Vince Ray's Kustom Korner

Metal fabrication guitar body


So since I graduated I’ve been looking for work but nothing has come up yet. However just because I’m unemployed doesn’t mean I’m going to sit on my ass all day ... recently I’ve decided to invest in a skill/ craft that I’ve always wanted to learn- compound curves in sheet metal. It’s harder than it sounds but easier than you might think.

The plan for this project is to make adouble cut Les Paul body with the arched top. I don’t have fancy tools such as an English wheel (lord knows I’d love to have one) so I’m using hammers and dollys plus some homemade tools like a slapper file. So far I’m happy with the results even tho my wrist is sore!

The first picture is how I started stretching the center by using a crowned mallet and hitting the metal against something soft, in my case I use my drum stool. It’s supposed to look like you messed it up at first but then you work it into shape


This is after some hours of hammering on a dolly. I bought a weldable endcap and polished it to use as a dolly

I should mention that this is not my first attempt!


Eventually this is what I created... a steel compound curved archtop. There are some tooling marks that I couldn’t planish but I’m satisfied so far


Here is the neck pocket

I’ve made the back but that’s going to be left flat. I need to make the sides and weld it all up


Impressive. I have always been fascinated with fabrication. Working the metal until you see your vision brought to life. Please post more pics of the progress. I'm inspired.


Looking forward to more progress pics.


Nicely done! Sounds like you need a shot bag, not a drum stool! I've done some metal work, but what you're doing is closer to art!


I used to do a lot of fab, and yes a shot bag and some softer alloy aluminum like 3003 H14, or for a bit stiffer 5052 H32. A planishing hammer is nice to have after forming. Also when it starts work hardening, get the torch on it and anneal it to soften it back up. Cool project!


A shot bag would be better but as the old saying goes... use what you got. I’m making it out of steel because ive got my mig rigged up for steel as all the welding needed on the old Buick was steel. And the planishing I did was by hand not power hammer. That’s what ended up leaving some tooling marks where I just hit too hard.

Today I’m doing the sides. I’m doing them more like traditional guitar sides i/e kerfling. This gives me a good excuse to use some clecos plus they will be more uniform as I’ll be doing lap joints instead of butt joints.


This is exciting. .


You gonna leave it unpainted to show the metal?


For the finish I think what I’m gonna do is sand it all nice in one direction and then tape off some skinny flames like the old 60s chopper style. Then I’m gonna let it sit in a humid/moist place. The result should be skinny rust flames on clean steel.

This is my progress for today... it’s all clamped and ready to weld but first I need to weld in the neck pocket and drill for the bridge. This pic gives a better view of the arch


Great looking project. I'm looking forward to updates.


How did anybody do this stuff without those springy thingies to hold stuff together? Very cool project. Looking forward to seeing it after welding.


It may want to warp when you weld it, might have to have a large heat sink or jig to hold it, or perhaps stitch weld small sections on opposing sides.


To combat warping for the back piece I used my locking clamp and tack welded in a typical spaced out pattern. It’s only 22 gauge so I can’t really do long beads on it.


I also welded in the neck pocket. I’m not sure how trussart do their neck pockets( I imagine they use a mill) but this is what I came up with


Talk about Heavy Metal!! What a cool project.

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