How To Carve A Semi Hollow Body Guitar

Instructions relating to how to carve a semi-hollow body guitar are at best up for interpretation within the context of an article as brief as the following, in that it must be understood its brevity dictates that certain assumptions be made. For example, this has been written presuming that the aforementioned readers don’t require definitions of such terms as wood, guitar, lathe, sanding plane, etc. This being said, realize that you’ll need:   

  • A blueprint(or clear mental vision concerning the finished product).
  • Raw materials. (These typically encompassing desired timbers such as ash or mahogany.)
  • Conventional saws
  • Crafting knives
  • Screwdrivers
  • A circular saw
  • A lathe
  1. Have a workable plan in mind. Unless you happen to be the “Rain Man” of woodworking, you’ll need, at the very least, a sketch of what you plan to be your finished project (One that ideally includes proper shapes and dimensions where the pieces of what you’ll later use to construct your semi-hollow body guitar are concerned.) Otherwise you’ll be flying blind, become distracted and probably wind-up resembling your high school shop teacher…in that you’ll come to possess missing digits on one or both hands
  2. It’s not really carving. Attempting to “carve” a semi-hollow body guitar is basically a fool’s errand for anyone with less skill than “Uncle Jed Clampett” at whittling. In other words, the actual construction of a semi-hollow body guitar typically entails work better defined as cutting, shaping and assembling pieces of lumber (typically ash or mahogany).
  3. So what tools do I use? The construction of a semi-hollow body guitar is best achieved by using first a circular saw to make the raw materials viable.
  4. Then the finer work begins. Cutting the wood into the appropriate shapes to form the various components is a bit more demanding, and is usually best accomplished by using a scroll saw.
  5. Next comes the tricky part. By employing a lathe, the neck (which is semi-rounded) can be shaped to your liking.
  6. Next comes more neck work. After shaping the neck you’ll need to carve groves into its flat side with a keyhole saw, fine wood chisel(or similar tool) in order to allow installation of the fret bars.
  7. But don’t fret. By using a thin layer of adhesive and employing a wooden mallet, the fret bars can easily be installed snugly.
  8. And here’s an important tip.  Remember while following these steps that it’s a good idea to leave the various pieces unassembled to allow easy access when installing electronic elements and any other interior concerns. (Likewise, sanding, lacquering and painting should be completed on the various components before continuing.) Then easy assembly can be approached as if doing a jigsaw puzzle with the pieces you’ve crafted and appropriate adhesives (wood glue, etc.) However, glue alone will not permanently attach the instrument’s neck, machine heads and saddle. These will also require wood screws to insure a snug and permanent attachment to the otherwise completed semi-hollow body guitar.
  9. But if your heart is set on it…Carving can play an intricate part in putting together a semi-hollow body guitar .For instance, various cosmetic inlays on the neck and fingerboard can be achieved by employing the proper tools, such as lattice knives. Certain tools can be used to make various acoustic alterations by carving appropriate notches within the body of the instrument. Likewise a unique tone can be achieved by honing various portions of the instrument’s neck and/or body. 
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