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10 Easy Steps to Make Your Own Cello!- 11 Steps (with Pictures)

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10 Easy Steps to Make Your Own Cello!: 11 Steps (with Pictures)
https://www.instructables.com/id/10-easy-steps-to-make-your-own-cello/
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10 Easy Steps to Make Your Own Cello!
By innovation redesigned (/member/innovation+redesigned/) in Music (/living/music/projects/)
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(https://cdn.instructables.com/F7D/5S0A/HF23WLM3
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/FOXY1Q0HF23K4W3.LARGE.jpg)
*Updated 12/13/15 I apologize for any trauma or
bodily harm in�icted by my 9th grade grammar
My friend and I attempted to build a cello for my 9th grade Science Olympiad Sounds of
Music competition--these are the results.
Wood:
-Body: plywood (not the most traditional material I can readily admit)
-Fingerboard: unknown, scrap railing found at Home Depot
Metal
-Strings: Stock cello strings bought from local music store.
-Tuners: An L-bracket, a washer, and a screw.
-Metal Bar: I used a metal bar for the area where the �ngerboard met the peg box.
Range
C2 to F6, the range of a normal cello
Sound quality
Relatively muf�ed but plays well for a homemade instrument
Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MN-EsLC4eeY
A quick timeline
1. Construction began with �nding dimensions. Plans and measurements are readily
accessible on the internet
2. Once plans were obtained, I mapped out a blank of the faceplates.
3. Using these blanks, I copied them onto two sheets of plywood.
4. Taking the leftover wood (save the planet!) I cut out the bouts (sides) of the cello.
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5. I soaked the plywood in water overnight, this unorthodox method surprisingly worked!
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You will notice that the veneer of the plywood peels off.
6. I cut out two f-holes onto the faceplate using a power drill and handheld jig saw.
7. Creating the bridge was a bit more involved, I had to borrow a table saw and a belt
sander from my school’s woodshop.
8. The scrolls and peg box were simpli�ed for ease of construction. Note that the pegs are
lubricated with graphite and/or bow rosin to control its coef�cient of friction.
9. The Fingerboard was created (see above)
10. All the pieces were glued together using wood glue, with hot glue where needed, or
with deck screws.
This cello was constructed for a retired Science Olympiad event called Sounds of Music.
We had to created two different instruments of different registers, take a sound physics
test, play Canon in D by Pachelbel, compose an original piece of music, and play both
pieces. We placed second at states.
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Step 1: Tools
(https://cdn.instructables.com/FHP/RM4D/HF23K4UA
/FHPRM4DHF23K4UA.LARGE.jpg)
(https://cdn.instructables.com/F8Z/IXQD/HF23K4U7
/F8ZIXQDHF23K4U7.LARGE.jpg)
(https://cdn.instructables.com/F58/6E6Q/HF23X4YP
/F586E6QHF23X4YP.LARGE.jpg)
What you'll really need for this project varies
with how nice you want your cello to be. I was under a deadline (the competition) but
depending on your skill and time limits you can obviously take this above and beyond!
-Handheld Jigsaw: this gives you so much freedom when it comes to cutting the plywood,
just be sure to use the proper safety procedures
-Power drill: this will help, especially when it comes to creating the peg holes and the f
holes
-Hot Glue Gun: self-explanatory
-Ruler, pencil, calculator
-Sandpaper/ belt sander: this is imperative! It saved me so much time by cleaning up rough
edges and sanding down the wood where I wanted slopes and curvatures, especially on
the bouts.
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-Access to a woodshop: this will help but is not necessary.
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-A reliable recycling bin: I used a trusty recycling bin in lieu of an actual table.
-Creativity & Innovation: to have as much fun as you possibly can!
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Step 2: Marking Out the Measurements
(https://cdn.instructables.com/FSZ/ZWQ5/HF23K4S4/FSZZWQ5HF23K4S4.LARGE.jpg)
After doing some preliminary research online, I
found some blueprints. I translated them to a canvas- yes a painter’s canvas- as a basic
guide. It’s probably faster and more accurate to trace the outline from a cello, but at the time
I only had a ¾ size cello at home and was aiming to create a full size cello.
