As of this posting I have been fortunate enough to write and release five books. My first book is on making acoustic guitars, and has been my most popular work. I also have others on making wooden rings, making kids toys, guitar making tips, and first words for kids. All of these are centered around woodworking.
I have always been interested in writing, and even through school I was always able to write well. Having been a woodworker for a long time, it was only natural that the two loves would combine at some point.
I wrote my books from the perspective that you know very little about the subject…which is why you bought a book. In many books, they tell you to buy fancy equipment or machines, but I do not. My woodworking books help you rely on the tools that you already have. They also focus on inexpensive finishing methods that are easy, and they will help you get closer to your goals. Here they are: Read more “My Woodworking Books”
Guitar making tip number 37 is about working with someone who also makes instruments. If you have the opportunity to work with another instrument maker, this can be a huge resource for your development. Books and online resources are great, but it’s hard to beat a real person to talk to. Here is why:
Working With an Instrument Maker
If you have the opportunity to work with an instrument maker, you need to jump all over it and start learning from them. Making instruments is different from other types of woodworking in the fine details. Having someone help with those details can help you advance much faster in many cases.
There are many instrument makers in the world, and there are sure to be people that live near you who build. It can take time to meet those people, but you can do a few things to advance the process.
Joining a forum online, especially one that is from your country can be a way to meet new people. Also, if you have a Guitar Making supplier or a guitar building school near you, frequent place and get to know people. The same for a woodworking store that sells guitar making supplies. Here is the one thing that working with a real person can do that no book can… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 37”
The easy way to slot a fretboard is with a jig. There are jigs available online that carry a price tag, but they are nice tools and can save you time if you go with them. You can also make a jig yourself. I encourage you to try making a jig first, and here is why:
The Easy Way to Slot a Fretboard
When you make a jig yourself, you increase your understanding of the tool. Not only will you know it really well, but you will be able to use it better. Anything you make will work the same way. This gives you an advantage, because you will already deeply understand your tool.
Since you are about to make a guitar, which is a large project, comparing it to making the jig almost seems like no comparison at all. If you are making the guitar, then it would seem that you are over qualified to make the jig.
Try making a guitar fretboard slotting jig yourself before you buy one from a store. You can save a lot of money like this, and over the course of several fretboards you will actually get all your time back as well. Here is a nice easy jig that you can follow along with, and make yourself a fretboard slotting jig… Read more “The Easy Way to Slot a Fretboard”
Guitar making tip number 170 is about practicing carving the braces. This is a basic skill for all guitar makers, and thankfully it’s easy to master. The beauty of this kind of practice is that you don’t have to worry about ruining a guitar. This is very close to the real thing, but not actually attached to a guitar. Here is how you do it:
Practice Carving the Braces
The first thing you are going to need is a piece of Spruce that you would normally make guitar braces from. Cut it into several smaller pieces, following the directions from a book or a set of plans. Make sure to cut as many different styles of brace as you can.
Once you have all of these pieces, you need to glue them to something. I recommend a 2X4 or something similar. Cut a piece that is a little longer than your longest brace, and glue them all down with some space between them for carving.
Next, clamp the board to the bench or grab it with a vise. Now, you can practice carving the braces down to final shape without worrying at all about making mistakes. If you do, just carve the brace away and replace it with a new blank. Once you are confident that you can carve your braces well, then you can complete the process on an actual guitar.
This kind of practice is great, because you are working in a consequence free environment when it comes to how the guitar will turn out. Since there is no guitar to ruin, relax and learn about carving. Here are a few things to focus on as you practice… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 170”
Nothing will ever sound as sweet as the guitar that you make yourself with your own two hands. Even if the guitar is never used as an example of ultimate craftsmanship, you made it, and you will love it. Here is why:
That Guitar is YOURS
You put in the effort, and you made that guitar. No instrument that you ever buy will feel the same way as the one you make. You will also understand that instrument more than any other. For those reasons and more, you will love playing your handmade guitar.
I remember twanging on the low E string for a long time when I first strung up my guitar. I loved the fact that the thing I made could produce sound, and I sat there like an idiot just plucking that one string over and over again.
It was such an exciting moment, because I had created an instrument and it actually made sound. I don’t think I put the rest of the strings on for about 10-20 minutes after I strung the low E. I just kept on playing and enjoying the sound. If you are a guitar player, and you do some woodworking already, then you really owe it to yourself to make a guitar.
No guitar you own will ever sound as sweet as the guitar that you made yourself. It’s an incredible experience, and you will never sell that first guitar. There are other benefits to making a guitar and playing guitar, and they can help you in a number of creative ways… Read more “Nothing Will Ever Sound as Sweet”
Guitar making tip number 9 is about choosing a finish that is easy to apply. It’s also a good idea that the finish be available in a local store. This has several advantages, and here is why this is a good practice:
Choosing an Easy to Apply Finish For Your Guitar
There are many advantages to choosing an easy to apply finish for your first guitar. The number one reason being that you already have enough to learn.
