
Mark and cut fret slots in the fingerboard
Glue the fingerboard to the neck and box top
Put the frets in the slots
Attach the bridge, nut, and tuners, string it up and see what it sounds like, drink a celebratory beer
A little more info: The Edge box has an extra door on the front of the box, so I can glue the top on and still reach in to fiddle with the electronics if I need to. I'm not doing a scarf joint at the headstock. The piece going inside the box fits through a hole cut at a height where the other neck piece is flush with the top of the box. I've got 2" overlap to glue the two neck pieces together at the heel. That whole joint will be outside the box- is that going to be strong enough? I may add some screws there too. The tailpiece end will butt up against the inside of the box, held with glue and the strap button screw. The bridge will be a 12-string acoustic guitar bridge with the high and low E slots left empty.
Sorry about the long post- I actually have a ton more questions that I left out so people wouldn't give up halfway through reading this. I know this is pretty basic stuff for most of you but it's definitely a challenge for me and I'd really like to avoid wasting a whole lot of time and materials. Thanks in advance!
Good question. I have a similar project going and I'm going to do it pretty much like you laid out. The only major difference is that I have installed the frets before gluing up the fretboard. This is my second fretboard and first with proper fret wire, so I wanted to make sure it was right before it was all glued together.
There are others with many more builds under their belts that might be able to point out something else, but I don't think you are on the verge of a huge mistake. Plus it sounds like you have given it enough thought to work through any problems you might encounter along the way.
I'd also add a beer after every third step or so, but that's just me.
It's not the way I do it, but that's not to say you can't to it that way.
I really don't understand why people glue the neck to the underside of the top. It inhibits the top vibrating, and glueing means you can't easily fiddle with the action. I always fix my necks with screws so it's easy to adjust the neck angle, and usually put a block across the back of the guitar and screw the neck thru' that.
I cut my neck blank, put any headstock 'ears' on and heel laminations, dry fit the neck to the box. Slot the fretboard next, glue it onto the neck, trim it to width, install position markers, install the frets, then shape to profile. Poluyurethane lacquer? - unless you are using commercial polyurethane catalyzed spraying lacquer, in my experience I'd avoid it, a lot of it is thick gloopy stuff that never really dries hard.
Sounds like you have given it some good thought. I think you definitely need more beer.
Since rule number one is - there are no rules, you should be fine.
I did a couple with one part poly finish - Minwax - Always seemed tacky to the touch - Now I use Danish Oil - Big difference - dries to a harder finish.
I put the fretboard on after cuttng the frets, so I can adjust for inaccurate gluing by sanding / scraping the edges & it seems to make clamping it on better - I do not have a jointer, so I can sand out any bumps in the fretboard before applying the frets.
I am doing a 2" lap joint at the heel also. I find getting a rough shape on the heel before gluing makes the inside curve at the heel easier.
Looking forward to seeing some pics of the new build
Thanks for the tips, guys. I'm used to poly from my days doing low-budget remodeling, but I'll add that to my ever expanding list entitled "Ways Woodworking Is Not The Same As Carpentry."
And don't worry, pretty much every step that doesn't involve power saws involves beer. It's just that the end-of-project brew is always the tastiest.
The great thing about my second CBG build is that I now have one to play while I'm waiting for glue to dry.
I'm not much more experienced than you in guitar building but here is my OoOP:
Cut/glue neck blank, glue heel & headstock, rough in heel & headstock, cut/slot/fret/glue fretboard, cut box (body), neck to box, tuning machines, position bridge, string, tune. There are some intermediate steps I've left out or glossed over but you get the idea.