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I just finished up a build that called for direct mounted pickups. I wanted these to be adjustable but more importantly I also wanted to preserve the threads in the pickup baseplate tab threads that normally get screwed up or drilled out by using regular wood screws to mount the pickups just in case I ended up pulling them out for any reason. I ended up using 2-56 Brass screw-to-expand inserts along with matching half inch 2-56 thread pan head screws from McMaster-Carr. These simply press into an eight inch pilot hole and are reinforced with a drop of CA glue. These screws are slightly smaller than the existing 3-48 threads in the pickup tabs. They do catch the existing threads just a bit but they will screw through the holes but will want to grab the pickup threads when fully inserted. To avoid any thread damage to the pickup I filed off about an eight inch of threads just underneath the screw head so it wouldn't damage the existing pickup threads once fully inserted and turned while adjusting. I did this by chucking up the screw in a drill and using a file under the head. Machine screw and threaded brass insert Threaded insert mounted in the pickup cavity Machine screw test fit I tried using these with two layers of foam under the pickup but the pickup could be pressed down pretty easily and felt kind of spongy. I fixed this by adding two pickup mounting springs cut in half. They are now quite firm and can be adjusted infinite times without worrying about the screw stripping out of the wood. Pretty simple but it works quite well. ----==---- John is a long-term contributor to ProjectGuitar.com, a popular Guitar Of The Month winner and a good guy all round. His sublime boutique carved-top guitars include the signature Dimple model and are sold under the John Wallace Custom Guitars marque out of San Diego. www.johnwallaceguitars.com1 point
It is difficult to construct an electric guitar without reaching for the router. Control and pickup cavities, neck pockets and tremolo recesses are all operations that require the use of this versatile tool, and all of these examples are made much easier and safer by the use of a template and an inverted pattern bit to guide the router around the intended cut. One routing pattern that can be difficult to execute accurately is for a Floyd Rose Original tremolo, particularly the recessed version whereby the arm can be raised or lowered above and below its equilibrium point. The following article describes a system that lends itself well to performing this difficult routing operation by the use of a master indexing plate on to which a number of different templates can be attached to create the complex routing pattern. The system can be adapted for other patterns as well such as pickup cavities or other tremolo systems. The System Referring to the PDF plans attached to the bottom of this post, the Floyd Rose routing templates are based around a master indexing plate (Sheet 1). The centre of the plate has a 120mm x 100mm window which can accept a matching template insert. Near the perimeter of the plate are mounting holes for installing further templates which may be overlaid on top of the indexer to provide extra tool height for shallow cutting operations which would otherwise cause the router bearing to ride higher than the template. The templates used in this example have been created from clear Perspex, but MDF can also be used. Perspex however has the advantage that it is possible to see through the template to help position it against reference guidelines drawn on the body to ensure perfect alignment. Sheet 2 shows the insert that is installed within the window of the indexer and contains the guides for drilling the tremolo post holes and the penetration for the trem sustain block. Sheet 3 details the overlay template that is attached on top of the indexer for routing the cavity for the bridge plate of the Floyd Rose. With the end stop shown on Sheet 4 fitted to the overlay template, the extra depth required for the fine tuners at the rear of the bridge can also be routed. Sheet 5 describes the template for routing the rear of the body for installing the springs. Constructing the templates Begin with the indexer. After cutting the perimeter of the plate mark the centreline and intonation reference lines as shown on the diagram as squarely as possible. If using Perspex scribe these lines on the underside of the template. Having these lines under the template assists with lining up the location of the template on the guitar body. The window cut-out in the index plate can be created using a coping saw to rough out the cut, followed by a router guided by temporary fences to ensure straight, square edges. Note that the indexer can be as large as you like, so long as it remains easy to attach to your guitar. Cut and shape the outline of the insert plate and check the fit in the indexer window. The insert plate needs to be a snug fit with no slop