Since you are learning about guitar making already, then it makes sense to use a finish that you are already comfortable with.
If you are brand new to guitar making and finishing is a new skill as well, picking out something that is easy to learn will make the process that much smoother.
You are already in a situation where you need to learn a lot. Don’t make it any more complicated than it already is. You are going to learn more as a woodworker over the next several months of the build than you may ever learn again in such a small window. Over complicating the build can lead to this… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 9”
Guitar Making Tip No. 290 is about older instruments. A long time ago, instruments were heavily inlaid and carved by artisans who excelled in their craft. For that reason, they were treasures that only wealthy families could afford. Look to older instruments as examples of craftsmanship…and something else that’s important to guitar making. Here is how.
Older Instruments are Inspiring
Older instruments are examples of craftsmanship at the highest level. The detail, precision, and beauty that the old masters were able to accomplish in their builds is amazing.
More amazing than the instruments themselves is that they were made without any power tools and by candle light.
The old masters spent time working on their pieces, heavily adorning them with inlays and aesthetic features that made the instruments a prized family possession.
So, whats the difference between the instrument makers from 300-400 years ago and those of today? With all of the modern advancements in tools, there is still one thing that makes the difference between making something well and making something great… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 290”
Guitar Making Tip No. 78 is about tone tapping and the secret benefits. If there is a defect burred inside a piece of wood, tone tapping can help you find it. Whenever you tap a board and it sounds lifeless, leave it behind and look for something else. Here is how.
Tone Tapping Can Reveal Hidden Defects
Sometimes a board just looks great, but it doesn’t end that way. You tap it, and for some strange reason, it just sounds dead. This is an indication that there is some kind of defect inside the board that is preventing the transfer of vibration.
Whatever you do, don’t use a great looking board that doesn’t vibrate. There are exceptions, like finding the defect and working around it, but in general you want boards that vibrate well.
In the perfect world, you would use the wood that had the most life and vibration, no matter what it looked like. In the real world, many times looks win out over function. When you tone tap your pieces, make sure that you don’t take home anything that makes a dead sound or doesn’t tone at all. Even if you cant see the defect, this is what may be the cause… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 78”
A guitar is made one step at a time. Those should be the most reassuring nine words you have ever read about guitar making. You can make a guitar, because it’s made just like everything else in the world. One step at a time.
Everything is Made One Step at a Time
New projects are sometimes scary. They are often filled with more problems, they pace slower than familiar projects, and they seem larger than they really are.
Thankfully, most of these things can be overcome with a little patience.
One of the most common questions I get from woodworkers is whether or not they can build a guitar. In fact I wrote an entire post called You Can Make a Guitar just to address those concerns.
The short answer is yes, and the long answer has more to do with yourself as a woodworker and as someone with a new project. I believe that anyone with this one quality can make a great guitar, and thankfully it requires zero talent to display this quality…
Guitar Makers Need Patience
A guitar is made one step at a time, and a patient guitar maker completes one step at a time before moving forward. The guitar is made up of small steps. There are no big tasks, just a lot of small steps.
As you complete these steps, you get closer to having a guitar. The temptation is to start rushing, because it can take a while for the first build to be completed. Resist this feeling, and be sure to complete each step as well as you can before moving on.
I also wrote another post called The Secret to Guitar Making, which explains the series of small steps in more detail. It also dispels the myth of the magic bullet, which again makes it easier for you to make a better instrument with confidence.
Just Like Eating an Elephant
There is a quote from Creighton Abrams that talks about eating an elephant. There are many variations that exist on the internet, but the moral of the story is that an elephant is a big meal, but you eat it one bite at a time just like any other meal.
A guitar is no different. As a new guitar builder, it can seem like eating an elephant. If you just start, and keep on taking small bites, you will eventually finish.
This is the beauty in making a guitar. It’s something that a person with patience and the willingness to stop and learn can accomplish. Start by reading A Few Good Books, and then get your build going. After you are finished, you will be glad you started.
Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks
While I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.
You can also Join the Community, and receive updates from me about new articles, upcoming books, and when I release new books. It’s completely free, and full of great tutorials, freebies, and great content.
Guitar Making Tip No. 93 is about doing things a certain way. Don’t get caught up in having to do something a certain way because it’s believed to be the only way. I have made a living showing people that there is more than one way to do something. Here is how.
There is More Than One Way to do Something
For just about any process, there is more than one way. There will be purists that think a certain part or step has to be done a certain way, but many times there are alternatives. If someone ever tells you “it’s either my way or it’s wrong,” you should keep on looking for other solutions.
A lot of times with instruments in particular, there is more rigidity in what is considered an acceptable practice.
For example, many guitar makers swear that unless you split your braces they will not be any good. This is not the case, as many well known guitar makers and factories saw their braces from larger pieces. If it were a horrible practice that caused your guitar to fall apart, the big factories would not do it. Of all the reasons to keep an open mind when making your guitar, here is the most important… Read more “Guitar Making Tip No. 93”