How to drill into a headstock with out cracking the finish

Tele-Meister

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Hey Tele-friends,

Sorry, but the subject of interest is not a tele neck... but a "strat" neck today! :oops:o_O:eek: I put quotation marks because it's not really a strat neck-- well I don't think it is at least-- according to my friend, it's a random neck he found on EBay "or something like that" to put it in his words... Regardless, he gives it to me for a week so I can prepare it for him, because he thinks I'm a guitar Luthier pro when all I did were just a couple of mods on a pre-existing guitar... anyways I want to drill into the headstock to put the string guide, you know the metal roller guy that goes on the E and B strings to not get a sitar sound.

IMG_2261.jpg


I also need to drill the holes for the neck to attach to the body.

IMG_2262.jpg


There's a gloss finish on it, and I don't want to crack it! How do I approach drilling into this thing? Thanks!
 

G.Rotten

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Hey Tele-friends,

Sorry, but the subject of interest is not a tele neck... but a "strat" neck today! :oops:o_O:eek: I put quotation marks because it's not really a strat neck-- well I don't think it is at least-- according to my friend, it's a random neck he found on EBay "or something like that" to put it in his words... Regardless, he gives it to me for a week so I can prepare it for him, because he thinks I'm a guitar Luthier pro when all I did were just a couple of mods on a pre-existing guitar... anyways I want to drill into the headstock to put the string guide, you know the metal roller guy that goes on the E and B strings to not get a sitar sound.

View attachment 942055

I also need to drill the holes for the neck to attach to the body.

View attachment 942056

There's a gloss finish on it, and I don't want to crack it! How do I approach drilling into this thing? Thanks!
On Poly finished bodies I've put tape over the area, marked the tape where I need to drill, press the sharp tip of a self tapping wood screw (such as a drywall screw) to create a guide to keep the drill bit from wandering. When finished remove tape.

That keeps the drill bit from cracking the finish but you still have the potential to crack it when actually putting the screw in.

If you have a Dremel carefully sand/grind the finish around the new hole a little bit larger than the screw and a little into the wood. If you don't have a Dremel I have used a larger drill bit and just twisted it by hand.

If you look at a new replacement body from Fender you'll see that do that for the bridge screws.
ic4mvoagisbkgqcq2mqg.png
 
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Tele-Meister

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Thank you so much all of you! I have no idea what this finish is, maybe it’s poly, maybe it’s not. I’m going to put some tape on where I’m going to drill, start on the heel first then the headstock, mark the spot with a sharpie marker, make a guide with a bigger screw and just drill in with a sharp drill bit. Great information guys thank you so much!
 

Freeman Keller

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Any time I drill holes I start by center punching the exact location. When the hole is going to go all the way thru the wood I put a backing piece of scrap on it and hold as tightly as possible. For the little screw holes that only go a ways into the face of the head I have a set of these - makes it very easy to drill the correct depth


When drilling the holes for the neck mountings screws use the body holes to locate them, center punch and put the neck in a curved caul that will hold it perfectly flat. If the holes are angled the screws will bind.

IMG_4689.JPG


After drilling the holes I like to slightly chamfer the edge with a counter sink, particularly if there is finish. It helps to keep the finish from cracking. When ever possible I drill the holes before I finish, then clean them up before assembly.
 

Boreas

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As a variation to the above, instead of a center punch, I use masking tape stuck down hard. Mark the spot accurately, then spin the drill backward just enough to produce a divot in the finish, then spin as normal - but VERY lightly until through the finish. It does the same thing as the center punch - keeps the bit from wandering. But the key is to use a sharp bit and very little pressure until you get through the finish. I get most of my chips when the drill grabs too soon. This is why a drill press works so well. I usually don't bother and my work shows it...
 

old wrench

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After drilling the holes I like to slightly chamfer the edge with a counter sink, particularly if there is finish. It helps to keep the finish from cracking. When ever possible I drill the holes before I finish, then clean them up before assembly.

Good advice, especially on the neck screw holes :)

When you run the screws into the holes, they naturally have a tendency to pull the wood fibers up and form a little hump around the screws.

A light chamfering of the screw hole can prevent that from happening and give you a better and more solid connection between the neck and body.
.
 

Freeman Keller

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I'll add one more thing about the neck screws. Drill the holes in the body first, they should be slightly oversize for the screw. Brad point bits are best as they chip less than conical twist bits. Clamp the neck into the pocket and make sure everything is perfectly aligned. Put the bit that you used to drill the body hole in the hole and tap it with a small hammer - that will center punch the neck. Take the neck out of the body and drill the holes with the correct size bit for your screws. It will be smaller than what you used on the body.

For center punching the body you can clamp a neck plate on the back of the guitar and use a bit that fits the holes in the plate.
 

Beebe

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Run the drill in reverse for a second first.

And if the screws have shanks on them that will extend below the surface, drill a little bit larger to their depth as well.
 




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