To make your first guitar and any subsequent ones, you need to find suitable wood. Every guitar project starts with selecting the material. In this project, fate itself chose the guitar material for me. But there's still work to be done to bring this material to its best form. These sticks from the door frame need to be sawn as accurately as possible. Then, it's essential to correctly assemble the cut blanks into parts of the guitar. The pieces need to be fitted together and glued to ultimately obtain the guitar's top, back, and sides.

As I mentioned in the introductory article, I picked up an old door frame that my neighbors threw away. It lay with me for a whole year until I came up with the idea of making a guitar out of it. I regularly made ordinary classical guitars from rosewood, cedar, and spruce. But every guitar craftsman loves to take a break.

Click on photo to enlarge

One of the pastimes is creating new devices in the workshop. The second type of entertainment is making unusual guitars, where you can work boldly and unexpectedly, even for yourself, as there are no limitations of a standard project. Especially the limitations of a classical guitar. It even has a boring name :) But I am a classical guitar craftsman, albeit a boring one, so I am making a classical guitar out of an unusual material. Well, not everything at once.

Video of this stage with English subtitles.

Initial condition of pine and oak wood

So, I have a couple of three vertical pine jambs from the door frame of one set of neighbors and several sections of oak trim from neighbors who live one floor below. The jambs have many natural defects and damages.

One pine (latin: pinus) jamb partially has light wood with less resin, which looks like genuine and very good spruce (which is a true wood for guitars). I assume this is a pine sapwood. I intend to use this lighter or blond pine, which has less resin and is lighter in weight, for the guitar top and the braces, especially for the fan bracing system. I will also use pine for the back and sides, but with the familiar texture, with broad resinous layers, ginger pine. There will still be some knots present, but they won't have any negative impact. They might even add a positive effect to the back. Who's know...

Here's a photo of the wood from the door frame that started it all.

From dense oak (latin: quercus), I want to make all the guitar parts that need to be sturdy. The bridge must be sturdy on its own to withstand the string tension. The classical guitar's string tie block on the bridge must not break away. The fingerboard needs to be strong to resist string contraction and play abrasion. The guitar's binding need to withstand minor impacts on the edges. And of course, the appearance: darker wood emphasizes the guitar's silhouette. Dark edges, headstock overlay. Additionally, I will make the kerfed linings from oak, which is not mandatory, but I prefer doing it this way.

How to cut guitar blanks

So, I had the task of cutting guitar blanks out of these door frame remnants. Guitar blanks should represent thin plates where the wood layers should run along the dimensions of the blank. Ideally, the cut should be radial grain, as shown in the photo below. However, in practice, it's more complicated; the wood refuses to grow evenly, having for us builders these unnecessary and even annoying knots and branches. Whatever the tree can come up with, it even knows how to rotate to ruin our lives. As a result, the wood layers inside the timber often run at an angle to its dimensions. Let's hope for good quality in the jambs we've come across.

Achieving the ideal radial grain cut is necessary when making the fan bracing system, and how I achieved this can be read in the next article of this series, which will also contain a video of this process.

But some things can be corrected. I can adjust the table saw blade angle and cut more perpendicular to the annual rings at the transverse section of the jamb.

I've edited the photo below to emphasize the wood layers. It's visible that they run approximately diagonally across the jamb along its circumferences. Our task is to cut in a way that the sawing is as perpendicular as possible to the wood layers. In the photo, the red lines represent the assumed ideal cuts. You can cut, then use a plane to level blank, and cut again.

It's a fascinating process, searching for the best cuts for guitar blanks.

Of course, the highlight of the process is the nail holes and various hidden defects. Check your wood for embedded fasteners beneath the layer of paint to avoid hitting them with the saw or plane.

The demands for the guitar top (soundboard) are higher than for the rest. The angle of the layers in the sides and back can be significant. For such a project, it's possible to deviate significantly from the rule of perpendicular cutting. I just aim for the best.

In the photo below are the blanks I obtained right after cutting. The thickness of the blanks is around 5-6 mm.

Crafting the soundboard and back

Now it's time to assemble the actual parts of the guitar from these blanks. The first stage is deciding which piece goes where. It's a very engaging process. You can spend a lot of time and argue with yourself in disputes over the best option.

I intentionally made the blanks long to have the possibility to move the planks. There are various defects on the blanks that need to be eliminated as much as possible. They should end up in offcuts or in insignificant areas of the guitar. I tried to make the parts of the guitar symmetrical.

Click on photo to enlarge

At this stage, you can slightly adjust the direction of the wood layers and glue in a way that the seams run parallel to the layers. It doesn't always work out, but it's better to add another plank than to glue angled layers. Glue homogeneous areas to each other. A good glue joint is almost imperceptible. And the number of glue joints doesn't affect the sound, despite what some may say. There won't be an infinite number of glue joints.

I positioned the nail holes on the soundboard in a way that they fall under the guitar's bridge. In the worst-case scenario, you can fill the hole with a plug. I did this on the back. I placed knots and patched holes roughly in a single row above the waist crossbar.

Once the gluing sequence is determined, each piece needs to be planed and glued in order. Watch the video inserted in the article. Before planing, I made the blanks uniform in thickness, about 4 mm. Don't make them too thin; just level them after sawing.

In the photo below is my planing machine. The main thing is to make the guide line straight and keep the blade sharp. Working on it will become an amusement. Afterward, you won't even find your own seam.

blade of the planing device for top and back

I glue the blanks on a special table where one piece can be secured while pressing the second one against it. This table is very versatile. I always use guiding planks to prevent the soundboard or back from splitting apart.


glueing table

all parts of the back

finished pine back

finished pine guitar back

central part of the sounboard

clueing the guitar top

guitar top on glueing table

guitar top before trimming

finished guitar top

finished pine guitar top

Please watch the video covering these steps. There might be some additional details there. However, I'll remind you that this series of articles aims to provide only a general understanding of how a guitar is assembled. Thousands of little nuances will remain off-screen for now.