If you’re looking for a fun Saturday project with your musically-inclined kid, the venerable cigar box guitar may be a perfect fit. First, answer these questions:

  1. Do you enjoy sharing music with your child?
  2. Do you have some basic wood-working tools at your disposal?
  3. Can your child demonstrate patience?

If you answered yes to all three, read on!

A Little History
Cigar Box instruments first came into vogue in the late 19th century as inexpensive and easy to create “toy” guitars, violins and banjos. While they were favored by working-class and poor musicians looking for a cheap way to create music, there is a tremendous amount of artistry devoted to many of these folk instruments. A quick search on Etsy for Cigar Box Guitar will give you lots of inspiration for your project. They range in style from simple and utilitarian planes of wood to elaborately carved and painted works of art.

Getting Started
Before your project day, you’ll want to collect a few things. Including:

  • (1) Cigar Box
  • (1) 1″ x 2″ piece of wood for the neck, approx. 3 feet long
  • Drill with various size bits
  • Wood Files and Sandpaper for finishing and fitting
  • Acoustic guitar strings
  • (2) 3″ Eye bolts (or similar for the bridge and nut)
  • (3) Guitar tuning pegs
  • Jigsaw or hacksaw

Build Day
Some of these steps can be delegated to or done with your child, depending on their age and temperament. Use your own judgement about which (if any) of these tasks are the right fit for them to do on their own, or with your supervision.

Instead of listing all of the construction steps, I’ll point you to the resources I used to build my cigar box guitar. Feel free to borrow from multiple plans or veer off and create your own based on your available materials or skills.

Instruction Resources

You’ll want to budget around 3 hours from start to finish, maybe more if you plan on letting your child help. When all’s said and done, you’ll have a functioning instrument that you (and your child) will enjoy for years to come.