Tools every luthier needs – Luthier Hand Tools

luthier hand tools

There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of working with your hands, and that’s especially true when it comes to woodworking.

As a luthier, you know the importance of having high-quality hand tools to create beautiful, functional pieces of art. In this article, we’ll talk about the absolute essentials that no luthier can do without.


There are many different types of chisels used by luthiers and woodworkers. The most used are usually the bevel edge chisel, the paring chisel, the firmer chisel, and the dovetail chisel.

The bevel edge chisel is used for general-purpose work such as shaping and trimming wood. The paring chisel is used for delicate work such as removing small amounts of wood or shaping intricate details. The firmer chisel is used for heavier work such as chopping.

The dovetail chisel is used for cutting dovetail joints.

Chisels are made from a variety of materials including wood, metal, and plastic. The type of material used will determine its strength and durability.

Japanese handsaws

Japanese hand saw - luthier hand tools

Japanese hand saws are known for their sharpness, precision, and durability – making them the ideal choice for luthiers and woodworkers. With a wide variety of sizes and types available, there is a Japanese hand saw to suit every need.

From small, delicate blades perfect for intricate work, to larger blades designed for tougher cutting jobs, Japanese hand saws offer the perfect solution for any woodworking project.

Files and rasps

You don’t need to be a lumberjack to appreciate a good file or rasp.

These handy tools are essential for anyone who enjoys working with wood.

Luthiers and woodworkers know that a well-made file or rasp can make all the difference when it comes to shaping and finishing a piece of wood, or completing a nut setup. There are many different types of files and rasps available, so it’s important to choose the right one for the job at hand.

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Rulers for luthiers can be used for a variety of tasks, from measuring the thickness of wood to the length of a guitar’s neck. Luthiers typically use a combination of standard and metric rulers when working on instruments.

Sanding Pads

Luthiers and woodworkers alike know the importance of a good sanding pad. Not only does it make the job easier, but it also gives you a much smoother finish before applying paint and finish. An uneven surface results in an imperfect instrument.

There are many different types of sanding pads on the market, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs. If you’re working with soft woods, you’ll need a softer pad. Harder woods will require a harder pad, and so on.

One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to use a sanding pad that’s too hard, as it can cause damage to the wood. Likewise, you don’t want to use one that’s too soft, as it won’t do a good job of removing scratches and other imperfections. To get the best results, it’s often best to start with a medium-grit sanding pad and then move to a finer one as needed. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.

Glue brushes

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The most common type of brush used for applying glue is the bristle brush. Bristle brushes are made from natural or synthetic fibers, and come in a variety of sizes. They are ideal for applying glue to small areas, as they can be easily controlled.

Another type of brush sometimes used for applying glue is the foam brush. Foam brushes are made from a soft, spongy material, and are often used for larger surfaces. While they can be effective, they can also leave behind a lot of residues if not used properly.

Finally, there are also disposable brushes available, which are often made from paper or plastic. These are typically only used once and then thrown away, which makes them a good option for those who do not want to deal with cleaning a brush after each use.

A good set of saws

One of (if not) the most important tools for a luthier is a good set of saws. A well-made saw will allow you to make quick, clean cuts in wood, which is important when shaping the body or neck of a stringed instrument. A coping saw is a great tool for making detailed cuts, while a bow saw is better for making long, straight cuts.

The staple for making wood instruments has been the handsaw for as long as the profession is documented. Handsaws are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, and they can be used to cut both straight and curved lines. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to use, but they require some practice to use effectively.

Another type of saw that is often used by luthiers is the power saw. Power saws are much faster and easier to use than hand saws, but they can be more dangerous. They are also more expensive.

The final type of saw that is sometimes used by luthiers is the bandsaw. Bandsaws are very large and powerful, and they can be used to cut very thick pieces of wood. They are very expensive, however, and they are not always necessary for most luthiers.

A Router

A router can be used to create detailed inlays, decorative edging, and even to shape the body of an instrument.

A router is a handheld power tool used to shape and smooth wood. Routers are an essential tool for any luthier, as they allow for the intricate and detailed carving of the wood used to make instruments.

There are many different types of routers available on the market, so choose one that is best suited for the type of woodworking you will be doing. For instance, if you will be working with thin pieces of wood, you will need a router with a small bit. On the other hand, if you will be working with thicker pieces of wood, you will need a router with a larger bit.

No matter what type of router you choose, there are a few basics that all routers have in common.

First, all routers have adjustable speed control, so you can choose the speed that is best for the type of material you are working with.

Second, all routers have an adjustable depth control, so you can choose how deep you want to cut into the wood. And finally, all routers have an on/off switch, so you can easily turn the router on and off as needed.


A drill is essential for luthiers. A good quality drill will allow you to make clean, precise holes in wood, which is important when installing tuning pegs or bridge pins.

Here are some tips when drilling different types of wood

  • Spruce is a very popular wood for guitars, as it has a nice grain pattern and provides good acoustic properties. When drilling into spruce, be sure to use a sharp bit and take care not to split the wood.
  • Cedar is another popular choice for guitars and is known for its beautiful red color. When drilling into cedar, it’s important to go slowly and use a sharp bit to avoid tearing the wood.
  • Mahogany is a common wood used in electric guitars and basses. It’s known for its dark color and rich grain pattern. When drilling into mahogany, take care not to split the wood, and be sure to use a sharp bit.
  • Rosewood is often used in high-end acoustic guitars and is prized for its beautiful grain pattern. When drilling into rosewood, be careful not to damage the wood and use a sharp bit to avoid splitting.

In conclusion – Luthier Hand Tools

Luthier hand tools are an important part of any guitar maker’s toolkit. They allow the luthier to create custom-made guitars that are both beautiful and functional. With the right tools, a luthier can create a guitar that is unique and perfect for the specific player.

As we have seen, there are a wide variety of woodworking hand tools available, each designed for specific tasks. While it is possible to get by with just a few basic tools, for most luthiers it is worth investing in a comprehensive set of tools to ensure that they can tackle any project that comes their way. With the right tools in hand, building instruments can be an immensely satisfying and rewarding occupation.

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