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verhoevenc

Side Dots: New Favorite Homemade Tool

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verhoevenc    131

So I've never been 100% happy with the various methods for drilling side dots to ensure they all line up nicely. Probably the easiest way is to set a fence up and use the back of the fretboard against it on the drill press. But what if you're doing dots that cross the fretboard/neck boundary? Also, I generally finalize my radius after gluing the board to the neck.... so what happens if I have to sand down a bit and the dots are no longer centered? What if I forget and have to do them later simply by mistake? 

I've seen a number of jigs I liked in principal... but they all had some short comings. Probably the closest I've found to liking was the acrylic one I saw that had the dots in a row all spaced out and some clamping jig that allowed you to line your neck up with it. Probably makes amazingly straight side dots but it was a larger jig that took some serious time to make! Also, each scale had to have an acrylic template! For each dot size! And acrylic will wear out with use so you likely have to make new templates every handful of guitars! Seemed wasteful to me... but the concept was sound!

So I made this. I have a template for each sized dot I want to use. Since they don't use much acrylic it doesn't matter if I wear one out with use... it's cheap to make another! It allows me to adjust the height of the dots to exactly my liking; even on a radiused board already attached to the neck! Finally, notice the little lip that is used to register onto the top of the fingerboard for the height. It's very thin. This is so that it's registering ONLY at the very edge of the board and therefore the jig is radius-agnostic.

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I basically use it as follows:

1- Adjust height of jig hole to preference being sure to check both 3rd and last-dotted fret since a drastic radius will have slight thickness changes due to the neck taper.

2- Put some tape on the bit to mark desired depth of dot holes.

3- Use standard "draw an X between the frets" technique to find the horizontal center for the dot.

4- Place jig over center of X and drill, allowing jig to determine the vertical center of the dot.

5- Glue in dots.

Chris

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