We invent new tricks to make building easier and better.  Often we hear about them from others or read about them here on Cigar Box Nation, or Youtube videos.

Here are a couple:  I read both here on Cigar Box Nation posts

1.  When doing a difficult glue joint, like a fretboard or scarf joint, put a tiny tiny pinch of table salt on the glue after spreading it.  It does a great job of letting the pieces grip each other without slipping while applying clamps.

2.  When installing those tiny screws on the back of the tuning machines, rub the screw threads over a bar of soap or parafin wax to make them easier to drive and lessen the probability of stripping the screw head.

Another one I learned from experience.  Gluing pieces together seems like a simple process.  But it can become complex.  On a difficult glue joint, I finally learned to do a dry clamp before the actual gluing operation.  That way, you have all the clamps out and ready to go.  You know exactly how to place the clamps so that they will do their job properly and not interfere with each other.  Also have the clamp pads set up so you will not mar the wood.

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good tips

Please add to the list.  I'll bet you know plenty of things that I don't know.


Thanks.  That bar of soap must be pretty crusty by now.  The post was meant to be a discussion, not a monologue, so join in with some hints.

Good tips.  I've been using the same old bar of soap for screws for over 20 years.  

The only one that comes to mind is to keep about an inch and a half distance from the nut to the nearest tuner post - goals: less string hop, better string path, better pressure on the nut. 

I like that.  Headstock/tuner layout is really important.  On my first ukulele I could barely fret the first fret for the reason you mentioned.  Plus I had the tuner in backwards, with the knob between the post and the nut.  Haha.  I was able to turn it around though and get it playing. 

I have quite a few. I occasionally write blog posts on here with how to's, tips and hacks:


I know you do.  You have helped me out before.

Thanks, Richey

All very good tips!
I learned many of these the hard way.

Added from old wood workers creed: measure twice(for me it's about 4), cut once.

Allow glue to tack up before joining.
Don't use too much glue, more is not better. Usually, it's more of a mess.
Slow down when building, take your time and think it through. If something seems wrong, it usually is.
Give yourself plenty of room to work. I wish I could follow this advice, but it really helps to not be cramped or trying to work around stuff.
Make a plan. Be flexible, but have a plan. I have found that winging it leads to waste.
Always maximize the materials. Think of the most economic way to use/cut materials. This comes from planning...
Use everybody as a resource. I am so inspired by the people on this site/community.
I know many of these are common, but it never hurts to remind oneself and post for those starting out.
I always score the faces of the glue joint with a stanley knife in a criss cross pattern, it seems to reduce slippage and allows the glue to bond into the surface, i use this on my scarf joints and neck/fret board joints. The other thing I do when gluing fretboards to the neck is tap a small brad nail into the neck (making sure its between frets of the to be attached fret board) and snip off the head and just leave a small amount of the nail body protruding, place the fretboard on dry and allow the snipped off brads to score into the underside of the fret board so when you glue the neck and fret board together its like having two locating pins in place, eliminates any chance of slipage while clamping up.

If you are doing any sanding work and you have decided to to it in the kitchen because it's raining, make sure you clean up properly after yourself and don't leave sawdust in the bread-bin, on the worksurfaces or in the jar where you keep the tea bags. This may not be necessary if you live on your own, but I swear it's good advice if you are hoping to keep a harmonious marriage. Also, candlewax on your fretsaw makes cutting the slots easier on very hard wood, and a strip of PVA glue on the frets helps them go into the slots easier, especially the smaller fret wire. You do need to clean up the slots straight away though. Great tips on this thread, I've enjoyed reading them.

When stringing a CBG, once you pull the string through the ferrule/rivet and the ball end is tight against the bottom, bend the string on the top side at the string ferrule/rivet...  Keeps the string from running away on you...

Don't glue a box closed until you've played it a bit...  Sometimes the oddest things cause buzzing and it's hard to fix if you already glued it closed...

If you use spray lacquer to clean up a box's finish, or protect a label, let it dry at least 5 days before you put a clamp on it... or at least put some wax paper between the clamp and the box.

"Right" side tuners are only on the right when you look at the tuner (bottom) side of the headstock.. --ok, rookie move, I know...

Thanks for the salt tip!


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