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hardware holes to big

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First time builder, first time posting. My question is how can i make the holes for hardware (bridge posts, tuners, etc) small? I must have went in crocked when drilling the holds now they are to big. I can easily pull all the hardware out with ease.

I've been racking my brain and the last thing i want to do is glue them in place. Any suggesting?

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Depends on what screw holes need repairing. I'd personally be a bit leary using normal dowels to plug screw holes for mounting a hardtail bridge as the grain orientation in the dowel would struggle to hold in a screw under tension. By plugging the hole with a dowel and redrilling you're screwing into endgrain which will be weaker than the original crossgrain.

Strap buttons, pickguard screws, tuner screws, tune-o-matic bridge inserts...anything where the screw is not under significant tension or shear forces, or where it isn't expected to be excessively tightened would probably be fine replacing with dowel.

String trees, hardtail bridges, tune-o-matic tailpiece inserts, bolt-on neck screws...You're probably better using something like a plug cutter and making your own dowels where the grain direction matches the wood you're trying to plug. The screw has more of a chance holding firm without stripping out in the plugged hole if the grain runs perpendicular to the screw shaft.

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+1 on the plug cutter idea. That is the gold standard. Larger holes like tuners and bridges which have a large degree of mechanical reliability expected of them should really be dowelled and re-drilled. For smaller holes such as screws, etc. you can partially split a matchstick, drop that into the hole with the split upwards and drive the screw in (not with a hammer of course). Not perfect, but a temporary and reversible repair.

If a bridge post hole is only marginally larger than the post itself and plug cutting/dowelling is not going to be possible for you then there is a dirty hack. Similar to the screw/match idea. Grab a scrap of thin hardwood veneer and cut a piece the depth of the hole and with a width half that of the circumference of your post. A 1/2" diameter post would be half of 2πR or πR; 3.14*0.25 = 3/4". Ensure that the grain runs top-to-bottom.

Use some coarse sandpaper, a scraper or whatever to feather the top edge of the veneer. The aim is to make a sliver of veneer which curls around one half of the too-large hole. The top edge is slightly eased so that the post can easily enter the hole. When the post is advanced further inside, the thicker end of the veneer provides holding pressure and compresses against the sides of the hole to provide good part-to-body coupling.

This is a non-permanent fix and despite not being ideal it will do the trick. A paper or card sleeve could do the job just as well, but tone junkies would yatter on forever about some crazy voodoo stuff. Paper is wood too y'know? ;-)

Tuners are a different case altogether. What types are they? Vintage press-fit or screw-through bushings?

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Another trick for if it's a non-tensioned insert and the hole is JUST too big... I'm talking it's a good fit, but not a PRESS fit. If that's the case you can put some wood glue in there with the insert, let it dry. It won't stick to metal, but when you pull out the insert it will have filled the spaces, including matching the grippy part of the insert.


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