Here at CigarBoxGuitarParts.com we are dedicated to showcasing the various parts and supplies you can use to help build and decorate your Cigar Box Guitar, as well as discuss some of the creative ways that these parts can be used. Though not a true “how-to” site, a lot of good how-to information will be presented in terms of how to make use of some of the parts we feature: things like how to install a piezo, wire up a volume pot, make good use of sound hole inserts, install tuners, etc.
We will showcase parts and supplies from various sources, with the primary source being our friends over at C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply. For over two years these folks have been working hard to bring CBG builders great prices on an ever-growing list of parts and accessories. If you haven’t yet checked out their site and web store, browse on over today. You won’t be disappointed!
Metal box corners come in a variety of styles and finishes. From low-profile surface-mount varieties to long-legged trunk corner styles, they can be a great way to spruce up your homemade instrument builds. In addition to their decorative appeal they can also serve some very useful structural roles – namely, they can be used to effectively keep your cigar box closed, so that you don’t have to rely on the flimsy latches. And of course they serve their original protective purpose quite well, keeping the corners of your box from getting all dinged up over time.
In the C. B. Gitty workshops, we put metal box corners onto most of the cigar box guitars and amplifiers we build. Personally, I like how they look. I think they give an old-timey vintage look and feel to cigar box builds, and their role in helping seal boxes shut saves us having to make other often clunky arrangements with bracing blocks and screws.
Now, some builders look down on metal box corners. They feel that they are overused, kitschy and unnecessary… and that’s fine. I certainly don’t think every build has to use box corners. With some cigar boxes that have rounded sides or other fancy shapes, it is impossible to use them. And on more decorative boxes, the design of the box is often cool enough that you don’t really need any additional decoration, so sometimes we leave them off.
So here is an overview of the types of box corners that we carry here at C. B. Gitty, with link to each one’s product page and some thoughts on their use. If you have never tried box corners, take a look at these and give them a go. Also keep in mind that they can be used on all sorts of other woodworking projects too – from jewelry boxes to kitchen cabinets – anything that has a nice square corner!
Standard 2-hole 1 1/4″ Box Corners
Available in Brass, Nickel and Black Oxide finishes.
These plated steel box corners have a scalloped front side, and legs that are about 1.25″ long. They have two mounting screw holes on the back portion, which make these good for sealing a cigar box shut. These are the most popular variety of box corner we sell. Note that this style of corner has a slight radius (roundness) to the point of the corner, so sometimes you have to file a little bit of the corner point off on your box to get them to fit snugly.
|Square-corner 3-hole 1 1/4″ Box Corners
Available in Shiny Chrome, Shiny Gold (brass), with Antique Brass coming soon!
Similar to the style above, these plated steel box corners have no radius to the point, so the are better at fitting snugly onto the corner of a wood box without having to do any filing. They do have a third screw hole in the top face however.
|Square-style 3-hole 1″ Box Corners
Available in Brass and Nickel finishes.
These are made from heavier-gauge plated steel, and extend 1″ onto all 3 faces of a box corner. They have a bit of radius to the point so some filing of your box’s corner point will likely be necessary. These corners require 3 mounting screws each, with a hole on each face. For their simplicity, these corners give a nice look and provide good protection without distracting from the design of the box itself.
|Low-profile 1 1/4″ Box Corners
Available in Brass and Nickel finishes.
These plated steel corners are much lower-profile than any of our other styles, with the 3 mounting holes all being on the top surface. Their legs are about 1.25″ long and they only extend about 1/8″ down the side of the box, making them a good choice for thinner boxes and more space-constrained uses. Their simple design can be a nice understated accent for a more decorative cigar box.
|Small Trunk-style Corners
Available in Brass and Nickel finishes.
This style of corner is more reminiscent of what would be mounted on large heavy steamer trunks and the like, both for decoration and for protecting the corners against being crushed. This is a smaller plated steel variety of that style which is great for use on cigar boxes. The point does have a radius to it so a little bit of corner point filing on your box is usually necessary to get a flush fit. These corners are awesome for sealing boxes, since they extend a good ways (about an inch) onto each face of the box. They mount with three screws, one on each leg.
|Medium Trunk-style Corners
Available in Shiny Brass finish.
This is a little larger and flashier trunk-style corner. Made from brass-plated steel, they are good for larger cigar boxes since the legs extend further down across the box panels (about an inch and a half total). These corners will actually hold the bottom panel of your box up a little bit due to their rounded/raised design. These look great on cigar box amplifiers, and are also good for larger cigar box guitars. They mount with 3 screws, one on each leg.
|Larger Art Deco-style Corners
Available in Shiny Gold (brass) finish.
These plated steel box corners are 1 3/4″ long on each leg and extend about 1″ down the back, so they are the largest of the box cornet styles we offer. They mount with 2 screws through the two back faces. These can be a very nice decorative addition to larger cigar boxes.
