Products I Use

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You’ve seen me use this Dremel 4000 many times.  It is a real workhorse and is far superior to the competition.  This one also comes with a flex shaft.

This Dremel 4000 is a bit more economical as it comes with fewer accessories.  (No Flex Shaft)

These Reading Glasses are the perfect addition to your workbench for detailed setup work.  Very handy to snap together when needed and hand around the neck between uses.

I use this INSIZE taper gauge to set/check the action at the 12th fret on all stringed instruments.  It can also be useful for checking the action at the 1st fret as well as the width of any internal (through) crack.

This is one great set of calipers.  iGaging makes great tools.  I have two sets of these.  Very happy with them.

This Tuner has been a critical part of my setup work for more than 20 years.  It has been very reliable and seems to work as well as any tuner I have ever used.  I prefer the table top model to the “clip-on” style for doing setup work.  It is a great tuner to set on your bench.

I use Titebond original wood glue to glue all wooden parts on all wooden acoustic instruments.  It has superior properties when compared to hide glue.  I can be easily taken apart with either heat, steam or both.

I use CA glue on wooden parts that cannot be easily clamped.  E.g. if I have to hold odd shaped pieces together by hand.  Or if the crack that I am gluing is really tight, I use CA glue to penetrate into the crack.  Starbond brand is a proven good choice.

CA glue accelerator is a must in my opinion.  Especially when you are holding parts together by hand.  It makes the bond almost instant.  This is my favorite brand.  TIP:  Wait about 10 seconds before applying and you will get great results.  There will be no “white” build up.

These tiny glue tips are useful with the CA glue.  They help by controlling the amount of glue being dispersed.

I use this metal polish to polish out light scuffs and scratches on the surface of most finishes.  It works great for that.  It also will polish plastic, and most any metal surface.  After polishing, I usually coat the area with Renaissance wax.  See below:

Paste waxes are all I use on acoustic instruments.  I never use spray polishes due to the many chemicals.  Those chemicals can curl up your pickguards and other plastic parts.  My preferred brand of was is Renaissance Wax.  It works great and is easy to apply compared to many other brands.

This is my absolute hands down favorite shop towel.  I use them for polishing and buffing out guitars and then save them for later use while soaking up spills, grease, and cleaning up messes.  These are by far the best.  The others jus don’t compare.

This Canopy glue (Formula 560) is awesome for gluing on plastic binding to a wooden acoustic instrument.  Especially useful with the newer types of plastic binding (ABS, PVC, etc).  For the “old style” plastic bindings (celluloid/acetate based) I prefer  Beacon 527 see below:

I use this Beacon 527 glue for attaching the “old style” (celluloid/acetate) bindings.  This glue will melt the plastic to the wood ensuring a great bond.  It can also be used to melt the ends of the plastic so that corners and intersections bond with a seamless appearance.  It can also be used with minimal results to melt the modern plastic ends together.  But I prefer the Canopy glue (above) to actually attach the newer bindings to wooden instruments.

This is really good filler.  Very minimal shrinkage compared to other brands.  Cleans up easily with water.   There are many colors available.  However, I only use the natural color and then dye it with Fiebings Leather dyes.

I use 3M Sanblaster Pro Sandpaper exclusively.   220 grit is my overall “go-to.”  There are 20 sheets in this pack.  Enough to keep you going for quite a while.  In my opinion the difference is night and day compared to the others.  This 220 grit is very useful and cuts very well while leaving a near finish ready surface.

This 400 grit sandpaper is used just before the finish is applied.  It gives great results.  There are 20 sheets in this pack.

Fiebings (alcohol based) dyes are one of the most useful products in my repair shop.  They will color almost anything.  You can mix and match colors to blend the color to a near exact match.  The most useful colors for me are Dark Brown, Light Brown, and Black.  Other helpful colors are Yellow, Red, and Green.

Boiled linseed oil is very useful for treating bridges, fretboards, bare necks, and any other “bare” wood.  Simply wipe on and then after only a minute, wipe off.  It is also useful for wiping over really old and very damaged finishes like old violins.  You’ll be amazed how much better the finish will look.  Great stuff!

This is a really great finish for acoustic instruments.  This small quantity will handle most instruments.  There are many ways you can apply it.  You can literally use your fingers, a pad, cloth, brush, etc.  My favorite method is to spray it.  However, I warn you, you can not spray it too light.  One pass only or it will run.  But that is true regardless of the method of application.  You must apply light coats.  But the results are really great.  For a larger quantity, see below:

Same as above just a lot more of it.

