Hello! New member looking to build their own tele in an apartment. Tools?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Erebor, Mar 17, 2019.

  1. Erebor

    Erebor TDPRI Member

    Mar 15, 2019
    Hello Everyone!

    I'm 33 and took up guitar playing only a year ago. It was something I had thought about for a decade but never got around to it until recently.

    I think part of the reason is I didnt have a "nice" guitar that motivated me to pick it up and want to hold it and play it.

    I've always thought of a telecaster when I thought of an electric guitar and sure, other guitars can be prettier but there is something that appeals to me about the simple design and construction of a telecaster.

    So simple in fact that I think I can make one living in an apartment with no woodworking bench.

    I did have a few questions regarding tools. I was wondering if anyone knew of a tool or adapter one can use with a drill to get the effect of a drill press and ensure that the holes are being drilled perpendicular to the surface and straight. I do actually own a drill but considered buying a complete dremel kit as there seems to be a dremel bit or adapter for every thing.

    I also love teles with binding and wanted to pick up a router base for the dremel I saw on stewmac with the bit for the groove.

    Does anyone here build in this manner? Without a proper wood shop?

    I still have a lot to learn in terms of wiring electronics and setting intonation and more regarding making a build but I'm sure most everything I can think of has been discussed in the past and I plan in reading up quite a bit.

    I currently own a 72 Deluxe RI that I paid a shop for a pickup swap.

    My goal would be to build a couple more teles for myself, one with a dual humbucker setup such as my own but perhaps with TV Jones pickups, 24.75" and a bigsby like my second favorite guitar along with a '52 traditional spec. This would give me a nice stable to pick from.

    Currently just waiting on a body or 24.75 inch tele neck to catch my eye on the Bay but if anyone want to point me in a certain direction i'm all ears.
    24 track and BlueEbenzer like this.
  2. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Nov 6, 2014
    kamloops bc
    you may wish to get a kit or build a partscaster , it would save you a lot of grief and frustration trying to shape parts with out all of the tools, just some sanding and light shaping , a couple of soldering tools and sourcing would not be that difficult , I look at all of the shop tools the guys have on this site and I'm green with envy , not to mention thetalent these guys posess
  3. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

    Feb 15, 2016
    Since this will be your first one, I would suggest keeping it simple and not build from scratch. Get a pre-drilled body and a Fender or Warmoth neck and choose your hardware. You will end up with a custom-inspired tele that you will love while gaining a little experience on how they are assembled. I have built several now with the last 2 being from scratch (sans neck), it can become tricky when building from scratch...a bridge that isn't perfectly placed could ruin the entire project alone.
    rze99 likes this.
  4. Bergy

    Bergy Tele-Meister

    Dec 12, 2018
    Welcome, Erebor!

    There are lotsa tools and sawdust involved in scratch builds, especially if you are in an apartment. I can’t imagine sharing a wall with someone who is learning how to use a router, lol. Ya might actually piss of the neighbors faster with the power tools than with the guitar!

    +1 on suggesting the partscaster first. Too much math can go wrong even if you had the space and tools.
  5. viking

    viking Friend of Leo's

    Jan 23, 2007
    Assembling a partscaster isn't that hard, and can easily be done in a living room without too much mess.
    What is difficult, however, is learning to do a great setup, and get the experience to plan ahead, and see problems before they get really annoying.
    Building from nothing, you can expect that to be hundred times more difficult .
    Just something like string-through holes can easily end in tears.
    Things like setup and soldering takes practice, and won't be perfect without doing it quite a few times
    Tonetele likes this.
  6. jimgchord

    jimgchord Tele-Holic

    Apr 3, 2018
    Problem I see is dust
  7. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Jul 2, 2015
    +1 for the kit idea. Building an inexpensive kit helped me get more familiar with the parts, and I had to learn fret leveling and such. To top it off, I got a surprisingly great 12-string electric out of it. A friend played it and asked me to assemble the body, neck and bridge of his Strat partscaster project, which involved some hole-filling and placing a different style trem bridge. Doing my 12-string kit, then practicing my new skillz on my other cheap guitars, gave me the confidence to take the job and it worked out really well.

    This year I hope to graduate to using a router, maybe I'll make a body or two. :)
    Tonetele likes this.
  8. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Austin, Tx
    Good luck!
  9. TimTam

    TimTam Tele-Holic

    Jun 4, 2010
    There are a number of different approaches to drill guides ... eg

    There are also lots of youtube videos on various tricks to drill a vertical hole without a drill press.

