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Drilling a pickguard - anything I need to know?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Lefty52, Dec 23, 2011.


  1. Hi guys and girls, I just took delivery of a custom pickguard from The Pickguardian - it's a 3 ply black/white/black.

    I've decided to install a coil tap mini toggle switch on the bass, and I forgot to ask Tony @ Pickguardian to drill a suitable hole for it.

    I've never drilled a pickguard before. Just wondering, is there anything to watch out for?? Any "tricks of the trade" I should know about beforehand?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. FretlessMainly

    FretlessMainly

    Nov 17, 2010
    Sounds like it's not one of his acrylic (thicker) guards, which I have not drilled into. I had no problem drilling holes for the pickup cover screws in the guard he made for my '97 CIJ Fender Jazz. But, since you're drilling for a mini toggle (not sure just how "mini" it is), you might consider drilling a very small hole to center the bit for the correct size final hole. If it's well less than 1/4", you'd likely be ok in one pass. But remember: measure twice, drill once.
     
  3. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I get much better results with drill bits made specifically for plastic than I do with twist drills or brad-point bits; I get mine from a local plastic shop.
     
  4. THORRR

    THORRR Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2010
    Parker, Colorado
    Put a piece of masking tape on the surface of the guard
    before you drill. This gives you a place to make your mark
    where you want to drill, and will protect the guard in case the drill slips.

    It also helps against the drill bit chipping the plastic on the edge of the hole.

    Drill slowly and deliberately letting the drill do the work.
    (If you press too hard you'll crack the guard.)
    and drilling too fast melts the plastic.

    enjoy!

    :cool:
     
  5. Thanks for the advice everyone. I've had a look on The Pickguardian website, however there's no info on the type of material used for this guard. I doubt that it's celluloid, however, as it's black/white/black (I've been led to believe that only torts come in celluloid these days). Anyways, mine's 3 ply, measuring .090" thick.

    I like the idea of applying some tape before drilling. I'm thinking that I'll apply the tape to the underside of the guard, and drill from the underside to the top.

    Specialty drill bit for plastic, huh? Never heard of those before. I think I'll try to source a set. Sounds like they could come in handy for other jobs.
     
  6. THORRR

    THORRR Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2010
    Parker, Colorado
    If you drill from the underside to the top, you run the risk
    of an outward splintering of the surface. Drill from the front
    top surface. The tape is all you need and if you splinter
    out the back it's no problem.

    :cool:
     
  7. James Judson

    James Judson

    Jul 16, 2009
    +1
     
  8. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Three ply B/W/B guards are almost always vinyl. Cracking is not a problem. Unibits do an excellent job on this material. Use a center punch to locate the hole. It will also prevent the bit from walking.
     
  9. Goodlawdy

    Goodlawdy

    Mar 27, 2008
    Seems like I read that you can drill the hole with the drill set to reverse and that makes a cleaner hole.
     
  10. ...only so far as running a safety razor backwards across your face makes for a cleaner shave. ;)
     
  11. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005
    This...


    - georgestrings
     
  12. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005

    This...


    - georgestrings
     
  13. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005

    ...and this...


    - georgestrings
     
  14. nervous

    nervous Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Beautiful Central, NY
    I'll add that, depending on the size of the hole required I always start with a small bit and pilot hole and work my way up in bit sizes until I get to the required diameter. Not trying to do the hole in one full size drilling.
     
  15. Steveaux

    Steveaux Safe-Guardian of the Stoopid

    Jul 1, 2008
    The Wilds of NW Pa.
    +1

    Step-drills are great for soft materials.

    Standard twist-drills dig as they cut. This can lead to all sorts of trouble, including injury.

    Specialized drills for plastics work like down-cutting wood bits, but they can be elusive and expensive. I own several.

    The second-best, and by no means bad, choice is step-drills. They don't dig and, when used exclusively on soft materials, even the cheap ones last a long time.
     
  16. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005

    Agreed - step drills are also great for drilling thin materials... Also, backing up the material to be drilled with some scrap wood is a good practice...


    - georgestrings
     
  17. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Since we're talking about drilling screw holes in pick guards, have you guys found a method that delivers consistent countersinks in transparent plastic?

    IME, single flute countersinks have worked better in wood and plastic than multi-flute countersinks; best results were achieved using a drill press at low speed.

    I've been getting decent results in opaque plastic using one of these after drilling the through-hole:
    3-Piece Mortise Chisel Sharpening Set - Rockler Woodworking Tools

    Anybody using one of these in a drill press?

    Solid Carbide Sign Making Router Bit - Rockler Woodworking Tools
     
  18. I'm not sure what this means George - am I right in assuming I should place a piece of wood UNDER the guard as I drill, directly under the spot where the hole will be?
     
  19. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005
    Yes - so that you also drill into the wood when you break thru the pickguard... It is helpful whenever drilling something fairly thin, in regards to the hole distorting, or cracking... It probably isn't needed in this instance, but certainly can't hurt...


    - georgestrings
     
  20. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    +1 Even when drilling through-holes in thick wood, using a backer board can limit blow-out when the bit exits the work; for best results, the backer material should be at least as hard/dense as the material being drilled. :)
     

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