Telecaster neck drilling advice (help appreciated)

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by axdxm, Mar 19, 2015.

  1. axdxm

    axdxm Silver Supporting Member

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    I am building my first partscaster tele, and the neck I procured is an allparts neck without the holes drilled.

    This isn't my neck, but it is what i am dealing with.

    [​IMG]

    How would any of you recommend drilling the holes in the neck? I do not own a drill press (just a cordless drill). The body is already drilled.

    I have scoured the net for advice on how to go about this.

    So far, I know the following:

    - Secure the neck in the pocket
    - String up the High and Low E Strings to tension
    - Use some sort of clamp with pads (as not to damage the frets) to hold the neck to the body (any clamp recommendation would be great)
    - mark the holes with a 3/16 drill bit (run in reverse) through the body holes to mark the drill locations

    What I need to know:
    - What size drill do I use for the pilot holes?
    - How can I keep the drill perpendicular to the neck without a drill press?
    - What size drill do I use for the real holes?
    - Are there drill guide bushings or tools to aid in this job? templates?

    I also know:
    - Limit the depth of drilling by taping the drill bits where they need to stop

    Really appreciate any help you guys can offer. Pretty nervous to booger up this neck and want to do it right.
     
  2. ChuckR

    ChuckR Member

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    You don't need to string the neck up to tension. Slide it into the pocket tight and mark through the holes in the body. The easiest way to mark is to find a drill bit just one size smaller than the hole in the body and slide the pointed end into the hole. Tap LIGHTLY with a hammer. You're not trying to make a hole, just a little mark to show you where the hole goes. I am on the road today and don't remember what size drill for the hole. You don't need a pilot AND a lead hole. One will do. Put tape around the bit to indicate depth and drill as straight as you can. Take the neck out of the pocket to drill it. I think that covers it. If someone doesn't chime in with size for the pilot hole take a drill and hold it up to the screw. The size of the pilot hole should be just a hair smaller than the core of the screw. Look past the threads and match the bit to the center of the screw.

    Hope that helps!
     
  3. 73Fender

    73Fender Member

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    The above sounds logical to me. Good luck. Maybe try posting in the luthier section here too. Those guys have helped me a time or two.
     
  4. axdxm

    axdxm Silver Supporting Member

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    Thank you!

    This is helpful, but do you have any other advice about making sure the drill is straight (perpendicular to the surface)?
     
  5. Ron Kirn

    Ron Kirn Gold Supporting Member

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    take the neck plate, place it in the correct location on the body.... this will result in the neck plate not having that classic home made look of being as crooked as a dog's hind leg...

    mark where the bolt holes go... drill 'em.. most use a 3/16" brad point bit... because a brad point will not "drift" like a machine bit will


    Now place the neck in the neck pocket.. take an awl, Ice pick, 16d nail with a sharpened tip and poke it in the holes marking the location of the pilot holes on the neck's heel.

    I do it so that the marks are a little "north" of the actual location... that way, when ya screw 'em in, the bolts pull the neck down into the pocket..

    If the pilot holes don't look perfectly, geometrically correct, don't sweat it... ya cannot see 'em when the thing's together. You will be able to see the neck plate, which will be nice 'n square with the body's heel..


    Ron Kirn
     
  6. T Dizz

    T Dizz Member

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    - How can I keep the drill perpendicular to the neck without a drill press?

    Google this. there are some tricks to do it right.
     
  7. lumco

    lumco Most of the roads I travel are muddy Gold Supporting Member

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    I am getting ready to drill mine this weekend and this was helpful info.
    Thanks Ron
     
  8. SPSurgeon

    SPSurgeon Member

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    Make sure you wrap a piece of tape around the drill bit at the depth you want to drill. Perfectly straight isn't critical, correct depth is.
     
  9. axdxm

    axdxm Silver Supporting Member

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    Ron, I asked this question of you before in a PM. Thank you for your responses.

    Anybody know the proper drill size for the final neck holes?
     
  10. bal704

    bal704 Supporting Member

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  11. Ron Kirn

    Ron Kirn Gold Supporting Member

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    make the pilot holes in the neck, 1/8th and the bolt holes through the body 3/16


    rk
     
  12. axdxm

    axdxm Silver Supporting Member

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    Thanks, Ron. I have the locations marked with a center punch and am going to do the deed today (that is...drill the neck). I do have access to a drill press from my father...if i were to drill with the press, is there a good way to do this? Do you secure it with some type of padded vice?
     
  13. Ron Kirn

    Ron Kirn Gold Supporting Member

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    I do mine on a drill press... I use a towel as a pad... set the depth stop so the point of the brad point bit just pierces the wood in the neck pocket... then flip it, and finish the holes.. that way the down pressure doesn't cause splintering which can chip the finish on the heel.

    rk
     
  14. T Dizz

    T Dizz Member

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    another great tip Ron. I'm trying this on an upcoming build:bow
     
  15. JeffG.

    JeffG. Member

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    Just did one yesterday. Drilled body holes at 3/16. Put the neck firmly in the pocket (our fit was really snug anyway). Flipped it over and pushed a 1/8 brad point through the body hole and tapped it once with a dead blow. Removed the neck and made sure I had 4 visible marks.

    I have the radius sanding blocks for the fretboard so I used that to hold the neck level and drilled 1/8 holes to depth with a drill press, but it would be easy to substitute a hand drill. If using a hand drill just tape your bit at depth so you don't drill too far.
     
  16. RnB

    RnB Member

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    Before you drill, establish your centerline. Then, check your string alignment on both sides of the board. I've found w/ Allparts necks that have a 1 5/8" nut, a good string alignment is critical, esp w/ a 2 7/32" string spacing at the bridge. Looking down the board, both E strings should have about the same distance from the edge. You don't want either of those 2 strings rolling off the edge of the board.

    If you happen to drill the neck where the string alignment is off from one side to the other, I've drilled the 4 body holes slightly bigger, so you are able to shift the neck in a direction that will put the strings into their proper alignment. It doesn't take much to move the neck to where you want it to be.

    I'll always apply some bees wax to the screw threads prior to driving them in. I do that with all the screws throughout the build. I've learned my lesson...!
     

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