Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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Removing Broken Guitar Tuner Screw

You may recall that we left our patient, the rare Fender Flame Elite guitar, there was a broken tuner screw to remove.

I can sympathize with this situation.  I once snapped a brake bleeder screw off a Fiat X 1/9 rear caliper.  Talk about frustration!

In this case, we also have some scratches to boot.  Been there also.  Anyone who has worked on mechanical stuff has probably done this a few times.

Unlike the aluminum Fiat calipers, this screw should come out fairly easily, and I'm confident I can clean up the scratches in the finish.

There's no way I can get a tool such as vise grips to grab this thing, and it's also too embedded to try and cut a slot in it to unscrew.   So I'm taking another approach - a homebrew plug cutter.

I took a short length (maybe 1.5 inches - 35 or so millimeters) of 3/16 brass rod and cut a few teeth in the end with a small file.   The brass is soft, so a file can quickly make a handful of fairly sharp teeth in it.

A bit crude, but it should do the trick.

Chuck the cutter up in an electric drill, slip it over the screw and have at it.  The blue tape is to mark the maximum depth I can drill down.  My worst nightmare is drilling though the face of the headstock.

It woiks!

I had hoped to just make a cut around the screw so I could 'wiggle' it out, but the screw came out with the plug!  Better than I expected.

The plug cutter is pretty much destroyed at this point - the soft brass doesn't hold up well against the mahogany neck - but it did the trick.  You can cut a whole bunch of plug cutters out of a length of brass rod.

Here we have the newly-cut hole.  The next challenge is the indented wood where the Carvin tuners were mounted.

You can see the indents the mounting tabs made.  I'm hoping to lift these dents a bit.

I've had reasonable success removing small dents with damp heat.  These are a little larger and deeper, but I think any amount I can raise them up will be good.

Take a clean, damp cloth and a soldering iron to the dented areas - about 10 seconds at a time.  It's easy to burn the finish with the heat.

It takes a bunch of applications (maybe 20 or more) to each dent, but they do come up a bit.  What happens here is that the crushed wood fibers are expanding with the use of some moisture and heat.

 
 
 
 

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