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Extracting a Broken Screw

4/2/2013
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Fender Telecaster snapped off pickguard ring screw
1. A Fender Frankencaster.  This guitar is about 50% 1990′s MIM Telecaster and 50% aftermarket replacement parts, including the second-hand bubinga body.  This is my guitar so I have to get this job done as quickly as possible so I can get back to work on paying customers’ guitars! 2. A New Pickup.  I’m going to replace the neck pickup with a new P90 that has the footprint of a humbucker.  The new pickup is just a touch too large for the existing cavity so I’ll open it up with a router.
Broken Guitar Screw screw extractor guide
3. A Broken Screw is lodged in the bubinga just about where a pickup ring would have been.  My guess is that the original owner didn’t pre-drill the pilot holes for his pickup rings.  Unfortunately, this broken screw is right where I want to mount the router template.  I’ll remove the screw and plug the hole in order to properly mount the router template. 4. Extracting the Screw.  The guitar screw rescue kit is a clever specialty tool-set sold by stew mac.  I’m using the plexiglass drill-guide to keep the screw-extractor that’s chucked into a hand-drill plumb.  I’ve got the drill set in reverse.
broken screw removed plug cutter
5. The Screw Extractor is a small, metal tube with little teeth cut into the ends.  It easily cut through the bubinga surrounding the screw.  As the wood fibers in the core-sample got jammed up inside the tube, the screw backed itself out. 6. The Plug Cutter that comes with the screw rescue kit is perfectly matched to the hole left in the guitar by the screw extractor.  Just in case I decide to ditch the pick guard someday, I want the plugged hole to visually blend into the surrounding wood grain.  I’ve removed the bridge in order to take my plug from the body at this hidden part of the guitar.
gluing wood plug with tite-bond trimming plug flush with lie-nielse bevel edged socket chisel
7.  Gluing the Plug in place with original tite-bond.  I used a small mallet to fully seat the plug. 8. Trimming the Plug Flush with a sharp chisel.
hitachi plug cutter from home improvement store indian rosewood plug fine tuning the plug
9. Making a Rosewood Plug to fill the plug-cutter hole hidden beneath the bridge.  I don’t have any bubinga with matching grain on hand so a scrap of East Indian rosewood will do just fine.  I’m using a standard plug cutter from the home-improvement store. 10. Fine-Tuning the Plug with the disc-sander is necessary because the home-improvement store plug cutter cuts plugs a little over-sized.
trimming plug flush with veritas miniature block plane the large plug
11. Planing the Plug Flush with a small Lee-Valley block plane set up with a 50 degree cutting angle.  I could use a chisel for this but since the plug is in the center of the body, I would have to use the chisel bevel down. 12. The Large Plug.  I’ll seal the bare-wood plug with a drop of lacquer before I re-attach the bridge.
the small plug humbucker pickup router template
13. The Small Plug is hard to see from a distance.  There is a little bit of chipped lacquer on the bridge-side of the small plug that would be hidden by a pickup ring, should I ever decide to ditch the pick guard and fill the pickguard screw holes. 14. The Router Template is mounted and ready to go.
routing neck position humbucker pickup cavity in telecaster GFS mean 90 pickup in telecaster neck position
15. Routing the Cavity is quick.  I used my little Bosch palm-router set on the slowest speed to avoid burning the wood.  The router bit has a bearing that rides against the router template. 16. All Done.  Now back to work!