DIY Shovel Guitar

What if I told you that to craft your own guitar, all you need is a shovel, a drill, a few bits of guitar hardware, and some patience!? I wasn’t able to find out the original crafter’s name because the source is in Russian, but the series of pictures and accompanying Youtube video were straightforward enough. Here’s the final result:

Shovel Guitar!!

The article where I found this only had a series of pictures and I’m by no means a skilled guitar crafter, so I’ve added descriptions where I could.

Before slicing & dicing, you’ll want to purchase the guitar hardware or at least get the specs of the hardware and note down a few measurements/drill bit sizes so you don’t drill holes that are too big for your bolts, or cut too much of the wood off, two mistakes that will most likely cost you another shovel. The crafter uses some pretty decent tools, but any DIY or woodworker will know how to improvise!

Rough list of tools and hardware:

  • Hack saw, drill, hand file, soldering iron & solder
  • Optional: Lathe, rotary tool, table clamps, varnish
  • Guitar bridge piece (x1), guitar bridge nuts & bolts
  • Guitar pickups piece (x1), guitar pickups nuts & bolts
  • Guitar tuner pieces (x6), guitar strings (x6)
  • Guitar knob (x1), guitar frets (x??)
  • Some wires

You should be able to find the guitar parts from an online guitar parts reseller, and the other stuff from a hardware store.

Step 1: Your average shovel.

Shovel Guitar 1

Step 2: Start lathing the handle of the shovel down to create a flat surface for the neck of the guitar. Later, we’ll be able to align our strings across this flat surface.

Shovel Guitar 2

Step 3: Rough edges are filed down, and the top of the handle (left side in the photo) is filed deeper to create the head of the guitar. Notice at this point how the shovel has been clamped down to the work bench for easy filing.

Shovel Guitar 3

Step 4: Using a drill press, the crafter drills holes through the guitar head where he plans to bolt on each tuner. I’m not sure if there’s a standard length that you want these from the bridge, but it looks like the crafter eye-balled the measurements, possibly just referencing the look of another guitar he had on hand or in a book.

Shovel Guitar 4

Step 5: Using a rotary tool, the crafter is seen carving out parts on the underside of the shovel where the holes were drilled earlier for the tuners. This is most likely so the tuners can settle into the wood for a flush/clean look.

Shovel Guitar 5

Step 6: With a vice saw aligned perpendicular, the crafter cuts several grooves into the neck to create the fret locations. Small inserts will be glued into these grooves to create slightly raised frets. I’m thinking this needs to be somewhat accurate, and while I don’t see any indication of measurements being taken, I would suggest referencing some standard measurements.

Shovel Guitar 6

Step 7: Gluing the frets into the grooves that were just cut. The tops of these frets can be filed down to reduce buzzing on one or more strings, but usually this is done by a professional who knows how to produce the most accuracy with the adjustment.

Shovel Guitar 7

Step 8: Bolting the tuners onto the neck where the holes were drilled earlier…

Shovel Guitar 8

Step 9: Some varnish is added to the wood to give it a polished, store-bought look.

Shovel Guitar 9

Step 10: Dots are painted in the proper locations to create the position markers.

Shovel Guitar 10

Step 11: The shovel is clamped down to the work bench and a hole is cut/filed in the location pictured below. This will be where the pickups are bolted onto the body.

Shovel Guitar 11

Step 12: Somewhat confusing angle, here we are actually looking at the two holes being drilled for the pickup volume knobs. See the top hole, closest to the blue ring on the drill press? That’s the very tip of the spade.

Shovel Guitar 12

Step 13: The pickup volume knobs are inserted into their holes.

Shovel Guitar 13

Step 14: On the underside of the shovel, the wires for the knobs are welded into their correct spots. We also see for the first time here the V-shaped holes that our guitar strings will be inserted through. Though not shown here, these holes should be horizontally spaced apart to match the the bridge/pickups spacing.

Shovel Guitar 14

Step 15: Tighten the knobs…

Shovel Guitar 15

Step 16: Attach the bridge to the shovel using bolts where the holes were drilled earlier.

Shovel Guitar 16

Step 17: Attach the pickups to the shovel using bolts where the holes were drilled earlier.

Shovel Guitar 17

Step 18: From the underside of the shovel, insert the strings through the V-shaped holes and lay them across the bridge/pickups. The strings should have nubs at the end that will prevent them from being pulled all the way through the V-shaped holes.

Shovel Guitar 18

Step 19: Wind the strings around their proper tuners. It’s interesting to note that while the white nut helps separate the strings out before they hit the tuners, the crafter still had to use an anchor just to the right of the second tuner pictured below. This bends the remaining three strings around the first two so they do not touch. If the head was fatter, the tuners could have been aligned like a staircase to eliminate this problem.

Shovel Guitar 19

Step 20: Raise or lower the bridge to put just the right amount of tension on the strings so they hover above the frets instead of resting on them.

Shovel Guitar 20

Final result:

Shovel Guitar 21

Shovel Guitar 22

Check out the XXXTREME Youtube video of this masterpiece being crafted:

What the heck was that!? Anyone else feel rubbed in-the-wrong-way?



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  1. Sorry but this is the only way to contact you that I have found says:

    Put your music on youtube and create a playlist. radioreddit dot com is painful for listening a music by single artist

  2. Have you seen the iosys Soundcloud page yet? It probably has what you’re looking for!

  3. Very cool

  4. Barbara Meyer-Spidell says:

    Id like to buy one, does anyone have someone to make for me?

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