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How Not to Cut a Guitar Headstock

Guitar headstock

The uncut guitar headstock as it arrived before I set about creating something special!

As many of you who are frequent readers may know I am building my own guitar.  I know that sounds pretty grand doesn’t it but I have to admit that I am cheating ever so slightly.  Rather than be as adventurous as to actually build my own guitar from scratch I have chosen instead a simpler option.  I chose to get myself a guitar kit details of which you can find by reading my earlier article on build your own guitar kits.  The benefit of a build your own guitar kit is that, in the main, the guitar comes in pieces but those pieces are already cut to shape.  Therefore you get a guitar body and neck which have already been made for you, they just need putting together.

However, the guitar kit I ordered did need some minor woodwork but I thought, in my naivety that this would be fairly straightforward.  Little did I know just how foolish this thought would be.

Part of the reason I chose the particular guitar kit that I ordered was because there was some finishing work required and I thought that this would give me the opportunity to stamp a bit of my own identity onto my new guitar.  The main piece of the guitar which required finishing was the guitar headstock which in the ordered kit was a fairly unfinished slab of maple.

The first thing I needed to do was sort a design for the guitar headstock.  Now all manner of intricate designs were going through my head, from a fairly cool batman style bat wing design to a more metal BC Rich style design.  I traced the unfinished headstock of the guitar neck onto a piece of paper and let the creative juices flow.  Sadly I am no artist and the designs in my head, when translated onto paper, looked pretty rubbish so I opted for a simpler rounded Ibanez-ish guitar headstock.  As it turned out I am mighty glad that my design skills are poor and I opted for the simple over the more complex.

Guitar Headstock

After a lot of blood, sweat and tears, ok no actual blood was spilt but it was hard work, this is the finished guitar headstock.

Once I was happy with the design on paper I traced it out onto the unfinished guitar headstock and with a certain degree of trepidation headed to the garage for the tools.  The moment had come for me to become a true guitar builder and work my magic on the wood (I never thought I would use that line).  I firmly secured the guitar neck into my workbench and reached for the jigsaw.  With hand slightly trembling I turned the power on and put the jigsaw blade to the guitar headstock to begin cutting.  Now I know maple is a hardwood, but in all fairness I think I had underestimated just how hard maple is.  My jigsaw is no cheap toy, it cuts through most DIY projects that I have done with consummate ease but it barely made a dent in the guitar headstock.  This was not going to be easy.  I changed the jigsaw blade for a new one which was supposed to be better suited to hardwoods and yes it was an improvement but it was nowhere near the hot knife through butter that I had expected.  However, perseverance is often the key so I stuck at it.  A few minutes later I decided that a small pause would be in order to allow the blade to cool!  Fully rested and with a saw blade that had returned to room temperature I continued trying to cut the guitar headstock into shape.  Fully half an hour later I finally managed to complete the cutting and my guitar headstock was done…

well nearly!

The jigsaw cut was actually quite rough so I spent the next hour or so sanding the headstock smooth.  Once done I could finally step back and look at my handiwork.  Although a fairly simple design I have to say I am quite pleased with the result and once the guitar is complete I can truly say that I have put my own sweat into the building of the guitar.

Next up in the build your own guitar adventure – Preparing the guitar body for painting.

If you are interested in build your own guitar kits then click the link below for some great examples and excellent prices.

Build your own guitar kits.

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