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Switchtips 101- or how I waste hours on tiny scraps of wood!

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by danharr, Dec 28, 2013.

  1. danharr

    danharr Tele-Meister

    171
    Apr 20, 2009
    Annapolis, MD
    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:
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Rich_S

    Rich_S Friend of Leo's

    Dec 29, 2006
    Potsdam, NY
    Secksie. How do you cut the threads without splitting the wood?

    Kudos on your depth-of-field usage, too.
     
  3. danharr

    danharr Tele-Meister

    171
    Apr 20, 2009
    Annapolis, MD
    I start out with a beautiful piece of Kingwood leftover from a fretboard I made...
     

    Attached Files:

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  5. danharr

    danharr Tele-Meister

    171
    Apr 20, 2009
    Annapolis, MD
    Hey Rich!
    I'll get to that... But the very first thing I do is drill the hole, using my Jet mini lathe...
     
  6. danharr

    danharr Tele-Meister

    171
    Apr 20, 2009
    Annapolis, MD
    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...
     

    Attached Files:

  7. danharr

    danharr Tele-Meister

    171
    Apr 20, 2009
    Annapolis, MD
    - 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.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. danharr

    danharr Tele-Meister

    171
    Apr 20, 2009
    Annapolis, MD
    Then I mark the depth on the wood before I start turning, or right after I knock off the corners:
     

    Attached Files:

  9. danharr

    danharr Tele-Meister

    171
    Apr 20, 2009
    Annapolis, MD
    ... 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.
     

    Attached Files:

  10. danharr

    danharr Tele-Meister

    171
    Apr 20, 2009
    Annapolis, MD
    Couple more shots- for some reason I can't seem to load more than 2 photos at a time tonight...
     

    Attached Files:

  11. danharr

    danharr Tele-Meister

    171
    Apr 20, 2009
    Annapolis, MD
    ...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.
     

    Attached Files:

  12. slippin slider

    slippin slider Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 30, 2013
    California
    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.
     
  13. danharr

    danharr Tele-Meister

    171
    Apr 20, 2009
    Annapolis, MD
    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:
     

    Attached Files:

  14. Bentley

    Bentley Friend of Leo's

    Jul 25, 2012
    Kelowna B.C, Canada
    I wonder if you could do this without a lathe, easily I mean.
     
  15. danharr

    danharr Tele-Meister

    171
    Apr 20, 2009
    Annapolis, MD
    -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.
     
  16. MarkAdam

    MarkAdam TDPRI Member

    82
    Jun 30, 2004
    Des Plaines, IL
    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...
     
  17. tdoty

    tdoty TDPRI Member

    59
    Oct 17, 2011
    Opelika, AL
    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.
     
  18. danharr

    danharr Tele-Meister

    171
    Apr 20, 2009
    Annapolis, MD
    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. :rolleyes:
     

    Attached Files:

  19. danharr

    danharr Tele-Meister

    171
    Apr 20, 2009
    Annapolis, MD
    Thanks- Cool idea with the epoxy! If I have trouble tapping I'll give it a shot.
     
  20. danharr

    danharr Tele-Meister

    171
    Apr 20, 2009
    Annapolis, MD
    Thanks, Slippin!
    Hmmm... I wonder if I could ask for $50 a switchtip? :rolleyes:
     
  21. Luthier Atlanta

    Luthier Atlanta Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 21, 2011
    Atlanta
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