Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

how do you drill string through holes

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by hopdybob, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. Jack Wells

    Jack Wells Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Oct 19, 2003
    Albuquerque, USA
    Rob............ I'm assuming your earlier drill press was a 12 in. since you can't drill all six holes with anything less. With a 12 in. drill press, there's no need to swing the body 180 degrees if you put the butt end of the body facing the column since all the string through holes are no more than 5 1/4 in. from that edge.

  2. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

    Mar 3, 2003
    NJ via TX
    Jack .... Dunno about the old press I had, that was so long ago, I just know it was a pain to use and required turning the body for string hole drilling. My dad had given me a 15" swing press that I'd been using 'til I got the 34" Grizzly - that Griz is a great bang-for-the-buck press that can do it all! :D

  3. Jack Wells

    Jack Wells Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Oct 19, 2003
    Albuquerque, USA
    From some of these posts, I get the impression that people have not looked at the method I linked to. Therefore I'm going to post the technique in its entirety.

    I've discussed this method of drilling string through/ferrule holes but it's such a great method that I thought I'd show it in more detail. Thanks to whovever first described this in words.

    Here I'm drilling 1/8 in. holes from the front side using my template. You could also use a bridge plate to get the spacing right. Don't drill pilot holes with anything less than 1/8 in. I set the drill press stop for around 1 in.


    With an auxillary table on the drill press I've drilled a 1/8 in. hole in a table insert and permanently installed a 1/8 in. pin. I then align the drill bit with the pin and lock the table down tight.


    The body is turned upside down and first hole on the front is placed over the pin. The drill press stop is set around 1 in. so the bit doesn't contact the pin. The hole is drilled then the body is moved to the next hole and the process repeated.


    As you can see, the holes are in a straight line.


  4. Jack Wells

    Jack Wells Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Oct 19, 2003
    Albuquerque, USA
    I'm a fan of the StewMac flush ferrules so I've installed a 3/8 in. Forstner bit and aligned the bit with the pin. The table is again locked tight.


    The drilling procedure is repeated using the Forstner bit. I like the ferrules slightly below the surface.


    I bevel the holes slightly by hand using a small abrasive stone .


    Job complete.


  5. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

    Mar 3, 2003
    NJ via TX
    Folks, +1 to what Jack just posted - I've tested out his method and it works extremely well - highly recommended if you don't have an appropriate swing drill press.

  6. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Holic

    May 28, 2008
    i think so to, and when you don't have a template than you could combine it with the method that uses the bridge as template that dean wrote about

  7. tdowns

    tdowns Former Member

    Nov 8, 2003
    Yes it was me, the great (only in size) Terry Downs.

    I had a machinist buddy make a jig to use with a hand drill. The block is thick enough so the orthogonality between the body and the bit can be maintained quite well. It is made to accept a 7/64" diameter bit. The jig diameter is 0.110". I know the original Tele drawing shows 1/8 (0.125)" for the drill-thru diameter. I found that some bridges have slightly smaller holes or are not aligned well when mounted. When inserting the string through the guitar, the string will hit against the bottom of the bridge and not easily go through. The smaller hole prevents the bridge from blocking the string.


    The jig mounts onto the body using (4) #6 countersink woodscrews. The jig's holes are not countersunk, but the countersunk head of the screw more accurately centers the jig than a pan head would.

    Unless you have a very long 7/64" bit, it will not go through the jig and the body. I extend the bit in the drill as little as possible. I then remove the jig and finish drilling through the body. The existing depth of the hole drilled by the jig is plenty to achieve alignment.

    Here is the machine drawing for the jig

    Rob's is bigger then mine :oops: so I must resort to other methods.
    boris bubbanov likes this.

  8. tdowns

    tdowns Former Member

    Nov 8, 2003

  9. Alnico Sunburst

    Alnico Sunburst Tele-Meister

    Feb 3, 2008
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Those pictures are awesome. I want to try this.

