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Drilling a hole in a gold anodized pickguard

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by JimmyM, Oct 11, 2017.


  1. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I've got this pieces parts PJ that I'm going to put a fretless neck and Geezers on. Thought about soldering them to the stack-knob volume pot and tone pot that's currently in it, but was thinking I might drill a hole in the pickguard and use the EMG quick connect cables and pots instead.

    But being not the most handy with a drill, I thought I would ask the experts for advice on how to drill gold anodized without screwing it up using my little hand drill. Is it a big deal? I could use the white plastic one that it came with before I got the anodized, but I dig the look of the seafoam green with the gold anodized, and looks always win.
     
  2. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    SEPA
    I'm no luthier but I've been drilling holes in aluminum for a long time...
    If it was expensive, I'd probably suggest using a drill press or finding someone who has one, but the reality is, you'll be fine...

    First - by 'little hand drill' do you mean something electric? Or a real eggbeater style hand-cranked drill? I wouldn't suggest one of those...

    Locate where you want the hole. Put down a bit of masking tape. Use a center punch or something that looks like one to lightly dimple the hole center. I'd use a very small (1/16" or 1/8") pilot drill first, then something closer to final size. You can maybe forego the pilot hole if you use a bullet-point bit, which is essentially a big bit with a small starter bit in its tip.

    CLAMP THE PICKGUARD DOWN SECURELY SOMEHOW.

    If the bit catches, you've created a big whirling knife. Bad news for someone who likes his fingers...

    For a hole much bigger than 3/8" proper form usually indicates using a chassis punch, but they're expensive and nobody buys one for just a couple of holes. Maybe true the hole with a reamer when you're done, and deburr with a dogleg deburring tool.
     
  3. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Good stuff...and great reminder about clamping the pickguard down! As someone who's never drilled a pickguard before, there's every chance I wouldn't have thought to do that. Thx man!

    And no, not an eggbeater :D It's a B&D electric handheld.
     
    Garret Graves likes this.
  4. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Jimmy's drill. Note that it has a device built-in to hold the pickguard down.

    Drill with built-in hold down.
     
    JimmyM and ArtechnikA like this.
  5. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    Personally, I'd use a punch - or a small nail, or something - to make a little dimple in the spot I want to drill the hole. That will give the drill bit something to bit into, instead of wanting to skitter all over the pickguard. Then I'd use a smaller-than-needed drill bit to start with (pilot hole), and then drill that hole out to the right size. Just to be on the safe side, you understand...:thumbsup:
     
  6. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    ^This^
    do yourself a favor and if you don't have good sharp bits and don't sharpen your own, get new ones before you go for it. And an extra plus to step drilling. When drilling thin stock, when the point of the bit exits the back side of your plate if you are trying to take too big a bite you will either stall the drill, spin the guard, or cut a rough looking hourglass shape in the guard that will then become a PITA to get back right. A drill bit really only shears with the point so when the point comes out of thin stock the hole is not to full size and the flutes will tend to grab if you are taking too big a bite.
     
    stigbeve and JimmyM like this.
  7. JimmyM and guitarflinger like this.
  8. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    A couple of things:

    Like the others have said, first centerpunch the location, then drill a small hole, like 1/8". No larger than 1/8".

    Put down a layer of heavy tape on the metal around where you are drilling. I usually use clear packaging tape. This protects the anodizing from getting permanent scratched circles from the metal spiral coming out of the big drill bit.

    Yes, clamp the pickguard down with a piece of scrap wood underneath it.

    If you are going to buy a drill bit, this is what you want. It's a 3/8" pilot-point bit. This style of bit is made specifically for drilling larger size holes in sheet metal. It will do a nice neat job without ripping up the hole. Worth the money. The pilot point of a 3/8" bit is.....you guessed it.....1/8". It will guide perfectly in the 1/8" pilot hole.

    https://www.amazon.com/DEWALT-DW192...299&sr=8-2-fkmr2&keywords=Pilot+drill+bit+3/8

    After drilling the 3/8" hole, use a a countersink bit by hand to lightly deburr the edge of the hole on the front and back side. No need to do it by power, you only need to take off the burr. Or, you can use a little round file.

    Be careful with anodized aluminum. The anodizing is fairly hard, but it's thin, and it scratches and chips easily.
     
    Low Commotion and JimmyM like this.
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Thanks for the extra tips, guys...sounding more and more like I'd be better off using the other plastic one I have and skipping the gold anodized :D
     
    Microbass likes this.
  10. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    LA
    unfortunately, my bass playing isn't always good, but being an art installer, my hole drilling game is on point
    it's cool that i could help you for a change, go to any tool place, fabricator, or welding shop and somebody will do it for you in 5 seconds during their lunch break:)
     
    JimmyM likes this.
  11. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl

    Oct 13, 2010
    Appleton
    I’m confused. Are you trying to enlarge existing holes in the anodized guard, or are there no holes at all in the anodized guard?
     
    JimmyM likes this.
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I'm trying to add a 4th hole for the extra pot in the Geezer PJ set. At least I will when I get around to it.
     
  13. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl

    Oct 13, 2010
    Appleton
    EZ Peazy. Clamp down, pilot dent, then drill. With metal, I never drill over air, meaning I have a piece of wood right tight under where the hole will be.

    On my Geezer set, I did not use the supplied pots with the solder-less connectors. On the leads with the quick/connects, there is a hole where you can push in a pin and slip them off exposing a metal ferrule-like thing crimped on the leads. You could solder longer leads onto them and cover that joint up with shrink tubing and then solder them up like regular pups.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017
    JimmyM likes this.
  14. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Yeah, thought of that, but when I can avoid soldering, it's best.
     
    Coolhandjjl likes this.
  15. mesaplayer83

    mesaplayer83 Supporting Member

    Jun 27, 2017
    For something thin like a PG, I'd center punch the hole location, then fasten it to some scrap plywood with a couple PG screws to back up the hole being drilled... I'd then use a step drill to final size, and use the same step drill by hand to de-burr the hole... Also, the suggestion to mask off the hole is a good one...
     
    Hoochie Coochie Man likes this.
  16. mesaplayer83

    mesaplayer83 Supporting Member

    Jun 27, 2017
    The problem with that is the hole spacing is usually different for four holes vs 3 holes, and the 3 holes would already be there... Another alternative is to buy a jack plate and screws, made a side of the body jack hole, and use the 3 existing holes on the PG for your controls...
     
  17. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You make it sound like I want to spend money on this project :D I was hoping not to even have to buy another drill bit. It's really not what you'd call a stellar example of what Fender-looking parts builds can be.
     
  18. Sorry. I don’t know where I got that you were adding a screw hole. I really did read your original post.:banghead: Just do what Bruce said.
     
    JimmyM likes this.
  19. mesaplayer83

    mesaplayer83 Supporting Member

    Jun 27, 2017
    Oh, I understand the economics of it, bud - if you were anywhere near me, I'd drill it out for you...
     
    JimmyM likes this.
  20. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Nice of you to offer, thx, but I think I'll be good. I'm overdramatizing it for comedy.