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Old December 28th, 2013, 07:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Switchtips 101- or how I waste hours on tiny scraps of wood!

I just started making my own switch tips with my most recent build. Turns out there's more to it than I expected, and it took me perhaps 7 tries before I got a decent tip down for my Orange Halloween guitar.

Well, I bought my wife a cool Nikon macro lens for Christmas, and guess who got to "test" it out to make sure it worked OK?

So forthwith- my tutorial with macro photos on how I make a switchtip for a Switchcraft LP style switch. Here's what I'm talking about, thanks to the macro lens you can see the detail of this Thuya burl switch tip:
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Old December 28th, 2013, 08:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Secksie. How do you cut the threads without splitting the wood?

Kudos on your depth-of-field usage, too.
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Old December 28th, 2013, 08:03 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I start out with a beautiful piece of Kingwood leftover from a fretboard I made...
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Old December 28th, 2013, 08:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Hey Rich!
I'll get to that... But the very first thing I do is drill the hole, using my Jet mini lathe...
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Old December 28th, 2013, 08:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I got a great 4 jaw chuck off Amazon... This makes the whole process essentially painless and I can't recommend it enough. Here I'm getting started...
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Old December 28th, 2013, 08:12 PM   #6 (permalink)
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- I drill two different diameter holes in order to avoid the cracking of the wood: I measured the bits with my caliper- they were .149-150" for the first 1/4" or so deep and then .146" for the rest. Now this worked for Switchcraft switches, don't know for metric...

I then measure the depth of the hole, making sure it is more than deep enough to fully fit down on the switch.
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Old December 28th, 2013, 08:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Then I mark the depth on the wood before I start turning, or right after I knock off the corners:
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Old December 28th, 2013, 08:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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... as long as the wood is good (like I wouldn't try pine) it holds together pretty well as you turn it. I had a lot of trouble with the Thuya burl because of the crazy grain pattern. Once you get your basic shape, you sand and I found the Scotch Brite pads work great to bring up a luster.
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Old December 28th, 2013, 08:22 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Couple more shots- for some reason I can't seem to load more than 2 photos at a time tonight...
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Old December 28th, 2013, 08:25 PM   #10 (permalink)
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...Here's a cool part, which I learned from the guys that turn ink pens- You use super glue as a final finish! It generally takes a few tries, but the end result is glossy and quite strong.
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Old December 28th, 2013, 08:30 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Before seeing the beautiful images of the process I wondered how did he.... what the....

It's great hands down drop dead beautiful
Do I smell a gourmet cottage industry in the oven.
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Old December 28th, 2013, 08:31 PM   #12 (permalink)
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What often happens is, as I try to reduce the size of the tiny bit of wood holding it to the lathe, it breaks. So once I find the part in all the sawdust, I stick it on a drill bit and clamp the drill chuck in the 4 jaw chuck like in the first picture. Now I can sand/buff the top of the switch tip and apply another coat of super glue or two:
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Old December 28th, 2013, 08:32 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I wonder if you could do this without a lathe, easily I mean.
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Old December 28th, 2013, 08:35 PM   #14 (permalink)
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-the end result is a switch that matches the knobs I turned with the same wood. So far, I've been able to screw on the switch tips as long as I work slow and if I need to, I can gently enlarge the hole a little by hand with drill bits or a reamer. Tomorrow I'm going to buy an 8-32 tap at the hardware store and see if I can't actually put threads into the tip without breaking it. Seems most of the time I break them while turning them. Strange that I've only broken one tip while screwing it on to the switch.
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Old December 28th, 2013, 08:56 PM   #15 (permalink)
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danharr,

I've been makin' switchtips for 18 months...been using a 9" HF drill press. Made a ton of them, in woods ranging from red cedar, red oak, black walnut, pine, flame maple, bloodwood, curly hickory to kingwood and braz rosewood.

I've used an 8-32 filister head machine screw, 1.25" long, and a 0.25" threaded aluminum .75" long stand off as a mandrel. Drill out the .375" blank with a #8 drill, to about .500", pack in epoxy, let harden and redrill with a 9/64th drill. Tap with an 8-32 tap, install the mandrell and turn to the design you like. With the epoxy, you won't blow out a blank too often. Most species can hold a thread without it. But chasing a thread with CA may cause too much expansion within the thread to cause splitting.

Trick is to be sure the blank doesn't wobble when turning...
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Old December 28th, 2013, 08:57 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I wonder if you could do this without a lathe, easily I mean.
Work sideways in a drill press or clamp a power drill to the table. I've done more than a bit of turning with the wood chucked up in a Dremel.
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Old December 28th, 2013, 09:01 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Here's a couple shots of one I just made for my #4 build, which I finished last year about this time. Looks much better than the ugly plastic tip that was on there!!!

Well, I guess nobody would notice but me.
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Old December 28th, 2013, 09:08 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkAdam View Post
danharr,

I've been makin' switchtips for 18 months...been using a 9" HF drill press. Made a ton of them, in woods ranging from red cedar, red oak, black walnut, pine, flame maple, bloodwood, curly hickory to kingwood and braz rosewood.

I've used an 8-32 filister head machine screw, 1.25" long, and a 0.25" threaded aluminum .75" long stand off as a mandrel. Drill out the .375" blank with a #8 drill, to about .500", pack in epoxy, let harden and redrill with a 9/64th drill. Tap with an 8-32 tap, install the mandrell and turn to the design you like. With the epoxy, you won't blow out a blank too often. Most species can hold a thread without it. But chasing a thread with CA may cause too much expansion within the thread to cause splitting.

Trick is to be sure the blank doesn't wobble when turning...
Thanks- Cool idea with the epoxy! If I have trouble tapping I'll give it a shot.
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Old December 28th, 2013, 09:29 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slippin slider View Post
Before seeing the beautiful images of the process I wondered how did he.... what the....

It's great hands down drop dead beautiful
Do I smell a gourmet cottage industry in the oven.
Thanks, Slippin!
Hmmm... I wonder if I could ask for $50 a switchtip?
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Old December 28th, 2013, 09:34 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Very nicely done.
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