Cigar Box Gutar Neck

How to Make a Basic Cigar Box Guitar: Making the Neck Part 3

Cutting the body and headstock recesses

Both the headstock and body portion of the neck need to be recessed to fit the machine heads and provide proper sting alignment for the finished instrument. The headstock will be thinned out by 9mm and the body recess by around 8mm, meaning that the fretboard will stick out above the cigar box by around 4mm.

Marking and cutting the body recess

First find your line where the cigar box will join the neck and draw a line down the height of the neck. Then measure 8mm from the top of the neck down the line you’ve just drawn and at the end of the neck as well. Joint the two marks and you’ve got your recess size.

Body recess size has been measured.

There are a number of ways to cut the body and headstock recesses, but by far the easiest is to use a bandsaw. I am lucky, as I have a friend who has one in his garage and lets me use it from time to time.

If you don’t have access to a bandsaw there are two ways in which you can cut the recess.

Alternative 1: Cutting the recess with a chisel

Start by sawing notches about ¾ of an inch (19mm) apart down the length of the recess (see picture below) to a depth of around 8mm; do not cut lower than 8mm.

Cutting notches down the length of the recess.

Once all of the notches have been cut, use a 1 inch (25mm) chisel and a hammer to slowly remove the wood. Work from each side to the middle then turn the neck around and start the other side; this will prevent damage to the edges of the neck.

Using the chisel to remove the wood for the recess.

The wood has been removed, now repeat that all the way down the neck.

Remove as much of the wood as you can then clean up the recess with a coarse file and some sandpaper.

Finishing it off with sandpaper.

Alternative 2: Cutting the recess with a saw

Using a chisel to cut the recess provides good results, but is very time consuming. Another way to do it is to use a saw. Make sure your saw doesn’t have a lip at the top, like a dovetail saw; this will make it harder to control the further down the neck you saw.

Start at the end of the neck and saw just above the line you drew for your recess. Slowly work the saw down the length of the recess checking both sides to make sure you haven’t strayed over the lines.

Saw just above the line you have drawn for the recess depth.

The further down the neck you go the more resistance you will feel through the saw, so I like to cut off the excess every once and a while to make it easier.

Sawing off the excess makes it easier.

Carry on sawing down the neck till you reach the end line and cut off the excess.

It’s not pretty, but a coarse file will see to that.

Use a coarse file to level out the recess and sandpaper to finish.

Using a coarse file to level out the recess.

Finished recess.

Now on to the headstock recess.

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