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Thickness Sander

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One of the biggest problems with building your own guitar is getting wood that is thin enough for a guitar. A planer ends up "chipping out" the wood. Jonathan Kinkead, in his book, "Build Your Own Acoustic Guitar" recommends using metal scrapers to reduce the thickness of the wood. This is okay if you start with wood that is thin to begin with. As you probably know, wood is expensive. Especially if it is bought already cut to size. I am thinking that if I can buy wood in 3/4" or 1" widths, I can resaw with my bandsaw and save some money. I can only cut about 7" widths at the very maximum with my saw though and that is after some modifications. I could make a 3 piece back like a Martin D-35 guitar. I could buy a more expensive bandsaw that gives me more width to cut but I'm not sure I want to do that.

Jim Olson's handmade thickness sander. They don't get any better than this but this far beyond what I am capable of making with my knowledge and available tools. I need something much more simple. Click Here or on the photo to see more photos and read about Jim's thickness sander.
This thickness sander came from It looks like a great sander but more complicated than I want to build.
This is the second thickness sander I considered. The frame and legs are complicated and I would need a dado blade for my tablesaw so I don't want to build this one.
This thickness sander was drawn in Google Sketchup by Matthias Wandel of It was orginally built by Pat Hawley. The plans are available free of charge at There are also many other plans available some incredible shop tools on that site.

I have found some Lutz spruce guitar tops on Ebay that are reasonably priced and they are 3/16" thick. I will need to take them down to about 1/8". To do this, I need a thickness sander. To buy a thickness sander is very cost prohibitive. There are several options that I have found on the Internet.

The first option is to learn how to work with metal and find a place with all the tools to bend metal and machine it. If I do that, I will end up spending about as much money as I would if I bought a high priced sander. Jim Olson who builds beautiful guitars did that. Click here to look at his thickness sander. If I was building tens or even hundreds of guitars a month, I could see building something like this but it is way beyond my means or needs.

The second option comes from an article I found on the Internet on I want to keep everything I do as simple as possible. This thickness sander uses a huge drum and I'm not sure I want to tackle this one. If I had a little more woodworking experience, I might attempt it but I keep looking for something else. Click Here to see the PDF file for this thickness sander.

I kept looking on the Internet and found an article that someone had photocopied and then scanned and put on their site. This is more like what I want to build. With this thickness sander, the builder goes to a lot of problems cutting grooves in the legs and frame.

No doubt, it will make the stand very strong but I don't want to spend that much time cutting the groove and I don't have a dado blade for my table saw. I don't want to spend the money for a dado set either. Once I build my thickness sander, I would probably never use a dado set again anyway. This is a simple thickness sander and I really like the concept but I have found one that is even easier to build.

I can make the frame out of four 2"x4"x8" pieces of lumber. I will also need one 4'x8' sheet of plywood 3/4" thick. The original builder of this machine used a 3/4" shaft but the guy that drew these plans recommends a 1" shaft. They also recommend a 1/2 horsepower motor but I found a 1 horsepower motor on Craigslist for $45. I don't know what it will cost yet for

the Velcro that goes around the sanding drum but it is a necessity. I am thinking i should be able to build this sander for less than $150 with the motor. I am also going to put castoring wheels on the frame so I can move the sander around easily in my shop.

Click Here to see the article on