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Last week we introduced the idea of adding guide bushings to your router's accessories. To help us understand how we use them in practice, we'll start by taking a second look at routing a simple soapbar cavity and we adjust template sizing for guide bushing use. In spite of being pretty much the most simple type of rout, rectangular soapbar pickups require attention to the internal corner radii which makes them perfect for routing with a guide bushing. But why? The EMG rout we used to demonstrate the simple technique needed corners smaller than most bearing-guided router bits can man
Much as a router is an essential upgrade to any luthier's arsenal, guide bushings can upgrade your routing work to a new level of versatility. They allow for safer working options and in combination with well thought out templates/jigs, a more powerful way to rout work; often in ways that are impossible with standard bearing-guided cutters. Anybody that has experience in fine woodworking outside of instruments may have used or heard of legendary work jigs such as the Leigh Dovetail system or similar. Systems such as these leverage the power of router guide bushings to produce perfect dove
Soapbar pickup routs seem simple in comparison to say, a humbucker or maybe a Tele bridge pickup rout. In actuality, they can be pretty difficult to nail. A soapbar cavity's outline is generally in full view instead of being hidden under a pickup ring, pickguard or the bridge; they need to be 100% perfect as any errors will be on show in the finished instrument. A basic soapbar rout consists of a simple rectangle conforming to the pickup with a small gap around the outline and radiused corners that follow those of the pickup case. This is bread and butter templating work for a router, how
Commercially-made routing templates for humbuckers are easy to find from virtually all good luthiery supply outlets these days. They're a fantastic turnkey solution for carrying out this common task. Beyond the "standard" sizes, templates for larger pickups are thin on the ground meaning that we end up making them ourselves. Standard or not, the process of making a template for any humbucker-style pickup is the same and it's not a huge leap to tweak the dimension to fit a variety of pickup sizes such as mini humbuckers, etc. Pickups fitted into pickguards or under a pickup ring don't