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CNC Electric Guitar Build, Using Reclaimed Materials

CNC Electric Guitar Build, Using Reclaimed Materials

3 minute read

Building My Upcycled Electric Guitar from Reclaimed Materials on the CNC Machine

I’m an “upcyclist,” which is a fancy word for trash picker. I build with reclaimed and discarded materials and I love making guitars. So when my friend was replacing his dated, maple kitchen counter, I jumped at the change to grab it and make a unique, headless one-piece guitar using my collection of router bits from Amana Tool.

Tim Sway Guitar Build ToolsToday

In Aspire, I designed the guitar as one piece of wood (versus a body and neck that bolt together). Also unlike more traditional guitars, this one has all the tuning pegs built in to the bridge, so it doesn’t need a head. My CNC Router Parts 2X3 is just big enough for me to cut this headless guitar design from one block of wood.

For a job like this, I need the right CNC router bits – from really monstrous end mills for removing loads of material to tiny, 2/100ths end mills for carving in the fret slots. 

Spektra upcut 46216-K removes a lot of material

I needed to remove a lot of material on the back, so I began carving with a 1/2″ Dia. Solid Carbide, Spektra™ Coated Up-Cut Spiral Flute Router Bit 46216-K for my roughing pass, and ran the finishing pass with my ball nose.

cnc vacuum

I started on the top side doing basic 2D carving with a Spektra™ ¼” Radius Solid Carbide Up-Cut Spiral Flute Router Bit 46380-K and its ⅛” brother, 46294-K. With these I cut out the pocket to hold the electronics, truss rod and pickups.

I also created three dowel holes that I transfered to the wasteboard to make sure my two-sided carve stayed aligned when I flipped it.

I used a 0.020” Miniature Solid Carbide Up-Cut Spiral Flute Router Bit 51662 to carve where the frets will get seated on the fingerboard and engraved my graphics in to the fingerboard and pickguard with the  30° Engraving with 0.005” Tip Width, Spektra™ Coated Solid Carbide Router Bit 45771-K. I used some old cumaru decking to make the fingerboard and a piece of discarded sign material (aluminum and plastic) for the pickguard. I also use vinyl records for some of the plastic parts. It’s kind of my signature.

upcycling vinyl records

carving the fingerboard on cnc

recessing the bridge with handheld router

I messed up my calculations a little and had to recess the guitar’s bridge in to the body, but it was too late to do this on the CNC. So I created a template and used my trusty old 1/4” Miniature Flush Trim Plunge Template Carbide Tipped Router Bit 47224-S to fix the problem.

The rest involves some knowledge and experience in guitar setup. Now the guitar is complete - made almost entirely of discarded materials – and ready to make rock-n-roll history!

finished guitar build with upcycled materials

electric guitar build on cnc machine

Watch the full video here!

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