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Kevin Chilcott Luthier, Royal Guitars, Royale Guitars
Designing and Building a Guitar from Scratch

Please Note
This section is Incomplete and there is a possibility of alterations at any time.

"Web Projects"

The idea to do this feature on the website started back in 2002.
The idea was a step by step guide to building an electric guitar with photos along with it.

What I should also say at this point is...
The methods shown are only one way of going about these tasks - there are
other ways, and other methods and techniques. Different Luthiers use different ways
of going about each task, and the methods they use depend on the way they were taught or 
have discovered themselves through trial, error and experience.

There is no real definitive way that each task must be done - although some may disagree.

In these sections I'm going to try to show a way that needs as few tools as possible so that a
small fortune is not required to... have a go !  

This Section will be on-going and will take a few years to come together.

First of all I intend to do an Electric Guitar, and later on do an Acoustic, then a Semi Acoustic  
and maybe a Classical Guitar and to finish the series maybe a request of some kind !

Web Project 1...  An Electric Guitar


Royal Medusa Custom Guitar - Royal Guitars

This is a Medusa Junior Custom made in 1989.
The Huntress is a similar design to this.


Drawing of Angel Flying V Design for Andy Powell - Kevin Chilcott Luthier

This is a 'likeness' on paper to the Angel in this project.
Essentially what you see above is what we're trying to get by the end...
...with maybe a few minor changes.
This picture also shows the outline of the proposed case for the... 
'Making a Shaped Guitar Case' section.

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*   *   *   *   *

Firstly I'll tell you why I'm doing this...

... Many years ago I purchased a couple of books on the subject, and was very impressed,
until I found out, by working with Chris Eccleshall, how to do it properly - 
There is a World of difference here.
What's important to remember is... you can quite successfully make a guitar by referring to a book, but by learning in a professional environment you learn all the things that are only possible there. 
These experiences you just cannot get anywhere else.

I was extremely lucky to have been in the position of having an apprenticeship, especially with somebody with the skills of Chris Eccleshall, who himself was apprentice at Hills of Bond Street London - The World renowned violin makers, repairers and restorers.
On a daily basis, for over two years, I was working on instruments that were either being constructed for customers or were being repaired for customers and I was in regular contact with the customers myself... it is a completely different environment to being in a normal learning situation as in a college or such like. Being involved with in a professional business where people are spending money, you cannot afford to make any mistakes !  You have to get pretty good very quickly or you can't do the job and consequently it was not easy - In fact is was very difficult and extremely challenging. I think that it is a real pity that the sort of learning experiences I had are no longer really available in our modern world. I learnt things that are just not part of any standard curriculum. I cannot really speak highly enough of Chris, who was brilliant.
It is unlikely that I will ever be in a position to take on an apprentice myself, so I think by doing this section on the website, I can at least, in part, try and pass on, some of the skills that have been passed on to me. 

*   *   *   *   *

Please Note

All I'm going to be doing is to give you the information that you need to be able to construct something with your own hands using both hand tools, hand-held power tools and some Industrial type tools when necessary... I will Not be responsible for any disasters during the project(s) and I will Not be responsible for any injuries that may occur - although I have cut myself on countless occasions over the years, I am still fully intact (touch wood), and if you are careful and use tools correctly you should have no problems on that score. If you have any doubts, please refer to the relevant manuals or seek advice from a professional near by. I'm sure they wouldn't mind lending you a hand.
Take Care 
and Mind Your Fingers.
(Tools are Potentially, Extremely Dangerous and can cause Serious Injury or Death)

YOU MUST WEAR the Appropriate Protective Equipment when using all tools...
Especially when using Machine Tools - including Ear & Eye Protection, Dust Mask
or Respirator.


Important Note.
Before you consider starting this project you really need some sort of
experience with tools including hand tools, machine tools and working 
with materials. If you do not have the required knowledge, you will need
help from someone that has.

I'm going to do these projects using the tools that I would generally use... which are in the main, quite basic and if not generally available in hardware stores are available in specialist shops or by mail order. 
I will be doing a special 'Tools Section' & will also give sources on the Links page. 

When I first started, I had no power tools of my own but managed to pick up a drill and stand, jigsaw, router and orbital sander secondhand. Other than those, the most important power tools for guitar making are a Bandsaw (even a little one is fine... I had a 'mini' Black & Decker until 1986) and a Disc Sander - which is probably the most useful tool you will ever buy... in my opinion.  

Part 1  
For Starters :

The basic design tools.
To start with you need a few basic items...
A notepad, a couple of pencils, sharpener (or sharpening knife), rubber, biro, a file of some sort for paperwork, short and long rulers, a couple of trigonometry squares and protractors, a compass (not essential, but useful), a pair of scissors, a roll of masking tape, and pop down to your local Supermarket to buy a roll of grease-proof paper or get some large sheets of tracing paper from a stationers but this will be more expensive. 
A long straight edge is essential or if you haven't got one, an edge strip of melamine faced chipboard that most kitchen units are made of will do for the time being, and you'll need a a tape measure.
Flexi-curves will also be very handy to help create the long and sweeping curves of a guitar body.
It would be handy to have some sort of case to hold all the bits and pieces in - I always find that when I need a biro or pencil... I can never find one !  I'm probably not the only one... ;0)

With this lot you will be able to start making patterns of the guitar you're going to build - initially on paper, which will then be transferred onto pattern plywood.

Some other small items that would come in handy are... a pickup surround or two, a couple of control knobs, an old top nut, an old scratch-plate with holes for pickups, in fact any old bits of hardware that's not really a lot of use for a working guitar. You should be able to source a few bits from somewhere. 

(At some stage you will need to get a proper long straight edge... that is a straight one, and a 2ft metal engineers rule that is quite flexible and also must be straight. The most important part of your patterns will be the centre line - everything 'works' from that)

Once you've gathered all that together, you can start to think about possibly copying this project I intend to do - which is a Royale Huntress, or if you feel more adventurous... design something to your own taste. It is entirely up to you. 

Putting the ideas on paper. 
Sounds simple enough... but it's best to get yourself prepared. 
You'll need a clear and clean area to do your drawings on, ideally it's best to have some sort of board to work on and again a piece of melamine faced chipboard (white is best), the kitchen unit stuff, makes an ideal surface.  A good size would be about 3ft x 2ft (100cm-ish x 60cm-ish). 
The great advantage of using a board is that you can leave your 'stuff' on it and move the board out of the way. If you just use a table, and you need to move your stuff - it's a real pain to clear it away, stash it and find it all again when you want to go back to it.

Web Project 001

The Guitar Patterns.
I've actually decided to do a version of my 'Angel' ('V') as well the 'Huntress' for this section.
I've done outline patterns on tracing paper, and will make plywood patterns from those. On these I will mark out all the relevant components... The bridge, pickups, knobs, control cut-out etc, fingerboard position and neck joint. I will make other plywood patterns for the fingerboard, neck and headstock.

On other pieces of plywood I will do the router patterns for the neck joint, pickups and control compartment cut-out.

I'll try to get some pix up on the site soon.

I've also just done a set of inlay patterns on paper for hand cut Mother-of-Pearl fingerboard inlays.
I'll get these up on the website in sequence with the other pix.

I will continue as soon as I can.

Making a 'Huntress'

Making an 'Angel'








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Kev Chilcott
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