Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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Bridge Plate Removal on Kay K22 Acoustic Guitar

The bridge plate on the Kay K22 looks to be pretty chewed up.  It appears to be spruce, which is a bit unusual for a bridge plate.  Most makers use a hardwood such as maple or rosewood.

I'm applying the lessons learned in previous bridge plate removals.  First, I cut a piece of sponge to fit the plate itself.  It's a rectangle.  Here I'm eyeballing it against where the plate actually is underneath the top.  Or, at least where I can best guesstimate it.

I made the sponge not too wet - it's wet but not dripping.  Then I sat it on the bridge plate with the body upside down.  Then I went outside to shovel snow.

When I came back, the plate was wet.  Not drenched - I didn't want to get the wood around it wet - but defintely wet.  Since heat and water will loosen hide glue, this should be a good thing.

I have two heating irons to use for plate removal.  The smaller one is from Brown's Guitar Factory, and it's sized for older Martins.  The bigger homebrew one is the one I made for removing the huge plate on my Martin D-12-28.  I took one of the 'wings' off it for this job.

I was able to fit both of the irons onto the bridge plate.  I heated them in a cast iron pan up to about 400 degrees F.  You need to be careful when placing them - it's easy to get a minor burn if you touch them. 

I did a couple rounds of heating with the irons - I let them sit on the plate for about 5 minutes at a time.  I could feel the top getting fairly warm on the outside, so I knew they were transmitting heat.

Here's a homebrew removal knife I made for the Martin plate removal.  It's a relatively inexpensive hardware store chisel I bent and stuck a Nicholson handle on.

This was of some use during the Martin removal, but it turned out to be gold for this one!

Here's a goofy mirror picture of three knives at work on the bridge plate.  I put arrows on the image so you can identify them.  On the left is the chisel we saw above.  The one in the middle is a thin paint spatula also bent over in a similar fashion as the red one.

And finally you see the great Italian palette knife I used for the fingerboard removal.

I worked in from the ends with the thin knife, and when I got into into the joints, I went in with the bigger knives.  You can see how I wedged the front edge of the plate up with the Italian knife (far right).  About 2/3 of the plate is up off the top - you can see that if you study the picture.

With two of the knives levering the plate up, I got the chisel under the other end.  I drove it into the seam, and then gently used it as a lever to pull the plate up off the top.  That chisel is great, because it doesn't flex like the other knives.   Because Kay used hide glue on it orignally, it all came up fairly easily.  Definitely the easiest bridge plate removal I've done.

 Here's the removed plate sitting on top of the guitar.  It's just a bit wider than the bridge.  And it is spruce - with nice grain.  I'm saving it for future spruce patch repair jobs.

Note the outside screw holes for the old bridge in both the top and the plate.  I'm going to plug those holes in the top.

Here's a crack in the old plate - I'm holding it open to show it.  It cracked along the grain where the screw holes were.  So much for putting those screws in there.

Also, see how badly chewed-up the string holes are.  This is a good example of why not to use spruce as a bridge plate.

Next up I'm going to make a new maple plate and glue it in.  The maple has a much sharper tone than the spruce, so I'm hoping it will help the overall tone in terms of treble clarity and note definition.  We shall see.


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