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  • Jeremy's Top Product Picks

Jeremy's Top Product Picks

Jeremy is a brand manager of the Wakerley team and for 22 years has worked in luthiery. Any other luthier would agree with Jeremy that it can be overwhelming at first. However, Jeremy’s recommendation is to start simple and build your workshop over time as you hone your interest into particular instruments and their specific requirements. In order to do that, the correct selection of tools are vital. Below is a list Jeremy’s recommendations for any luthier.


Machinery

In regards to bandsaws, I would recommend the Carbatec 14” Heavy Duty Bandsaw. These newer 14" models feature an extra-large depth of cut and additional horsepower to match, which makes them a great choice for luthiery work. Larger 18" models eg. Jet 18" Bandsaw, are excellent workhorses, but come at a price - select according to your budget.

Carbatec 14” Heavy Duty Bandsaw


A wide drum sander is a particularly useful and time-saving machine for this specific field of woodworking. It saves a lot of hand planing... I prefer these to thicknessers as they are less aggressive and you can work with thin, figured material without worrying about chip out. The Carbatec 400mm Wide Drum Sander is suitable for the hobby builder, while the Jet Drum Sander 16-32 has more features making it very user-friendly. Larger manufacturers need to look at larger, more industrial sanders.

Carbatec 400mm Wide Drum Sander

A bench or floor (pedestal) model drill press is the easiest way to drill accurate 90-degree holes in your instrument - critical for tuner installation and other jobs. They can also double as tools for buffing/polishing, curve sanding or even planing - providing you have the right after-market accessories. With that in mind, the Carbatec 1HP 16 Speed Pedestal Drill Press is a great base model, while the Jet 17" Drill Press (coming soon) represents high quality designed for woodworking. 

Carbatec 1HP 16 Speed Pedestal Drill Press

Routers are required whether you are making electric or acoustic musical instruments. Although you could potentially do the same job with a variety of chisels and speciality hand planes, a router and template will save you a lot of trouble and time. The Triton Dual Mode Precision Router is a good mid-powered unit that is still small enough to control for jobs like truss rod installation, pickup cavities etc. A laminate trimmer is ideal for smaller jobs.

Triton 1400w/2hp Dual Mode Precision Router

A good system for dust control in your workshop is highly recommended, if not absolutely necessary. Wood dust is not what you want coating your lungs, not to mention any glues, resins or finishes involved. Setting up to manage your dust and keep a clean work environment is easier and cheaper than any issue with your lungs down the track. There are many products available but the Economy Dust Extractor represents good value, while the Jet Dust Collector with the Jet Cartridge Filter is an excellent and efficient machine. Note that dust extraction is mandatory on a wide drum sander (listed above) - it simply will not operate as it should without one.

Economy Dust Extractor – 2HP

Hand Tools

Hand planes can be used for a number of critical jointing jobs, as well as for thicknessing plates if you lack a wide drum sander, or simply prefer to work by hand in the depths of night. Veritas planes are worth the additional cost compared to cheaper planes. Their build quality and innovative features make them a stand out performer. The Veritas Low Angle Smoothing Plane, or Veritas #5-1/4W Bench Plane or the Veritas #4-1/2 Smoothing Plane.

Veritas #5-1/4W Bench Plane

Veritas #4-1/2 Smoothing Plane

A block plane is another tool necessary for a luthier. This can be low angle or standard, as per personal preference - I use a low angle predominantly. They are very useful small planes for any number of jobs in guitar making or instrument making more generally. Veritas Low Angle Block Plane or Veritas Block Plane are most appropriate.

Veritas Low Angle Block Plane

Veritas Block Plane

I very rarely use anything but Japanese Saws when hand sawing. Japanese Saws cut so efficiently and easily - I haven't looked back since I made the change 15 years ago! They are available in a number of forms, each suited to specific tasks or materials. A good starter saw that can even be used for fret slotting (with the right fret wire) is the Japanese Crosscut Carpenter’s Saw – 250mm

Japanese Crosscut Carpenter’s Saw – 250mm

Clamps! It is often said but worth repeating, you will never have too many clamps in your workshop! You will require a wide variety to cover all the jobs required, but to start out, keep it simple and get some standard "F" clamps.  Bessey clamps are well known for their quality and will provide you with years of service. While there are many to choose from the Bessey TG Series Clamp 250mm is a good choice.

Bessey TG Series Clamp – 250m

Lastly, chisels. Specifically, Japanese Chisels! Ultimately, you will want to acquire a range of chisels over time. While I love the look and feel of the Japanese range of chisels, ultimately I use them because of their performance. Their edge holding capability (resistance to dulling) and ability to hone to a razor-sharp edge makes them ideal for the fine work required. In this case, the Japanese Oire Nomi Butt Chisel 18mm or the Japanese Chu-Usu-Noami Bevel Edge Chisel 18mm are good all rounders.

Japanese Oire Nomi Butt Chisel – 18mm

Japanese Chu-Usu-Nomi Bevel Edge Chisel – 18mm

I hope this info helps to simplify and perhaps demystify the tools required for this trade. These tools will set you up to enter into the world of luthiery. Good luck and enjoy the journey.

For any more information on our tools, please visit your local Carbatec store or give us a call!