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Basic Handtool Kit for Guitar Making, Part 2

...since guitars were invented, those who devote themselves to a study of the vihuela are small in number. It has been a great loss, as all kinds of plucked music could be played on it: but now the guitar is no more than a cowbell, so easy to play especially rasgueado, there is not a stable lad who is not a musician on the guitar.

Don Sebastian de Covarrubias Orozco, Tesoro de la Lengua Castellana, o Espanola, 1611

Tools used by a master Spanish Luthier. From Guitar Review no. 28, 1965

Rob Reid of asked me if I would do a part 2 to a "Basic Handtool Kit for Guitar Making".

I've thought about it some and after looking at the previous posting on tools I see that I forgot to include some items.

A Word of Warning!

Before you go buy any of the tools listed here or in the other posting please read through, cover to cover, the following books:


Hand Tools: Their Ways and Workings, Aldren A. Watson

Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology, Cumpiano and Natelson

Making Master Guitars, Roy Courtnall

The Guitar Maker's Workshop, Rik Middleton


The Big Red Book of American Luthierie, Volumes I, II, III, IV and V (just kidding, sort of)

Make Your Own Classical Guitar, Stanley Doubtfire

Classic Guitar Construction, Irving Sloane (please don't try to make a guitar from this book! He does so you how to make some great tools)

Things about the Guitar, Jose Ramirez III

A Concise History of the Guitar, Graham Wade

The Segovia Technique, Vladimir Bobri (This book is to remind you of the reason why so many of us started playing the classic guitar!)

Once you have read all these books you will have a better understanding of the work that goes into to make a classic guitar, what skills you will need to work on and what tools to purchase.

Again, the following list is by no means complete, but it is enough to get started. So shown in the photo above are the following and buy as many as you can afford,

"C" clamps of various sizes

Deep reach "C" clamps

Pony brand Spring Clamps (buy a bucket load of these clamps in 1", 2", 3" and 4" sizes, 60 of each size would suffice!)

Irwin brand "Quik Grip" clamps (I used these alot when I was a finish carpenter)

Jorgensen or Pony brand steel bar clamps, 12", 18", 24", 36" lengths, at least four of each length.

Cam clamps: buy these from LMI, Stew-Mac, Japan Woodworker, Grizzly (if you buy them from Grizzly be prepared to modify the jaws!) Better yet, make your own! Fine Woodworking has many articles on making these; Classic Guitar Construction by Irving Sloane shows how to make them; so does Stanley Doubtfire's book, Make Your Own Classical Guitar; Lutherie Tools, by the Guild of American Luthiers has several articles on how to make them. Again, this is not a complete list of books or articles.

I'll talk about what sharpening stones to consider along with tenon saws, crosscut and rip saws in Part 3!

My "Mae West" Lacote, after a Legnani Model by Rene Lacote, circa 1830. I spent about an hour french polishing it this afternoon.

You Tube of the Post: Who says the 4 string guitar is dead!


  1. Wilson,

    What are the bar like tools, four of them, whitish, to the left of the bowsaw? I find that the "better" I get, the fewer the tools I need, or maybe the fact that I don't read w/w magazines anymore has something to do with it lol. I made some cam clamps for my boat project, they work great.

  2. T:
    Those are wooden slip clamps to hold down the sides to the top while the guitar is being assembled on the solera. I saw them in use in a photo of Geza Burghardt, a Canadian luthier, in a Guild of American Luthiers magazine. I haven't been able to find a photo to post to show how they were used.



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