Page 5

As we said on page 1, there had to be some work on the neck.  After we stained the fingerboard, we went to work on the tuners.  Here is a shot of our filling the holes from the old tuners.

We knew that the new tuners would cover the holes...except for one!  The only problem with this is that the endgrain of the toothpicks makes a "different" looking grain on the headstock.  The fills are pretty evident with a clear finish.  We will try to camouflage it with wood filler.

These toothpicks are super glued into the holes.  Once the glue was dry, we cut the toothpicks flush with the headstock.  We took a punch, pressed a little detent into the toothpick, and covered it with wood filler.  Why not do the whole thing with filler?  Filler will shrink over time and sink into the hole, and the toothpicks won't!

We scored some Gotoh vintage-style tuners on eBay because the tuners on the Strat were very second tier both from a mechanical and visual perspective.

We pushed the bushings into the tuner holes.  We had to slightly enlarge the holes with a reamer to get them to fit snuggly.

Safety Tip:  Make sure you get the tuners aligned and fitted prior to finishing the neck with lacquer.  The frustration of trying to fit tuners while saving that shiny finish is almost too much to take!


Once the bushings were in, we turned the neck over and put the tuners in place.  There are seven screw holes required, and it is critical that you get these tuners lined up properly.  This style of tuner is very susceptible to getting "out of line" so care is required!

Using a piece of maple which had a flat side, we aligned the flat side against the tuners and clamped the maple in place.

Once the tuners were in place, we marked the position of the holes with a fine point Sharpie marker. 


Once marked, we removed the tuners.  We took a punch and made a pilot hole for each hole.  Once we were convinced it was lined up properly, we drilled the holes (we checked the alignment with a steel ruler).  Here you can see the drilled holes, and the filled "former" tuner holes.  Luckily, only one "filled" hole will be visible under the new tuners.

You can see the drill in the back with a 1/16" bit and a tape depth stop.  We measured how long the screw would be and taped the bit to make a little flag.  When the flag hits the headstock, it is time to stop drilling!

We taped the fingerboard and sprayed the neck with several coats of MinWax gloss lacquer.  Yes, we sprayed right over the original finish, and it was much easier than stripping the neck!

While the lacquer on the neck dried we put the controls and the pickups into the painted pickguard.  Be careful not to scratch the paint!

Safety Tip:  If you are going to try a project like this, make sure your pickups and controls fit into the new pickguard.  There are some pretty wide variances out there, particularly with the number of products coming from Asia!

Finally, we buffed out the neck and installed the parts, including a new string tree.

With the neck complete we started assembly on the body, and worked carefully to avoid and "oops" with the screwdriver.  We protected the artwork with pieces of a brown paper bag while attaching the pickguard.

Note the bar of beeswax to the left of the body.  Beeswax is a great product and can really help when putting a guitar together.  We use it to lubricate screws -- just rub the threads across the bar.  The wax makes it easier to screw in, and it also helps seal the cavity.

This one is about ready for the is starting to look like a guitar!

Next up...The Final Product  


Back to Page 4, Go to Page 6

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