Measurements: http://woodsoundstudio.com/setup.htm
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Step 3: Cutting Out the Faceplates
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Here I used the guide created in the last step to cut out a wooden blank. This blank will be
used later to help set bouts.
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Step 4: Bending the Bouts
(https://cdn.instructables.com/F1B/R4G4/HF23K4SW/F1BR4G4HF23K4SW.LARGE.jpg)
(https://cdn.instructables.com/FET/D9CO/HF23K4T1/FETD9COHF23K4T1.LARGE.jpg)
Unfortunately it didn't occur to me to take many pictures of this process, but it is relatively
simple to recreate. I poured hot water into a garbage bag lined wagon and set the cut bout
pieces overnight. In the morning the plywood gave more slack, just enough to bend without
worry. It is important to note that I peeled off the veneer. Using the blank, I bent the pieces
and �t them on the sides of the blank using dumbbells to hold them in place. Then I glued
them together and to the back face plate and set it overnight.
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Step 5: Putting Everything Together
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(https://cdn.instructables.com/FT9/2AWH/HF23WLM4/FT92AWHHF23WLM4.LARGE.jpg)
(https://cdn.instructables.com/FTL/34GL/HF23K4W6
/FTL34GLHF23K4W6.LARGE.jpg)
Here you can see the process by which the bouts were glued down. The face plates were
then subsequently placed on top, followed by drilling the f-holes.
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Step 6: The Endpin
(https://cdn.instructables.com/FW0/MO3K/HF23X4ZA/FW0MO3KHF23X4ZA.LARGE.jpg)
The end pin was somewhat of a pain to create. I used a small block of wood to reinforce the
bout and used a scrap rod that can easily be scavenged from a blinds to go.
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Step 7: The Bridge, Peg Box and Tail Piece
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(https://cdn.instructables.com/FZ4/6VFQ/HF23K4VM/FZ46VFQHF23K4VM.LARGE.jpg)
(https://cdn.instructables.com/FCZ/BY6C/HF23K4WC
/FCZBY6CHF23K4WC.LARGE.jpg)
Okay here's where things get complicated. To build the bridge I drew the outline of a bridge
onto a �at piece of wood and SLOWLY cut it out with the jigsaw. Slow and steady wins the
race. Then I used a belt sander to taper the bridge form top to bottom. To make the heart I
drilled three holes and slowly carved them out, same for the kidneys.
The peg box, as you can imagine, is a box fashioned out of 3 pieces of wood. For the pegs, I
used 4 1 inch wooden dowels with fashioned pegs attached with wood glue. To make sure
the pegs sticks to the peg box I used pencil graphite to make them easier to tune, then
crushed rosin stop them from sliding.
The tuners are created using an L-bracket, a screw and a washer to control the tension.
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Step 8: Finding the Right Fingerboard
(https://cdn.instructables.com/F7D/5S0A/HF23WLM3/F7D5S0AHF23WLM3.LARGE.jpg)
(https://cdn.instructables.com/FYU/TKS6/HF23K4WB/FYUTKS6HF23K4WB.LARGE.jpg)
This is probably the most important step- the �ngerboard. If your �ngerboard is too �imsy,
the neck will snap. If it's too thick you won't be able to play it- �nd the right balance.
For this cello I used a l-brace, glue, and a screw to attach the board to the body. I MUST
STRESS THIS PART, AS IT IS PROBABLY THE WEAKEST PART OF YOUR CELLO!! In fact I
dropped a cello once and this is the exact area where it broke.
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Step 9: Putting Everything Together
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(https://cdn.instructables.com/FSG/DCWA/HF23X4PP/FSGDCWAHF23X4PP.LARGE.jpg)
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(https://cdn.instructables.com/FHA/VUZ6/HF23K4W8/FHAVUZ6HF23K4W8.LARGE.jpg)
Now you should have
-your body �nished
-tail piece �nished
-bridge, pegs and pegbox
-�ngerboard *note the �ngerboard in this picture is not the actual �nal product*
-endpin
Now all you have to do is put them together!
