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Building A Pallet Wood Guitar – The Guitar Gear Guru

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Building A Pallet Wood Guitar

Hello everyone, and welcome to the blog!  Justin here, and in this post, we’ll be covering something a little bit different……Building a pallet wood guitar!

I recently finished the 5-part Vintage Bass Restoration series, where I went over how I restored an old Teisco bass.  That series got a pretty good response from you folks.  So I figured I would start covering some more of my current and past projects.

 So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the pallet wood guitar build, aka “The Palletcaster”!

This is one of my older projects from about 1-2 years ago.   I originally got the idea from seeing the other “palletcaster” guitars that are all over Pinterest.  The majority of the guitars I found were based on either Strats or Telecasters.  That’s great, but I wanted to do something even more unique.  This is my own take on a pallet wood guitar based on the design of another custom guitar I built a while back.

I decided on this build for a few different reasons. First, I love how chất lượng pallet wood guitar builds are và wanted to bởi my own spin on it. I also lượt thích the idea of reusing materials that would normally be thrown out or used for kindling .

But the main reason I built this guitar was to prove a point……let me explain!

Try reading any guitar building book or dig around online for info on electric guitar construction.  You’re probably going to find plenty of sources touting the benefits of “Tonewood this and tonewood that.”

Personally, I have always felt that the effect of the body wood on the sound of a solid-body electric guitar is minimal at best.  In my opinion, the woods used for the body really take a back seat to the electronics and the overall build quality when you’re talking about solid-electric guitars.

So I decided to test it out!  To test the theory, I combined good quality hardware, electronics, and build quality with crappy, “inferior” pallet wood.  Follow along with me to see how it turned out!


Please Note:  This project was started long before my blog was, so I don’t have as many photos of the build process as I would like.  Please bear with me!

Preparing The Materials

The first step was to get enough pallet boards to actually glue up a guitar body with.  This was not a problem!   I have a ton of old pallet wood that I scrounge from my day job.  I work in retail, and many of our floor displays come in on small 1/4 – 1/2 sized pallets.   As soon as the display sells down, the pallets go in the dumpster.   All I had to do was ask the manager to set them aside for me, and now I have all the free lumber I can use!

After I got enough pallets, I carefully pry or cut them apart.   Always wear the appropriate safety gear and look out for sharp nails and splinters.  If you’re cutting the pallets apart, be sure not to hit a nail, screw, or staple with the saw blade!

I then sorted the boards by what & wasn’t usable. When I’m breaking xuống dốc pallets, I try to salvage as much as possible, but some of the lumber is just too far gone to use .

I avoid any boards that have any visible splits or large knots.  The knots aren’t a big deal for most woodworkers who have access to a good planer or jointer.   I don’t have access to either one, so I have to do any planing or jointing with hand planes.  Trust me, trying to plane over a knot with a hand plane is no fun!

After I removed all the nails and staples, the boards were ready for use.  I always have to be careful and get every bit of metal out of the boards.  If you hit a nail with a hand plane, it will take forever to grind the nick out of the blade!

Making A Pallet Wood Guitar Body

I then ripped the boards down to a width of about 1 5/8” – 1 3/4”.  This gave me a little extra material to trim the body blank down to thickness after glue-up.  I jointed the edges of the boards with a hand plane and glued them up. 

I only glued up one strip at a time.  This helped to keep everything from sliding out of alignment until the glue set.  It’s hard enough to try and keep one glue joint aligned properly when clamping up; four or five at once is next to impossible.

After the glue had dried, I planed the body to thickness and roughly sanded it.  After tracing the outline of the guitar body onto the body blank, I roughly cut it to shape on the bandsaw.   I didn’t cut right on the line but left about 1/16” of material for final trimming.

I then attached my routing template to the body with double-sided tape and used a router with a pattern bit to finalize the outline. The body template was then removed, and I attached other templates for routing the pickup cavities, neck pocket, and electronics compartment. I then rounded the edges with a round-over bit.  I then sanded the body through 220 grit and set it aside for now.

Making A Neck For The Pallet Wood Guitar

 The guitar neck was up next.  I was hoping to build the entire guitar from salvaged wood, but I didn’t have any pallet boards that were long enough to get a guitar neck blank out of.  I ended up using some maple that I had on hand instead.

The neck blank and headstock blank were rough cut to size. I then cut the scarf joint at the headstock end.  A back angled headstock made with a scarf joint is usually stronger than one cut from one solid block of wood. 

The scarf joint was then glued and clamped.  The final back angle of the headstock is about 14 degrees.

