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To Drill or Not to Drill?


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I was wondering what you guys do when trying out your guitars (before finishing). Do you avoid drilling holes to make finishing/painting easier or do you go ahead and drill everything before finishing? I have heard that the holes will make it difficult to deal with when painting and using the nitrocellulose.

The holes that I am considering drilling are for the strap, the string retainer, and a few other misc. holes.

If the answer is to not drill now, what are the odds of me drilling after finishing and chipping the paint off with the drill bit (will the bit tend to tear a chunk out)?

Thanks,

Dave

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Always drill and route everything first.. test everything to make sure it fits properly.. then paint the guitar.. I made a big time mistake when I had a premade Neck and was going to use new tuners that I never checked to see if they fit.. I just dumbly thought, "all the tuners are the same size.." WRONG.. so I painted the headstock and had a great finish on it.. but guess what... when I tried to install the tuners they wouldn't fit into the predrilled holes.. so I had to drill it out to 10mm... and I chipped the paint on 3 of those... Yes, a very hard lesson... I had to sand it down and restart.. cost me about 2 days of extra work... Moral to the long story.. lol.. Is that you always prefit everything first to see if you have everything drilled, cut, routed, etc.. properly before you even think about finishing... actually the word Finish_ing should help you remember.. since it actually tells you what is does.. it's the Finishing of the guitar.. meaning the last step..

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i heard the only holes ur supposed to pre drill are the tuner holes, and the routed cavities (obviously), but the other stuff, like the volume and tone pot holes, strap holes, pickguard, bridge wholes (strat hardtail) etc... are all supposed to be drilled after finishing, and use a downward spiral bit so u don't chip the finish.

But that's just what i heard.

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Strap button holes, the holes for tuner anti-rotation screws and other small diameter holes can safely be drilled after finishing, though there is no real advantage. Everything else should be completed before finishing, doing otherwise risks chipping your finish, a real bitch if you've sprayed coloured laquer, or anything which doesn't spot fill seamlessly.

I wouldn't consider drilling holes for pots after finishing - that's really asking for a prominent chip out on the most visible surface of your guitar!

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I guess I wasn't clear on my question. I was really looking for how to handle the holes that are NOT critical to the operation of the guitar such as the strap holes, string retainer, ... The holes such as the tuners, and cavities are not things I would imagine going without testing first.

Here's one more related question:

When I paint and clear coat the guitar, what is the likelyhood of me creating problems with the drill bit? What I mean by that is - if I go to re-drill the holes for something like the string retainer, will I have to be surgeon-like with the drill to not take out a chunk of the finish or is it fairly easy to drill after the guitar is finished? I don't mean slipping, I'm just talking about the drill bit chewing into some finish and not cleanly removing it.

Does the paint and clear completely cover the holes or can you still stick a drill bit right in there and just clear a little out? I'm also a little confused by how the wood filler/putty works (I saw the Erlewine video but he skipped the part where he actually paints over it). In case you can't tell, I've never painted / finished a guitar before.

Thanks for the opinions, and information I'm getting a little nervous about finishing this thing I have been pouring my soul into. I want to try to avoid making mistakes that I could have prevented if I only asked the right questions - ya know?

Dave

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I've been told to drill most of the holes before finishing. this way you will be able to cover any mistakes up. if you take the drill to work on a finished body and suddenly realize that you ****ed something up, you're not gonna be able to cover it up completely.

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