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Threaded neck inserts... a few questions.

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by rojo412, Feb 8, 2014.

  1. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Many years back, I attempted the stainless threaded insert mod, but I was green and I remember screwing it up pretty badly.

    I ran across the inserts that I had and am currently working on a project bass that is really a "practice cadaver" for various techniques that are new to me. I was thinking about trying again and seeing if I could make it work this time.

    I have the inserts, stainless and 10-24 threaded...
    I have a drill press and an assortment of Forstner bits...

    What kind of tips and tactics can you recommend for the process so that I end up doing it right the first time?
  2. What went wrong the first time?
  3. Wagz


    May 2, 2012
    Milwaukee, WI
    Level, Plumb and Square are the main things you need to pay attention to for neck inserts.

    You need to get your drill press table perfectly squared up with the chuck so you drill straight down into the neck. This is typically complicated by the radius on the front of the neck (since you don't have a flat surface to rest on). Clamping a couple blocks of wood on either side of the neck can help with this, again provided those blocks are nice and flat and you clamp it securely. Measure at least twice before cranking the chuck down into your neck, or better yet practice on a scrap piece.

    And then, it never hurts to use a chemical bonding agent on the threaded inserts. Epoxy or any other glue that works on metal (I'm guessing brass). Just put a dab in each hole before you thread the inserts and make sure you let dry before assembly.
  4. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Well, I didn't have a drill press. I freehanded the holes.
    When I screwed the inserts in, they excavated a bunch of wood from the neck.
    Then when I tried to mount the neck, the machine screws wouldn't go in at all... so I plugged the neck, used wood screws and gave up.
  5. W/o a drill press, I'd want to jig up the wazoo to ensure alignment. Wagz is, I believe, spot-on- you want the entire picture as near perfectly square, etc as possible.
    On that note and w/regard to clamping difficulties due to the radius of the fret/fingerboard, I'd try to suare everything to the neck's flat heel and use a large, soft- wood caul(hardwood body w/a *pad* of say pine directly against the FB), cut to match the radius.
    I have not completed ANY of the several projects I started in my decade on TB- but I did mount two bolt-on EUB necks, using stainless threaded inserts. The rest of the basses- if I ever finish them- may fall apart but the neck joints both turned out beautiful.
  6. Levin S

    Levin S Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2007
    Charlotte N.C.
    I just cut the short end off of the proper size Allen wrench and put it into the drill press. Then I use the press to apply pressure to the insert while manually turning the chuck. I've never had one blow out that way, just make sure you have something to hold the neck stationary whilst installing your inserts.
  7. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I plan on checking the level repeatedly.
    Using wood blocks to line things up will be the extent of my skills. Making a caul is beyond my scope.
  8. A caul is simply a piece between the clamp(s)& workpiece to distribute and align the clamping forces, doesn't need to look nice, just function

    Edit: wood blocks=cauls :)
  9. Bluedevillxx has it- I threaded a screw into my inserts and chucked them into my drill press, using it to align them as they threaded into the neck. I hand-turned the inserts into the neck.
  10. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    I use 1/4-20 inserts. I'll see if I can get some photos at my shop today.
  11. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I created this thread on the inserts I installed. My technique isn't perfect, but it worked fine and I could do it again. It's not something I would attempt without some kind of drill press - even if it was just one of those table-top units which hold a standard drill and can raise and lower it like a press.


    I missed a couple of things in my procedure:

    1) Keep the inserts away from the edge of the neck so you won't crack the wood out to the edge while installing the inserts. Fortunately, I only cracked one spot.
    2) Chamfer the edges of the holes with a larger-diameter drill bit to avoid cracking paint or finish around the insert holes. (You can see a pretty large finish chip in the photo of the installed inserts.)
  12. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I was just saying that a radiused piece of wood for support won't quite happen. But yeah, I'll clamp everything else securely with other woods. :D
  13. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I meticulously measured, leveled, remeasured, releveled, and finally drilled out the neck holes. I had to make a 1/4" hex "driver" at work, which will install the inserts.
    Stainless bolts have been purchased as well. More info to come when I am done with work today.

    Should I be using a loctite product of some sort on the bolts? Something mild, just to keep the screws in securely?
  14. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    interrupting to ask: is there a good place online to get steel or some other hard metal inserts? brass is too soft, and the chain store hardware places in my area don't have them anyway.
  15. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

  16. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Light oil or wax to prevent corrosion?
  17. Cut a length(10-12-16", whatever works)of 2x4, hand-rasp down the middle of one side until it approximates the FB radius- voila, caul
  18. The rockler jig it kits come with threaded steel inserts.



    I don't know where you can get the pieces individually, but I'd think a specific google search would help.
  19. Repeat: Super "NO" on the Loctite question. Any thread locker on the bolts will result in you pulling the inserts out of the neck when you try to remove the bolts.

    As BlueDevil says, the secret to proper alignment is to have the insert installation tool actually chucked into the drill press chuck. I then just put the key back into the chuck and use it as a handle to turn the chuck by hand while applying just a little down-pressure with the drill press. It's not enough to have the inserts in exactly the right place, you have to have them aligned so that the threads are perfectly perpendicular to the surface of the joint. This technique ensures that.

    Personally, I prefer to drill one hole, and then do the insert installation while the clamps are still holding everything in place, then move the neck, re-clamp, drill hole, and install next insert. I know, you already drilled the holes, so it's too late for that, but you can remember for next time.