  10. kurt van kraut

    kurt van kraut TDPRI Member

    May 27, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    Just wondering,
    couldn't you just start at the back where you can mark a straight line of holes, and then
    widen wherever you come out at the front since that side will be covered by the bridge anyway? Yes, you'd have to fiddle around a little when changing strings, but I change my strings so rarely, I wouldn't want to buy a drill press just for the luxury of perfect alignment under the bridge. That way, everything at least looks fine.

  11. murrmac123

    murrmac123 Tele-Meister

    Jan 25, 2008
    Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings ...

    Emperor's new clothes etc ....

    You got a future on this forum, dude...:lol:

  12. Kaktussaft

    Kaktussaft NEW MEMBER!

    Sep 2, 2011
    Are there any propper measurements for 7 strings? I want the strings to go through ferrules and not through a bridge on the top. I've searched for a really long time and havent found anything. please help

  13. Hartismere

    Hartismere NEW MEMBER!

    Mar 12, 2012
    Heyho, I know it's a bit old, but good threads never die.

    Some musings.

    1. Does it really make a difference? Such an assessment is only ever going to be subjective, but even so it's worth asking, unless it didn't really

    make any difference, and you just didn't want the work to be seen to be wasted. Be honest.

    I can certainly see that it would tighten everything up. With normal plate string-travel, the strings are constantly trying to rip the plate from the

    body, and maybe there is actually a microscopic gap being created as the plate lifts fractionally - which, of course, would wander as the strings were

    fretted and struck and bent. This through-the-body approach is going to do the opposite and soundly clamp the plate to the body relieving all tension

    from the plate screws. Even loose screws would not allow the plate to rise, while thus clamped. Sounds a good idea, if only in terms of engineering,

    so much so that I think I'm going to do it anyway. I bought some roller saddles which I have yet to fit, so I'll do the two together. Having watched

    the bridges of a few acoustic guitars literally heading towards the vertical after many years of service, I had considered something similar for

    acoustics. Obviously strings would be too short for straight through, but some form of internal support structure connecting to a rear plate, so that

    the entire body structure was involved in sharing stresses, and not just the bridge and front panel.

    2. Looking at the string travel from hole to bridge in the images, I note that the string will cut against the metal body of the bridge plate as it

    exits, without some serious chamfering from the hole following the string travel. Has anyone considered an immediate drop through, such that the

    strings rise through the plate and bend at right-angles immediately onto the saddles - the hole being directly beneath the saddle edge? And what would

    that likely do to the sound? The shorter the tail run - bridge to ferrule, the better, I imagine. Of, course, with the saddles being mobile

    longitudinally, the actual angle would vary slightly as intonation was subsequently adjusted. You'd have to achieve best intonation and mark hole

    location before starting work, to achieve optimum positioning, for that individual guitar, and for individual strings - now that adds a complication

    worth pondering. I'd have no problem with a staggered line of ferrules to the rear, but I imagine many would. Maybe just chamfer around the hole, eh, be easier.

    3. Why glue the ferrules? Why not just allow the string tension to hold them? This would always give direct contact with body and not involve an extra

    layer of stuff between metal ferrule and wood body to affect sound - probably adversely. Or, at least finish all the work, then glue the ferrules in

    place and quickly string up so that the ferrules can squeeze glue out where good body contact is achieved, and only fill in gaps elsewhere, and be

    held to cure under high tension, allowing a minimum of glue layer. And, if the travel was perpendicular through the body, as mentioned above, the

    ferrules would be held under perpendicular tension - with no sideways tension, and thus seat correctly.

    Just musings. Some nice work's been done here - particularly by anyone using hand tools. Hats off.

    I found this page via a Search. The opening post does not seem contained enough to be the starter, but I can't find any previous pages. If these

    things have been previously discussed, I apologise.

  14. Hartismere

    Hartismere NEW MEMBER!

