Drilling holes for a Stratocaster neck

dlew919

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This may well be the stupidest question asked here, but to drill the holes in a neck to attach to a body - do I need a press drill? Or can it be done by hand?

Thanks in advance.
 

guitarbuilder

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I would put the neck into the body and drill the holes using the body screw holes as a guide. I'd use the minor diameter of the screw for the drill bit size. If your bridge is attached you can add a couple E strings and tuners to get it into the correct position before you drill and clamp it down.

I use a tape flag on the drill bit so the bit doesn't go too far and through the fretboard.

The last thing I'd try is to use a drill press because then you'd need something to cradle the fretboard and frets and then determine when the heel surface is perpendicular to the drill bit all the way around. Thats too much hassle for me...but what do I know.
neck drill.jpg




Not a neck, but an example of how a tape flag tells you when your far enough.
tape flag.JPG




Neck plate screws (4 pcs.), phillips head, #8 x 1-3/4".


Minor diameter is the root size....7/64" Metric screws would require a metric screw chart.



 
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adjason

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as has been said- put the bridge on and put a high and low e string on, use a couple of C clamps and small block of wood the clamp the neck to the body- shift it around until it looks right with the strings not falling off the neck. Take a nail and mark the holes in the neck. I think you'd be ok drilling them by hand but a press would be better-its such a short hole that it should be fine
 

Freeman Keller

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Do it in two steps - drill the holes in the body first. Ideally they should be perpendicular to the body, that is much easier with a drill press. Then put the neck in the pocket and confirm that the geometry is correct. Use the same size brad point bit that you used for the body holes to transfer the centers to the neck heel. Drill those holes with the correct bit for the shank of your screws. Once again, it is possible to do it free hand but a drill press makes it much easier. The tricky part of using a drill press is holding the radiused fretboard and making sure the heel is perfectly level with respect to the quill. I put my necks in a radiused caul and then level that.

IMG_4689.JPG
 

Wildcard_35

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I think folks have answered your question with a lot of good know-how so I won't add to the answers. But I don't think it was a stupid question you asked. The only stupid question is the one you don't ask and end up having to learn the answer the hard way!

I will second the use of tape as a means of stopping the depth of your drill bit from going into the danger zone.
 

lammie200

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Put the neck on. Use a scratch awl or nail to mark the holes. Take the neck off and put a neck plate on the back of the neck so that you can see the marks. Straighten the neck plate so that it is symmetrical with the back of the neck and getting it as close to the marks as you can. Mark the center of the holes with the neck plate in place and symmetrical to the back of the neck. Use a scratch awl or nail to make bigger punch marks to start the holes. Get the correct drill bit and mark the depth with tape. Drill into the neck using a hand drill if that is all you have. The key to my process is using the neck plate as a template to get the holes symmetrical on the back of the neck. If you don't use the neck plate as a template there is a good chance that the holes that you drill will not be symmetrical on the back of the neck. If they aren't symmetrical then the neck can never be used on a different body without plugging the holes and starting over and crooked holes will also decrease the neck's value. The holes in the body should be large enough to hit the holes in the neck with the screws. They should also be large enough to adjust the side to side neck angle. Done it before more than a handful of times.
 

Steve Holt

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Not my mistake...but one I helped fix. The guy was EXTREMELY lucky to miss the fret:

Neck-Drill-Oopsie.jpg


To be fair, that can be done with a drill press just as easily as a power drill. Gotta mark the depth on your drill bit with tape!
 

Freeman Keller

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To be fair, that can be done with a drill press just as easily as a power drill. Gotta mark the depth on your drill bit with tape!

Most drill presses have depth stops - just set it with a dummy piece of wood.

And I saw one like that where the guy used too long a screw and hit the fret with it, lifted it right out of the slot.
 

Steve Holt

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Most drill presses have depth stops - just set it with a dummy piece of wood.

And I saw one like that where the guy used too long a screw and hit the fret with it, lifted it right out of the slot.

Funny thing my drill press depth stop didn't work for the longest time. I inherited if from my grandpa and the screw was frozen into the stop and the wing nut part was bent at a right angle. After about 7 years of living without it I finally got the screw freed retapped the hole, and put in a new screw. Now that it's fixed I forget it's there most of the time. 😄
 

Matthias

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Yes you can do it by hand, using the holes in your body as a jig.

- mark the bit so you don’t go too deep
- clamp the neck using wood blocks for protection
- do all this before fitting the bridge

This works best with a lot of new bodies as the neck pocket holes tend to be on the tight side so there isn’t a lot of wiggle room. However, I would be cautious drilling by hand where the screw can pass through easily. If you intend to enlarge the holes so the screw doesn’t thread into the body (just the neck) do this after fitting the neck.

I have had good luck on three or four necks doing the above. Always a first time to mess up though :D
 




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