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Do I need a Bridge pin hole reamer ?

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Total Posts: 31
The StewMac instructions reccomend this or a Rat tail file. Its fifty bucks, and comes in 3 degree or 5 degree. Which one for the StewMAc OOO ? I am comfortable buying this if its something I really need, but do I ? Any other alternatives to the file ?

Thanks for your thoughts,


May 12, 08 | 9:00 am

Total Topics: 37
Total Posts: 676
In my opinion, the rat-tail will work fine if you pay attention. I believe that the 5 degree taper fits Martin pins, but when you do the math, the 2 degrees of taper difference over approximately 0.20" (thickness of top plus bridge plate) is about 0.007" -- not enough to obsess about.

May 12, 08 | 10:18 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
My pin reamer (for many years) has been a short piece of rat-tail file chucked into a drill. I have a piece of tape wrapped at the proper depth. A tapered reamer from one of the production tool suppliers will also work perfectly --- about $5.00 And, the handle end of almost all b****** files has the correct angle, the edges of that hardened steel cuts like crazy!


May 12, 08 | 3:29 pm

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Total Posts: 212
umm... Ken said a naughty word! I'm tellin' BILL !! =)

May 12, 08 | 10:51 pm

Total Topics: 22
Total Posts: 158
Ken's the expert and I believe that his suggestions are sound. However - us novices have to remember to take our time.... I have some very loose pins after rushing to get the strings on.

May 13, 08 | 2:11 am
Bill Cory

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Total Posts: 3584
Ken -- wouldn't the file handle end produce some tearout and/or splintering, even in ebony or rosewood?

I think I favor the rat-tail file -- and I'm with Ted here ... I'd wield it by hand since if you over-ream one of those holes, you lose the snugness where snugness (to me) seems important.

I guess I should take "b.astard" out of the automatic naughty words list, since in two years nobody has called anybody else in the forum a b******! ... If it changes in Ken's post (and the previous sentence) that's why ... :-)

May 13, 08 | 4:51 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
Not an expert --- just an older guy!! No tear out with the file handle. The idea for the file handle (as usual is not mine) I believe I picked it up from one of the Sloane books. The pyramidal shape on the handle end has four sharp corners, so there is relief for each of the edges. and it cuts in both directions. I did touch it up on with a stone. Yes, oversize pin holes are a PIA. I would suggest preparing a mock up sample the same thickness are the combined bridge,top and bridge plate. Drill some 3/16" holes and practice away. When satifyied with the fit mark the depth on the tool ---- just a thought.


May 13, 08 | 5:12 am
Fred Tellier

Total Topics: 17
Total Posts: 63
I use a Craftsman brand reamer that is 5 deg. and found a 3 deg reamer at a automotive supply store, Take a bridge pin with you to a few places like Harbor freight and eyeball the angle in comparison to the reamer, it is easy to spot the difference between 3 and 5 degree reamers. These are a whole lot cheaper than the ones from Stew Mac and other Luthier suppliers.

May 13, 08 | 12:33 pm

Total Topics: 12
Total Posts: 31
Thanks for all the help on this one. I'll try the rat tail file, and keep my eye out for a cheap reamer at the auto parts store.


May 13, 08 | 12:43 pm

Total Topics: 6
Total Posts: 295
You can also get bridge reamers from Grizzly.Com. The cost is 15.95, but I would wait until you order something else from a sight before ordering a single tool. I find the $10 - 15 shipping changes to be the most annoying part of building a guitar. If you need one tool, or forget one piece of materials you either eat the $10 charge or wait until you have a decent order. And with gas skyrocketing, I expect these charges to go up.

Link to

May 14, 08 | 9:46 am

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