Woodworking Power Tools to Consider for Guitar Building

Woodworking Power Tools to Consider

This Portion Of The Ultimate Guitar OnLine Gives You Access To Required Tools, Templates, Forms & Jigs

Georgia Luthier Supply
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Woodworking Power Tools can save a ton of time for you, increase your accuracy and up your production, but are they right for you?

That all depends on a couple of things.

How many guitars do you plan on making? Is this just a one of a kind for you or a family member? Or are you looking for a serious hobby or possibly even a career? You never know do you? I will warn you that this can be very addicting and you could even say habit-forming - seriously habit-forming.

After you finish your first guitar, the feeling that rushes over you from hearing those first wonderful notes, being played on your own creation is hard to explain.

Secondly, as you learn the art of woodworking, you may venture into other wood design/build hobbies, such as furniture making etc. Personally, I have found there is a great deal of satisfaction in not only seeing and playing my own guitars, I now sit in a chair that I designed and built from wood and sleep in a bed that I design and built and have gotten into all sorts of other wood-crafting activities.

While you can accomplish your task of making a guitar with only hand tools and many luthier's do just that. I will list in order, which woodworking power tools you should consider though and I will review with you what guitar-making jobs they can help you with.


The bandsaw was the first woodworking power tool that I purchased for my guitar-making activities. It is by far one of the most versatile tools that you will purchase. Combine it with the floor-mounted belt sander and you have a pair of machines that can take you very far into you guitar-making hobby.

If you decide to go big time, invest in one of the 20 to 24" models, which will allow you to resaw lumber for your backs,sides and tops. I often found select woods that I could resaw myself and build up quite a shop full of quality wood that would last me years into the future.

Band Saw: Importance*****

Minimum throat width 14" don't consider anything less. I have a 20" and have used a 12" for smaller projects.
20"x20" Cast Iron Table
Roller Bearing Guides at Top & Bottom of Blade Support
Easily Adjustable Blade Tension
Easily Accessible Blade Changing

Guitar Making Operations:

Cutting all inside and outside guitar forms.
Making contour patterns for side bending jigs.
Ripping top, back and sides from dimensional lumber.
Cutting the kerfed liner that hold the top & back to the sides.
Rough-cutting the neck, heel and headstock.
Rough-cutting internal braces.
Making all sorts of patterns, jigs, clamps and other misc. guitar related items
Cutting wood purfling to size.

Recommended Models:

Jet: JWBS-18QT-3 18" Throat 3HP: $1,699.99
Jet: JWBS-20QT-5 20" Throat 5HP: $2,699.99**
Powermatic PWBS-14CS 14" Throat 1-1/2 HP: $1,199.99
Powermatic 2414 24" Throat 3 HP: $4,589.99

JET Belt/Disc Sander 1-1/2 HP at Woodcraft.com

I absolutely love my floor mounted belt/disc sander combo unit. I have make a lot of jigs and fixtures to allow many different operations that his machine was not even intended to do. I'm on my second unit already because of the extended use this piece of equipment gets in my shop.

The Floor Mounted 6" x 48" Belt Sander will be a work horse in your shop. I would only purchase the bandsaw prior to this valuable piece of machinery. Important items to look for? Easy adjustment of belt tension, easily removable fence and a great dust collection system. Also look for a good magnetic switch.

The disc sander portion of this combo comes in very handy for a lot of operation too. From getting a square edge on a jig or fixture to sanding a contour on a brace with accuracy is unmatched with this too.

I have a Delta, but wish I would have gone with the Powermatic 31A. Powermatic tools are tough to beat.

Belt Sander: Importance *****

6" x 48" Belt Surface with 12" Dia Disc Sander
Cast Iron Table
Easily Adjustable Belt Tension
Guitar Making Operations:

Surface backs, tops & Sides
Thickness sand fingerboards
Contour interior bracing
Shape Bridges
Shape neck, heel & headstock
Finish sand wood purfling
Making all sorts of patterns, jigs, clamps and other misc. guitar related items

Recommended Models:

JET Belt/Disc Sander 1-1/2 HP: $1,219.99
Powermatic 31A 2HP: $1,419.99**

This one is not officially considered a woodworking power  tool, but it's role in the shop is one of the most important. That role is protecting the shop employees/workers from inhaling hazardous exotic wood dust.

As you may know many of the woods that we love for back and sides of our guitars are toxic to breath and the role of a great dust collection system is paramount in the shop.

Powermatic 1900 CFM Dust Collector, Model 75 at Woodcraft.com

Buy the most powerful system that you can afford and you WILL need to hook it up to the belt sander system for sure, because of the tremendous dust generation of that piece of machinery.

I have had the Jet System and now have the Powermatic unit as indicated in "A" above. I love the 3-tube access that Powermatic has and the large drive motor. This system will power up to a moderate sized shop.

Be careful when you do install a dust collection system that you run copper grounding wiring through all the vacuum tubing and connection all the pieces of machinery together. If you miss this step, your chances of a dust -related explosion increase exponentially.

Central Vac System: Importance *****

Go with as large a unit as you can afford, to be able to connect all tools in your shop.
Look For Multi-Connection Duct Connection
Waste Bag Easy to Empty
Magnetic Switch

Guitar Making Operations:

Collects all toxic and other woodworking dust. Run 4" plastic piping from table saws, planers, belt sanders, band saws etc. Really makes for a clear and tidy shop.

Recommended Models:

Powermatic Model 75 Collector 3 HP: $1,399.99**
Oneida Air Systems Cyclone Collector: $1,899.99
Jet Cyclone Collector 3HP: 1,099.99

JET 16

The thickness planer should almost be considered a tier 2 piece of machinery. It isn't a must-have woodworking power tool, but it sure is a "nice-to-have" item if you are looking at medium to high production.

Look for one that has spiral cutters for a much smoother cutting surface. If you hate to change drum sander belts like I do, the thickness planer will move up the list of your must-have woodworking power tools.

Consider anything in the 12" to 20" cutting bed width and at least a 4" depth of cut. Also look for a micro adjustment on the depth indicator with a digital readout - it makes things much simpler.

Thickness Planer: Importance **

Minimum 12" Cutter Width, 15" to 20" Much Better
Solid Easy to Use Controls
Excellent Dust Collection Chute
Electronic Readout for Depth of Cut Preferred
Consider Spiral Cutters
Good Outfeed Rollers

Guitar Making Operations:

Thickness Planing Top, Back and Sides
Thickness Planing for Necks, Bracing & Heel Blocks
Be Able To Surface Plane Rough Wood You Obtain

Recommended Models:

Powermatic 15" Model 15S: $1,999.99**
Powermatic 209HH 20" 5HP Planer: $3,499.99
Jet JWP-208HH-1 20" Planer: $3,349.99
Jet JWP-15DX 15" Planer: $1,699.99


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