In this lesson we will discuss various tools around my shop. This is just to get the gears turning in your head. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of necessities. I urge the student to make NO tool purchases at this time. It is much wiser and more economical to rent, borrow or purchase tools as you go, lesson by lesson. Not every builder uses the same tools so you may find that your situation calls for a different setup than mine.

Tools noted:

#5 Jack plane
Thumb Plane
Block Plane
Card Scrapers
Dovetail Saw
Japanese Pullsaw
Razor Saw
Large Backsaw
Coping Saw
Jeweler’s Saw
Cam Clamps
Ibex Bridge Clamps
Spring Clamps
Needle Files
Nut Slotting Files
Razor Knife and Razor Blades
Fret Nippers
Fretting Hammer
Fret Press
6″ Square
Feeler Gauges
Radius Gauges
Radius Blocks
Fret Bender
String Spacing Ruler
Heat Gun
Laminate Trimmer
Plunge Router
Various Rulers
Inspection Mirror
Dremel Tool
Bending Iron
Random Orbital Sander
Dremel Base
Circle Cutter

Bench Grinder
Belt Sander
Drill Press
Router Table
Table Saw
Drum Sander

Lesson Transcript:

The last two lessons prompted you to take action: to order a set of plans and to order the parts and materials for your guitar. This lesson, however, is going to be just a little bit different. I urge you to put away the credit card for now and just listen. I am going to show you some of the tools around my shop. some of these tools are totally necessary while others are just plain fun, or they make the job easier.

You are encouraged to take notes but not encouraged to purchase any of the tools you see here… yet.

What I really want you to do is this: As you go through the content of this course, lesson by lesson, purchase the tools as you go. It is much smarter that way. You will end up making wiser purchases and you won’t have any extra junk tools around the shop that you never really use.

I also encourage students to rent or borrow tools as much as possible. There is likely a woodshop or maker’s space in your area where you can rent time, especially on some of the larger equipment such as thickness sanders or bandsaws.

Call up some friends. Look on Craig’s list. It is very likely that a lot of these tools are right under your fingertips if you look hard enough.

#5 Jack Plane

The #5 Jack Plane finds a myriad of uses around my shop, most notably for jointing long edges, such as the joint for the top and back plates. I also use this general purpose plane for thicknessing stock before fine-tuning the thickness on a drum sander.

Thumb Plane

This miniature handplane made from an ebony block is called a thumb plane. It is certainly not a necessity, but it does make some jobs, like trimming brace tops, a whole lot of fun.

Block Plane

The block plane is an excellent companion to the jack plane. The block plane is useful for jointing edges and thicknessing small surfaces such as the scarf joint for the neck.


I use 4 chisels for work on guitars. I use a 1″, 3/4″, 1/4″ and an 1/8″ chisel. It is wiser to invest in a good quality 1″ and 1/4″ chisel, rather than a whole set of cheap, low quality chisels. I do, however keep some bargain variety chisels, such as this one, around for general use in the shop, just to save the edge on my good chisels.


The spokeshave was designed for use in shaping and smoothing curved surfaces, such as chair legs, wheel spokes and, in this case, guitar necks. Make sure your spokeshave has a flat plane (*sole) rather than a radiused plane (*sole).

Card Scrapers

Card scrapers are great for smoothing surfaces if you know how to sharpen them and use them. Otherwise, you can just use sandpaper for smoothing. In a pinch, a razor blade can quickly and easily be honed into an effective mini-scraper, simply by drawing the razor’s edge across an edge of hard steel, such as the edge of your bandsaw table.

Large Backsaw

The backsaw is designed for precision cuts. Unlike most other saw types, the backsaw has a metal rib, opposite the cutting edge, to limit flexing of the blade. The only drawback is that the metal rib prevents you from cutting beyond a certain depth. The larger variety of backsaws, which you see here, is not of much use unless you do not have access to power tools and need something heavy duty for cross cuts.

Dovetail Saw

The dovetail saw is a small backsaw set to leave a narrow kerf. I keep 2 10″ dovetail saws on hand: A low quality saw for my rough cuts and a high quality saw with a kerf specifically designed for cutting fret slots.

Japanese Pullsaw

The Japanese pullsaw has a thin blade and it cuts on the pull stroke. This saw doesn’t see a whole lot of action in my shop because I do my rip cuts on the table saw or the bandsaw. However, if you are working without the use of power tools, then the pullsaw may be…

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