I just start from wood, and all the rawest materials I can lay my hands on, and build.
I use mostly hand tools -- planes, chisels, pencils, mallets, sharpening stones.
I don't understand luthiers who outsource great quantities of their work to machines and especially computerized cutting. What initially attracted them to luthiery?
I create my own tailpieces, from the design, to the wax casting, to the oven, to the brass, to the polishing -- one person.
I am not yet able to build my own tuners, but it may come someday.
My finishes are all-natural and practically, if not recommended, edible. They smell great going on and in the finished product.
I simply like to live for beauty.