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Best/easiest tool & procedure: remove/install small threaded inserts?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by BurningSkies, May 12, 2016.

  1. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    So I figured I'd go to the people who deal with this stuff and are the most centered in such things...

    I'm updating an older Dingwall Voodoo-Prima that had some funky non-standard parts. Sheldon has been awesome and made me a set of 'custom' pickups to fit in the non-standard size/spacing for this bass. In making the coils fit properly in the smaller shells, the pickup mounting screw placement had to move, so there are now two mounting screws per pickup on opposite corners:


    The original 3 hole layout of the pickups looks like this:


    -So first up, I'll need to remove the insert in the upper left corner (neck side, bass side)...what's the best/most effective tool for this? I'd love advice/insight from y'all.

    -I'll then, need to dowel that hole and redrill/mount a new insert (the new mounting location centers about half way off from the current location). Best tool, tips etc. to do that?

    -Next I'll need to locate and insert a thread in the treble side towards the bridge.The other two inserts for each pickup can remain, and if later on down the line someone (or me) wants to return this to stock they can remove/replace just a single insert for the original setup.

    So, suggestions for inserts, special tools, considerations, tips on removal and insertion? Please?
  2. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Check with Sheldon, but I think those inserts just press straight down in. They aren't threaded into the wood. To remove them, find a screw of the correct thread, preferably a socket head cap screw. Put a washer under the head of the screw, then some kind of metal sleeve. It could be a couple of hex nuts, or a small socket from a socket wrench set, something like that. Something that's about 1/2" or so tall and its ID is a little larger than the OD of the insert. The idea is that when you tighten the screw, the sleeve pushes down on the wood, and the screw pulls the insert up out of the wood.
    nervous likes this.
  3. Keith Guitars

    Keith Guitars Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2004
    Woodstock, NY
    Builder: Martin Keith Guitars, Veillette Guitars
    +1 to what Bruce said. If you can't find a metal sleeve, just drill a hole one size larger than the OD of the insert in a little scrap of wood.

    I will just add that since you're putting in pickups, you probably have a soldering iron handy.
    Heat up the inserts before pulling, on the (likely) chance that Sheldon or his crew put some CA glue on them during installation.
    Never hurts. If you're gentle with the inserts, you can reuse them.

    For doweling the hole, here's my approach:

    -Get a hardware store dowel that's the closest size OVER your hole.
    -Find one of those steel 'drill sizing' plates that almost everyone has floating around their old toolbox,
    the one with all the holes to gauge the size of a random drill bit.
    -Chuck a piece of dowel in your cordless drill.
    -Use the drill to drive the dowel through successively smaller holes - the plate will shave off a little bit each time.
    This also slightly compresses the material, which will swell back up a little with application of glue.
    -Once it's small enough to fit the hole, chamfer (bevel) the leading end just a bit.
    -Press it into the hole and use a sharp pencil to mark where the cut should be.
    -Lay the dowel on the table. Put a sharp knife edge (razor blade, Xacto) on your cut line.
    Now, roll the dowel back and forth under the knife. Be sure to go all the way around.
    Keep rolling until the part comes off. Sometimes it shoots away...keep your eyes open.
    This is the best way to cut off short dowel pieces without having them fall apart. It also usually
    results in a nice square cut.
    -Daub up with glue and press into the hole. IF you've done it right, it will end up +/- a few thousandths
    and you won't even have to level it afterward.


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