while remaining easily removable. With the insert fitted to the indexer mark the cut-outs and drill locations detailed on sheet 2. Performing the marking of the insert while fitted to the indexer ensures the locations of the cut-outs remain square and true relative to the centreline scribed on the indexer. Remove the insert and complete the cut-outs as carefully as possible. Move on to the overlay template. Again, use the centreline on the indexer as a reference to aid in aligning the two when marking the locations of the cut-outs in the overlay template. With the templates constructed as shown in the plans the front edge of the overlay needs to be on the same alignment as the front edge of the indexer. If you chose to make the indexer wider ensure that you maintain the same horizontal positioning of the overlay template so that the resultant rout is at the correct location. The four 4mm holes should be drilled while the two pates are clamped together so that they remain in perfect alignment. These holes are used to lock the two plates together while routing. Removable pins or screws should be installed to align together them when routing provided that they do not protrude, and either damage the surface of the guitar body or hinder the movement of the router. The removable end stop can be constructed using two strips of material laminated together to make the required step profile. Two screw holes should be bored through the overlay template into the end stop to allow the two components to be secured together when performing the routing operation. The final template, the spring cavity rout can be created separately to the indexer. Mark or scribe the dashed line shown on the drawing as perpendicular as possible to the centreline. Tools required for using the templates Plunge router with adjustable depth stop Drill press with adjustable depth stop 1/2" diameter inverted pattern router bit with bearing, length 19mm 1/2" diameter inverted pattern router bit with bearing, length 32mm 3/8" diameter inverted pattern router bit with bearing, length 19mm 10mm brad point drill bit Optional - Forstner bits for removing excess timber prior to routing Clamps Using the templates 1. At this stage you should have a guitar body ready to be routed to accept the Floyd Rose bridge. A centreline should be marked on the body along with an intonation reference line drawn at right angles across the full width of the body at your chosen scale length. In the following example a scrap piece of pine has been used to rout the bridge cavity. No intonation line has been marked, but your actual build will require this to ensure the Floyd Rose is installed at the correct distance from the nut. 2. Align the index plate with the centreline and intonation reference line drawn on the body and clamp it securely. Test-manoeuvre your router around the indexer to ensure your clamps do not interfere at the extremities of the window in the plate and adjust if required. Alternatively you can use double-sided stick tape provided it is of good quality and doesn't allow too much lateral movement of the templates once adhered. Fit the insert plate into the window and using the two 10mm template holes as a guide bore the trem post holes using a 10mm brad point bit to a depth of 10mm or so. The exact depth at this stage isn't critical. Were just establishing the location of the post holes to start with. 3. A Forstner bit can be used to remove some of the waste within the 24mm x 76mm cut-out of the insert template to a depth of approx. 25mm to minimise wear on the router bit. Using the 1/2 diameter, 32mm long inverted pattern bit rout this template to a depth of 29mm. 4. The insert plate can now be removed from the indexer and the overlay plate installed over the top. Again, use the Forstner bit to remove some of the waste to a depth of 5mm. Use the 3/8 diameter, 19mm long inverted pattern bit and rout the whole area to a depth of 6mm. 5. Creating the rear well that allows the bridge to be pulled backwards when raising the trem arm requires routing a secondary depth at the back of the cavity of an additional 6mm. This is achieved by fitting the small stop bar to the overlay template that reduces the router lateral travel by 16mm. Run the router within the template to a depth of 12mm below the face of the guitar body. 6. The indexer and templates can now be removed from the body. Using a drill press bore all the way through the body down through the bottom of the sustain block rout. The exact location and size of this hole isn't critical, just as long as it is as close to the front edge of the rout as possible. Where the drill exits the body at the rear, mark a line perpendicular to the centre of the body that touches the tangent of this drill hole. This line should now align with the front edge of the sustain block rout and is used for locating the final template for routing the spring cavity. 