Hey there! This is my first attempt at building a guitar from scratch. What I will be attempting is as accurate a copy as I can manage of a 59 Les Paul, but with a different top colour, inlays and headstock shape. There will be some other changes: I will use ebony, not use Brazilian rosewood for the fingerboard, I will let the control and switch cavities go all the way through the mahogany and, most significantly, perhaps, I will only be using hand tools. Not a single power tool will be employed in this build. Heres the maple I will be using, which came from Northridge Hardwoods, plus the neck and body blanks (the fingerboard is a different one). The maple has a beautiful figure, I think. I will be building two guitars more or less simultaneously, by the way, learning from my mistakes on the first and trying hard not to make new, exciting mistakes on the second one. After this, I will probably take a break and try a couple of different instrument styles (a ukulele, a bass and some sort of Fender possibly also an acoustic), then come back to the LP shape with new, shiny and improved skills and try for as perfect a replica of a 59 as I can, complete with Brazilian board, old growth body and neck and all of the stuff like correct inlays and hardware. I may even try and age that one more or less convincingly. Im not sure. The pair I am making now, however, will clearly not be mistaken for Gibsons, no matter how close they will, I hope, be in many details. One might well ask why I decided to build without power tools. There are several reasons. The first is sheer practicality. I live in a small Tokyo apartment with the landlord next door, so power tools even an electric drill or a router would probably get me chucked out in short order. The second reason is because building a guitar is, for me, a way to release stress, so I want to do it slowly. The third reason is that I think (OK hope desperately) hand tools will give me more control over the build process. No router tearouts, no burned corners and no drills going wildly out of control if things start to get ugly, I will have plenty of time to stop, take stock and do it properly. The fourth reason is that I want to learn how to make guitars well, and think that this is as good a way to have a self-directed apprenticeship as any other. A number of top makers say that they started with saws, chisels and planes before moving onto powered shop tools. Who am I to argue with them? Finally, I have played instruments built entirely by hand before and they are, to my mind, special. They have an indefinable quality that sets them apart. Many look cruder than factory-assembled versions, but some are made carefully enough that they are better looking and feeling than any machined instrument. Do instruments have a soul? Maybe maybe not. It depends on whom you ask and how metaphorical theyre feeling that day. If they do, however, then that is something that comes initially from the maker, and the more the maker works with her or his hands to produce the instrument, the more of themselves they impart. I know it is not practical for modern professional builders to make guitars entirely by hand. Why use a hand saw when a bandsaw is faster and makes a dead straight cut? Hobbyists like me are, perhaps, the only people who would bother to do this. I may well do a horrible job and really mess things up. I will, however, learn along the way. If you follow this thread, you may as well. Either that, or youll fall about laughing at all the stupid things I do. I will document every step of the build, including noting the tools used. This is partly for my own sake, to keep a record and get feedback, and partly for the sake of anyone else who starts a scratch build. Not everyone has access to a great workshop and someone might wonder, for example, how to do a 4.4-degree plane on a body or create pickup and control cavities without a router. They can then look at the way I did it and see if it could work with what they have or use it as a starting point to come up with a better solution. Oh - one last thing. I'll probably write a lot about how I do things and include a lot of unnecessary detail. I'll try to include interesting pictures along the way. Oh..okay. Interesting and relevant pictures.