Get a piece of wood, 1.75″ x .75″ x 2′.
Call this the “neck”. I used poplar, next time I won’t. You might be better off with a hardwood like oak or maple. You can get poplar or oak at any big-box hardware store. It’s really cheap. Poplar cuts like butter, which is great if you’re using hand tools.
Get some more wood, 1.75″ x .25″, build a box. For the back, use a .25″ x 5.5″ (?) board – I forget the exact dimensions of these boards – but they’re the thin and wide boards, obviously. Cut the back first and use it as a template to build the sides. Don’t attach the back yet though.
Make some cut-aways on the ends, roughly .5″ deep x 1.75″ wide. The neck is going to fit into these.
Leaving about an inch on one end of the neck, cut two notches: 1/4″ x 1/4″- these will fit into the cut-aways you made on the body. When you put the body and the neck together, the neck sit flush with the top of the body.
Also, cut out 1/16″ of wood from the top of the neck, in the section where the neck is inside the body. An inch or so inside that, cut another 1/16 out. That extra 1/4″ chunk of wood glued to the bottom doesn’t really need to be there – let’s just say it’s “for weight”.
You can also take the corners off the back of the neck with a hand plane and a file. Just round them down a bit. It will make a huge difference.
See how they fit together ?
Up on the other end of the neck, glue a 4″ section of the 1/4″ stock to the bottom of the neck.
Then draw a cut-away on the top (the pencil lines – the horizontal one runs along the white/green stripe). This is going to ensure that the tuning pegs are recessed below the fretboard. The little board on the bottom is to provide enough thickness to accommodate the tuners, and to provide some extra strength.
Cut away where you marked.
File and sand, to get rid of the saw marks.
Work out a layout for your tuning machines. This board is really narrow, so you’re going to have to be creative in how you position them. Drill-out the holes. My tuners had 3/8″ barrels, so that’s how big the holes are.
Glue the back to the body. Since you used that piece of wood as a template, it should fit snugly into the sides of the body.
The top of the neck inside the body is pretty rough, because maybe you used a chisel to make the 1/16″ cuts. But that’s OK – it will be hidden.
You might want to add some strips of wood around the top inside edge of the body, 1/16″ below the top, for the top to rest on.
Get some stain, some poly, and some spray paint. Paint the pieces/parts. “Sonoma Redwood” and “Candy Apple Red” might work.
For the top, you should use 1/16″ birch plywood that you bought from a place that sells wood for model airplanes. Add sound-holes. Attach your tuners. For the tailpiece, drill four small holes and stick tee nuts into the front and back, to keep the strings from cutting through your precious wood.
All that’s left now is finding something to use for the nut and the bridge.
You could use a machine screw for the nut: file out a little channel at the top of the neck, for the screw to rest in. Or you could use a piece of Corian, or hard plastic, or hard wood – anything hard that you can shape really.
For the bridge, a little piece of wood, slotted on top with a file, will work.
Don’t make it too tall, though.
And, before you glue the top on, you will want to hot-glue a contact microphone to the bottom side of the top, just below where you’re going to put the bridge. Be sure to stick a 1/4″ guitar jack somewhere on the end of the body. This isn’t going to be loud enough to play without amplification.
Don’t bother with frets. Just tune it to an open chord and use a slide.
When you’re done, you should call it The Red Menace.
I guess this falls into the “cigar box guitar” category, but obviously the box isn’t a cigar box.
What you’ll need:
Poplar boards for the body sides (and various other bits): 3′ x 1.75″ x .25″
Poplar board for the back of the body: 1′ x 5.5″ (?) x .25″ (whatever width the store sells will be fine).
Poplar (or oak) for the neck: 3′ x 1.75″ x .75″
1/16″ birch plywood.
8 Tee nuts
1 Contact mic
1/4″ guitar jack
Guitar tuning machines (2,3 or 4 – your choice!). If you buy these new, they will cost much more than all the rest of the stuff, combined.
Stain, paint, polyurethane
That’s if you want to build a Red Menace. But you probably don’t want to do that. There should be only one.
This would be a thousand times easier with a proper set of power tools and a work bench. But I did it all by hand, sitting on the garage floor.