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I am currently working on my first CBG. I built a soprano uke from a kit a few months ago, and then I started on a restoration of an old family banjolin. Needless to say the luthier bug has infected my entire person. In attempting to restore the banjolin I mistakenly bought a mandolin tailpiece which wont work on a banjo body. So my idea is for my next build to be a mandolin from a home made box.
I want to make the box style for multiple reasons, first I don't have the tools or knowledge to bend wood for the sides of a traditional mando, and also because I think these cigar box guitars are very unique compared to the cookie cutter instruments on the market, they all seem to have the same shape and even paint scheme.
Here is my problem:
There are no luthier suppliers in my area that I know of so I am unsure of where to get the wood to make the box. I am an ok wood worker but my tools are limited to hand tools and a jig saw and dremmel. I found nice looking pieces of mohogany, oak, cherry etc. at menards here but they are all 1" thick. A planer machine seems to cost way to much $ as well as pieces of instrument grade "sound wood" online.
So the short question is what are my options to thinning wood to the proper thickness for an instrument or what other wood options are there?
cigar boxes are not the only things out there .. many nice wine boxes , silverware boxes , jewlerrly boxes , old doors , door panels etc ... can be used too , don't count them out .
also, you can taker a piece of wood to a lumber store , cabnet shop etc ,, and ask them to cut / plane it for you .
i agree with 'pick' ,cigar boxes pretty rare around here but i just picked a old oak dresser with cedar drawers a bargain at £20 but my mrs claimed it and gave me her old one -ok... ash with cedar drawers. enough to make about 8 guits
thinning down i use a handplane but if too thick , a local wood turner does my stuff for a small fee but i only asked him once in the last year.
good luck with your projects and have fun
I have a discussion group on CBN which deals with this very topic: Home Made Resonator Boxes 101, v.2.0. Check it out. All the tools I use are hand tools, and the only electric one I use is a hand-held electric drill. Finding sources for wood is a big problem. I live in China and here they sell cherry and shapelli trim wood that measures 3cm by 0.5cm by 2.2meters and I have used this trim wood to build box frames, laminated necks and fretboards, They also sell 2.5cm by 2.5cm by 2.2meter lengths of hard wood (beech wood) which I've recently switched to for the core of the neck as the hardwood produces a sweeter sound. I also build what I call "paddle box dulcimers", which is another body shape you may want to consider. For the sound board and back boards I use 2mm thick plywood laminate. The boxes and paddle boxes I build sound better than the majority of cigar box instruments I've built over the past 3 years.
However, in America (which is where I assume you are from), the wood available comes in much different dimensions. So, finding wood to build the frame (or sides) of your instruments and the plywood laminate for the soundboard and back boards will be harder to find. Seems Lowes and Home Depot doesn't sell long thin slats of trim wood or sheets of plywood laminate like the local wood suppliers do here in China. However, for building boxes, I've seen some wood at lowes and maybe Home Depot sold more for wood working hobbyists that comes in dimensions suitable for building the frame or a sound box. I've also seen suitable wood at places that specialize in model building hobbyists (like building model airplanes) and I saw some wood at JoAnne (sp?) Fabrics. However, to build a sound board and a backboard involves gluing maybe 3 or 4 boards together side by side, It's possible to do and if you need more info on doing it, I can write up an explanation of how I've done it in the past.
Well, good luck with your project.
How heavy are the boxes you build with 1x3" poplar wood? I imagine pretty heavy, I build my instruments very light because I don't really like a heavy instrument. So, in the States, I'd be more likely to build it out of 1/4" by 3" poplar, or other wood, if I could find a source in the States. Here in China, my sound boxes are typically 0.5cm thick for the frame and 2mm thick for the sound and back boards, so the instruments are quite light, yet they seem to standup okay -- assuming you're not a crazed rock star who likes to bust guitars as a part of your performance!
They are realatively heavy Rand. I found The thick sides make it easy to mount the neck. a couple of 2" grabber screws and it's mounted very solid. No need for extra bracing and if your a rockstar trying to bust one this might make you look like a fool....lol. On the other hand if you got into a bar fight it would be your new best friend....Haaaaaaa
I use 5mmX50mm sides and 4mm top and back, all cut straight and glued together as a box (I leave the top off until last, to put in the neck, etc. The side wood is generic solid pine and the top/back are poplar plywood, all cut to length at my local hardware store, though I have the top and back cut a bit larger and sand the final shape. For necks I usually get 40mmX15mm maple blanks and 40mmX8mm walnut fretboards from a liuthier supplier. Hope that helps.
Thanks everyone for the tips I will try looking at some of the other options. These are very helpful suggestions
mate go to a big warehouse where they bring machinery into the country. Large, heavy equipment, an importer of big saw tables, lathes, cnc equipment, forklifts, any kind of large heavy equipment really, it'll be coming into the country from mostly China in crates made of heavy hardwood frame and thin plywood panels. Ask. they will have a huge binful, probly going to landfill. Theres lots of nail pulling, but youre recycling and its free. Enjoy :)
yes Jeff, in our local 'yard' the sheet material comes banded in 20 sheet packs with 'like' packing with some pretty cool stenciling, just working out a 'price for this scrap- i'm thinking it could be £0.00 or what we call "a drink" :)