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Step 10: The Bow!
/HF23K4WE/FJZ1SD9HF23K4WE.LARGE.jpg)
(https://cdn.instructables.com/FJZ/1SD9
(https://cdn.instructables.com/FMW/HAIV
/FMWHAIVHF23K4WK.LARGE.jpg)
/HF23K4WK
(https://cdn.instructables.com/F3B/S1QU/HF23K4WO/F3BS1QUHF23K4WO.LARGE.jpg)
(https://cdn.instructables.com/F6W/CS73
/F6WCS73HF23K4WM.LARGE.jpg)
/HF23K4WM
The bow is simply made from �shing line under high tension. I used sandpaper to barb the
�shing line to give it more drag on the strings of the cello. The tension on the bow is
achieved the same way the tuners on the cello operate.
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Step 11: Time to Play!
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That's IT!
Test your cello and make any modi�cations if necessary. Feel free to contact me with any
questions, comments, or concerns.
-troubleshootingStrings are too high
- i personally had this problem- i didn't map out the angles, lower the bridge, your bridge is
too high
No sound??
-First check that there is nothing there to muf�e the string, for example the string is too
close to the �ngerboard to vibrate, then check that your bow is working properly. A good
rule of thumb would be to use a real bow- then use your homemade one.
I can't tune it!/ The pegs won't stick!
-by this point you really want to use a lot of rosin powder on the pegs, but DON'T OVER
DO IT. Make sure to hear a bit of creaking, but if you hear A LOT of creaking that's not good
your, pegs will break! Use some pencil graphite to counter the rosin.
That's it! Hope you had as much fun as I did and enjoy your new cello :).
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70 Discussions
(/member/Jack+of +Most+Trades/)
Jack of Most Trades (/member/Jack+of+Most+Trades/)
6 years ago on Introduction
Reply
/ Upvote
A lot of instruments are made from non-traditional materials. I have an inexpensive mandolin and
owned a Harmony archtop that are both made from "laminated wood".
When I worked for a music store, we farmed out our violin repairs to a shop in Broad Ripple where
they had a bass in the rack that had a body made of pressed aluminum. The story was that they
were built during WWII for Army orchestras because they were light, rugged, and not made from as
strategic a material as Spruce.
It sounded OK
(/member/Oni_of _Sound/) Oni_of_Sound (/member/Oni_of_Sound/) 1 year ago
Reply
/ Upvote
Great design! I do recommend Red oak for this project, though. It gives the strings the ability to
produce a better sound. I am a Cello/Violin player myself, and this helps as a start. I would
recommend this to your friends.
(/member/billbillt/) billbillt (/member/billbillt/) 2 years ago
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/ Upvote
LOVE THIS!!!...
05/07/2019 19:16
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(/member/brew goat/) brew goat (/member/brew goat/) 2 years ago
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Nice job on the instructable. Don't "despair" on the comment below. The poster leans toward critizing
without actually having created one himself.
(/member/JaredL16/) JaredL16 (/member/JaredL16/) 3 years ago
Reply
/ Upvote
That's awesome! I play violin but want to learn cello. All the cellos are way too expensive. I would like
to build my own if I can. What thickness plywood did you use? It sounded really good in the video. I
think it's awesome. Could this simplistic design idea be applied to other string instruments?
(/member/Lelmaster1000/) Lelmaster1000 (/member/Lelmaster1000/) 3 years ago
Reply
/ Upvote
How did you make the angle that the cello takes? Im trying tobuild a cello myselff and I dond know
how to make it. I was thinking about using a cello but im not sure.
1 reply
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(/member/shallnot/) shallnot (/member/shallnot/) 6 years ago on Introduction
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/ Upvote
I despair that so many "Instructables" are so poorly written and by no means is this one the worst
I've seen but it is above average (or should that be below average?)
