How to Make a Pick Guard

If you know how to make a pick guard, you will never buy one from a store again.  I have been making pick guards for my instruments since I began making guitars, and they are another way to add a custom touch to a handmade instrument.

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How to Make a Custom Pick Guard

how to make a pick guard

Pick guards are made most easily from sheets of veneer, and three sheets is all you need.  

When choosing veneer, look for an attractive species for the top layer, and then select good filler layers for below.  

The top and edges are all that will be seen, so you can save a lot of money on the cost of the veneer by looking for basic pieces in the bottom layers and a nice piece for the top layer.

See Also: The Biggest Thing I Wish Someone Told Me About Making an Acoustic Guitar

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how to make a pick guardNext, glue the pieces together with wood glue. Apply the glue thinly with a glue roller, which will speed up coverage.

Once the pieces are coated, clamp them together in a press.  A press can be made in the shop with a couple pieces of flat wood that are thick enough to handle the clamping pressure.

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A couple pieces of 3/4″ MDF are perfect, and some waxed paper on the faces prevents the glue from sticking. Make sure not to skip this step. If you do, your pick guard will end up glued to the cauls and you will never get it out.

When looking at how to make a pick guard, the most important aspect is the piece of veneer that the world will see.  Pick out a good piece, and the rest can be filler.

See Also: 50 Things I Wish I Knew When I started Making Guitars

Cutting Out the Pick Guard Shape

how to make a pick guardOnce dry, remove the blank and trace out the shape of the pick guard on the front side.

Then, try to nest several guards together to get the most out of the blank.

In this case, you can make two pick guards from this one blank.  

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Just tracing them out correctly doubled the value of the wood used.

how to make a pick guardThe final step in how to make a pick guard is to apply a finish that will protect and beautify the piece.

For most woods, an oil finish does the best at bringing out the hidden beauty.

Use several thin coats of Tru-Oil on the guards to bring out the luster, then allow the piece to cure.  If using a different finish, apply it according to the manufacturers directions and the piece will be protected.

My article and PDF, the 10 Step Guide to Wood Finishing explains how to finish wooden projects in a way that will make anyone a professional.  Use these methods to finish the pick guards and they will come out perfectly every time.

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