How to Build a Guitar from a Wood Pallet, Part 2: Make a Salvage Plan

Reader Contribution by Warren Mckenney


Read Part 1 of this series of a general materials list for this project.

Read Part 3 for how to build a guitar sound chamber.

Top View/Basic Measurements

This bout design allows me to play all 24 frets comfortably, sitting or standing. The playing scale length is the distance from the nut to the bridge. The fret layout depends on this distance. I made my fret layout gauge from measurements obtained from a book. You can now find them on the net for free.

The distance across the body was directly influenced by my planer, that’s the widest stock I could run. To cheap to buy a larger planer. The neck, body and headstock are made together. You wouldn’t need to do this, a set neck could fit into a pocket built into the body, or a bolt on type could be added.

Always work with a center line, this will almost guarantee a near perfect alignment for strings, bridge, pick-ups, headstock, etc. Design your guitar to fit you and your artistic slant. Try to use recycled, or reclaimed materials. They are very dry, and probably not plantation grown, these two characteristics make great instrument material.

Side View

This view gives a visual of the entire instrument. I canted the headstock so I wouldn’t need string hold downs and to give it that Irish flare. The neck is a three piece laminated unit. I cut the pieces using a gauge I made of old sub floor material. One piece of the neck is mahogany, two are maple, cut identical in shape but not length. The center piece goes the length of the guitar from head to body tail. The Maple pieces go from head to two inches into the body, Glue and clamp. I use Tite Bond glue, does the trick.

This is my neck gauge.

Body Back

The drawing below shows how the neck is incorporated into the body back. The center Mahogany piece is 3/4 inches wide and runs the length of the instrument for strength and looks. The Maple pieces run just inside the body. You can run them 2 to 4 inches in. They are also 3/4 inches wide. The body back is two separate pieces 3/4 inches thick x 6 inches wide x 20 inches long cut to fit tight to the neck material. Dry fit, glue and clamp. To achieve the body thickness, I stacked another piece of 3/4-inch material around the perimeter of the body. This material can be anything and in pieces, no waste, and a good way to use small pieces.

Body Cross Section

I’ll get into the inner body design next post. Remember to maintain that center line through out the project.

We, my two brothers and I grew up in a small house that sat on cedar posts, our job was to help lift the house, no not by hand but, with screw jacks and build a block foundation under it. The point I am getting at is this, the blocks were used, salvaged from another house we tore down. At nine years old, I was chipping mortar from blocks to reuse them on our house. This type of approach has stuck with me through the years. We didn’t get paid to do this, just our way of life., but a little cash would have been nice. Oh well, foiled again. Have a good time. Recycle, Re-claim, Repurpose.

Willow, Maple, Walnut, and Cherry

Read Part 3 for how to build a guitar sound chamber. 

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