Strap button hole repair

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by OrganicTimbre, Nov 25, 2017.


  1. OrganicTimbre

    OrganicTimbre Member

    Messages:
    774
    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Location:
    Virginia
    I was at practice today, our singer picked up my guitar to show some riffs and then all of a sudden the guitar nearly dropped to the ground after the strap button came right out of the guitar. Fortunately he caught it before any major damage was done. Anyways, anyone have any suggestions on a permanent fix for this? I read about drilling out a hole and gluing in a dowel, I kinda like that idea. My personal thought was to screw in a new button and put some gorilla glue in the hole so that the whole thing bonds together like a boss.


    [​IMG]
     
  2. bigtone23

    bigtone23 Member

    Messages:
    3,282
    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2013
    Location:
    Denver CO
    I have great luck with wood glue and toothpicks--dip them in the wood glue and fill the hole, screw in the button while still wet. Let it dry. That should set it for nearly life. Just make sure you like those strap buttons, because they will set very, very solid this way.
    If the hole is really opened up on a softer wood body (like poplar or basswood), doweling with maple is a good route to go.
     
  3. paulbearer

    paulbearer Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,295
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2008
    Location:
    51°31'55.2"N 0°10'38.0"W
    ^ all you need.

    /thread
     
    bigtone23 and BluesCaster like this.
  4. OrganicTimbre

    OrganicTimbre Member

    Messages:
    774
    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Location:
    Virginia
    Thanks. I ended up doweling with 1/8" birch, it filled up the hole nicely. I saw the toothpick thing on youtube and wasn't a fan, it seems more like a quick fix than a proper solution.
     
  5. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    31,283
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    the "toothpick thing" was actually the better stronger fix, but your dowel insert should still be OK.

    (drilling out and sliding in a dowel leaves you with a thin shell of smooth wood against a smooth hole, while the toothpick/wood glue method where you crank the screw back in while wet forces the new wood to conform to the ridges of the old hole threads, allowing the whole thing to dry strong and "cast" into the shape of the threads.)
     
  6. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    31,283
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    lord no, gorilla glue needs to be kept far away from guitars
     
    bigtone23 likes this.
  7. Ayrton

    Ayrton Member

    Messages:
    752
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta, Georgia
    I think we all have done the toothpick solution a time or two. I will plug and redrill if it is a refinishing situation. One thing you can do as preventative maintenance is to drop some thin CA glue into the screw holes. The water thin glue will soak into the wood and add serious strength to the original threads.
     
    bigtone23 likes this.
  8. bigtone23

    bigtone23 Member

    Messages:
    3,282
    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2013
    Location:
    Denver CO
    Toothpicking with wet wood glue appears to be janky, but trust me it isn't!
    I have broken heads off of button screws set in wood-glued toothpicks. It's crazy solid, as I warned about in my post above.
    Either way, doweling is good, and should work nicely.
     
    walterw likes this.
  9. Oatie

    Oatie Member

    Messages:
    1,986
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    The best way to fix this is to whittle a small round slightly tapered peg to fit into the hole. ( dry fit first). Quality wooden chop sticks from China Take Out work well to whittle the peg. The best glue I use is Titebond II glue. Use a toothpick to spread the glue inside the hole. After dry fitting the wooden peg, cut it using a fine saw or utility knife about 1/16" longer than the tight dry fit. Let dry overnight. Remember to drill a new pilot hole for the new screw using a 3/32 drill bit. A snug fit is better than a forced fight fit. The glue will work better with a loose/ snug fit. If the guitar is vintage with a hog body, get a piece of hog.
     
    Crowder likes this.
  10. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Member

    Messages:
    138
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2017
    Location:
    Denmark
    Edit!: Read the whole thread through and found out you already came up with a solution. So guess all that typing I did was wasted. Anyway good luck, hope it holds up.

    All you need to do is fill out the hole for the strap button in your guitars body with some regular wood glue and then press a toothpick or the the wood shaft of a match into it (In case the hole is too tight to get the wood stick in there by hand power eventually place a screwdriver with a plastic shaft upside down so that the tip of it's handle rest on the end of the toothpick/match sticking out of the hole, and then by carefully using a small hammer on the metal end of the screwdriver squeezing the wood stick properly down into the hole. Or in the opposite case, if the hole is too big for the wood stick to fit in tightly use several toothpicks/matches pressed into the hole synchronously), cut off the toothpick/match at the end of the hole, and wipe away the excess glue that most likely will come out when pressing the toothpick/match down in it, and then finally let it dry up a bit before simply screwing the the strap button back on like it was before.