I hope this survey of our metal corner varieties has been informative for you. We are always on the lookout for new varieties of these, so stay on the lookout for new additions. Keep on buildin’!
Last week C. B. Gitty checked out a local architectural salvage store, and came home with a few cool treasures. One of them was a 100+ year-old wooden church pew that had been salvaged from a Catholic church that was being torn down in Quincy, Massachusetts a few years back. While in the store, Gitty was able to determine that the back of the pew was made from 3/4″ thick white oak, the sides were 1 1/2″ thick oak, and the seat and bottom support were 3/4″ thick yellow pine. A quick calculation on the pocket calculator indicated that there should be about 26 board feet of usable wood that could be salvaged, so Gitty laid his money down and into the van it went.
Check out the photo gallery below which shows the process of taking apart the pew. After the photos we’ll give an outline of the process and point out some of the things Gitty learned along the way. Hopefully if you ever tackle a similar project, this will help you avoid some common pitfalls. At the very bottom of the post, Gitty shares his #1 tip for folks who want to reclaim wood like this. Enjoy!
- Old wood presents its own challenges. Our estimate is that this pew was from the late 100′s, making it well over 100 years old. The wood was very dry – the oak was very hard, and the pine was very soft. This created some challenges in getting it apart without doing too much damage to the softwoods.
- Nail removal can be tricky. The primary assembly of this pew was done with square nails, possibly hand-forged. The thing about square nails that old is that they are not like today’s hardened steel nails. They are fairly soft and brittle, and bend and break very easily. It can be very difficult to get a broken piece out of the wood if it’s embedded in there. Sometimes you have to dig for it. The one upside is that because the metal is so soft and brittle, it probably wouldn’t flat-out ruin your saw blade if you hit one… but it’s still not a risk Gitty wanted to run. The good thing about removing square nails from old soft wood is that extraction is usually pretty easy – sometimes they can be pulled out by hand. Getting them out of old hardwood is not so easy.
- Save any old square nails you find! Their distinctive shape and style just shouts “antique” at anyone who sees them. Re-using them on instruments is a great way to “vintage-ify” your build… whether you use them in the actual construction, as a nut, bridge or saddle, or just as decoration, they are very cool pieces.
- Use guards and protective shims. Old soft wood like the yellow pine in this pew will dent very easily. If you are going to be using a claw hammer or pry bar to pull out nails, instead of putting the tool directly on the softwood when leveraging, put a thin piece of plywood, masonite or something like that down first. That protective layer will help spread out the pressure and should keep the wood from getting dented and marked up as badly.
- Don’t be afraid to pound on it (with protective guards of course). With old square nail construction like this, sometimes banging on a piece with a hammer is the most effective way of making progress. In the case of this pew, Gitty put a piece of scrap wood against the end pieces and whacked them with a hammer a few times. This loosened them up enough that he was able to get the bracing pieces out. There is of course some danger to this… old wood can split pretty easily. One of the end pieces ended up splitting roughly in half during disassembly, and the hammer pounding may have been the cause.
- Keep small parts contained. Gitty put all of the small parts removed from the pew (square nails, screws, etc) in a cigar box for safe keeping during disassembly.
- Keep an eye out for neat artifacts! On one end of the bracing board under the pew, Gitty found written in broad-tip pencil the number 22. While the exact meaning of this is uncertain, Gitty’s guess is that this was the twenty-second pew in the job at the woodworking shop 100+ years ago, and that this number was written in a discrete place to identify it.
- Label your reclaimed wood! If you are going to be reclaiming wood from multiple sources, try to keep it together and clearly labeled. Being able to tell the story behind the materials used in an instrument is important, and if you mix up wood from multiple reclaim jobs there isn’t much chance of being able to tell it apart in a year or two when you get around to using it. In the case of this pew wood, Gitty wants to be able to tell the story of its origin for any instrument it is used in, so you can bet he’s going to keep this pile of wood carefully labeled.
And Gitty’s #1 tip for effective wood reclaiming is…
- When using reclaimed wood, your biggest enemy is going to be metal in the wood. Seemingly invisible nails and screws left in the wood will wreck bandsaw, table saw and chopsaw blades in an instant. Being absolutely sure you’ve gotten all of them just using your eyes is virtually impossible — some of these things hide really well. So if you expect to be doing a decent amount of wood reclaiming, Gitty recommends getting a small handheld metal detector, such as the Garret Pinpointer shown to the right. They are not cheap tools, but compared to ruining saw blades the investment quickly pays off. These little gems are made for use by metal detector enthusiasts,and emit a beeping sound when they are near metal. The rate of the beep increases as the metal gets closer, until it becomes a solid tone when the detector touches the metal. Using this tool on the boards reclaimed from the pew, Gitty found about 10 square nail remnants that his eyes had missed, and one of which would have been a serious blade duller.