    An issue with some drill presses and guitar bodies is that the main support shaft may prevent you getting the body close enough to drill the hole in the middle of the body that you want.
  10. GPlo

    GPlo Tele-Meister

    Jul 26, 2018

    I will give you my take on this, going by my limited experience as a builder. Let me start by saying that you don't NEED tons of experience in woodworking to build a guitar from scratch. It is not a requirement.
    You do however need to know enough to stay safe. Respect the tools you use. A router for example is one of the most horrifying machines I can think of. You have to be very careful when working with power tools. Have someone with experience teach you how to use one. Also do not underestimate the amount of dust and noise you will produce. Wear safety glasses, hearing protection and a dust mask when producing saw dust.

    If you learn as you go you will probably make some mistakes and your build will probably take a lot of time, but it CAN be done! Motivation (obsession!?), willingness to learn, patience and time can make up for your lack of experience. A good result is possible but also manage your expectations. Don't expect or demand perfection on your first build, especially with limited tools available. Keep it simple!

    I will link some videos that might be of interest to you. I encourage you to watch all of these a couple of times. Lots of valuable information. Knowledge is as important as "woodworking skills".

    Also, check out this series on how to build a guitar:

    Regarding your drill press question. There are stands like these:

  11. denny

    denny Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

    Jan 5, 2004
    North of Dallas, TX
    I am in an apartment and here are a few of my solutions.

    For a workbench, I have two adjustable height sawhorses (Stanley). For the top I use a hollow-core door with a sheet of masonite laid on top - the door skin is thin and fragile. The whole thing folds up and stands in a corner when not in use.

    I have bench-top drill press in my living room. I used a metal aquarium stand (two 20-gal size) with an oak board on the top and one on the bottom section for a shelf.

    I also have a Husky portable router stand. Very stable and has grooves on the top for sliding clamps.

    As for the Dremel, I have been using these for nearly 30 years. I have almost every attachment ever made for these things. They are great for small and intricate work, but for general woodworking, such as guitar-making, they are not up the task. You need full size tools to do accurate work on larger sized projects.

    For the dust issue, I will usually run an extension cord outside and work (routing, sanding) during the daylight hours when the weather permits.

    A small battery-powered vacuum is handy to clean shavings and ESPECIALLY metal bits as you work to keep the debris from spreading. A plastic tarp on the floor helps contain messes, especially with paints or stains. Again, you do not want metal bits and shavings to get into the carpet. You will eventually and painfully locate them in the future when barefooted.

    Hope this helps
  12. Mat UK

    Mat UK Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Feb 17, 2009
    London, UK
    I was in pretty much the same position as you when I built my first guitar. I was living in a loft conversion flat - few tools to my name: hand drill and jigsaw was about it... and a dremel...

    ... firstly, don’t waste your time with a dremel and attachments; I bought a dremel pillar style drill guide - it was useless for drilling accurate holes and runs too fast for clean drilling.

    All my drilling was done with a gator drill guide, two clamps and a printed template that I would spray glue to the wood. It’s not commonly used on this forum, but even now having a drill press I still use the guide for a lot of my hole drilling when I want it pinpoint accurate.



    Anyway - not that my approach was an example of best practise - my circumstances were the same as yours so maybe you’ll find my thread interesting.

    knockeduptele and telemnemonics like this.
  13. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Jun 22, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    Well, in my house, between the kids bedroom and the upstairs bathroom, I have my bench, a bandsaw, a drill press, and an oscillating spindle sander, so...

    ...how hardcore do ya wanna be? :cool:

    I have portable dust collection that I move from station to station. I use the dremel at the bench, but the router and the circular saw have to be used out on the deck; after all I’m not a barbarian! :D
  14. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    There are a lot of tools you can buy new or used that would get you to the end result without making a lot of noise and dust. They'll just take longer and some elbow grease.

    A less dense timber like Pine, Basswood, or Poplar would be easier to work than other denser hardwoods.

    A coping saw, a brace and bit, wood chisels, and a router plane can provide the necessary routs and cuts. Only the neck rout isn't hidden from view, so the routs don't have to be perfect in order to work correctly.

    Have a woodworking shop glue up a body blank for you.

