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Tools question

Total Topics: 9
Total Posts: 109
Hi all,

I'm approaching the finish of the finishing of my StewMac dreadnought so to speak (doing the neck right now), so what's left after that is the mounting of the neck, the drilling and reaming of the bridge pin holes, placing the bridge and filing the nut.

The StewMac manual speaks of a reamer I'd need for the bridge pin holes, but there is a 3 and a 5 degree version of it. It doesn't say which one I need, however. Is there a way to establish this? I suppose it refers to the angle by which the bridge pins taper, but how do I establish which it is?

This reamer is very expensive, so I want to be sure I get the right one.

Then these nut files, another expensive set of tools. Is it essential that I should get these? I have some quite narrow files already, but I don't know if it's possible to use those.

Dec 09, 09 | 5:11 am

Total Topics: 16
Total Posts: 309
The 3 is for Gibsons, 5 is for Martin style. Stewmac is a Martin style. That's much too simplistic, but it's generally right. I got a cheaper one yet from Ace Hardware. It works, probably not as well as Stewmac's, but I didn't have to wait for it.
Needle files work, but need more care to be accurate.
As you build more guitars, you'll begin to see where you want better tools and where standard tools are ok. Each guy is a little different in that respect.

Dec 09, 09 | 5:43 am

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Before 1994 Martin used size 1 pins (which is what Taylor and Collings still use) which are 3 degrees. After 94 Martin switched to size 2A pins which are 5 degree (however, modern Martins do not have the pin holes reamed at the factory). So really the pins dictate what you do - if you have 5 degree pins or want to stay with the Martin standard, ream to 5 degrees. I've standardized on 5 degree pins, even reamed my two old Martins to that taper (which is what allowed me to switch pins around for the Pin Test).

The same reamer will do the end pin hole, unless you plan to install a pickup jack. If you were close I would loan you my reamer, but you might consider taking it to a tech and having them do it because you really don't need the tool that much. Go slowly and check the fit as you ream. This might also be a great time to consider slotting the bridge (use a needle file or a small burr in a Dremel) and either turn the pins around or use unslotted ones.

by the way, Bob Colosi has a chart of many of the modern guitars and what size pins fit - very handy

Dec 09, 09 | 5:53 am
Dan Denson

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 9
Grizzley sells 2 reamers; a large one and a small one. They don't specify the taper. I used the small one to ream the StewMac bridge and it worked perfectly.

I don't recomment their large reamer. I used it to ream the peghead for Waverly bushings, but it enlarged the other side of the hole too much for the tuners to fit.

Dec 09, 09 | 9:47 am

Total Topics: 9
Total Posts: 109
Ok, thanks for the advice! So most probably I need the 5 degree one. I only realized later that when this would appear to be wrong after all, of course I could buy other bridge pins instead of another reamer, hahaha.

Dec 10, 09 | 4:01 am
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
Tapers are not that expensive. I had a set of Grizzly tapers and threw them away. There are a few decent ones on ebay. Any machinist supply company will have them. I use 3 of them a 3 degree 5 degree and a 1/2 " hand taper for the strap pin.
Good tapers will make this an easy job

Dec 10, 09 | 4:10 am

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Here is a related discussion at MIMF - some good comments by Mark and Mario.

Dec 10, 09 | 11:06 am

Total Topics: 9
Total Posts: 109
Ok, I contacted Stewart-MacDonald as well, and surprisingly it has to be the 3 degree reamer after all (the part number WAS mentioned in the manual, I had overlooked that).

Dec 14, 09 | 4:08 am

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