I glued a small block of maple onto the back of the neck blank at the headstock end.  This allowed enough material to carve the neck volute.  The volute is a small ridge of wood behind the headstock.  The volute is decorative and reinforces the headstock joint.

The top of the neck blank was then planed flat with a long jointer hand plane. After that, I routed the truss rod channel, installed the truss rod, & glued the fingerboard in place .

Pro Tip:  Use lots of clamps when gluing a fingerboard onto a neck.  You don’t really need a ton of pressure; you just need even pressure along the entire length of the neck.

When the glue was dry, I removed the clamps & marked the width of the neck, the shape of the headstock, và the outline of the volute. I then cut the neck to shape & kích thước, leaving a little extra material for final trimming .

Now comes my favorite part of building a guitar neck, carving the neck profile!

I began by making some templates for the neck profile that I was after.  The neck profile and volute were then roughed out with various wood rasps and spokeshaves.  When the neck was almost to shape, I switched over to double-cut files to refine the shape.  The files also removed the rough marks left from the rasps. I then sanded the neck through 220 grit.

I finished the neck and fingerboard with multiple coats of “Tru-Oil” gunstock finish.  The frets were then installed, leveled, and polished.

Putting It All Together !

Once everything was shaped and sanded, I gave the body an oil finish using Tru-Oil gunstock finish.  I like oil finishes because they give a very smooth and natural feel.  I also use lacquers and poly finishes on some builds, but these finishes can feel a little “plasticky” sometimes.  Oil finishes feel silky smooth, especially on a guitar neck.  I’ll talk more about guitar finishing in another article or ebook.

Pallet Wood Guitar Body
After the finish had cured, it was thời gian to start assembling everything !

I started with the nut and Gotoh locking tuners first.  These are great tuners for the money, by the way!

I then moved on to the electronics. The wiring in this guitar is pretty simple.  The guitar features two humbucker pickups, one master tone knob, one master volume knob, and a 3-way selector switch.  Usually, I would use a separate volume and tone knob for each pickup. But on this build, I felt like keeping things simple.

The pickups are a Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge and a Seymour Duncan 59 in the neck. The pots are CTS 250k pots.  It’s a little unusual to use 250K pots with humbuckers, but it worked out pretty well with the JB in the bridge.  JBs are very bright sounding for humbuckers, so they pair well with the mellower-sounding 250K pots.

For my reviews of the Seymour Duncan JB pickup, kiểm tra out my other post linked below !

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Seymour Duncan JB, SH-4 Pickup Review

I shielded the pickup cavities và electronics compartment with cooper tape to eliminate noise. Everything was then installed và soldered into place .

The bridge is a  Schaller top-loading, hardtail bridge with roller saddles that are adjustable for different string spacings.  I then bolted the neck into place and strung the guitar up.

Time to test it out!

Testing The Guitar Out !

Well, after testing the guitar out, I think it’s safe to say that I can cash in some “I Told You SOs.”

The guitar sounds and plays great!   Even though I built it from “inferior tonewoods,” the guitar sounds just as good as one of my other custom builds with the same pickups in it!

When my schedule allows, I plan on setting up a Youtube channel to supplement the blog.   When I do, I’ll be sure to do a video on this build so that you folks can hear a sound sample!

In the meantime, kiểm tra out Jackman Works ’ đoạn phim on their pallet wood guitar build Here !

I’m thrilled with the way this build turned out.  There are still a few things that I need to finish on it, though.  As soon as the guitar was playable, I got sidetracked with other projects and didn’t finish it.

I still have a few things I want to tinker with the electronics.  I also have to make a cover for the electronics compartment and the truss rod.  So many projects, so little time!!


So there you have it folks.  That’s how I built a killer electric guitar from reclaimed pallet wood!

This was a quick 30,000-foot overview of how I went about this build.  I love how unique this guitar is, and I feel good about reusing materials that would have been thrown away otherwise.  Recycle and reuse everyone!

 This guitar proves that you don’t need the best tonewood harvested from the enchanted forest to make a good guitar!  The most important things to the sound of a solid body electric guitar are the overall build quality and the electronics.

So what do you think about guitars built from reclaimed materials??  Let me know in the comments!!

That’s A Wrap!

So that’s all for now, and I hope that you found the article interesting!  Let me know in the comments if there are any other topics that you would like me to cover in future posts.  As always, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on the next post!!

P.S. If you enjoyed the article, be sure to share it with the social icons below!!  Also, don’t forget to grab your Free Electric Guitar Setup Guide below!

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