Previous commenters have pointed out the usage of "finishing line" instead of "fishing line" and
"table [jig] saw" instead of "scroll saw" (with the ubiquity of Google or Bing search it should take
seconds to find out the right term) in this document. They could have easily started with the first
sentence "So i'm attempting to make a cello with my friend.. and here were the results." Here we
have a confusion between present tense "attempting" and past tense "here were". "My friend and I
attempted to make a cello--these are the results" or "My friend and I are attempting to make a cello
and this will be a documentation of the results" might be better depending on when the text is being
written.
To quote fully from AutoDesk co-founder John Walker's Reading Unedited Text
http://www.fourmilab.ch/documents/strikeout/ :
'[Some argue that] the Internet is a dynamic medium; there's no time to carefully proofread text
b efore posting it.
Consider what the folks who advance this argument are saying. "I'm in such a hurry that I can't b e
b othered to critically read what I've written b efore I dispatch it to b e read b y hundreds, thousands, or
millions of other people. My time is so valuab le, the five or ten minutes it would take to spelling and
grammar check my posting, then read it over for coherence and edit it accordingly cannot b e
justified. Better all of my readers spend the time to figure out what I was trying to say than I spend a
minute making it clear." '
Perhaps this site needs a cadre of editors to review first-time submissions? They could provide
feedback to the poster to improve his or her writing. In the mean time I would suggest that posters
ask three to five people to read their text and make suggestions for improvement. Perhaps then their
writing may deserve the superlatives commenters give it.
I highly recommend borrowing the book How Not to Write Bad, by Ben Yagoda, from your local library.
It is a quick read and very useful.
6 replies
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(/member/AlexandraR2/) AlexandraR2 (/member/AlexandraR2/) 4 years ago on Introduction
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/ Upvote
Hi, there.
Thanks for your instructable. It's very nice.
I just want to add a piece of information which is actually a piece of wood to your cello. :)
It's missing its "soul": the sound post. It's the small rod that connects the bottom and the lid, below
the A string, inside the "box".
You can find more info about it here:
http://www.aitchisoncellos.com/publications/cello-... (http://www.aitchisoncellos.com/publications
/cello-and-bow-articles/technical-articles-about-the-cello/the-sound-post/)
And how to place it here:
http://www.violins.on.ca/luthier/soundpost.html (http://www.violins.on.ca/luthier/soundpost.html)
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7py45_colocar-el... (http://www.dailymotion.com/video
/x7py45_colocar-el-alma-al-cello-con-philip_music)
You'll see that after this, your cello will gain a new soul and life when you play it!
Alexandra
05/07/2019 19:16
10 Easy Steps to Make Your Own Cello!: 11 Steps (with Pictures)
https://www.instructables.com/id/10-easy-steps-to-make-your-own-cello/
(/member/KellyCraig/)
KellyCraig
(/member/KellyCraig/)
4 years ago on Step 10
10 Eas y Ste ps to M ak e Your Ow n Ce llo! by innovation redesigned
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redesigned/)
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This is pathetically ingenious (I hope that came out as a compliment).
(/member/mkeshti/) mkeshti (/member/mkeshti/) 4 years ago
Thank you again for the cello.
Do you know the cubic inches of the bouts?
(/member/mkeshti/) mkeshti (/member/mkeshti/) 4 years ago
Thank you for your cello. I've made one out of cardboard. It's an 'emulated cello - viol da Gamba'. My
next build will be of 1/16 inch pine. Oh, G-D willing. Again thank you for your cello.
(https://cdn.instructables.com
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(/member/BrendanTheSequeira/)
BrendanTheSequeira (/member/BrendanTheSequeira/)
4 years ago on Introduction
Reply
/ Upvote
Reply
/ Upvote
This should help...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjS3vh6TvkQ
(/member/turtledrake/) turtledrake (/member/turtledrake/) 5 years ago on Step 4
Hi there!
I'm considering doing this myself. What did you use as a frame to bend the wood?
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