Guitar Papercraft, part 2



(The guitar is about 95% finished now.)

Ok, done. Total assembly time (including cutting out the pieces and pre-creasing them) – 50+ hours. The stand alone took 5 hours.


(Next, tackling the stand. This thing represented 4 A4 sheets.)

Not much to say abut the assembly process itself. There were a few places where I had trouble understanding the pictures in the instructions (like, with folding the internal spine for the neck and head stock, making the tuning peg key pieces, and the base of the stand), and it would have been nice to have written instructions, but those sections weren’t insurmountable. Probably the biggest problem was with figuring out how to apply the glue, and by how much. If I got too finicky with the toothpick, the glue would dry before I finished applying it. Too liberal smearing out the glue with the glue stick and the paper would get too soft and pulpy, and the pieces would take several minutes before they’d stick together. Largely, I’d say the main root cause for most of my problems was in using card stock. 0.22mm is just too thick. 0.12 would have been a lot better.


(Back sides of the stand pieces.)

If I do this again, I’d say that the go-to tools are: toothpicks, tweezers, white gloves and black dry erase markers.


(Parts for the stand head assembly.)

Before starting this project, I’d knocked my toothpick holder off the table, and spilled about 30 toothpicks all over the floor. Picking them up, instead of tossing them in the trash, I suddenly said “I can use these,” and put them in my tool bin. They’re invaluable for applying a small amount of glue precisely to small paper tabs. I must have used 20 toothpicks for the guitar and stand.


(Stand and stand head.)

Tweezers are good for holding small pieces of paper, of course, but they’re also useful when it comes to creasing the fold lines. The instructions recommend using a dried up ballpoint pen, or game stylus for pre-creasing the folds, and I picked up a spare Nintendo DS stylus from the 100 yen store ($1 Shop), plus a couple small straight edges. In most cases, I ran the stylus over the fold lines of the paper pieces, and used one of the straight edges to help support the paper as I made the folds. But, with the smaller pieces, and the glue tabs, it was easier to make the folds with the tweezers. Having the paper pre-creased, then really, really creased before applying the glue helped a lot in keeping the folds straight and strong.


(And reverse sides.)

My hands tend to sweat, and that can make the ink fade or smear when I handle the paper. Since the paper I’d gotten had a matte finish and was naturally tacky anyway, I realized that I’d really better get some kind of soft cotton gloves like you see art experts wearing when they handle stuff. The 100 yen shop had cheap white cloth gardening gloves, and I bought 2 pairs. The first eventually got gunked up with glue and black ink particles, so I switched over to the second pair when I started the stand. And I can definitely say that the guitar would have looked a whole lot worse if I’d handled the pieces with my bare hands. The only drawback was that the little corners on the smaller glue tabs of the paper tended to catch and grab the cloth threads of the gloves. Otherwise, they saved this project.


(Tuning peg box pieces. The tuning pegs are designed in two separate parts. The pins that hold the strings are placed in holes in the front of the head stock. Then, the gear boxes and tuning keys are glued to a “mounting bracket” at the back of the head stock.)

Using 0.22mm paper had several pitfalls, one of which was that the thickness of the paper became evident at the seams of pieces that were otherwise solid black. That is, the face and side of the stand are black, but places where you can see the edge of the paper would have this bright white line running along it. I noticed this as I was building up the face of the guitar right at the beginning of the project. Couple this with the paper getting all pulpy and the black ink flecking off the paper, I was coming very close to throwing everything in the wastebasket. In desperation, I grabbed a black dry erase marker and tried blacking in the edge lines of one piece as a test. The marker color matched the black ink perfectly, and I ended up using it for touch-up on both the guitar body and the stand. In fact, the combination of the matte paper, glue and marker gives the guitar body the right kind of gloss and feel.


(The assembled boxes. Just cutting out the paper and putting them together took 4-5 hours.)

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find other markers for doing touch-up for the brown neck tones or silver metal pieces. I did get a silver marker, but it was way too bright and shiny, so I only used it for signing the back of the guitar. One last note – when I printed out the patterns, I put 14 sheets in the paper tray mainly because that was all that would fit. When I got the “out of paper” alarm, I put the remaining 4 sheets in the tray, but I put them in backwards. This meant that all 4 sheets for the stand were printed on the back of the matte sheets. Turns out that this was a good thing, because the stand came out looking more like anodized aluminum this way.


(The boxes glued on the mounting bracket.)


(The finished project.)


(“Some day, I’m going to grow THIS tall!”)

Overall, I’m not too unhappy with the way the guitar and stand turned out. I did make a number of mistakes, and I can see them first thing when I look at the guitar. On the other hand, it turned out a lot better than I’d thought it would. So, I’m glad that I didn’t give up prematurely.

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