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DIY Pearl Danelectro Pickguard

I'm not a big fan of the refrigerator-white color pickguards on Danelectro guitars. I wanted to put a pearloid pickguard on the DC-2, but it seems no one offers them commercially.

So I procured a hunk of pearloid material and set about making my own.

I'm going to bevel the edges, so I needed to make a wood template that my router bit could run on.

First step (surprise) was to make a tracking of the stock pickguard onto my selected piece of birch laminate.

Here we have it. The red dots are where the screw holes will be.

Now, I will warn you, dear reader, of the mistake I made before you read much further.

A piece of plywood/laminate is not the best choice for this operation. A solid piece of hardwood, maybe even MDF, would be better.

We'll find out why shortly.

Now we take our pattern to the dark recess of The Dungeon where the bandsaw lives.

I cut away most of the excess around the pattern.

Then I made some relief cuts to help with cutting the curves.

So far, so good.  It's going well.

You'll note that I didn't cut right down to the guide lines on the pattern. I was not so trusting of my skill with the bandsaw as to be so bold.

But we're close at this point. Just need some finessing.

Took the template over to the sander and got really close to the guideline.

Screwed down the original pickguard to the template, and filed and sanded the overhanging wood (which is still there in this shot) off the template.

I was only able to make straight cuts on the front pickup cutout with the bandsaw - I finished the rest of the curve with files. The radius is just too small to cut with the saw.

I like this set of files I got from Stew-Mac. Perfect for this kind of work.

STILL waiting for the endorsement deal.

Once the template matches the pickguard exactly, I move on to cutting the new pickguard itself.

Here you can see I traced the pattern onto the back of the pickguard material. Then I cut it on the bandsaw.

The edges of the plastic look a bit fuzzy, but that will get taken care of.

I screwed the pickguard down to the the template and then I did a pass with sandpaper to smooth the edge to align with the template.

Looks good at this point, and no acccidents.

I have a Whiteside 45 degree router bit to make the bevel cut with.

Since we're cutting plastic, we don't need a big router - I used my trim router, which is easy to handle.

This is a closeup of the bit in the router and being aligned with the template. The bearing on the bit will ride on the template while the router bit cuts the bevel on the pickguard.

It works.

But here's the catch I alluded to earlier. The edge of the template needs to be perfectly smooth - no bumps or divots. Since the bearing, and by extension, the bit itself, follows the edge of the template, any bumps will be cut into the material.

I was too stupid inexperienced to realize this. I did have a few places where the cut was not exactly smooth. Fortunately I was able to clean them up with a file and sandpaper.

But next time, I won't use plywood for the template. A solid smooth surface is key to getting a perfect cut.

Here's the completed pickguard. I had drilled the holes for the pots, switch and jack onto the template as well, so I just lined the pickguard up on the template and drilled those holes using forstner bits. If you're sharp-eyed, you'll notice there's an extra control hole. Hmmm.

The black marks near the one hole are on the protective plastic covering the pickguard, so they will be gone when I peel the plastic off.

It came out well I think. Stock Danelectro guards aren't beveled, so this is a different look - as is the pearloid.

This was a good learning experience. Next one I do will be perfect!


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