Was thinking about building my own box and one of the things I like about some of the cigar box builds I've seen is the ability to open the box when the strings are off.  Seems silly, but a nice option if you want to swap necks (screwed, not glued), take out or change pups etc...Would love to see pics if anyone has opted for this.  Seems like most boxes on here are built for acoustics so maybe don't need or want to do this.


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If you do it right it's easy. I've done several that way but don't have pictures, or you can do like I did on these two and have the lid in the back and open it up while it is strung.

No pic's but you can build your box with all six sides affixed( essentially a non opening, closed box). Mark out where you want the lid to separate from the bottom and cut it open. Easier than building them separate and you get a continuous grain on the side.  

Wow. I'm definitely going to use both ideas.  Should be pretty simple.  Thanx much guys.

I always build my cigar box Ukes so the back opens as in Duck's photo. Also, I have made several boxes as described by Bert. Another good tip is to glue a sheet of sand paper on a flat board. After you have cut the box open to give yourself a box and lid, put the sanding board on a flat surface and rub the cut lid and box edge on the sanding board in circular motions. (In case I haven't described it well, this lets you sand all the cut edges of each lid/box at the same time and in one motion which stops the problem of oversanding one part of the lid/box which would create an unwanted gap when they fit together again.)

What Bert describes is a traditional way of box making.That way you're certain the lid is going to fit

What Jonesy said or, if you have access to it, a place that does marble counter tops will have drops from cutting out the hole for the sink. These are perfect for flat sanding as most wood isn't totally flat. I use them for sanding metal parts surfaces too. Use some temporary spray adhesive or feathering adhesive to hold the sheet of paper on there and sand away. 

Hi All,

Well, I don't build boxes that open because I don't generally have access to a band saw (true historically, but now during the summer I do have access to a band saw, so maybe I'll give it a try this coming summer). With a band saw it should be simple assuming you have your guide set right. I don't trust my sawing skills with a hand saw enough to even consider doing it manually, but I suppose it could be done.


***edit: Sorry this got long. Just thought others might be wondering how and I got in sticky- writing mod.....

Actually, IMHO it's easier on a table saw. Set the fence for the depth of the deep side of the box. Set the blade height so as not to quite cut through the sides( about 1/8-1/16 thickness left). Run the box through the saw on all four sides(if all sides are the same thickness). Raise the blade high enough to cut though the two short sides MINUS 3/4-1". Run the box through the saw again, cutting one long side, rotating 180* and cut the other long side. ( when you make the second cut, you can, for extra points, insert a couple thin wedges into the first cut to hold the kerf opening. Prevents flexing it closed from the death grip you'll be using the first couple times you do this.... :)  This will leave a 1.5-2" bridge in the middle of the short sides. This is to keep the box together while sawing most of the cuts. If you just take full cuts, when you get to the last side, it gets floppy and can bind. Ruining your box or the integrity of your Septum.....Can be done, but why not ad a step and be safer. Use a hand/fret/etc. saw or even a box cutter to cut through the two bridges. Lightly sand the nubs down. There are variations on this way, but this is a good one. 

You could use a hand saw. Carpenter's, back saw, hell, a fretting saw would work as long as it has a decent amount of blade depth. Strike your cut lines and clamp a straight edge to the box and use that as a blade guide. Could use a thick ruler or framing square but a thicker guide will give you more to have the blade against to keep your cut 90*. (FWIW, this it where the Japanese type saw shine. The teeth on those saws aren't skewed like Nor. Amer. saws. so they line up better with the blade body). I'd likely use this method rather than a band saw as the higher the blade guide gets, to fit the box height, the more blade wander you'll get. This will mess with the mating surfaces. Though again, there are band saw ninja's out there that can 1/4'er saw a mouse whisker. :)

And use push sticks when ever possible and safe to do so. Otherwise playing a 3 string may no longer be a choice. And ending up playing the wash board is worse..... they don't get any groupies!

Hi Bert.

That's good info to know. I guess I'll have to build 2 or 3 open-able boxes next summer and see which method works best: band saw, table saw or hand saw. I'll be taking your suggestions to heart. Nothing like ruining the box on your last cut! And your comment about "blade wandering" on a band saw because of how high you'd have to set the blade guide to be able to feed through the whole box. But, then, maybe cutting the top side and the bottom side simultaneous would help to hold the blade from wandering. I've never done it, so can't say for sure. Maybe other builders can share their experiences...


My solution to openable boxes.:  I screw the back on rather than have it hinged.  This gives a tighter fit and no rattles.  Also, when I start building the box, I start with a perfectly rectangulat back, and build the box around it.  This insures a rectangular box.  I use 3/8" glue blocks at the bottom of sides and ends for the screws to attach to.  Use plenty of screws.  Opening the back is more of a chore this way, but the fit is tighter and you have access to the inside.  The neck is held in place with screws through the tailpiece.

I don't have all the screws in the back yet.

Hi Gary,

Yes, building your box frame around a square cut "bottom board" is a great idea for insuring the squareness of the box. It's a good tip to know. It should be easy to get the square cut bottom board on a table saw. I'll have to give your method a try. Do you also use chord around sides of the box as a kind of tourniquet clamp so the top end of the box is also held together while the glue dries? About the only down side I can see is that when the bottom is essentially "inserted" just inside the box frame, you loose a bit or internal sound box space - but than can be compensated for by cutting taller side boards. Thanks for the idea.

At the woodworking shop I have access to in the summer months, they have these thick black plastic "L" shaped blocks that you can clamp the wood sides together when you are gluing the sides together when they glue them up to form the box frame They result in a very square box as well. I had been using those strap-clamps with the 4 corner pieces, and while they can be used to glue the 4 sides together at the same time, I have had less than perfect results with them. Perhaps gluing the 4 sides together at the same time using butt joints instead of 45 degree miter cut joints is the reason why the strap-clamps aren't working as well as I'd have hoped.  I'll have to try the miter cuts with the strap-clamp this summer to see if that works any better. Anyway, the strap-clamps are pretty cheap at Harbor Freight.



Nice to hear from you.  

On this build, I used butt joints also.  I use glue blocks on every glue joint.  As I recall, i glue them all in, including the corner joints before final glueing.  On the final glueing, I have the bottom in place (not glued) and the 4 corner blocks in place and I didn't have any squareness issues.  I dry clamped it and checked everything with a framing square.  I bought a band clamp thing at another hardware store, but it didn't have any means to tighten.  I'll try Harbor Freight for the next one.  I basically used 2 large clamps in a  crossed fashion and it went fine.  I am sure that having the bottom in helped a lot.

That guitar sounds real good.  By far my best.  I had a professional singer/guitar player play 3 songs on it last nite at his small show at a local bar.  He liked it and gave me a plug.

This was my 11th build in 4 months.  Such an addiction.

Here is something funny:  I have never seen a CBG in person except ones I have built!



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