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How did Fender drill for truss rod in one piece neck?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by TenaciousP, Jan 26, 2021.

  1. TenaciousP

    TenaciousP Tele-Holic

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    Hey everyone,

    So I have been in the planning/template making stage for some upcoming Fender style builds. I have been wondering if anyone here knows what process and what type of jigs/tools Fender used to drill into the ends of a one piece neck for installing the curved single action truss rod.

    I have done a lot of digging around on this site and elsewhere to see how other builders have accomplished this task. Most people seem to build a set of drill guide blocks to align the 3/16 and 3/8 drill bits so that the hole and counterbore are concentric and so the smaller bit intersects the bottom of the truss rod channel properly. I have actually used this method once before and it worked ok (sort of) but it was difficult to get everything aligned correctly. The heel adjustment hole seems fairly straight forward, however, the headstock end has me scratching my head. The hole for the walnut plug is so low to the headstock surface, that the hole in my guide block would be close to coming out of the bottom surface of the block. Also it seems as though if there is any variation in the thickness of the headstock on which the block is located, that would cause some misalignment with the truss rod channel. I’m not as worried about this process being historically accurate as I’m about it just being accurate and repeatable. Where I don’t have to worry about the holes coming out differently from one neck to another.

    Anyhow, I’m just curious if this method was how Fender did it in the old days or did they somehow use a drill press or some other method that I haven’t thought of. If anyone here knows how
    this was done or has any words of advice, I would love to hear your ideas.
     
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  2. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Well It's a 3 degree angle from horizontal. I'd imagine they had a drill bit and a jig to guide it. Probably a 3/8" counterbore with a 3/16 pilot would be close. What that looks like...who knows. I've tried it on a drill press with iffy results. I bought some steel drill guides for a upcoming jig.

    Did you see Ed Hawley's jig in the '53 cnc build?


    If you drilled the plug hole into a flat surface 3 degrees from horizontal, I think a spur bit /brad point would dig in more easily. That means this step would come before making the transition.
    plug hole.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2021
    bluesguy62 likes this.
  3. WingedWords

    WingedWords Friend of Leo's

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    Deleted - I answered the wrong question, sorry.
     
  4. PigBoy

    PigBoy Tele-Meister

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    Very carefully...
     
  5. TenaciousP

    TenaciousP Tele-Holic

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    Yes sir, I have seen the Ed Hawley 53 CNC thread and the jig that he made. Seems like an excellent way to do it if you can make your jigs and neck with CNC accuracy. Unfortunately, my machining/tool making skills are not as good as his. Nor is my shop as well equipped with precision machinery. I have been dreading trying to make the guide blocks using only my drill press. It just seems like accuracy might be an issue for me.

    So let’s assume the guide block method is the most reliable way to do this. I agree that the process should be done before the curved transition is sanded in. So there would need to be a vertical or 3 degree face that would be drilled into like the red line you show in your drawing above. So I assume the rest of the headstock needs to be cut, sanded and/or routed down to final thickness first? If so, it seems like it would need to be thicknesses very accurately in order for the guide block to be aligned properly in the vertical direction.

    I did have the idea of only drilling the 3/16” hole with a guide block and then counterbore for the anchor/nut using some sort of counterbore cutter with a 3/16” pilot rod like you suggested. I have yet to find a cutter that looks ideal for doing that method. Perhaps I should keep looking.

    the steel guides that you bought, are they something commercially available somewhere or did you have them custom made? I suppose I could see if I could use my dads manual milling machine to make some metal guide blocks. I’ll have to think on that...
     
  6. TenaciousP

    TenaciousP Tele-Holic

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    I hear ya! :lol:
     
  7. Fenderdad1950

    Fenderdad1950 Tele-Afflicted

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    I gotta hand it to anyone who can craft a neck properly.
     
  8. Marn99

    Marn99 Tele-Holic

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    On a drill press that had either a tilting table or some sort of alignment jig, you can see it being done in fender factory footage circa 1959. Go to 3:24 in the video.
     
  9. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    I gather they had a table with a horizontal jig ... and a long shaft on that drill bit.
    Gunmakers drill barrels. That's crazy.
     
  10. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I bought one of these...it needs an extension

    32408 - 1/8" x 3/8" 3-Flute Flat Bottom Counterbore with TiN coated twist drill - Make it Snappy Tools
     
  11. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    That's the heel hole...not the peghead hole.
     
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  12. ctmullins

    ctmullins Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    It's actually not too hard, and quite rewarding.

    It only becomes difficult when one decides to limit oneself to mimicking certain historical precedents....
     
  13. Marn99

    Marn99 Tele-Holic

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    Yes, that is how both ends were done after the truss rod channel was routed.
     
  14. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    It looks like he is freehanding it. That wouldn't be so easy at the peghead end.
     
  15. Marn99

    Marn99 Tele-Holic

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    No, there was an alignment jig. You can see him put the strat neck into the jig before he drills.
     
  16. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Having attempted this a few different ways, I think you could get within 1/16 of final peghead thickness and the pilot would take care of the rest. Having a centerpunch mark to center the pilot could help too.
     
  17. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    i guess in full screen view there is something that centers it...you are correct... nothing but hand pressure holding it in there....

    The peghead end would require a longer drill bit to miss marring up the peghead though.
     
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  18. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

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    I will say this about drilling it all the way down on a one piece neck.
    When dealing with maple even with a real solid long drill bit there is a tendency for the bit to wander as it hits the hard grain of the wood. I would guess that is why Leo decided to cut a truss rod and plug it with Walnut instead.
     
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  19. TenaciousP

    TenaciousP Tele-Holic

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    Y’all have given me some very interesting ideas and inspiration. More than you may know! I may have to do some 3D modeling tonight to see if an idea I have is feasible.
     
  20. TenaciousP

    TenaciousP Tele-Holic

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    That is certainly true. At some point I would like to venture in my own direction. But at the moment, while I’m still developing my building skills, the historical precedents give me a defined goal to shoot for. And I enjoy the challenge of seeing if I can figure out how to achieve said goal.
     
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