This shellac is a good 1st coat under the Tru Oil Varnish.  It can also be used as a top coat.  But the negative is that it is not very scratch resistant and it might turn white if you sweat on it.  However it works great as the undercoat and it is acoustically sound.  It works great for touching up chips and dings too.  You can purchase this in amber too.  The amber is great for old “yellow” finish touch ups.

This brushing lacquer is great for touching up dings and chips in the finish.  Its a bit pricey, but if you do a lot of that type of thing, it is worth the money.  You can use this as a top coat as well.  But generally for that, I use spray lacquer.

I use this “rattle can” spray lacquer for small jobs.  E.g., custom wooden pickguards, or truss rod covers.  However there is no reason why you couldn’t use it for an entire instrument.

3 in One oil is an old standby.  This is a “3” pack.   Keep one in the house, one in the shop and the other anywhere you can use some lubrication.  I use it on tuning keys.  It will not hurt bare wood.  In fact, it is ok to apply it to bare wood.  However as a general rule, I use linseed oil for that.

Zippo lighter fluid is great for removing “sticky” stuff off the finish of an acoustic instrument.  It will not harm most finishes.  But it is always good to test first.

Heavy duty single edge razor blades (.012″ thick) are a must have in the shop.  They are great for scraping defects off of bindings and for shaping small parts.  I use them all the time while leveling the fretboard between frets.  Don’t use the thin “cheap” blades they are only .009″ thick and are too flexible most of the time.

.5mm Lead size.  This is a mechanical pencil with black trim color.  I rarely use a standard pencil anymore especially after finding these. This one is for very fine lines when precision counts.

.9mm lead size.  This is a mechanical pencil with yellow trim color.  I use this for general purposes.  Since the lead is large in this pencil it is more useful as a regular goto marking pencil.

These razor saws are a must for making fine cuts.  The kerf is only .008″.  That is the thickness of only 2 human hairs.  This is the exact saw I use and recommend it highly.

This is a must for diagnosing the insides of an acoustic instrument.  This mirror is lighted and can extend to work inside any size acoustic instrument.  Inspection cameras are great (I have 3 of them), but they are a hassle.  This is simple and simple is good.

I purchased this set of chisels more than 2 years ago and am very happy with them.  These are the longer version of the chisel and the ones I recommend.  They hold a good edge and are well made overall.

8mm Finger plane.  I consider finger planes to be an essential tool for a Luthier.  This 8mm plane, while very tiny,  is my new goto plane.  It takes less effort to push it and it can fit into tiny areas.  It works great even in very hard wood.  If you can only afford one plan, this is not a bad choice.

10mm Finger plane.  This was my favorite plane for several decades.  It is still one of my most useful plane sizes.  The 10mm is a great choice if you can only afford one plane.

12mm Finger plane.  Since this is 4 mm wider than the one above, it is more difficult to push.  But if you are in soft wood, this one works fast.

The model Heat Gun that I actually use is a HotShot.  Amazon has one listed exactly like it for $189.  So I chose this one instead.  Much more affordable and still has the variable heat setting and has a good rating too.

These are hands down the best electrical pliers I have ever used.  I first found them at my local NAPA store.  They are also available from Amazon by clicking on this link.  You’ll LOVE THEM!

To be clear, this is NOT the exact scope I use but appears to be the closest thing on Amazon.  The actual price at the time of this addition was in the neighborhood of $373.00  and it has a pretty good rating.

This vibration tool has greatly helped the pain in my hands.  It is NOT a cure, but it definitely provides relief at the most painful times.

This type of switch is really nice when building a home network.  Much faster than WIFI.  You don’t need to know much.  Just run an ethernet cable from your modem/router to the switch and then you can plug in up to 4 other devices.  Real life example:  Say your router is upstairs and your game room is downstairs in the basement.  Simply plug in an ethernet cable to the router, then drill a hole in the floor to drop it through.  Then in the basement connect the switch to the other end.  Now you can connect up to 4 other devices using more ethernet cables.  The best thing is they will work much faster than wifi.  You will love it!

These cables are compatible with the switch above.  I have 3 of them in the 25′ length and they work well.