Drilling the bridge pins can be made easier by using a jig. The bridge pin drilling guide helps ensure that the bridge pin holes are aligned properly, and spaced well.
It also helps when plotting the pin locations on the blank. This jig is easy to make and use.
Select a piece of hardwood for this guide, as it will need to hold up against the abrasion of a rotating drill bit.
Good choices include Purple Heart, Goncalo Alves (Tiger Wood), or Wenge. In reality, any good hardwood will work just fine. Cut the piece down to 1/4″ thick, 1″ wide, and 5″ long, then draw a straight line down the long side about 1/2″ from the edge.
Along this line, plot out the locations for the bridge pins. These are always going to be the same distance from each other. Measure the bridge that you are duplicating or take the measurement from a guitar making book, and make marks on the line for drilling. Making a bridge pin drilling guide is all about accuracy, so measure well.
Take your time making this jig. The extra time invested in making the bridge pin drilling guide as accurate as possible will be returned ten fold. Each time this jig is used, it will create perfect holes if made well.
Drill the holes through the jig with a drill press, and make sure that they are done slowly and accurately. Once all six holes are drilled, inspect the piece for accuracy. If there are misaligned holes, make a new piece and drill it again.
To use the guide, draw a line across the top of the bridge where the pins will be located. Place the guide on top of the bridge, lining it up with the mark on the bridge.
Clamp it down, and then drill each hole one at a time. Remove the guide and check the holes for accuracy. As long as the guide as made well the holes should line up just fine.
There are many tools that can be constructed to help make the guitar building process easier, and I explain many of them in my book, Acoustic Guitar Making: How to make Tools, Templates, and Jigs. I focus on making your own tools and templates, as well as explaining parts of the process. The tool section alone can save you thousands of dollars.
For more on acoustic guitar making, take a look at my article on the Side Bending Iron. This can be made in the shop for a low cost, and it works well.
What is your favorite homemade acoustic guitar making tool?
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