Headstock Detailing Part 3


Classical Guitar Headstock Detailing Part 3

Since the Classical Guitar has so much more detail in its headpiece vs. the simplicity of the standard acoustic guitar, we have dedicated a additional posts to completing the process. Note that this article also applies to the Ukulele Slotted Pegged and the Acoustic Guitar Slotted Pegged

Tools and Materials:

Woodworking Marking Knife
Plexiglas Template
Needle Files
Wood Carvers Chisels
1/2″ Woodworker Chisel
1/4″ Woodworker Chisel
Drill Press
Drill Press Vice
1/4″ Milling Drill
Scroll Saw
Forstner Drill Bits
Coping Saw
Plastic Tipped Hammer
Band Saw
120 Grit Sandpaper
Surface Sanders

The above required tools are conveniently listed for you in the table below.

On our Acoustic Instruments that we have available here at Georgia Luthier Supply, we show our own Signature design of our guitars that we make build. Take out a piece of tracing paper and use our plan template as a guide. Then sketch away on a unique design and see what you come up with.

Mark Out The Signature:

Once the signature has been sketched, and re-sketched, and re-re-sketched, transfer the selected design to the Plexiglas template for permanate usage.

Carefully line up the center line of the template and the center of the peghead and trace the outline of the signature onto the top of the peghead. Use a very sharp white pencil on dark woods or a fine pencil with lighter woods.

Note: This tracing should be made on both the front and the back of the peghead as we will be cutting mostly with the peg-head facing downward.

Cut Out Partial Circular Shapes on the Drill Press:

If any of the cuts in the design can be made on the drill press with different sized bits, now would be a good time to go ahead and drill these first cuts out.

Cut the Remainder With a Scroll Saw or Coping Saw:

Carefully cut to within about 1 mm of your marked design lines. If cutting by hand, constantly check that you holding the saw perfectly vertically.

Using a Milling Bit:

A good milling bit is very useful because the side of the bit is a cutting edge, unlike a twist bit. A standard twist drill bit will do a very poor job of this task so don’t even try it. Both the headpiece and the bit could be ruined in the process.

Place a 3/4″ Plywood or solid wood sacrificial base on the drill press work surface. Chuck up the milling bit and run it into the base about 1/8″ and lock it down.

Now turn on the press, on a high rpm setting, and slowly remove the wood right up to the design lines you place on the back of the peg-head. Be careful because a new milling bit will take off a lot of stock, so a light touch is necessary.

Vee Shapes or Inward Cuts:

These type of ornamental cuts need to be handled with small chisels, needle files and wood carvers chisels. Any combination or all of them may be necessary to complete the job to satisfaction. These types of cuts can take a lot of time.

Final Sanding;

Finally, finish the entire headpiece with 220 grit garnet sand paper. Use Sanding Sticks were possible to keep the edges crisp and straight. See our article on Making Your Own Sanding Sticks for more on these useful tools.

Cut a radius or filet on the top and back edge of all vertical lines. This will allow the finish to stick in these areas and protect the guitar from minor denting rather than having a razor sharp edge. Include in this all the string slot edges and the signature as well.

Dewalt Scroll Saw

DEWALT DW788 1.3 Amp 20-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw

Headstock Signature Tip:
Probably the best tool that can be used to cut out the intricate line of a Signature is a good Stationary Scroll Saw. You can cut out almost any design possible and only need to touch it up with fine sandpaper.

I have the DEWALT DW788 1.3 Amp 20-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw in my shop and I absolutely love this saw.

I use it for Signature Headpiece detailing, cutting wood veneers, inlays and a lot of other miscellaneous tasks.

Related Articles:
Classical Guitar Headstock Detailing Part 1
Classical Guitar Headstock Detailing Part 2

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