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Tools to Buy First

Starting out building guitars you really don't know what tools to buy now and which tools can wait until later. So I made a page to help you out. I've listed a bunch of basic tools that every budding luthier will need. Some of these tools, like the bandsaw and drill press, you may upgrade later. But that's ok. These are the tools that you will need to get started.

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You're Going to need a good set of calipers and you can beat the price and function of the IP54. I have several sets of these around the shop.

A sander like this combined with my adjustable table jig (will be in the book) will allow you to scoop the ends of your braces, thickness your head stock, rough carve your neck, etc. etc.

Unless you want to really work up a sweat you will want to get a nice little sander like this.

This is a great starter set for all fret work.  You will need every item in this set of fret tools.

Bridge pin reamer at an affordable price. This is the 3 degree taper that is used in most guitars

Eventually you will need a full size router and a palm router like this one from Bosch. If you can only afford to buy one then the palm router is the one to get first.

Great kit to get you started with cordless tools. It includes 2 tools, 2 batteries, a charger and a tool bag.

This sander almost falls into the advanced category of tools. But I decided to add it because too many people underestimate the value of a good sander.

This is a nice 24" stainless steel ruler that will be used throughout the entire build process.

If you can't afford a floor model drill press or simply do not have enough room, don't worry. This highly rated and extremely affordable table top model will work just fine for almost any guitar project.

This inexpensive set of chisels will get you started carving braces. It even includes a sharpening stone and honing guide.

This is a highly rated saw with lots of nice features. It has a 6" tall cut so you can re-saw your own sides, fret boards, etc. You will not be able to cut backs or tops with this saw.

Basic planes are not that expensive so buy a quality brand like Stanley. The higher quality steel that they use in the blade vs cheap Chinese knockoff's is easily worth an extra buck or two.

The expensive rasps on the other tool pages are worth every penny and you should buy them as soon as you can afford them. In the mean time, this one will work.

If you prefer to start your cordless tool collection with a higher quality drill then this is the one for you. This drill has a brushless motor and better battery. I use this drill in my shop on a daily basis.

A nice precision square like this will be helpful when laying out tuner locations, bridge pin locations, etc.

If you have an old compass from your school days it will work just fine. But if you need to buy one, this compass is high quality and very affordable.

This little gadget can be used to thickness wood (such as tops, backs and sides) using a drill press and palm sander.  It's not as fast as a drum sander but it is much more affordable.

This 10 mm curved bottom finger plane is my favorite tool for brace carving.  It's also need it to carve necks. My students hate it, until they learn to hold it, then they love it!

If you can't afford a good band saw then start out with a nice jig saw like this one.  You can use it to make most jigs, body molds, side bending forms, and anything else that requires a curved cut.

Nice quality pull saw. It's surprising how often a saw like this is needed.

16" radius sanding block to radius fret boards by hand.

A good table saw is expensive. This cordless circular saw is an excellent substitute. It has plenty of power and is extremely portable. Besides that, it is a really handy tool to have around.

Highly rated square needed for all types of layout work.

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