    I've done it myself a fair deal of years ago on my first bass which this happened to as well, and I haven't had any problems with that strap button since, despite the bass in question being full scaled and actually pretty heavy, even with some of those years since the strap button first fell out and I performed the procedure described above spend bouncing around with it on stage and further more banging on it at some occasions.

    So while it might not really sound like a proper sturdy and viable solution, I will almost guarantee that after performing this minimal and relatively inexpensive procedure on your guitar that the strap button will sit as firm and be just as durable as if if it had just been screwed into a new guitar body, if not even more so.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
  11. Jack Daniels

    Jack Daniels Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,026
    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2007
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    No titebond II and no Gorrilla glue. Bad for guitars.
     
  12. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    31,283
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    see, that's the exact part you don't wanna do!

    to get the proper strength of a clamped wood glue joint, you need to crank that screw in while the glue is still wet.

    that's what serves to clamp the pieces together for a proper glue bond. it also allows the compressed, glue-soaked wood to dry "cast" into the shape of the threads.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
    boyce89976 likes this.
  13. Lobotomie

    Lobotomie Member

    Messages:
    643
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2016
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Which brand/type of glue would you recommend @walterw ?
     
  14. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    31,283
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    plain ol' titebond! (OK i'm using the current LMI yellow glue but in any case regular aliphatic "wood glue"); it'll dry "tough" if you do it right (enough wood stuffed in the hole for the screw to fully tighten up and enough glue to squeeze out when it does)

    hide/fish glue dries "brittle" (good for tone i suppose but not what we want here), epoxy is way more hassle and risks the surrounding finish, superglue is brittle and risks the finish.
     
    boyce89976 likes this.
  15. boyce89976

    boyce89976 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,509
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2014
    Location:
    TN
    I did the toothpick fix recently and the resulting fix is rock solid, super tight. I think I stuffed 4 wood glue soaked toothpicks in the hole, then screwed in the strap button after coating the screw with wood glue just to get some extra glue in the hole.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
  16. Ayrton

    Ayrton Member

    Messages:
    752
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta, Georgia
    PVA glue (yellow) creates a bond with wood that is stronger than the wood itself. Titebond I, II, or III will work, but regular Titebond is more than enough for guitar work and the one you should stick with. TiteBond II, and III have waterproofing properties and Titebond III will leave a dark glue line in lighter woods such as maple.

    The toothpick trick works best when using real wood picks, going into end grain (so matching) and a tight joint. Walter is correct when he wrote that you want to drive the screw in while the glue is still wet (PVA open time is about 10 minutes) so the toothpicks are compressed against the body wood. The glue will not stick to the screw, and you should be using wax on the screw anyway.
    Here is an excellent short article on various glue strengths. (.pdf)

    http://www.titebond.com/Libraries/News_Articles/HowStrongisYourGlue_FWW.sflb.ashx
     
    walterw likes this.
  17. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    31,283
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    a classic, and thanks for finding a link where we can see it outside of the paywall!

    no expert woodworker i, but the one thing that always bugged me about this test is that at no point did they actually test clamped wood, y'know, the way we all actually glue stuff together. they even say in the text, "of course these 'tight' joints are far less tight than a clamped joint."

    for all we know using a properly clamped joint could have turned all the results upside down.
     
    boyce89976 and Ayrton like this.
  18. Ayrton

    Ayrton Member

    Messages:
    752
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta, Georgia
    You think guitar forums are full of "experts," try woodworkers!

    I know they used tight and loose joints, and my guess it was to avoid the debate of clamping too tight and squeezing out all the glue.

    Thankfully guitar building is much less dependent on structural strength. :p
     
    walterw likes this.
  19. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    31,283
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    i can't help but think they could have just made another batch of the "tight" sets of wood blocks then once together clamped them from the outside, maybe with a clamping setup that measured pressure.
     
  20. Ayrton

    Ayrton Member

    Messages:
    752
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Maybe, but I don't know if it would have changed the order of ranking. The failure points may have been different, but the strongest would still be the strongest.
     

Share This Page