7. Fit and clamp the fourth template, aligning it with the centre and sustain bock reference lines on the back of the body. Assuming your body is a typical Strat thickness (45mm or so), rout this template to a depth of 16mm using the 1/2 diameter 19mm long inverted pattern bit. If your body is a different thickness this will change how deep this rout must be. The rout needs to be deep enough to allow clearance for the springs and sustain block, but not so deep that you risk punching through the underside of the pickup routs. Ideally this depth should be [thickness of body] - 29mm. 8. An additional depth to the rear edge of the spring cavity is required to allow clearance for the sustain block to swing backwards when the trem arm is depressed. This depth is again dependent on the thickness of your body but should be [thickness of body] - 15mm. For a typical Strat this will result in a cutting depth of 30mm. The resultant rout will leave a small 3mm ledge of timber that is visible when viewing back through the sustain block cavity. Use the 1/2 diameter, 32mm long inverted pattern bit to complete this cut. Take care not to run the bit into the forward edge of the sustain block rout. A temporary fence may be clamped to the work piece to prevent the router being accidentally moved into the front wall of the sustain block rout. 9. The last step is to bore the final depth of the trem bushing holes. Remove the last template and flip the body over. Measure the length of your trem bushings and set your drill press depth stop to this value. Using a 10mm brad point bit on the drill press bore down the two 10mm holes that were established in step 2. Once the holes have been drilled the bushings can be pressed into the guitar. They should go in with firm hand pressure. An alternate method is to use a drill press with a short piece of dowel in the chuck to press the bushings in. Be careful when applying pressure however, as the small amount of supporting wood behind the bushing holes is fragile and can be easily split if the bushings require excessive force to be pressed in. 10. Test fit the bridge and check to see if there is sufficient clearance to allow the bridge to swing up and down without binding on any of the routs. Adapting the system Because the routing templates can be removed from the master indexer the user has the ability to create other template inserts and overlays for different routing tasks. Any shape that can fit within the dimensions of the 120mm x 100mm window has the potential to be made into a template for repetitive or complex routing operations. Pickup cavities, battery box cavities, Kahler and Wilkinson tremolos are some examples. ------ DOWNLOADABLE TEMPLATE SHEET FILES FR Routing Templates.pdf1 point
This is the first of an occasional series of tutorials covering tips and techniques for those of us who have limited facilities for building and finishing guitars and basses but nevertheless still wish to produce results that are fit for purpose and perfectly respectable - even when pitched against those produced in fully-equipped guitar building shops. This first tutorial covers wipe-on varnishing. Overview Gloss finishing of a guitar or bass can be daunting for the Bedroom Builder with visions of spray booths, compressors, burnishing wheels and high degrees of skill. With the wipe-on approach, a perfectly acceptable result can be achieved with the minimum of equipment and facilities. What does this tutorial cover? This tutorial aims to: explain the process of wipe-on varnishing detail some tips and techniques to produce a perfectly acceptable finish with the minimum of equipment and facilities explain the important differences between this and a spray finish (especially nitro) and particularly relating to the final stages and polishing This tutorial does not: claim to be the best or only way of producing a non-sprayed finish claim that this method of finish can compete with a professionally sprayed commercial-standard finish. It can, however, produce surprisingly good results that would bear close examination before revealing its humble origins. represent necessarily the quickest way of finishing. Its aim is to produce an acceptable finish when faced with limited resources What types of finishes can the wipe-on technique be applied to? Most standard finishes can be varnished using the wipe-on technique, including: Natural wood finish: Stained wood finish: Solid painted finish: Facilities and Equipment Do I need a workshop? No. Wipe-on varnishing can be done in any convenient room or facility, providing that: there is adequate ventilation there are no naked flames or other high-temperature sources in the immediate vicinity no major sources of air-born dust are present These are general precautions, but please always ensure that you read and follow the specific guidelines relating to the specific varnish or thinners you are using. What equipment do I need? The specific varnish illustrated is standard household polyurethane clear varnish, thinned with standard household decorators’ mineral spirits (white