That’s it for this post. We hope you have found it useful. If you decide to try your own hand at some wood reclamation, best of luck to you! Using re-purposed wood in your instrument builds or other woodworking projects gives your creations a live and backstory that whey would not otherwise have – and that is something that you can’t buy at Lowes or Home Depot!
A Beginner’s Guide: The #1 Tip to Get Started
by Glenn Watt
Are you making building a cigar box guitar into a harrowing experience? Is far too much time being spent on searching for the ideal box, just the right wood for the neck, and all the appropriate hardware to make certain that your build is perfect? Do you need to stop by the hardware store once more to check into getting a specialized tool that will put your gitty on par with all the other guitars you see online?
This hobby of building CBGs and other handmade/homemade instruments is terrifically satisfying Read More…
Mitch is an avid cigar box guitar builder and was able to present the band with a couple of his best creations. He tells us the guys were really interested in the whole concept of CBGs, and it does seem like they could definitely incorporate them into their innovative sound.
So keep an eye out for a cigar box guitar or two popping up in Mumford & Sons music videos or stage shows!
Good job for making this happen Mitch!
Cigar Box Guitar How-To: Installing C. B. Gitty’s Basic Pre-Wired Piezo Harness (Product #50-014-01)
In this article, CBG craftsman Glenn Watt walks us through how he installs one of our Basic Pre-Wired Piezo Harnesses (Product #50-014-01).
So you want to hear that new gitty you’re building through your amplifier that’s been sitting unused behind the holiday decorations in the basement? Do you want to make certain that you can crank that little bad rabbit when everyone leaves and you’re left to your own devices in a quiet home? Or maybe you’re looking to level-up and retro-fit a pickup into a guitar you already have that’s been sorely needing a little volume. In the Pre-Wired Piezo and Jack Harness from C.B. Gitty you have the simplest way to electrify your instrument with the most basic of installation requirements.
On the topic of pickups for acoustic instruments, the choices come down to either piezoelectric transducers (piezos), which we will be briefly discussing here, or microphones. While there are a number of varieties of piezos used throughout industry, two basic styles tend to be used in instruments (particularly handmade instruments like cigar box guitars): disks and rods. While the basic technology in them is the same, the resulting sound you get from them can be very different, with many variables coming into play – mounting location and method usually being foremost. At C. B. Gitty we get a LOT of questions from new builders about piezos, here is a little refresher.
A disk piezo is very sensitive to vibrations Read More…
This has been quite a week for the cigar box guitar movement. First, Sir Paul McCartney appears onstage at the 12.12.12 Hurricane Sandy benefit concert with a four-string cigar box guitar, in the midst of of a Nirvana reunion. This was by far the biggest public exposure a cigar box guitar had ever seen, and ever since the Internet was abuzz with people asking: what was that instrument Paul was playing? Visits to CigarBoxNation.com, cbgitty.com, and related Facebook pages are way up.
Then last night (Saturday, December 15) Sir Paul does it again and appears on Saturday Night Live, again with Nirvana and again with his 4-string CBG!
In two fell swoops Paul McCartney has unequivically thrust the cigar box guitar onto the world stage. No more can “real” guitar people scoff and say they are toys, or that they are not “real” instruments. I don’t like to overstate things, but it seems like this is a defining moment in the history of the cigar box guitar.
Here is the Youtube video of the 12.12.12 appearance:
It’s very cool any time we get to see Cigar Box Guitars in the press, and this interview of David Sutton on the Chicago FOX affiliate takes the cake! David is the author of the great “Cigar Box Guitars” book which came out earlier this year (available from C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply, of course!), and is one of the foremost voices in the CBG community. He does a great job of helping to spread the word about CBGs in this interview, which FOX Chicago ran in lead-up to the Chicago Cigar Box Guitar Festival taking place TODAY (Saturday, November 10) in the northern suburbs of the windy city.
Another Cigar Box Guitar festival is just around the corner, this time in the suburbs of the windy city! The first Chicago Cigar Box Guitar Festival will be held on Saturday, November 10 and will feature some of the biggest names in the Cigar Box Guitar world, including Puragatory Hill and Johnny Lowebow!
Here is more info from the the CCBGF site:
On November 10 2012 International recording artists will converge on the northern suburbs of Chicago for the inaugural Chicago CBGF. In a world of mass produced, cookie cutter, disposable music and instruments the Cigar Box Guitar stands apart. From the simplest one string diddley bow to finely crafted highly detailed 6 string fretted cbg’s each one is as unique as it’s maker. The styles of music played on them ranges from Delta Blues to Primitive Rock to Jug Band to Gothic Blues and beyond. At this years CBG Fest you’ll see some of the top acts in the cbg world and have the chance to buy your own cbg.
Check out this article on the Toronto (Canada) Standard site: