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mistermikev

Number of questions - new "parts build"

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Hello all.

New here... my first impression of this site was literally thinking to myself "well winning build of the month here is on a whole-nutha-level."  Some really outstanding works of art here. 

Anywho, I'm building a new guitar - just building it from parts.  Hope it's ok to post re that.  I've got a flamed maple body to start and have 3 questions:

1) I've got to drill stud holes for a babicz 2 pt trem.  I have no drill press.  I would need a 14" and just not willing to spend more on a drill press than the body! 

$120 for local guitar builder to do it so... (not doing that) talk me out of it or encourage me on!  Have a cheap drill guide and clamps - it worked fine for 6pt trem... neck mount holes, etc.  advice?

as an alternative I do have a plunge router but I don't have confidence that I could do any better with that.

2) was thinking all natural for this body.  below pic is after damp cloth.  I've done true oil plus laquer before but true oil gets yellow... if I go nat I'd like it to be as "white" as possible but still show the grain. advice?  Is this body a good candidate for that finish? 

3) need to do a 5 way slot.  Pretty confident I know how but would be silly not to consider input.  I have a dremel bit that is approx 2.5mm.  It's a hair too big but it could work.  other ideas?  drill holes and use a coping saw?

other ideas on what you would do with this body?

thanks in advance for any comments/advice.

 

DSCF2499_lo.jpg

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I would NOT drill post holes for a tremolo with anything other than a good drill press.

$120 for someone else to do it is highway robbery. I'd call around to other builders, or even a machine shop. Doesn't have to be a guitar builder that does it. Just has to be able to drill two accurate holes :-)

Switch slot is pretty easy if you have a dremel with a small router bit, but I'd use a dremel base, and attach a guide to the top to slide it along when cutting. If you try to free-hand it I guarantee you it's going to be ugly...

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thank you working stiff for your response.  I hear ya on the "I would not".  Not my first choice - I did call a local builder but was put off by the price.  I thought $120 was outrageous for drilling two holes.  I suppose they are taking the risk if it goes bad and that is mostly what you pay for. 

I will take your advice and call some other shops but I can't see paying more than 60-80 for it.  If I can get it done locally for that - believe me I'll do it.  Any opinions on how much a 2 pt bridge install should cost?  Perhaps I'm wrong and it's the going rate.

all that said... there have to be people who have done it with a hand drill no?  Assuming you have a decent hand drill, and you've got it lined up right, and you've got the guide clamped down... I suppose if there is any movement in the guide or the chuck... you end up screwing the whole thing or getting creative with wood splinters later.  Just thinking out loud here.

afa switch slot... yeah, I've got a dremel router base and would just clamp a chunk of wood for a fence.  Probably drill two start/stop holes first.  I have to go searching for a router bit smaller than 2.5mm. 

thanks again!  I do appreciate the feedback.

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11 minutes ago, mistermikev said:

all that said... there have to be people who have done it with a hand drill no?  Assuming you have a decent hand drill, and you've got it lined up right, and you've got the guide clamped down... I suppose if there is any movement in the guide or the chuck... you end up screwing the whole thing or getting creative with wood splinters later.  Just thinking out loud here.

If all else fails:

Even so, I wouldn't attempt it with anything less than a brad point drill bit. For trem posts you can get away with a few degrees of 'not vertical-ness'. The more critical components to the drilling process for the bridge is the absolute positioning on the face of the guitar for both posts and ensuring the holes don't become ovalled out while you drill, something that I peronally wouldn't trust to a regular twist drill bit, even using a drill press.

The use of a guide, above, should get you within acceptable tolerances on the vertical and roundness of the holes as long as you go carefully. The positioning of the two holes is entirely down to your accuracy of measurement and placement of the bit, which TBH is something you still need to be mindful of when doing this operation in a drill press anyway.

At the end of the day, you work within the boundaries of the tools and skills you have available at your disposal. Use the partscaster as a learning experience and a stepping stone for the next bigger thing.

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curisa - not sure i'm up for the effort of a plywood guitar!  still interesting.  I see the corner idea... not sure that'd be as reliable as a drill guide though but it seems to work pretty good. 

I have read that the brad point would be the way to go and if I do end up doing - assuming there's no issue using them in a std drill - I will get a set.  I figured I could go really slow, freq backing out. 

on the bridge side... this type of bridge technically only requires absolute precision on the one hole (I realize it would be important to get the other hole right but not nec critical as the right side is a long wide knife edge).

 

I keep watching craigslist too... for a 12" drill press $150 or under... but then who knows how good the chuck/motor/work-rest would be.

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Hi, @mistermikev and welcome!

I've been building for some time and actually have only recently got a drill press, so I'm also in the camp that - while a drill press is the tool for the job - you can produce perfectly fit-for-purpose results without.

But @curtisa is right - it is essential to use a good quality brad point drill.  Don't go for a cheap set of mixed sizes, buy a good quality one of the finished size you need.  With brad points, you only have the accuracy of the brad tip at the first pass - so you want the first pass to be the only pass.

You need to measure the two centres very accurately -use a steel rule - and I use a sharp centre punch or similar to press a small indent in exactly the place that the brad point is going to fit.

Then it's about keeping it perpendicular.  Personally, I struggle with drill guides, because it's so difficult to see if your drill is, indeed, still sitting with the brad point in the small indent while you are also trying to square up the guide onto the body.  I use the above - a small block of squared up wood and hold it directly next to the drill shank (at that dia, the drill is going to be a decent length to be able to see any angular errors.). As long as the drill is exactly in line with the edge of the block in both axes, then the drill is straight.

Now for some jobs, this wouldn't be accurate enough.  But for trem bushes, with care, it should be.

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I'll weigh in with a few points that agree and disagree with those made. I tend to do that though. :lol:

I haven't used a pillar drill for maybe a year and a half now. Neither at home, community college nor at work. They do have their benefits, without a doubt. The secret to a good hand-drilled hole is marking out properly, offering up the workpiece to confirm locations (or even using it to provide those marking locations) and then creating a pilot mark for the point of your drill bit. I use a carbide scribe designed for metalwork rather than an awl. Of course, your drill bits need a point that is on centre also....I bought some Colt TwinLand bits (long story, but they're not the same as they once were) where several of the drills had points which were both asymmetrical, bent or off-centre. Those would undermine good marking out.

If you're using a cordless drill, it's useful to be familiar with its weight and handling. I'm super familiar with the Makitas at work and my own Bosch drill, so there's a degree of muscle memory and visual feedback knowing it is perpendicular to the surface being worked on. You can always start the hole, rotate 90° to confirm perpendicularity on the other axis and progressively drill the hole.

Worst case, a hole that is constantly adjusted when drilled by hand will end up with a diameter slightly larger than that of the drill. At work I often drill holes - say, a 10mm hole - a couple of sizes smaller (8mm) before opening the start out with a step drill to 10mm and then finishing up with a 10mm drill to size.

If I needed a perfectly perpendicular specifically-depthed hole for a trem post, I might well make an inch thick guide block. Mark out the hole location on both sides using a square and confirm from two directions, then drill halfway through the block each side so the holes meet up. Pop that guide onto the drill bit, locate the spur of the bit into the workpiece's marked hole, push the guide down onto the workpiece surface and drill away.

Splintering; it's best to let the weight of a drill in a cordless do the work until the cut wall of the hole is established. The spurs will slowly slice through the fibres for a few mm before you add any downward pressure. Exit holes don't matter here since you don't need (or want!) them.

I hope this adds to the conversation and doesn't repeat or contradict any points made too much for you!

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Andyjr1515 - thank you for the reply.  I knew there were had to be some people that had confidence in doing it without a press. 

recommendations for a bit brand? 

afa measurement here is what I planned - fasten neck, fasten tuners, temp install nut.  use a straight level set against either side of the neck to draw lines towards the bridge.  measure back from the 12th fret to find the same distance on either 'side line'.  that should give me a line parallel to the 12th fret at the front of the bridge,  find the distance to center of the left side post from the side line - use the same distance on the right side.  any advice welcome!

afa perpendicular - between you and prostheta you have me half convinced that a board is better than a drill guide.  I'm seriously influenced - thank you both for that. 

prostheta - thank you for the reply.

you just taught me that a pillar drill is another name for a drill press!  what did you mean by 'offering up the workpiece'? 

I hear ya on marking the work piece - Perhaps a better marking device is in order too.  (recommend?)

afa knowing your drill - when I was younger I worked at a place making nurse stations and other cabinets.  I must have drilled hundreds of thousands of 3/16 holes through 3/4 stock on edge to a depth of 1" without a guide and without breaking through.  It's not the same level of precision - but you just learn to 'use the force' to know when a drill is perp.  I've done the same thing making speaker cabs and such recently so... hopefully that will serve me well.

good tip on placing the guide wood at the chuck, line it up, then push it back down.

afa splinters... I figured I would mark the diameter of the hole and hit it with an exacto.  also put some masking tape... but with a new bit and - like you said - let the drill do the work - I think it should be ok. 

 

 

also last night I looked on craigslist for a used drill press.  I did find a craftsman and a skill in 12" in my price range.  I'm going to continue to think about it, but I might give in and go that route.

thank you again everyone for your responses - i do appreciate.  Helping me get it right in my head. 

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"Offering up" is physically placing the part to the workpiece; the bridge or whatever. It depends on whether you work from published dimensions or those taken from the piece itself. It's just a check that I do, since I have come across parts that don't conform to published dimensions before today. A project I'm documenting at the moment uses a hardtail bridge where I drew the mounting locations based on paper spec, but also offered up the bridge itself to check that it lines up as intended. Call it overkill, but there's no harm in being thorough!

Marking tools....that's an entire conversation of itself! For marking out drilling locations I use a combination of mechanical pencils (0,5mm lead size), blades and my metal scribe. Usually I tap the scribe lightly with a hammer....enough so that it makes a minute location, then eyeball it. If it's slightly off I can apply finger pressure in the direction I want it to go before giving it another tap. It's about as good as it gets. Although seldom, I have been known to make two knife lines and place the scribe in the crossing point. I tend not to do that much these days, since it's another mark to sand out....the scribe is accurate enough for most purposes. The one place that knife lines do make a difference is when there's a line of rear string ferrules. I'm incredibly inconsistent though, and often change my approach depending on the wood I'm working with, the day of the week or way the wind blows! :lol:

I know you asked Andy about brands, however I thought I'd offer my take also; cheap isn't always a false economy, however lip and spur ("brad point") is a must. They're guided by the central point and the spurs cut from the outside inwards unlike twist which push waste out from the point against the leading edge. In that respect, the central point needs to be sharp, true and symmetrical. Any drills that tick the boxes will do the job. Anything better is gravy. The bits I use on a regular basis are the Colt TwinLand (cheap set) which were a bit offish till I re-cut the points, Colt FCE (expensive HSS-M2 bits....check our reviews) and Würth "Zebra" bits which are M35 HsCo steel. The last two are more specialist, super durable drills that I only use for finer clean work. The Colt FCE tend to self-feed like a screw because of their aggressive geometry, so I use those only when I won't encounter that. The Zebra bits (probably rebranded) are fantastic for general work. It depends on how much you want to (or can) spend on bits. Expensive outlast and outperform cheap, often making them less expensive in the long run. Pay once, hurt once kind of thing.

Fisch are great, and produce a nice balance of quality vs cost. This is a set that I've had my eye on for some time:

http://www.axminster.co.uk/fisch-25-piece-hss-brad-point-drill-set-102530

I've likely said a lot that has already been said or you already know....

 

5-way slot. I did one in a test run last week. I drilled the screwholes first, marked up a centreline between the two centres with a knife and drilled the outside edges of the slot. I then reduced the drill size and did a series of holes along the knife line. Two more knife lines were struck parallel to the centreline to meet the outer drilled holes at the edges, and the waste in the slot removed with a (razor) sharp chisel. A little filing and it was great. There's a lot of ways of achieving the same end depending on existing skills and tools, but the challenges are making it clean and consistent. I don't like Dremels that much, since they like to jump in the cut and burn. Too hectic for me!

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49 minutes ago, Prostheta said:

Fisch are great, and produce a nice balance of quality vs cost. This is a set that I've had my eye on for some time:

http://www.axminster.co.uk/fisch-25-piece-hss-brad-point-drill-set-102530

 

These are the ones I would have recommended :)

Fisch also do some higher grade ones, but these above are perfectly good and still sooooo much better than the ones you are likely to get in a standard DIY superstore (where often the brad point isn't in the very centre of the bit and the bits themselves don't cut cleanly and effectively.  And you can buy individual drill sizes if you don't want to go for a full set. 

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Agreed. The steel that the bits are made of makes a big difference, and they're not always an off-the-shelf item. Normally the cheaper stuff (my TwinLands included) are a chrome-vanadium (CV) steel alloy, which is a basic cheap material. Reasonably wear-resistant but not that good at retaining a sharp edge for long. High speed steels get somewhat more exotic, and I have to say that my M2 and M35 bits produce amazingly clean holes through Maple with no drama.

The good thing about sets is that you have the opportunity to return the bits to the box and keep them from clinking together, getting lost, etc. The downside is that when you do lose/break one, you have an empty slot. I'm pretty fastidious about my drills, same as I am with my router bits. Take care of them and you get the mileage, that's for certain.

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first off - you guys are great.  I'm really appreciating all the thought to my questions. 

side note: skyjerk - sorry for referring to you as working stiff - thought that was the name area!  (new here)

prostheta - got it... thanks for the explanation. 

