Plugging Wilson holes?
Any suggestions for plugging Wilson pickup holes? They are around 5mm. Maybe epoxy, or? Don't want to spend much to do it.
How about wood?
5mm sounds like you can use wood skewers or kabobs. I get maple, poplar and oak dowel sticks in a few sizes from the local craft store for a dollar or two each. Find one close to the right size and go from there (a little too big and I put a few inches of the dowel in the chuck of my drill- give it a spin and rub down with sandpaper until it's a tight fit in the hole). A little white glue or titebond with it will do the trick.
I use a small wood mallet or jewelers hammer to get em in tight.
Epoxy sounds like more trouble than it's worth.
I went to a hobby shop today, but they didn't have anything. It would have to be real hard wood, as the bridge. The most I could do would be some minor sanding to fit, and I doubt I could get it perfect. Or a metal rod would be good...the hobby shop only had 4.76mm.
5mm=.19685 inches so you could always drill the holes larger and use 1/4" maple dowels but I'd hesitate making the holes larger. Whatever glue you use, it will penetrate the soft maple and discolor the bridge but I would probably use super glue or bottled hide glue. It might be time for a new bridge.
Do they really need to be plugged? To do it, I'd want to enlarge the holes with a forstner bit and and cut out matching plugs with a plug cutter. As much as possible I'd match the grain orientation of the bridge. Dowels will not follow the correct grain orientation, and their diameter tends to not be that accurate when shooting for a snug fit.
Using wood is going to be challenging if you don't want a kludgey result. Anything but the same kind of bridge wood (quarter-sawn maple, very high grade and tight-grained, which has also been through some kind of aging and/or hardening process) visually is going to stick out like crazy. I would probably make plugs from an old bridge if I was going this way.
Then there's the issue of drilling a properly-oriented hole. The bridge hasn't got parallel surfaces -- it's not rocket science to deal with, but a lot of tinkerers would have a "D'oh!!!" moment with that. Then, of course, the hole has to be the right size and well-cut with a sharp bit. No tear-out on the bridge, either.
If I really wanted to save that bridge, I'd probably give up on the idea of making a wood plug disappear into the bridge, and try instead for the big contrast look. I'd probably want to go with a brass rod, perfectly fit. That would look cool, I think.
But the most expedient thing to do is to get a new bridge, no?
Post-script: My post here assumes we're going to be drilling through that bridge, or reaming at least. I'm assuming we're not going to find a rod or a dowel that fills the existing holes perfectly. The existing holes would need either to be reamed or plugged and re-drilled. At least, that's how I do things in my woodworking.
Thanks for the suggestions. The bridge is working as is, but I thought I'd like to solidify it. Not worried about the cosmetics, and brass or copper would be fine. You can see the bridge was already plugged once. If I can get Wilson to sell me some empty casings...
You shouldn't use metal in there Eric, the additional mass won't improve your tone - likely the reverse.
You can make any size dowel you need by drilling the appropriate size of hole in a piece of 1/4" steel strap or angle, whittling down a piece of maple or birch dowel to a size larger than the finished product and then driving a short length through the hole with a hammer.
I do it all the time to make 3/32" mahogany and maple dowels to plug tuner screw holes in vintage instruments and it works very well.
The holes probably don't effect the sound. I'm not sure if they would cause the top of the bridge to warp over time though.
As for being unsightly, I have the wings cut off my bridge and a wire tailpiece and people rarely even notice any difference.
Jake's method would work, I was going to suggest it but he beat me to it. I don't think the wood type would really make a difference, but if you want the same type, maybe you could find an old warped bridge some where. Just get the correct grain direction. It doesn't matter if it came from a warped bridge, because after you whittle, hammer, sweat, and curse like sailor you should end up with a pretty straight dowel.
Thanks everyone for your help. Ole Wilson is nice enough to send me some dummy elements, so I will try that.
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