    Maybe you can rent some time at a Makerspace too which pop up all around. A workmate will make a decent workbench that folds up.




    makerspace in Cambridge:

    https://www.google.com/search?source=hp&ei=myqOXIr0Ju-MggeEopiIDw&q=boston makerspace&btnK=Google+Search&oq=boston+makerspace&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0j0i22i30l5.751630.754224..754456...0.0..0.82.1264.17......0....1..gws-wiz.....0..0i131j0i10j0i22i10i30.1-YxP5m3qdg&hl=en&authuser=0&npsic=0&rflfq=1&rlha=0&rllag=42355338,-71106901,2945&tbm=lcl&rldimm=11320981536917677797&lqi=ChFib3N0b24gbWFrZXJzcGFjZRkFxy1S9ENVPFoMCgptYWtlcnNwYWNl&ved=2ahUKEwixmee0h4nhAhVOc98KHfKKDg8QvS4wAnoECAAQNA&rldoc=1&tbs=lrf:!2m1!1e2!2m1!1e3!3sIAE,lf:1,lf_ui:2#btnK=Google Search&rlfi=hd:;si:11320981536917677797,l,ChFib3N0b24gbWFrZXJzcGFjZRkFxy1S9ENVPFoMCgptYWtlcnNwYWNl;mv:!1m2!1d42.384803399999996!2d-71.07919319999999!2m2!1d42.325873400000006!2d-71.11310689999999;tbs:lrf:!2m1!1e2!2m1!1e3!3sIAE,lf:1,lf_ui:2

    Also a top loading bridge will eliminate 6 holes that often are more finicky to drill straight.

    A cordless drill is really handy to own too.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
  15. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    Erebor... Before you alienate your Landlord and forfeit your security deposit... check with the local High Schools, and some Colleges, I understand there ARE a couple of Colleges in the Boston Area :p, Many offer evening access to their wood shops, some offer very inexpensive adult classes, too... that way, no one has any issues with what you're doing a couple of sheets of sheet rock away from their flat...

    and the fact that you're doing a guitar will attract the others like moths to an candle.. many will actually know what they're doing and offer some very good assistance too...

    and in the meantime here's a collection of "stuff" I wrote to help those just entering the hobby to get started, I hope it helps..








  16. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Aug 18, 2015
    Yes, there is a stand you can buy to use a regular electric drill as a drill press. It's not very expensive and it works really well (the one I got anyway). I got it on sale at a big hardware store, I guess it cost about $25-30.
  17. BlueEbenzer

    BlueEbenzer TDPRI Member

    Dec 31, 2018
    Woah- good stuff!
  18. Stefanovich

    Stefanovich Tele-Holic

    Jan 27, 2010
    Kingston, Ontario
    +1 on what Ron said. Local high schools and colleges typically have great tools, good workbenches and lots of space. All of these are missing from your apartment.
  19. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Mar 2, 2010
    I'm not sure from your post, just how much making you want to do in a Boston apt without even setting up a work bench?

    Are you talking buy a pile of raw lumber and start milling it with other tenants above and below?

    If you go with pre made body and neck, it's no problem.
    If as suggested you get a body blank made up by a shop, or buy a premade dimensioned blank, there is still a lot of loud dusty milling involved, and a dremel will not do many of the required operations.

    A hunk of maple for a neck needs to be made dead flat and straight, they do not come that way. The milling and sanding noise will drive your neighbors mad, and the dust will be in every room even if you work in one room with the door closed.

    If you're on the ground floor you have a somewhat better chance of not getting evicted, but you still might need to buy more tools than a new Tele costs.
    Or do more hand work than your labor value, maybe equivalent to paying double or triple in labor for a Tele.

    I "made" a body years ago in a rented room with a spokeshave, after cutting it out on a bandsaw, and drilling for the neck pocket and routs with a drill press at work.
    Heluva mess!

    There's always one of those collapsible workmate stands and the sidewalk or driveway if you've got one...

    Or as Ron suggested, a school shop.

    I forget, what is the Piano Factory (in Boston) up to?
    Artists collective?
    Shop space?
    Woodworking school?
    Luthier school?
  20. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Mar 2, 2010
    That gator drill guide looks like a very handy tool, never heard of them!

    I've made sort of similar drilling templates for a series of precisely placed holes, because after 40 years on the drill press I'm still not dead on all the time.

    I also bought a headstock drilling template for the tuner holes and screw holes, but the one I got turned out a little cramped for a standard set of Gotoh vintage tuners.
    You (or in this case the OP) can buy drilling templates for virtually all the critical holes on a Tele AFAIK.

    The fabbing in an apt issue will not be the drilling operations!
    Mat UK likes this.
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