spirits). Other varnishes can be applied using the wipe-on technique, although some experimentation may be needed to optimise the proportions of varnish to thinners. The equipment needed is: That is: rubber gloves varnish (in this case clear polyurethane gloss varnish) compatible thinners (in this case white spririts) a mixing/storage jar soft micro-fibre cloths for the application of the thinned varnish. The ones I use are low cost, budget hardware-store cloths and they work just fine. Other conventional lint-free cloths may be suitable, although ‘lint-free’ often isn't! Micro-fibre cloths – in my experience – generally are. Additionally, and optionally, I use an additional type of microfiber cloth to remove any dust from the surfaces prior to varnishing. I use the type that are sold as window-cleaning cloths and find these much better than many commercial ‘tack rags’ that sometimes leave sticky deposits...and sometimes even leave bits. Process What stage of the finishing process is this tutorial starting at? For illustrative purposes, it will be assumed that it is a guitar or bass body that is being varnished and that it is ready for varnishing. It is therefore assumed that the guitar body: has been finish sanded-down to final pre-varnish levels where applicable, any stains/dyes or paint coats have been applied optionally, in the case of natural wood or stained finishes, a sealer has been applied to reduce excessive absorption of the initial varnish coats. What are the main stages in the wipe-on varnishing process? Preparing the body and thinning the varnish Wiping on layers of varnish and periodic ‘flattening’ the hardened varnish with abrasive paper Final flattening and finishing coats Hardening period and final polishing Stage 1 - Preparing the body and thinning the varnish As explained above, this tutorial assumes that the body has been sanded down to a grit level ready to start varnishing. In normal circumstances, grit fineness up to P600 should be more than sufficient. Finish the final sanding ‘with the grain’ to avoid any cross-hatching. Dust control is critical for wipe-on. Points to note are: for approaching the first hour after application, dust landing on the surface will tend to stick it is all too easy to allow dust to contaminate the cloths or the varnish Simple precautions help, such as: wipe down the surface to be varnished with a lint-free cloth dampened with water, naptha or white spirit (refer to product guidelines for suitability and precautions) if possible varnish in a room that has had air limited movement for the previous hour or so varnish from each side, middle outwards – not reaching over the freshly applied varnish short-sleeves help while varnishing. A remarkable number of fibres are shed from shirt sleeves! if at all possible, don’t varnish where cats live...that fine downy fur!!! once the surface has been varnished, tip-toe out of the room and leave it undisturbed for at least an hour micro-fibre cloths do not shed fibres. However, they can collect dust. Before use (somewhere other than the room where the varnishing is going to be applied) shake vigorously to remove any dust. Thinning the varnish is important for wipe-on. Out of the tin, varnishes tend to be too thick to work well and it is easy to be left with ridges (‘brush’ lines) in the finish. Thinning helps to avoid this. Main principles here include: wipe-on works at its best with multiple coats of thinned varnish. Thinned down, each coat will dry fast, allowing up to 3 coats a day mix the varnish and thinner in an appropriate jar (follow manufacturers guidelines relating to fumes and fire risks) for initial coats, up to 30% thinners is usually OK. The final coats (see later) can often be thinned as much as 50% Mix by gently agitating the jar. If bubbles form, let them fully disperse before using the varnish Stage 2 Wipe-on of Initial Varnish Coats Wiping on the initial coats is a straightforward process. However, the key to this process is multiple coats of very thin applications of varnish: It is best, if possible, to wipe the main applications onto a horizontal surface as the thinned varnish runs readily. It is helpful if the room where the varnish is being applied is well lit, or has a natural light window, so that the surface can be viewed obliquely periodically to ensure that no areas have been missed Wear protective gloves – latex or nitrile allow the ‘feel’ to be maintained (nitrile is more durable against solvents than latex) Dip the microfibre cloth into the varnish and gently squeeze out the excess against the side of the glass jar. Wipe a stripe of varnish in line with the grain (usually neck to bridge / bridge to neck) With a centre-joined surface, there is less chance of dust contamination if the wiping starts along the midline and each new stripe of varnish moves from the middle towards one side, and then from the middle towards the other side. If there is no centre line, the application will be more even if wiping starts from one