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Drill holes before or after applying finish?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Wolak, Feb 18, 2005.

  1. Do you apply your finish first so it doesn't drip through the holes for the electronics or drill the holes first in order not to scratch the finish?
  2. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Finish last. That is why the call it finish. :D
  3. It's not really a problem if you have finish get into drill holes. If anything, it helps the compression that holds the hardware. It is a problem if you inadvertantly marr the finish slipping with a drill bit, or too much pressure causes the finish (like candy shell poly) to crack or split.

    If you're just oiling though, do whatever whenever :cool:
  4. I am finishing with either a danish oil or a urethane oil. I am testing both right now. The urethane oil has more of an amber tint to it than the danish oil. The urethane oil builds up quicker and dries harder, but I'm not sure if the urethane oil will be as smooth and dry feeling as the danish oil. Right now the urethane oil has a slight stickyness to it but it is not fully cured.

    . . .and thanks for the wise-ass remark Tim, I appreciate it ;)
  5. Bass Kahuna

    Bass Kahuna

    Dec 3, 2002
    West Lafayette, Indiana
    Luthier, Custom Builder
    I apply a Danish Oil finish on my basses, and I always drill all holes, etc., before finishing. That way if a "shop ding" does happen, I have the chance to sand it out and re-finish.

    The only thing I leave out is the threaded brass inserts for my control cavity screws. The holes for the inserts are drilled, but I wait until final assembly to put the inserts in just to ensure no oil gets inside the threads of the insert and hardens there thereby making it hard if not impossible to get those skinny little 4-40 screws in. I had it happen once and was not happy, hence my waiting now.

    For your Danish Oil, I highly recommend the following process:


    My only change is as a final step, I apply and buff out with a coat of Howards Products "Feed-N-Wax" (http://www.howardproducts.com), great stuff.
  6. Where do you buy the threaded brass inserts & screws?
  7. Bass Kahuna

    Bass Kahuna

    Dec 3, 2002
    West Lafayette, Indiana
    Luthier, Custom Builder
    I buy mine from McMaster-Carr (http://www.mcmaster.com/)

    3/8" long Threaded inserts, 4-40 internal threads, part number: 90016A005

    For the black screws to use, I buy those from Micro Fasteners (800-892-6917 - http://www.microfasteners.com/index.cfm) as McMaster-Carr only carries them in silver, not black:

    Flathead machine screw, black, 4-40 x 1/2, part number: FMPPk0408

    I buy mine in bulk, so if you only need 3 or 4 of each, send me your mailing address in a PM and I'll pop `em in the mail for ya.

    The brass inserts say to drill a 1/4" hole, but I always drill a slightly larger hole (17/64") to keep the wood from splitting when I put them in.
  8. I sent you a private message.
  9. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    It's tom Ryan :D but glad you enjoyed the comment. When are you going to post photos. Is this the one we worked on? The offer of help is stil there.............t
  10. I know it's Tom, I just was being a wise-ass to get a response. :smug:

    Yes, this is the bass that you helped me with. I'm working on it here and there, but I will finish it soon, hopefully. Kim and I just had a baby boy (future bass player) two weeks ago today, so things are a little crazy right now. I will post picts as soon as I put the finish on it. It is coming along nicely though. When I do finally finish it, I hope you will check it out and give me your opinion.

  11. Someone mentioned build-up in tight areas. That is a drawback of the True-Oil finish. When they call it a "building film" oil, they're not kidding. It's sort of like slopping varnish into the crevices but it's not as hard and that actually makes it more difficult to get out. I think I'm going to see if it's helpful to pilot drill early, then finish with the True Oil, then complete the bore once the finish has cured.
  12. bassmanatlarge


    Jan 30, 2003
    From my experience, it doesn't matter when you drill the holes.

    If you do it right after the rough sanding, it's easy to remove the pencil marks while fine sanding, and if you do it after the finish is done you can rub them off with your finger.