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Threaded Inserts for Danelectro DC-2 Neck

I'm working on a Danelectro DC-2 reissue for a friend.  Should be a fairly quick job - I'm going to change out the stock wooden non-intonatable bridge for a Telecaster-style bridge and setting it up.  And I'm also putting threaded inserts into the neck as I would on a Fender-style neck.

The Danelectro neck just bolts on to the body like a Fender.  The main difference is there's no neck plate on the Danelectro.  As a result, the screw heads are larger and are a rounded shape - you can't use the same oval-head screws you would on a Fender.

Remove the strings, and then remove the neck mounting screws.  Easy.

On the right we have one of the factory wood screws, and on the left and in the background are the stainless steel machine screws I'll be using.

Did I mention the guitar is pink?

Neck is removed.  You can also see the pickup adjustment screws on the back of the body in this picture.

I made this simple jig a while back for this specific job.  It's just a pine plank with vertical guides to hold the heel end of a neck in place while drilling new holes for the inserts.

I use threaded inserts on all my bolt-on builds now.  They will tighten the neck-to-body joint more securely, and most importantly, they can't strip the wood like wood screws.  It takes some precision to put them in, but it's well worth it.
The backside of the jig.  The slots allow one of the guides to slide in order to adjust to a given neck heel's width.  Simple yet effective, despite my sloppy router work.

Now we go over to the drill press where the jig gets clamped down to drill new holes for the inserts to go into.

We need to keep the heel square and the holes aligned precisely for the new holes and inserts.

You can see how the jig holds the heel of the neck.  I'm using a wood clamp to help keep it tight.

I use standard cabinet shims under the jig and on the neck to level it.  Here you see the neck heel itself is level.

In order to align the drill press, I have a 1/8 inch bit in the chuck.  I used that to go into the existing hole squarely.  I'm not drilling anything yet, just using the bit as an alignment pin so everything will go in straight.  If the new holes aren't aligned, the inserts will be off and the neck won't bolt up properly.

With everything double-and-triple checked for alignment, I drill the new hole for the insert. 

These particular inserts are brass and accept a 8-32 bolt.  They fit into a 1/4 inch pilot hole.  I've made a depth stop/mark with a piece of tape.  We don't want to drill through the fingerboard!

The focal length of the lens (about 24mm) makes everything look tilted in these pictures, but it's all square.

I like these particular inserts because they don't have a lot of threads and they have a hex drive, both of which make it easy to drive the inserts into the holes.

I also use a bit of Pro-Cut on the threads to help ease them in.  Wax works also.

I've done these in the past by tapping the holes in the neck, but I think that's overkill.  These inserts have enough of a 'bite' with their threads that they hold very securely.

Here we're driving in the first insert with a hex driver.  I get the inserts, screws and the driver from McMaster-Carr.  You can see the hex end on the bottom of the driver.  It mates with the insert.

In this shot, you can see the first insert installed in the hole in the foreground.  In the back, the driver is engaged with the next insert.

I turn the drill press chuck by hand to install the inserts.  Don't be tempted to turn the press on!  You won't be able to control it.

The press hasn't been moved at all since it was initially aligned with the small bit.  So the process is: align with the small bit, drill the larger hole, then manually drive the insert into the neck by hand using the hex driver.

By keeping the press in the same position throughout, we ensure the alignment doesn't shift.

Here's the neck with the 4 inserts installed and bolts test-fitted.  Again, the lens makes them look crooked, but they're all at a 90 degree angle to the neck.

I usually install the bolts the first 2/3 of the way with a drill driver, then do the final tightening by hand.  That way the heads don't get torn up if the driver slips.

They fit perfectly - we have a super secure neck joint.  Now to change out the bridge.


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