Last Updated on August 5, 2020
If you’re a guitarist, you don’t need to be a full-blown luthier to build your own instrument. With a little bit of DIY prowess, you can create one of the most unique guitars around out of a simple cigar box.
Provided you have the right tools for the job, creating a cigar box guitar is actually a lot easier than it looks. Cigar box guitars are the true makings of DIY musicians. And by building your own you join a special group.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best free cigar box guitar DIY plans available.
But before you get to work building your very own, there’s one thing to remember. Be sure to always operate with proper PPE. This can include eye protection, aprons, gloves, and avoiding loose fitting clothing. You’re going to want to try and keep your fingers attached for this one.
If you’re looking to build a cigar box guitar, we recommend you start here. This basic 3-string plan from CigarBoxGuitar.com is the perfect place for beginners getting into cigar box guitar making. The plan is broken down into 8 pages each with easy step-by-step explanations, lists, and pictures.
This plan when complete produces a basic acoustic style guitar that can be learned how to play through links they provide. Also, it walks you through the option of fretting (or not) and how to set up your frets should you choose to do so.
As far as difficulty levels go, this is the easiest cigar box guitar project we’ve seen out there. DIY’ers of all levels could go through this plan and produce quality work.
The MakeZine Cigar Box Guitar plan is another design for an acoustic unit. What we like about this plan is its setup. You first get treated to a very handy info graphic that explains what all the pieces and parts of a cigar box guitar do. Afterwards, it’s a clickable slide slow. That way you can always find exactly where you left off with ease or jump back to a particular section immediately.
Like the plan above, this one has some really great extra resources such as learning how to play your new guitar, making a bottleneck slide, and how to tune up.
This is another simple project that most anyone can complete. You don’t need a lot of expertise and could probably finish this in about a day.
Now this particular set of plans is the most unique on this list. These plans are straight out of the 1920s from a man named Charles A. King. It’s for a cigar box ukulele —which we still consider to be a guitar.
If you’re looking to build an authentic time-period piece, instead of a regular ukulele, this is the perfect plan for you. Just understand that this is absolutely not a project for a beginner. You should have expert level DIY knowledge and experience to undertake this.
That’s because of how this plan is put together. It’s a written article from the early 1900s and reads as such. Plus there’s only one picture (albeit detailed) to help you figure out just how to build it. But if you can muster through, it’s sure to be an awesome addition to your collection.
Brian Lemin’s cigar box guitar plans are as fun to read through as they are informative. He’s got a down home way of walking through the process—even when helping choose what hardware and materials you’ll need.
The cigar box guitar he teaches you to build will be an amplified electric guitar. This means that you’re going to need some extra equipment to ensure your cigar box works properly.
However, Brian gives expert advice every step of the way even deciding for you if needed. The end product turns out to be a very high-quality product. But be warned, this is not a project for a first time DIY’er. You should have a bit of experience before diving head-first into this project.
This design from the Art of Manliness is super cool. It’s got a pretty old-timey look when complete which is part of the charm of a good cigar box guitar.
The plans also have some unique insights and construction tips. They go over how to deal with either a wooden or paper cigar box, stenciling and woodburning, part and tool improvising, and more. Not to mention there’s detailed pictures all throughout documenting the entire process from start to finish.
The Art of Manliness cigar box guitar plans also come with the necessary information you need to build a fret board and establish what chords are played where.
Also See: DIY Mailbox Plans
Cigar box guitars truly embody the spirit of DIY. And if you’re a guitarist who loves working with their hands, this could be some of the most fun you’ll have in DIY. Plus, you’ll be rewarded with a truly unique instrument and the pride of knowing you built it yourself.
/Featured Image Credit: steve lodefink, Flickr
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!