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cutting shaping pick guard with only hand tools?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by semi-hollowbody, Jan 9, 2018.

  1. semi-hollowbody

    semi-hollowbody Member

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    I posted in guitars about buying a pickguard for a es 335 copy...if I cant find one reasonably priced, I am going to buy 3 ply (black-white-black) pick guard material

    Use the pickguard from my epi dot as template, and make one myself

    can I do this with a hand held coping say, sand paper?
    I have a jig saw (hand held) but I never have gotten good clean cuts with it

    I need to cut, sand it smooth, and somehow sand a bevel on it...all with hand tools
    is this possible
    any tips??
     
  2. Ayrton

    Ayrton Member

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    I suppose it is possible, but not recommended.

    Even with a router and a bevel bit, you can have chatter.

    Go for it if you want the experience, but I don't think you will be happy with the final results.

    I would suggest just having one made from a template of your original guard.
     
  3. wox

    wox Supporting Member

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    Agreed that it's a pain in the ass, and also messy. A few years back I bought a sheet of PG material from StewMac and cut a few pickguards with mixed results.

    Draw your shape or trace from a template.
    Use a jewelers saw and cut as close as possible
    Clean up and refine curves and edges with scrapers
    Cut pickup/bridge holes by drilling a pilot hole inside the area to be removed, then assembling your jewelers saw through that hole
    Doing a 45 deg edge bevel by hand is really hard, use a scraper and go slow
    Hand cutting a Strat blade switch will give you fits
    Try not to scratch the plastic. It's impossible to get it back up to the stock shine.
     
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  4. milobender

    milobender Member

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    Agreed. Certainly you can do it. But it takes practice and good tools to do the job right. I've done may by hand, but I've worked with my hands for 50 years and I have the proper tools (I use a band saw, scroll saw, drill press, files, scrapers, sand paper down to 3600 grit, then buffing, and a small mill for the 5-way slot, (which really is very hard by hand and a great acheivement if you make a perfect one)). If you want it to look right the first time, just purchase one, or have someone with experience make it. Unless, of course, you just want to jump into the learning curve and get busy "o)

     
  5. cardinal

    cardinal Member

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    I’ve done it with a Dremel tool, sanding blocks, and razors/scraper. They turn out ok but it’s entirely dependent on your patience.

    For me, I make several shallow passes with the Dremel cutting tool, each pass going all the way around. It takes maybe four passes to fully cut through the material. Then a sanding block can help do any final shaping, and a razor/scraper can make the bevel.

    It takes a long time to get it right. And it makes a MESS.

    This was cut by hand. Not perfect by any stretch, but gets the job done well enough:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
  6. KGWagner

    KGWagner Member

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    Depends what you call "reasonably priced". If you asked me to do it, I'd probably charge $50-$60 and feel like I was too desperate for work to be doing it, and I can't imagine anyone would call that a reasonable price.

    If you're set up to do that sort of thing, it's fairly easy and straightforward. The material cost becomes the biggest factor. That's why places that make them as a production item can sell the relatively complex Strat pickguards for $15-$25. That's barely above material cost for someone like me. But, if you don't have the proper templates/tools/setup, trying to make your own with what you'd find in a normal shop is a just no fun at all. The mess alone will make you question your sanity in taking on such a task, not to mention the amount to time you'll sink into it.

    But, if you have masochistic tendencies, then yes. A coping saw, some sandpaper, a drill motor and maybe a scraper will let you do it. Better with a template and router; still no fun, though.

    All that said, here's a source for 3-ply black/white/black ES335 pickguards at $15. That's reasonable. All you have to do is wait on your porch and drink beer/smoke cigarettes and the big brown truck will just drop it in your lap in two days.
     
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  7. icr

    icr Member

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    Plastic cuts pretty easily. Use any tools at your disposal for the shape. You can glue your outline to the top of the plastic protector sheet.
    Use a razor blade with a protected end to go around and make the bevel. For a vintage style pickguard (like the one shown) you have to do it by hand anyway, because the bevel is steeper, allowing more white to show, compared to a modern pickguard.

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. ahhlou

    ahhlou Member

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    Basic rule of thumb, if you can buy it, buy it. I only make pick guards that I can't buy...
     
  9. 9fingers

    9fingers Supporting Member

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    I did one by hand. (band saw, drills, files, scraper and sandpaper). It came out fine but took so long that I won't do it again if I can help it.
     
  10. KGWagner

    KGWagner Member

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    Yeah, it's kinda like changing shocks or a muffler on a car. It looks simple so you do it once when you're young and hopefully learn a valuable lesson: unless you have absolutely no choice, don't try this at home.
     
  11. auratnik

    auratnik Supporting Member

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    It's quite demanding and time consuming but it's doable.
     
  12. Timtam

    Timtam Member

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    335 guards can usually be had for less than $10 on ebay.

    Straight, flat edges are certainly do-able relatively easily with simple tools. So HB cutouts etc. I did my first as a kid by 'cutting' the HB hole roughly with a soldering iron, and then refining it with a broad flat file. I'd do the cutting with a dremel or coping saw these days.

    Bevels are the killer. They're really hard to get good without a pro router / bevel bit / template. This guy is doing more than you need but you can at least see the bevelling procedure from 3:37 ...
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJE0_x8ug4s

    You could avoid the need to bevel by binding, like on this 355 one ...
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqQU15J8GXU
     
  13. Chris Scott

    Chris Scott Silver Supporting Member

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    I've done enough of 'em to know that I don't like doing 'em. At the very least you need good quality sharp tools, and know how to use them. One can make a Rube Goldberg-esque rig to mount a Dremel or Foredom for cutting the bevels, but you need to practice on scrap first to dial in the angle depending on the laminates or the lam thicknesses will be off.

    The static charge created when using any tooling or abrasives alone is enough to make ya nutty...messy.
     
  14. Dion

    Dion Supporting Member

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    I actually enjoy making them with my Dremel.
    And with a Dremel workstation it’s not that difficult
    Tedious, yes ;)
     
  15. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    Is it the smell?
     
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  16. onemoretime

    onemoretime Member

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    Last edited: Jan 29, 2018
  17. Lavely

    Lavely Silver Supporting Member

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    On the topic (sort of), where would you guys recommend to order a "custom" pickguard? Probably a normal Strat outline, but control holes where I want them. Or, should I just punch through the plastic myself (and with what tools)?
     
  18. KGWagner

    KGWagner Member

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