Threaded brass saddles made painless

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by epizootics, Oct 8, 2019.

  1. epizootics

    epizootics Tele-Meister

    Feb 11, 2017
    Lyon, France
    Hey guys,

    I thought this might be of some interest for y'all Telecaster people.
    I have been making my own saddles for a few years, for the sake of making every last bit I can on a guitar but also for the practical aspects of making parts that fit your custom build just right.

    Anyone who attempted drilling round metal stock knows it is an absolute PITA without the proper tools (ie. a proper vee, clamps and centering bits). Being a cheapskate, I looked for a way to do it on the cheap.

    The idea is to insert the rod in a template and drill it from outside. I use MDF but it might as well be made of hardwood or metal.


    (yes, there is a problem with this one, I'll discuss that later)

    First, trace a center line parallel to one of the sides of your piece of MDF. Report that line onto the sides with a square. Mark the center of your lines on the sides. Now mark one of those centers with a center punch and drill through the whole piece. Hopefully it'll come out centered on the other side. If it doesn't...MDF is cheap :) Use something square to reference the surface of the MDF against, drill slow, use a lip-and-spur drill bit...The size of the bit should be slightly inferior to the size of your rod (but a bit bigger than the corresponding tap bit).

    Now cut a piece of rod that is long enough to make all of your saddles at once + a bit extra. Place the bit of extra length in the chuck of your portable drill and gently screw it into your template. You can use beeswax for lubrication.

    Make sure everything looks like it should, then mark/center punch the height screw holes where you want them. Mark the center point between those two holes. If you want the saddles to be compensated, trace a line at the angle you want, away from the center line. Cut along that line and sand the new side down until it's straight and square with the surface.

    Now, as you can see in the picture above, I screwed this one up by using the wrong side of my template as a reference for the center. You should use the angled side, moving your square along until it lines up with the center of the saddles. Trace that line, report it on the angled side, and make a line that follows the center of the thickness of your MDF. You now have the locations of the holes for your intonation screws. Center punch, blah blah.

    Once everything is nice and accurate, pick the drill bit that will correspond to the tap you'll be using to thread your holes. I used a 2.5mm bit to tap them to M3 here.

    Using a fence to keep the piece from moving side to side, drill through the holes you marked for the height screws. Go slowly, those skinny bits tend to bend if you apply too much pressure. Once you reach the brass rod, take small nibbles, try not to jam the bit into it too hard to prevent bending. After that, do the same for the intonation screw holes, using the side you cut at an angle as your reference at the bottom. Once again, use a fence to keep it square with the drill press.

    Once all of this is done, put the protruding bit of rod into your portable drill and unscrew it from the template...Voilà ! Hopefully, you'll have neat rows of holes going through the center of your rod.

    Tapping 'em holes before cutting the saddles to size is a good idea, it'll make it easier to hold your piece while you're tapping.


    You can then cut your saddles to their final size and chuck them back in your drill to rotate them against sandpaper to get them nice'n'shiny if you want to...


    Those are bass saddles, obviously, but you can use that method for any instrument you want...It works with plain, non-threaded rods too. If you go plain I'd use a pin in my first cut to prevent the rod from rotating in the template.

    I hope all of this makes sense in my non-native English :)

    ps. I always add a nut to my intonation screws. Get the action and height right, then tighten the nut. It prevents side to side movement and stops the height screws from slipping through time.
  2. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 23, 2010
    East Tennessee
    Very informative and simple :),besides only one language around here,guitar building ;)
    telestratosonic and brandonh like this.
  3. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Aug 28, 2019
    Moncton, NB Canada
    That is pretty cool. Thanks for sharing!
  4. solfege

    solfege TDPRI Member

    Jun 6, 2019
  5. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Jun 2, 2003
    Nice job. Thanks
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