How to make a wooden guitar pick by Iron Age

How To Make Your Own Wooden Guitar Picks

October 01, 2016

Guitar picks are an often overlooked staple when it comes to fine-tuning your tone. Such a small piece of gear can have a great deal of influence on the way you play, starting on how they feel in your hand, to how they deliver your desired expression to the strings. 

While we do have wooden guitar picks already made in our main storefront, we want to show you how you can make a custom pick for yourself or as a special gift for a friend.

After all, some things are just more satisfying when you put in the effort to make them your own. Below you'll find a detailed article on making wooden guitar picks, as well as a quick run-through video.

Wooden Guitar Picks, Padauk, Iron Age, Guitar Accessories, Wooden Picks, Handmade

   Materials Needed:

  • 1.5in Block of wood
  • A table, scroll, band, even a hand saw to slice the block
  • The guitar pick you want to duplicate & Pen/fine-tip marker
  • Sandpaper, Coarse (120-320) & Fine grit (500-800)
  • Disc Sander (Optional but preferred)
  • Dremel (Optional)
  • Dust mask for safety

Step 1 - Take your block of wood (I used Padauk) and cut a slice off using whatever tools you have. I used a scroll saw I had laying around, then sanded the slice to make it flat & smooth on both sides. My starting blank was 3mm thick although anything above 1.5 will work okay. Beware that going below 1.5 can increase the risk of breaking the pick while playing.

Step 2 - Once you have your blank, simply lay the pick you want to duplicate on top of it & trace it with a pen or fine tipped marker. Make sure the grain is going from the tip (bottom) of the pick to the top. Cutting the pick side-to-side can cause some playability issues later on. I actually made this mistake on the pick from the video, if you notice, the grain is going horizontally. I had to re-bevel it several times to get it to play smooth :(

Step 3 - Now we've get our shape, to do so you can use a scroll-saw to neatly cut it out, or sand off the excess using a disc sander. You can also use a cutting tool  such a Dremel to cut off as much extra material as you can, then finish the blank by hand for uniformity. The last resort would be sanding it completely by hand - that might take a good minute & a good workout.

Step 4 - Now that you've got the blank in the shape of your desired pick, the edges might be a little rough. To make your pick more presentable, go ahead & use the coarse grit sandpaper do a light bevel all around the pick & remove its "blocky" appearance.

Wooden Guitar Picks, Padauk, Iron Age, Guitar Accessories, Wooden Picks, Handmade

Step 5 - The most important step is to bevel your pick. This can be a personal preference on whether you want sharp & steep bevels, or a smoother graduated slope. This will have the most impact as far as how your guitar pick attacks & releases from the strings & its overall tone.

For my pick, I went with a 30 degree bevel on all 4 edges. You can do this step using the disc sander however it can be unforgiving until you get a good technique down. To do it by hand, first get the shape you want using the coarse grit sandpaper, then go over the entire pick using the fine grit sandpaper for an even finish & to blend any jagged angles.

If you'd like to get a little more shine instead of a satin finish, simply rise your pick in some water & take a cloth to buff your pick. This will help spread the wood's natural oils & remove any dust that might be sticking to it.  

If you want to get really creative, you can even add your own grips, carvings, divots, & do custom shapes to suit your own style. That's all it takes to make your very own wooden guitar picks. Now just crank your amp, get those power tubes cookin', & listen to your new-found tone!

 

Tone Demo Of The Two Picks

 

How To Make Your Own Wooden Guitar Picks

Craft yourself something more than "just a pick". It's a great way to tweak your tone without spending hundreds on new gear. Not to mention you can make some incredibly awesome picks  that double as awesome gifts. Here are the 5 basic steps to make your own wooden guitar picks using a block of wood:

Wooden Guitar Picks, Padauk, Iron Age, Guitar Accessories, Wooden Picks, Handmade

 

  1. Cut a slice off the block, thickness as you prefer.
  2. Use a pick you want to copy & trace it on the wood slice.
  3. Cut the shape out or sand the excess material.
  4. Take your pick blank & light bevel it all around to remove the edges.
  5. Bevel the tip to preference. This will affect attack/release & overall tone.
You can use just about any material you can think of & the best part about making your own picks is the potential for customization. Add all sorts of grips, bevels, & make all sorts of shapes.
Did you find this article helpful? Feel free to comment below & I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have on the process!

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