I'm sold on the bit you and andyjr1515 recommended.  stew mac sells those and I've actually got to get a few odds and ends there anyway so... the only question is: looks like the stud size for babicz is .389 ... 3/8 aka .375 or 9mm aka .354 or 10mm aka .39?  reminds me - need to find a nice metric set of metal bits for my pedal building obsession! got a set of skill that are pretty nice for aluminum and have lasted a long time despite my lack of use of oil... but 80% of elec components are metric!

http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Types_of_Tools/Drill_Bits/Brad_Point_Drill_Bit_Sets.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=shopping&utm_campaign=2018-01-gp&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIzK6Hl7z72AIVgWh-Ch2FpAxnEAQYBSABEgJyDfD_BwE

afa nice place to store bits - every bit my grandfather owned was embedded in a piece of wood when not in use.  I follow that tradition.  Still, $25 at stew mac - I might as well buy the set.

 

thank you both again!

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That's just how I do it. Any method that is controlled and clean should be just as good. A Dremel will do the job if it has a sub-base and some sort of guide to run it in a straight line. Definitely not freehand though, unless it's just to hog out material and clean it up later with a chisel, file, etc.

Also, shop around for your bits....that Fisch set at StewMac can be bought eight dollars cheaper from Amazon. A bit more hunting and you might find a good deal on an HSS Fisch set rather than CV steel.

I can never get over StewMac's hyperbole:

"Precision-machined Fisch chrome vanadium steel bits are the most accurate we've used."

It's a big old world out there, Mr MacDonald and there are plenty more Fisch in the sea! haha :happy:

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prostheta - many ways to skin a cat.  i think given my understanding of my skills, dremel is going to be best for me.  I have the router base and will use a board as a fence.  I think the skill and tools to clean up a hole are a hair out of reach for me at the moment.  I will take your advice on shopping around for an HSS set.  love your analogy and pun! 

at risk of hogging the forum 'bump pole position" on this topic... can you please comment regarding bit size for these studs?  I assume the bit size should be a hair smaller than the stud itself... but how much smaller?  stud is  .389 so what is your gut on the bit I should use .375, .354 or .39? my guess is .375.

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Is that measurement directly from the studs with a set of calipers? I'd take a measurement from both the toothed diameter and that of the body and go from there. Does the manufacturer not make a recommendation on size themselves?

If the body were say, 10mm and the toothed part 10,5mm I'd use a 3/8" drill. That's approximately 9,5mm. If the wood was of the harder sort and near an edge, I'd go 10mm and use a pillar drill to ensure it was exactly 10 and not wallered out. I'm awful for using both systems interchangeably. Your best bet is to see if the manufacturer makes recommendation first. I have no system or accepted answer to sizing myself other than "about a mm" or, "nearest size down". In harder woods, having the right size is extremely important if the stud holes near an edge because of splitting. 

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handen't realized the site might actually tell me exactly what bit to use - good call.  they did.  still good info factoring in the hardness of the wood.  body is maple/alder so I guess that's medium hard.

today I realized that we actually have a drill press at work - right under my nose!  Apparently I need to get out of my office more.  I'll have to run it up the chain of command, as I am but a lowly code monkey, but I think I'm all set. 

thanks again for all the advice!

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On 1/28/2018 at 3:30 PM, mistermikev said:

 

side note: skyjerk - sorry for referring to you as working stiff - thought that was the name area!  (new here)

 

No worries. I AM a working stiff, and added that title to myself :)

 

To clarify my earlier comment, if I didnt have a drill press I would absolutely take a shot at doing it by hand. The right bit and a guide can get the job done if you are careful. I didnt always have a drill press, or any of my other bigger shop tools but that didnt stop me.

My point was just that if a drill press is available, Thats the way to go.

To address another point made by another member, yes. If a trem post is a degree or ttwo off vertical it can still work fine BUT if the spacing between the two posts is off by even a mm for most tremolo systems, or they are not both exactly the same distance from the nut, your return to zero on the trem, and thus tuning stability, will be impaired,

Thats why VERY careful measurement, and a quality brad point are the biggest factors. A drill press is an added bonus removing some possible human error from the operation

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thank you gentlemen.  I will def update on how things go. 

i hear ya skyjerk.  spacing on this trem has a little forgiveness due to the second post riding on a wide blade, but the two studs not being parallel - yeah, could cause binding.  that'll be the biggest thing to look out for. trying to get my mind around some sort of jig that would lock into the trem cavity and allow the body to slid along a parallel plane.

 

anywho, thank you both, and everyone for all the comments.  great community!

 

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