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Home : Trade Secrets Archive : Issue 75, Patch a hole in a guitar: the BridgeSaver is also a HolePlugger
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Photo: Carl with his J-50 I’m using the BridgeSaver as a HolePlugger

Ream out a hole and cut a matching round patch. Bingo! An easy repair that’s nearly invisible!

Erick Coleman, November 26, 2008
Photo: Erick Coleman

Neat round patches, quick!
That’s my customer, Carl, with those round patches in his picture.
Carl had a hole in the side of his old Gibson J-50 where someone put an output jack. Restoring the guitar to its original glory, Carl asked me to get rid of that hole. This sounded tricky, until I thought of using the BridgeSaver.







BridgeSaver
Photo: jack hole
Here’s the hole I started with
The guitar had once housed a pickup that has long since been removed, leaving this eyesore in the side from the jack.

I started by cleaning up the hole with a peghole reamer.
Photo: shaping the hole
Photo: BridgeSaverThen I used the BridgeSaver’s hole shaper to create a concave dish-shaped recess around the hole. This will perfectly fit the plug made by the BridgeSaver’s plug cutter.
Photo: shaped hole

Photo: plugs
There!
The hole is shaped and ready for the plug to be glued in.

Now to make the plugs...
Always try to find pieces of wood that have a similar color and grain pattern. This makes the repaired area easier to touch up to match the surrounding area before finishing.

Since this plug is going into the curved side of the guitar, I first bent my scrap of wood to match that curve before cutting the plugs.
Photo: plugs closeup While I was at it, I made myself a pile of extra plugs, thinking they might come in handy on a future job.
Photo: ready to glue
Ready to install the plug
After applying your glue, carefully position the plug.

Franklin Titebond Glue
Photo: BridgeSaver The BridgeSaver
Years of wear from string ends used to mean costly major surgery: a bridge plate replacement inside the guitar. This clever new tool puts new wood under every string while leaving the original bridge plate intact!
Check it out:

Photo: plug glued in place
Photo: magnet as clampA piece of tape holds the plug in place, then a couple of repair magnets clamp it while it dries. Waxed paper keeps things from sticking.

Guitar Repair Magnets




Luthiers File Set




Sandpaper / Finishing Paper Sampler




Scraper Blades
Photo: finished plug
Here’s the plug after leveling with a file and sanding (I like to use a scraper for smoothness). It can now be filled and touched up to match the surrounding wood. I used ColorTone stains to get a good match.
Photo: Erick's shop

When Carl came to pick up his J-50, I learned that years ago he played music right in the very building my repair shop is in! It's an old Masonic hall, and the town used to hold dances here back in the mining days. Maybe we should invite Carl and the other old players back and have a dance in the shop?!
Erick Coleman signature

Problem-solving products mentioned above:
Photo: BridgeSaver Photo: Peghole Reamers Photo: Scraper Blades
BridgeSaver
Special cutters form precisely dished cavities in the bridge plate, and matching wooden plugs. A money-making tool that can pay for itself with the first job!
Peghole Reamers
Get accurate, round holes with these professional reamers.
Scraper Blades
There's no tool like a scraper blade for smoothing guitar sides, bodies, bindings and fingerboards.
Buy Now
Buy Now
Buy Now
Photo: Franklin Titebond Glue Photo: Luthier's File Set Photo: Guitar Repair Magnets
Franklin Titebond Glue
Aliphatic-resin glue for instrument building and repair.
Luthier's File Set
Quality files for jobs that are too big for needle files. The set includes round, flat, square, half-round and 3-corner files.
Guitar Repair Magnets
These seriously strong magnets make inventive repair techniques possible.
Buy Now
Buy Now
Buy Now

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