Cigar Box Gutar Neck

How to Make a Basic Cigar Box Guitar: Adding Logos and Finishing the Neck

In the last post I talked a little bit about a Wood Art Transfer technique I read about on the internet. It is a fairly straight forward technique to do, but you must take care when removing the paper, so you don’t ruin your design.

Step One – two coats of lacquer

Before sticking your design to the neck it is recommended that you give the neck two thin coats of clear gloss lacquer and leave to dry; this gives the design a better surface to stick to and is less likely to be rubbed off later.

I have tried this technique without two coats of lacquer before with mixed results.

I am using some clear gloss nitrocellulose lacquer which is specially designed for guitars, but automotive and model making spray lacquers should work too.

Clear gloss nitrocellulose lacquer from the Manchester Guitar Tech here in the UK.

Two coats of clear paint have been sprayed onto the neck as a base coat.

Step Two – Print your design

Print out your design on a laser printer making sure that you mirror the images and text beforehand and cut to size.

Logo design and side markers have been printed out.

Step Three – Glue your design to the neck

Grab your gel medium (I’m using Liquitex Gloss Gel Medium) and spread a thin layer over the designs. Carefully place your designs in their preferred location and smooth out using an old credit card; an ink roller (or brayer) works very well too. Remove any excess gel medium with a lightly dampened cloth as it’s harder to remove after it has dried.

Leave the gel medium to dry overnight before moving onto the next part.

The designs have been glued.

Step Four – Removing the paper

Once the gel medium has dried get a cup of water and some paper towels. Thoroughly soak a paper towel and place over your design; you should start to see the paper become translucent.

The paper starts to go translucent when water is added.

Once the design has been thoroughly soaked take a dry finger and start rubbing at the corners of the design. It shouldn’t take much effort to begin to start rubbing away the paper. This is the most crucial part of the technique, don’t rub too hard or you might rub the design off. Keep the surface soaked at all times.

Keep rubbing the design until all of the paper has been removed; the design will look slightly dull compared to the lacquer finish, this is ok and will be covered over with further coats of lacquer.

The finished design successfully transferred onto the neck.

The finished fret markers and side dots.

Step Six – Adding the finishing touches

Wipe the whole neck down to get rid of any paper debris and leave to dry out thoroughly, (I leave mine overnight) then spray a further 4 to 5 thin coats of gloss lacquer over the whole neck; this will protect your design and give the neck a uniform gloss finish.

Don’t worry if you mess up during the process, simply let it dry out, sand the offending pieces back down to the lacquer and repeat. All you’ve wasted is a sheet of printer paper and some time.


  • Vic Sotelo


    Greetings from Duarte California (outside of Los Angeles) U.S.A. I just got hooked on CBG'S and I'm just about to start my first build. Your image transfer application is out of this world! Great idea and it looks fantastic. I was wondering if you could help me out with the proper sanding order on my red oak neck. what grit sand paper should I start with after doing all my cuts and what final grit should I end up using for the smooth finished product? There is so much information on the web it can be overwhelming! Thank you very much and keep up the excellent work!!!! Vic Sotelo

    • admin


      Hi Vic, Nice to see someone else has caught the CBG bug! When sanding the neck I usually start off with a coarser grit sandpaper of around 100-120 grit to get rid of the bigger blemishes. I then move on to finer sandpaper and repeat the process; I use 200, 400 and 600 grit making sure to sand the whole neck with each grit. I have yet to use red oak on a neck so you might want to go a little finer with the grit depending on the grain of the wood. Once this is done give the neck a good wipe down with an old cloth to get rid of all of the sanding debris and give it two coats of nitrocellulose lacquer; let it dry overnight and then add your transfers like the post above. Hope this helps.

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