    Mar 12, 2012
    Heyho, Sorry about the line spacing there. I pasted from Notepad, as usual, never done that before.

  15. czook

    czook Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 5, 2011
    NW MO
    My drill press was not deep enough to accommodate the body so I lowered it, put it on a short but elevated stand that I can slip the body under and the drill the E and e, flip it and use the bridge as a template. Varying success, but as mentioned earlier if I drill a bit, clean out the hole and drill a bit some of the drifting of the bit is eliminated.

  16. Bubbalou

    Bubbalou Tele-Meister

    Feb 28, 2012
    Euless, Texas
    Yes, that is how I did it. Used the bridge holes as a guide and using a small bit in a drill press I drilled completely through the body, then turned body over, moved body to first hole (with drill press off) and aligned it perfectly by lowering the static bit down to the hole. When certain it was aligned I pulled the bit up and away, turned the press on and drilled the larger hold to proper depth for the string ferule (hole ever so slightly smaller than the ferule).

  17. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Aug 3, 2010
    Loganville, Ga.
    Hartismere--welcome to the Forum! Rather than quote your OP, I'll jot down some responses by the numbers you posted:

    1. Yes, I think it does make a difference. While I don't think there is even "microscopic" pulling up of a Telecaster bridge in a top loader (bridge-anchored, rather than string-through), anchoring the strings in the body's wood, AND having the string vibrations coupled to the body via the bridge, create a somewhat unique tone of the Telecaster. There are those who disagree, saying that on an electric, only the strings and pickups produce tone, but in terms of sustain, and the timbre of that sustained tone, string-through design makes a difference and is worth the extra work. Regarding your observations on bridge pull-up on acoustics, check out this, along the lines you suggest:

    2. I'm not completely sure I understand what you're getting at here. Yes, there is string-to-bridge plate contact here, and sometimes it is a problem. Stevie Ray Vaughn's guitar tech (although a Stratocaster) used lengths of wire insulation run down the strings to cushion the contact points, to minimize the frequency of string breakage. I don't think the angle of the tail run would make much of a difference in tone, etc., and I'm not aware of anyone who has marketed bridges that try to produce the sharper angle between string hole and bridge you mention. I'm not sure you could accurately compute exact intonation prior to drilling holes, to achieve that angle you mentioned. Different strings intonate differently, and having a range of bridge positions is a "safety" feature that allows you to intonate properly using a variety of strings.

    3. Ferrules are generally glued so they do not fall out and get lost during re-stringing, usually in a back-stage, dark situation, under crowded, rushed conditions.

    I've seen both carefully fitted ferrules which were securely pressed into place, requiring no glue, and another technique that takes advantage of the slight amount of lacquer overspray that gets into the ferrule holes. The metal ferrules are set in position, and an electric soldering gun tip is placed on the ferrule to heat it. As soon as the lacquer melts, the ferrule is pressed into position. The lacquer immediately hardens, holding the ferrule in place. Is this better than glue, in terms of a dampening layer between the ferrule and the wood? Who knows? The lacquer does dry quite hard, so coupling between the ferrule and the wood should be pretty good.

  18. flashman

    flashman TDPRI Member

    Feb 16, 2012
    New York City
    It looks pretty good - better than the two I have done - but it isn't totally in allignment. The 2nd holes from left is slightly above the others. Personally I am okay with that.

  19. bullfrogblues

    bullfrogblues Friend of Leo's

    Jun 5, 2011
    Southeast Florida
    I drill the two outside holes all the way through, like others have said, then use this template I made from the back side of the body. I went to great pains to make sure these holes were lined up perfectly. I do have a drill press, so that helps a lot.

  20. walsty

    walsty TDPRI Member

    May 25, 2012
    Atlanta area
    Jack - Why drill the 1/8" holes in the back first. The guide looks so good and accurate why not skip that step and go right to the 3/8 forstner bit?

    Attached Files:

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