side towards the middle and then from the middle to the other side. However, doing it this way there is more chance of dust from your arms or clothing falling onto the wet varnish because you will be leaning over wet varnish for that first stage Do not try to wipe too wide a stripe at a time – you need ideally to get from top to tail (or vice-versa) in one smooth run Recharge the cloth, squeeze out and apply the next wiped strip, overlapping by 2-3mm As you progress, check the coverage from time to time by looking from either end of the guitar at the reflection from your light source or window – any missed areas or dust buggies will be immediately obvious. If you need to redo an area due to missed or uneven coverage, do so immediately on the strip concerned while it is still fluid and always wipe along the full run from tip to toe – a wiped correction in the middle of a run will show once dry If you see a missed area in a run that you did more than a few minutes before, leave it. It will cover over at the next application but any attempt to re-wipe varnish that has already started to harden will leave wipe marks. When you get to the final edge, apply a very thin wipe to the guitar sides, all the way round. Without recharging the cloth, run round the bottom edge of the sides once more to smooth out any drips that may have formed. Tip-toe out of the room, trying to minimise any dust movement for at least the first 30 minutes! Once the varnish is dry (thinned varnish is usually dry enough for further coats after 4-5 hours), repeat the process. Every 4-5 coats, check to ensure there is not excessive rippling or ‘dust buggies’. In this shot you can see that the ripples have cumulatively increased over a few coats: If there are excessive ripples or imperfections: leave to harden overnight (as a minimum) sand the surface with 1500-2000 grit wet and dry used wet until the ripples are flattened wipe the surface with a clean, damp cloth once fully dry, continue wiping on coats Stage 3 Final Stages The number of initial coats depends on preference and other factors such as the amount of flattening, the thickness of each application, the absorbency of the wood, etc.. As a guide, this bass body was ready for final flattening and final coats after around 8 coats, applied over 4 days. The final steps are important and are different to some other forms of finish application – notably nitro finishes. The main difference is that nitro layers, and some other finishes, ‘melt’ into previous applications. These finishes "dry" through the evaporation of their carrier solvents. The solvent within each subsequent layer applied re-activates the previous layer slightly, causing both to blend into one. This allows buffing up with cutting pastes or mops down through the layers to a buffed-up shine. This approach does not work with polyurethane finishes! Polyurethane applications harden chemically in addition to their carrier solvents (thinners) evaporating, and then allow well-bonded further layers to be added on top. The gloss is produced by the final layer of varnish. Hence buffing or cutting would remove that layer and expose previous layers, giving rise to dull finishes and contour lines or "witness marks" where the boundaries between successive layers can be seen. Nevertheless, the final stages of wipe-on polyurethane varnishes are straightforward and – if you are not happy first time – repeatable. The final steps are: Allow the varnish to fully dry. A week is a good representative minimum Flatten the surface with P2000 grit wet and dry paper used wet to remove any final imperfections or dust buggies Wipe clean with a damp cloth and ensure it dries fully Thin the varnish to a total of 50% thinners Charge the micro-fibre cloth, squeeze out and wipe on one very thin coat as with Stage 2 above Allow to dry overnight This final coat is usually easy to apply. However, because it is very thin, once it is dry, you may be able to see dull patches where it had been previously flattened. If not, leave it and move to the final steps! If so, apply one more final coat directly on top of the previous one. In exceptional cases, it may need a third coat. If you are not happy with the final coats, remember that the process is repeatable. Once a satisfactory finish has been achieved, there remains only the hardening and final polishing stages. Small aberrations and low levels of small dust buggies will polish out at this final stage: Leave the final coats to dry and fully harden. A representative minimum here is 2 weeks. Longer is better. Polish with a quality low-cutting auto polish. Meguiers Ultimate Compound is ideal. Remember – you do NOT want to rub through the final thin gloss layer. Apply the polish by hand with a soft cloth and polish off with a clean cloth. It is polished by hand so that there is no possibility of generating enough heat to cut through that final gloss layer! At this stage, you should be able to take a photo of yourself in the reflection!1 point